Is Caffeine A Hidden Cause Of Hot Flashes?

In this post you'll learn the two factors to consider when deciding if caffeine is making your hot flashes or other menopausal symptoms worse.

We'll look at:

  • The science and general recommendations for caffeine and menopause symptoms
  • What you need to know about the genetic component to caffeine metabolism
  • An herbalist's perspective on caffeine and hormones throughout menopause

Is it true that caffeine can make hot flashes worse?  What about caffeine and other menopause symptoms?

You can find all kinds of answers to this question... But the biggest study, the Mayo Clinic, and the Huff post all agree there's enough evidence to say to say - Yes!  

They're not sure exactly how much coffee or caffeine is involved - but bottom line - if you're struggling to get menopausal symptoms including hot flashes under control, laying off the caffeine is likely to help. 

But this is way to vague for me!  Let's look deeper at what's happening and what the connection really is between caffeine and menopause symptoms. 

Caffeine and hot flashes

Evidence shows that caffeine can trigger hot flashes.  Why?  Caffeine revs up your system, so even though it's a vasoconstrictor - yes it can trigger hot flashes by increasing heart rate and the speed of the blood pumping through the body.  

Caffeine is also  "hot" in nature and is usually acidifying for your body. 

Caffeine and other menopause symptoms

Caffeine can also trigger anxiety and heart palpitations as well as making insomnia worse.  Since these are all common symptoms of menopause, if you're struggling with any or all of these, avoiding caffeine until they're under good control can help you get relief much faster. 

What about decaf coffee and tea for hot flashes? 

Coffee itself is "hot" in nature, so while decaf doesn't have the caffeine, it is still warming and acidifying in the body.  Also many decaf coffees are decaffeinated with chemicals, and these chemicals stay in the decaf and can do more harm than caffeine when you drink them. 

Tea is worth considering for sure.  It has the benefits of caffeine without being as hot or acidifying as coffee.  If you're not a slow caffeine metabolizer and you're not having out of control menopause symptoms, the benefits of moderate amounts of tea may outweigh the risks. 

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Pretty much everyone agrees, if any menopause symptoms are out of control, avoid caffeine for now. 

Should you get genetic testing for caffeine metabolism?

There's a gene in your DNA that determines whether or not you make a certain enzyme - and this in turn determines whether you metabolize caffeine slowly or quickly. 

The science behind how our bodies metabolize caffeine

If you're a fast metabolizer of caffeine, you get the caffeine out of your system quickly and efficiently, and it doesn't have that strong or lingering of an effect on you. 

If you're a slow metabolizer, even small amounts of caffeine can stay in your system for up to nine hours jangling your nerves and setting off the release of adrenaline and cortisol that whole time.

How to tell if you're a slow or fast metabolizer of caffeine

The only way to be SURE is to have genetic testing done somewhere like 23 & me, but you can make a guess based on how much - and for how long - you feel affected by a caffeine.   

How to modify your daily caffeine intake

If you're a fast metabolizer, caffeine is simply not going to affect you as much, and in moderate amounts is likely to have minimal side effects.  That being said - choose the healthiest, chemical free coffee or tea. 

If you're a slow metabolizer, I'd recommend avoiding caffeine anytime you're having trouble with hot flashes, insomnia, anxiety, heart palpitations, low hormone levels, low bone density, or adrenal fatigue! 

If you're a slow metabolizer of caffeine, you're always going to want to avoid it or drink it very carefully in small amounts.  If you're a fast metabolizer, as long as you're healthy and your hormones and symptoms are under excellent control, you're likely to tolerate moderate amounts of caffeine without side effects. 

caffeine, bone density, minerals, and nutrient dense food

Caffeine is not only lacking in nutrients, it causes the body to flush certain vitamins and minerals like calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron out of your system.

The studies show this is more of an issue in postmenopausal women (so as you get older) than in younger women.  If you're at risk for hip fracture due to osteopenia or osteoporosis, avoiding caffeine can help you hold onto precious minerals your bones desperately need! 

Bottom line - coffee can deplete minerals, which we're trying to maximize absorption of for many reasons including bone strength.

the herbalists perspective on caffeine for women during and after menopause

Caffeine can make you age faster

There's a Chinese saying that goes something like this, "Caffeine robs energy from tomorrow to use today."

