Feeling the Heat in Menopause
With up to 75% of menopausal women experiencing hot flushes ( or flashes!), they are often a 'hot' topic of conversation, (Pun intended!!) among women at this stage of life. So why do we have hot flushes? And what can help them?
What causes hot flushes?
The medical theory is that hot flushes come about because of falling oestrogen levels, which upset the balance of the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is a region of the brain that connects the nervous system to the endocrine system via the pituitary gland. A large part of it's role is to control temperature, sleep, sex hormones, appetite and mood.
The shift in oestrogen seems to upset the balance, causing a cascade of effects as the delicate hormonal balance in the body tries to compensate.
There are lots of triggers for hot flushes, such as caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, spicy foods, anxiety and stress. What all the triggers appear to have in common, is that they stimulate the nervous system in some way, sending a wave of hormones through the hypothalamus in an attempt to maintain the bodies equilibrium, which in turn seems to send the hypothalamus into overdrive, triggering the hot flush.
What might help?
There are a number of things we can each do to reduce the frequency and intensity of hot flushes.
A good starting point is to make sure you are properly hydrated, drinking lots of water, and
to make sure you don't have sudden dips in blood sugar, by eating regularly. Avoiding trigger foods and drinks makes sense, but it might be possible to reduce the sensitivity to these by taking a liver supporting herb, like Milk Thistle.
The liver is tasked with eliminating toxins from the body, and when it is struggling, we become much more sensitive to the substances we consume. So keeping your liver healthy, and perhaps doing a detox program for a while, should help reduce flushes.
Many people also report that exercise makes a huge difference too. Exercising gives the body a chance to burn off excess hormones, and reduces stress levels, which might be why it helps the body get back to a better balance, reducing the flushes.
The most dramatic improvements I have seen in hot flushes, have come about when I have prescribed the remedy Sepia in my homeopathic practice. One lady I treated was having constant hot flushes day and night, getting up several times a night to change her pjs, and sleeping on towels, but within a week of taking Sepia she called me to say the flushes had vanished!! She was totally delighted!!
There are a number of other homeopathic remedies that can help too, depending on the exact nature of each womans experience, but on this occasion Sepia worked it's magic beautifully!
There are various herbs that seem to help, such as black cohosh and cimicifuga, which are readily available over the counter in health food shops in menopause formulations. Some women find acupuncture works well too.
The key is to remember that your body is transitioning, and if you seem to get stuck in a rut with hot flushes, don't despair! Try some of these suggestions, listen to your body, and perhaps seek out the help and support of a practitioner who can use their expertise to nudge your body onwards to your new balance.