While you’re at home, not enjoying your own personal summer (hot flashes), the beautiful sun we’ve waited all winter to get here to relish in, is not welcome! Fans and air conditioning aren’t enough to ward those nasty hot flashes off. The sweat dripping down your face isn’t helpful either. So what can be done about it?
Lots. Your body doesn’t like to be overheated anymore than you do. Most people associate hot flashes with menopause, but they can occur because of being overweight, eating triggering foods such as coffee, alcohol, and spicy foods, due to anxiety or because of certain diseases. If you are experiencing hot flashes and sweats and you aren’t close to your 50’s, you should rule out something else as being the problem before assuming they are hormonal.
But if they are caused by hormonal imbalance, we need to find out why. Hot flashes and sweats do not go hand in hand with menopause. In other words, it may be way too common, but not normal. These symptoms are nothing more than the body waving a red flag saying “help!” something is wrong. It is easy today for the endocrine system (all the hormone-producing glands and organs in the body) to get out of balance.
The endocrine system is a highly complex system of interdependent function. What effects one gland, will ricochet around all the other glands. For instance, if you eat a lot of sugar, you will spike insulin (pancreas) which will then cause a spike in cortisol (adrenals – adrenals also produce estrogen), a depression in thyroid function, which negatively effects ovaries, etc. In this highly refined system of positive and negative feedback loops, every gland has to adjust its function when another gland does. It is an ever changing system, effected by everything you eat, think, and do.
So what we eat, think and do has to be according to what the body needs, and not do what is detrimental to this system. So what is detrimental? Sugar intake, caffeine, alcohol, stress, junk or processed foods, many medications, and a whole array of other things. What is helpful is a diet rich in green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, organic meat, fish, poultry and eggs, minerals and specific endocrine support.
A good natural health care provider can assist you in finding nutrients specific in balancing the endocrine system. While natural hormone replacement therapies such as bio-identical hormones can be helpful, they are only short-term answers because they don’t address the real problem. The real problem is that the endocrine system, primarily the adrenal glands and liver are not producing the post-ovary-retirement estrogen that is required. The real answer is to do acupuncture and provide other support to encourage the proper balance and functioning of the system so in distress it is waving a red flag and saying “help me!” There is help. So instead of cursing the summer heat, take action and find a good health care practitioner today.
© 2008 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.