Mitigating Menopause

Q: What do you recommend for menopause-related symptoms?

A: I presume that the symptom you are referring to is the dreaded hot flash. It’s typically the symptom that’s the most annoying and disruptive to the daily routine.

Some simple lifestyle changes have been shown to help with hot flashes including incorporating a regular exercise program into your daily routine and avoiding spicy foods.

From a natural remedies standpoint, black cohosh has often been recommended. One large study indicated that this herbal supplement was no better than placebo in terms of eliminating symptoms but many women say it works for them. The side effects of black cohosh include dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, and occasional gastric discomfort. Additional possible side effects include headaches, seizures, vomiting, sweating, constipation, low blood pressure, slow heartbeats, weight problems. All of these side effects are rare and the supplement is generally very well tolerated. The most serious side effect is liver dysfunction. You should always let your physician know if you are taking or considering taking an herbal product.

If the menopausal symptoms are severe enough that you are considering pharmaceutical interventions, a class of medications typically used to treat depression called SSRIs, will help increase the amount of serotonin in your system and may help alleviate hot flashes. Lastly, you could consider the short-term usage of estrogen replacement

Learn more:
Best Herbs for Women’s Health
Flax for Hot Flashes

Dr. Brent Ridge is the health expert for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. You can call and ask him a question live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. Eastern on Sirius Satellite Radio, Channel 112 (1.866.675.6675). You can also follow along as he learns to grow his own food and raise goats on his farm in upstate New York by visiting

Got a health question for Dr. Brent? E-mail him at


Jane Barton
Jane Barton5 years ago

I recommend hot sex with young guys, it will get your juices flowing again and stimulate your
mind, wake up your passion and make you feel great. Twice a week works for me and a healthy
diet goes without saying.

KS Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Michele Wilkinson

Thank you

Jo Asprec
Jo Asprec6 years ago

Stay away from HRT. I add flaxseeds to my fruit smoothies. I do not have hot flashes. Go for exercise ...any physical activity such as walking the dog is good.

beverly g.
beverly g.7 years ago

Have tried HRT but its not for me. Dont agree with me i have tried the patches and tables. Patches are better for u, but after 3-4 days if using i get bladder probs. I suffered with Endometirosis b4 and thats why i was told. Tho im 55 now and the endo has gone. The black cohosh i cant take becos im on SSRi's and that wont mix togevver. My periods finished 3 yrs ago. but im still having lots of problems mentally and ophysically. It can take years b4 its all settled down. Im hating it.

Elaine Dixon
Elaine Dixon8 years ago

if you have high blood pressure there is a blood pressure pill that works for hot flashes, take that and my hot flashes are GONE.... and I had them really bad at one time.

Jacqueline Tourville
Jacqueline Brown8 years ago

If you look at the program Women to Women has, you will see that exercise, diet changes, and the use of select herbs (such as black cohosh) is very effective for lots of women in reducing hot flashes and other menopause symptoms. Here is an article from Marcelle Pick that desribed "phytotherapy" -- basically what Dr. Brent is describing here. Scroll about halfway through the article for a chart that shows exactly how herbs/plants work in the body. It's really cool!!! (literally)

Elvira S.
Elvira S8 years ago

I have always suffered from PMS, but now that I'm in peri-menopause those mood swings, anger moments, depression, & mind fogginess are 100 X fold worse for a about a week of the month. I just dread it. I eat a healthy, almost vegetarian (some fish) diet, take evening primrose oil, St John's wort, multi vitamins, Mag citrate and calcium supplememts. My NP also prescribed progesterone cream, which has virtually removed the physical symptoms of PMS (headaches, cramps, breast tenderness), but not the intense and very bothersome mental symptoms. Is there anyone out there with a similar story and has found something that helps? I would be very greatful.

Vural K.
Past Member 8 years ago


Erica G.
Erica G9 years ago

Well, black cohosh worked for me when I was 46 and experiencing frequent hot flashes, night sweats, and insomnia. I took it for about a year. Then I just quit taking it and my symptoms are manageable I still get the occasional hot flash, but nightsweats are rare. I'm still bleeding, but irregularly. Others I recommended it to found it did nothing. I'm 52 now, and what has helped the most is cutting out sugar and other processed foods (I'm diabetic). I feel great, and even my PMS is better! I'll try the sage tincture next time I feel I need help...have that one in my cabinet.