Hot Flashes and Chinese Herbal Formulas

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Recently I’ve had a few inquiries on how Oriental Medicine can help with hot flashes. Generally, I say that an herbal formula would be the most important part of their treatment. While surfing colleagues’ blogs, I came across an informative article written by Allyndreth Stead, L.Ac. an acupuncturist in Oregon on Acupuncture and herbs for menopausal hot flashes. It says menopausal, but many patients well past menopause, or others such as cancer patients recovering from chemotherapy are plagued with hot flashes as well. Snead lists the major classic formulas for menopause and offers an explanation for each. Some of the formulas can be purchased on line, but I do not recommend or condone doing so without an herbal consultation with me or another qualified Oriental Medicine Doctor. Read on for an idea of how healing with Chinese herbs is a little different than drugs or Western herbs like Black Cohosh here. Snead also explains acupuncture’s cooling effect for hot flashes and night sweats.

Another concern of many patients is cost. It is important to remember that herbal medicine is food-grade and not stored in the body. To retain the benefit, patients continue with the herbal medicine until the body is stronger – because our bodies are dynamic, continuing with follow up sessions will ensure that the formula changes with the patient’s condition. Several patients have shared with me frustrations over the skyrocketing costs of their drugs and HRT, but even cost of Chinese herbal formulas varies. Chinese herbal formulas come in a few forms and an associated cost. There are many high quality GMP choices available for consumers nowadays.  The cheapest and least effective are teapills – they look like little black bb’s, some brands are better than others. Cost is from $7-15 for a 200 pill bottle and that would last about a week, assuming the dosages on the label are followed.
Tablets and capsules vary greatly in quality – I prescribe high quality ready-made capsules most often. They are effective, easy compliance, and get patients used to taking a formula. A 60 tablet bottle might cost anywhere from $10-20 to last around 7-10 days.
Tinctures – are herbs extracted and distilled in alcohol or glycerine. Personally, I find these more effective than the tablets, but they are expensive. Many patients cannot have alcohol due to religion, sobriety issues, or simply do not like the taste. The alcohol helps deliver the active agents into the bloodstream. These cost $15-35 for a 2 oz bottle that will last about 1-2 weeks.
Powdered Extracts–  a custom formula created by me and compounded by www.CraneHerb.com, my supplier, would be in this form. It is $15 extra to have the powders put into capsules. This is a bottle full of loose powder of the many herbs in your formula that you would mix into a small cup of warm water. A 50 gm bottle would last about a week, 100 gm two weeks. Costs can be anywhere from $25-50, depending on ingredients.
Raw Chinese herbs. To the untrained eye, these look like sweepings from the yard: roots, twigs, leaves, shells, bark and so forth. Patients decoct the herbs in a pot of water on the stove at home, stink up the house, and store the tea in the fridge. Tea is taken 1-3 times a day. Raw herbs are most effective, but compliance is often poor as liquids are not easily portable for the busy on-the-go American. Quality is less assured as most imported raw herbs are grown in China. I can order a raw formula locally at T & T Ginseng on Spring Mountain Rd, to be picked up by the patient at market price, or online elsewhere at higher cost.

Oriental Medicine is highly personalized and treatments are unique to the individual. If you are interested in boosting qi, harmonizing a condition, or finding relief in any way shape or form, call me for an initial consultation if you are interested in acupuncture as well as herbal medicine. If you wish to have an herbal consultation only, it is $60 for the first session and $40 for follow up.

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Anita Lanier, LAc, OMD is a licensed acupuncturist and doctor of Oriental medicine. Involved in the healing arts since 1996, Anita graduated from Emperor's College of Traditional Oriental Medicine in 2012 and is licensed in California and Nevada. Anita is also active in her community of Boulder City, Nevada, and with her husband Lee, founded the Dam Short Film Festival, entering its 12th year - 2nd weekend of February 2016.