What it means is that caffeine causes a surge of adrenaline, which gives you energy NOW - but depletes your energy overall.  

Think of it like this...

Imagine you have an energy checking and an energy savings account.  Your goal is to get through each day using only energy out of your checking account. 

If your checking gets to zero and have to dip into your energy savings account - you pay a VERY HIGH interest rate on anything  you take out of savings.  

It's like this - if a tiger is chasing you, or a tree falls on your child, you want every bit of strength and energy you can have RIGHT NOW.  It's well worth it - even if you need to rest for a WEEK to recover from the energy you used up that one day. 

That's what the energy from caffeine is - it's that energy from your savings account.  

So if you have so much energy stored up that you have plenty to spare - even if you drink lots of caffeine - spend lots of your energy - you'll still have plenty in checking and savings at the end of the day.  The caffeine isn't going to cause short-term problems.  This is usually the case in healthy teenagers. 

But once we get older, it's even more important to conserve our energy attempt to avoid things that cause our energy to get depleted very suddenly or severely.  Drinking caffeine, which causes a surge of adrenaline and a withdrawal from your energy savings - does exactly that.  

Meaning you'll see all the signs of aging appear sooner than they would have otherwise.   This also depletes hormone levels and can worsen adrenal fatigue as well as all the individual symptoms of menopause. 

Caffeine can make other menopause symptoms worse

Insomnia, palpitations, and anxiety and caffeine

Caffeine is definitely not just about hot flashes when it comes to menopause.  Caffeine can also easily and intensely exacerbate other menopausal symptoms.  

So if you're having even traces of insomnia, heart palpitations, or anxiety, I highly recommend avoiding caffeine.  Even one cup in the morning can be affecting your sleep HOURS later at 3 am, and it's best to avoid it until all your symptoms are under excellent control.  

Stubborn muffin top weight gain and caffeine

Caffeine can even cause stubborn weight gain!  If your body is already depleted and struggling from menopause, coffee can increase stress and high cortisol levels bringing on "sugar cravings, increased fat storage, and ultimately, stress-induced obesity."  Says Dr Sara Gottfried.

To sum up how caffeine can cause hot flashes... 

The two factors to consider are the intensity of any menopause symptoms and how quickly you metabolize caffeine.  

For healthy women without adrenal fatigue, low energy levels, insomnia, hot flashes, osteopenia, or anxiety, moderate amounts of caffeine - especially in the form of tea can have health benefits without negative side effects.
However - if you've got out of control hot flashes, are having trouble sleeping, or are struggling with fatigue, low hormone levels, osteoporosis, or adrenal fatigue, you'll make more progress in correcting these by avoiding caffeine until they're all under good control.
Also take into account your caffeine metabolism.  If you're a fast metabolizer of caffeine you're much more likely to tolerate it well. If you're a slow metabolizer its best to avoid it while any of those struggles are occurring and to always use it in very small amounts nine or more hours before bedtime.

So what do you do if...

  • You ARE having hot flashes, anxiety, fatigue, or insomnia..
  • And because of brain fog so you really want to drink caffeine??? 
  • But you don't want to make that other stuff worse?

Build up what's in your energy checking AND savings accounts.  

Because here's what'll happen when you do: 

  • You'll help your body bring all your hormone levels up to optimal.  
  • You'll get your system into a cool, alkaline, anti-inflammatory state.
  • You'll be able to get your blood sugar and inflammation levels under excellent control.
  • Any menopausal symptoms will be under excellent control or just - gone  

How do you do this? 

The best way to refill your energy accounts is with customized herbal remedies - but they'll work best if you support them with the right diet and lifestyle. 

If you'd like to learn exactly how to do this for your body and your metabolism type... Take advantage of the Free Resources below.  I'll see you there!

And be assured, once you understand what's going on with your hormones and what to do about it, you can feel great during & after menopause.  You can enjoy menopause. 

Thanks so much for joining me today!  Please put your questions & comments in the comments section below, I'd truly love to hear from you!

This information is being provided to you for educational and informational purposes only. It is being provided to you to educate you about Chinese medicine in your diet, lifestyle, and supplements and as a self-help tool for your own use. It is not personalized health advice. This information is to be used at your own risk based on your own judgment.  For my full Disclaimer, please go to

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