Years ago when I was still a young woman in my childbearing years, I would hear women complaining about menopausal hot flushes (or hot flashes, depending on where you live). They made them sound just miserable and I thought, "What's the big deal? You feel hot for a minute. So what?"
Oh, didn't the universe pay me back for every one of those words...
You don't just feel hot for a minute. Oh, no. You feel like you're going to spontaneously combust. It's a horrifically powerful burning up on the inside that can cause dizziness, nausea, and that quickly makes you sweat profusely. Perspiration trickles noticeably down your face, soaking hair and clothing, leaving you feeling drained, wrung out, and clammy.
In fact, you don't just "feel" hot. Actually, it dramatically raises body temperature, as I discovered when being assessed after a fall on the ice. The nurse took my temperature during a hot flush. It was 101F. A few minutes later, it was 97.6, a full degree below normal. No wonder they are so exhausting.
If these happened once in a while, it might not be so bad. But on average, I get one every 30 to 60 minutes. They wake me up at night, too, as if I needed anything to make my sleep worse than it already is, thanks to insomnia and other sleep issues that are also byproducts of menopause.
I am adamantly opposed to hormone replacement therapy because of the associated risks. Plus if something isn't natural, I don't want it in my body. So I've been coping with these hot flushes best I can.
A few months ago, I went to see "Jenny" performing here in Calgary. My son plays bass in this brilliant band and they were opening for DOA (yes, people, they are still recording and touring after all these years).
The venue did not serve wine so I ended up having a beer, my first in many years.
It wasn't until I got home about five hours later that I remembered only feeling a little bit warm on one occasion throughout the evening. I wondered if maybe the beer had kept the hot flushes at bay but decided that I was probably just having such a good time I hadn't noticed them, although this seemed highly unlikely.
But during a recent visit with my son, I had another beer. And noticed the same result. It was time to check it out.
As it turns out, hops, a main component in making beer, can be a menopausal woman's best friend. According to an article in Life Extension Magazine, scientists have discovered that an extract of the female hops plant (Humulus lupulus L.) contains "...a constituent that is, without question, the most potent phytoestrogen ever tested." This compound, known as 8-prenylnaringenin - or 8-PN - is not only great at reducing menopausal symptoms but it appears to protect against heart disease and bone loss, the risks of which increase after menopause.
The article goes on to say that controlled clinical research shows that "...most menopausal women who take it experience a rapid and significant reduction in hot flashes and other discomforts." The benefits of 8-PN seem to be magnified when taken in combination with 7-hydroxymatairesinol (HMR), another phytoestrogen compound extracted from the Norway Spruce tree. For women suffering through the many symptoms of menopause, this "...may be the best news in centuries."
Obviously, drinking beer all day and night isn't a brilliant plan but fortunately, there are healthier options that can give you the benefits without the alcohol. Hops can be purchased as a herbal supplement, as can Norway Spruce extracts. As these are medicinal, please consult a qualified herbalist before taking them. You will need to take the correct dosage so that these products will actually help you - and you'll also want to make sure they will not harm you.
There are also several brands of non-alcoholic beer. I tried one that I quite liked (which worked just as well as the regular beer), and I have since found an article that compares 11 of them in some detail.
And if you really want your hops the good old-fashioned way, now you can crack open the occasional "cold one" and call it medicine, knowing science will back you up. Perhaps it's Nature's way of rewarding you for all those years of morning sickness, stretch marks, childbirth pain, menstrual cramps and assorted other Girlie Miseries.
For more from this author, visit booksbyliberty.com.