Normal menopause develops gradually over a 5-12 year period, giving a woman's body plenty of time to adjust to her decline in estrogen. But chemotherapy in women with breast cancer can sometimes induce a rapid menopause, shocking a woman's system — like driving 80 MPH and suddenly stomping on the brakes. The result can be hot flashes, poor sleep and blood pressure swings. To complicate matters, a woman with breast cancer can't take estrogen, because it can fuel cancer. In fact, most women with breast cancer take an estrogen-suppressing drug. The good news: a woman with breast cancer and hot flashes now has another natural option to control the problem — magnesium.
A team of researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System studied 17 women (average age 53) with breast cancer who were having at least 2 hot flashes a day. When the women began taking a magnesium supplement — starting with 400 mg a day, and increasing the dose to 800 mg if it wasn’t having an effect — they had 41% fewer hot flashes a week. And not only were they having fewer hot flashes, the hot flashes they did have were less intense, with less sweating, fatigue and emotional distress. In fact, the women were so pleased with the results that most of them continued taking magnesium even after the study was completed.
Given this study, I would recommend that anyone dealing with hot flashes — whether triggered by therapies for breast cancer or simply normal menopause — add more magnesium to their daily diet.
In addition, there’s another powerful, natural remedy for hot flashes. It’s the herb black cohosh, which stabilizes autonomic function. After two months of taking black cohosh, hot flashes should have sufficiently cooled so that you can reduce the intake.
"A pilot phase II trial of magnesium supplements to reduce menopausal hot flashes in breast cancer patients." Park H, Parker GL, Boardman CH, Morris MM, Smith TJ. Support Care Cancer. 2011 Jun;19(6):859-63. Epub 2011 Jan 27.
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of four research studies on their treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.