Plant estrogens, or phytoestrogens, found in foods such as soy milk and tofu may be effective in reducing menopausal symptoms, according to WebMD. Flaxseed, which contains omega-3 fatty acids and phytoestrogens called lignans, also reduces both symptoms and cholesterol in some women.
Isoflavones and lignans are the two main types of phytoestrogens that occur naturally in foods, explains Mayo Clinic. Isoflavones are found in soybeans, chickpeas and other legumes. Lignans occur in flaxseed, whole grains, and some fruits and vegetables. Only food forms of soy are recommended, notes WebMD. Soy in tablet or powder form is not advised. Whole flaxseed is difficult to digest and should be avoided. Topical vitamin E oil applied to the vagina helps improve lubrication and may also reduce hot flashes.
Black cohosh is derived from a species of buttercup, and it is often promoted as a treatment for mild hot flashes and night sweats, according to WebMD. The root may lower blood pressure. Studies have had mixed results on its effectiveness in reducing hot flashes, and in rare cases, it can cause liver damage and hepatitis. A study reported in the December 2006 Annals of Internal Medicine cited by Women’s Health found that black cohosh was no better than a placebo.