To effectively treat heat intolerance, you have to first acknowledge it for what it is: a symptom. Rather than being a stand-alone condition, it's a sign that something else in the body is happening [source: Vaughan]. So, while you may be able to cool yourself when you get overheated, you won't be able to prevent the occurrence from happening again unless you're able to master or alter what's causing it.
There are a number of methods for increasing your comfort when you're likely to become overheated. These include cutting back on caffeine, managing your stress, wearing cool clothing, drinking fluids and making use of fans and air conditioning. To get to the bottom of heat intolerance, however, you'll need to identify and treat what's causing it. Treatments may include lifestyle changes and prescription medications, but supplements can also be effective for some conditions.
On the following pages, we'll look at the types of supplements that might help you remedy the cause of your heat intolerance.
Electrolytes are substances -- like sodium and potassium -- that become ionic conductors when dissolved in fluid. They're beneficial because they assist cells in sending electrical impulses to other cells. Because you can lose electrolytes when you sweat heavily, replenishing them as soon as possible is critical. So, while electrolytes won't specifically reduce heat intolerance, they do address a side effect of it.
The easiest way to reintroduce electrolytes into your system is to drink a beverage formulated with them. Many sports drinks contain electrolytes, but they also tend to be high in sugar -- which can be a problem if you're diabetic or on a weight-loss plan. However, there are some -- particularly those formulated for children -- that have less sugar.
The supplement mentioned on the next page may help you with a widespread cause of heat intolerance.
Adrenal Adaptogenic Herbs
Obesity is a common cause of heat intolerance, and high cortisol levels are often associated with obesity [source: Vaughan]. So, one way to help your body adapt to temperature increases could be to lower your cortisol levels.
Also known as glucocorticoid, cortisol is a hormone that increases blood sugar. While this is a normal function within the body, it can get out of hand. In people who experience chronic stress, anxiety or depression, cortisol levels can increase. When cortisol levels are elevated, they can sometimes lead to weight gain [source: National Institutes of Health]. So it stands to reason that targeting cortisol may help you lose weight and thus reduce your risk of heat intolerance.
Adrenal adaptogenic herbs are sometimes recommended for the treatment of stress and high cortisol. Rather than one specific supplement, there are a range of adrenal adaptogenic herbs that include Asian ginseng, licorice root, suma and others. You should visit a homeopathic doctor for recommendations on the combination best for you. In fact, it's always a good idea to seek out a doctor's guidance and supervision when taking supplements.
If stress is your problem, you might be able to use the supplement on the next page as well.
Stress seems to be the culprit of many problems in the body. As we discussed on the previous page, it can lead to weight gain. It may also cause sleeplessness and anxiety. Anxiety can increase your heart rate, make you sweat more and make you feel flushed [source: Mayo Clinic]. These are also symptoms of heat intolerance. So by treating your stress and anxiety, you might be able to take care of your body's discomfort with heat, as well.
There are a number of ways to reduce stress and stress-related illnesses, including exercise, nutrition, life skills development and prescription medications. Another option might be magnesium. Magnesium has a calming effect on the body and can aid in anxiety reduction and restful sleep.
You might first try to increase your magnesium intake by consuming foods with higher concentrations of it, like cashews, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, rice bran, buckwheat, kelp and coconut water [source: Walling]. If you feel you're still not getting enough, a supplement may help. However, because magnesium can cause loose bowel movements, you may want to start with a small dose at first.
If there's one symptom that defines menopause more than all the others, it's hot flashes. Hot flashes are abrupt episodes of physical warmth, with accompanying discomfort. Rapid heartbeat, heavy sweating and red, flushed skin are hallmarks of the phenomenon.
There are a number of supplements women can take for menopausal symptoms, but only a few help reduce hot flashes. A popular one is black cohosh, which is an herb in the buttercup family.
There have been numerous trials on the effectiveness of black cohosh in the treatment of hot flashes. While research has been promising, there still isn't enough evidence for women's health organizations to fully endorse the herb as a treatment of heat intolerance in menopausal women [source: Office of Dietary Supplements].
Black cohosh, however, isn't the only supplement used to treat hot flashes. Our final supplement for heat intolerance is also commonly used by menopausal women. Learn more on the next page.
This is the second supplement on our list to specifically address hot flashes. That's because they're one of the most common occurrences of heat intolerance.
Fortunately, when it comes to treating hot flashes in menopausal women, there are supplement options. One that medical experts are starting to recommend is vitamin E. A placebo, double-blind, controlled trial conducted in 2007 found that participants taking the vitamin experienced a reduction in the severity of hot flashes [source: Ziaei, et. al].
It's uncertain whether vitamin E can help ease heat intolerance in men and non-menopausal women. However, the supplement does have a number of health benefits. If you'd like to give it a try, start with a lower dosage first to see if it has a positive effect.
Regularly popping a fish oil supplement was once considered beneficial for cardiovascular health. A big 2018 meta-study challenges that assumption.
- Consumer Health Information Corporation. "Caution: Some Drugs Might Make You More Sensitive to Heat." 2010. (May 10, 2012) http://www.consumer-health.com/services/CautionSomeDrugsMightMakeYouMoreSensitivetoHeat.php
- Mayo Clinic. "Anxiety Symptoms." June 29, 2010. (May 10, 2012) http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/anxiety/DS01187/DSECTION=symptoms
- Medline Plus. "Heat Intolerance." April 20, 2010. (May 10, 2012) http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/003094.htm
- National Institutes of Health. "Stress System Malfunction Could Lead to Serious, Life Threatening Disease." Sept. 9, 2002. (May 10, 2012) http://www.nih.gov/news/pr/sep2002/nichd-09.htm
- Office of Dietary Supplements, National Institutes of Health. "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Black Cohosh." (May 10, 2012) http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Blackcohosh-HealthProfessional/
- Vaughan, Elizabeth M.D. Physician, Vaughan Integrative Medicine. Personal interview. April 27, 2012.
- Wallace, Edward. "Adaptogenic Herbs: Nature's Solution To Stress." The Chiropractic Resource Organization." (May 10, 2012) http://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Adaptogenic_Herbs.shtml
- Walling, Elizabeth. "Magnesium provides a natural remedy for anxiety." Jan. 18, 2011.(May 10, 2012) http://www.naturalnews.com/031034_magnesium_anxiety.html
- Ziaei, S; Kazemnejad, A; and Zareai M. "The effect of vitamin E on hot flashes in menopausal women." Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation. July 30, 2007. (May 10, 2012) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17664882