Good news for mature women – hot flashes aren’t a normal part of menopause! Common, yes, healthy, no. We have come to accept hot flashes as being a normal part of menopause, when in fact it is a symptom of hormones out of balance. Women who go through menopause symptom-free don’t talk about it! One day they realize, ‘hey, I haven’t had my cycle in a year now, I guess I’m done’. The ones who talk about it are the ones you see fanning their faces, striping layers of clothes off or cursing “their own personal summer”.
More women suffer these symptoms than ever because we are so out of balance. It has become the norm – but that doesn’t mean it’s normal. When the ovaries retire (naturally or surgically induced), the body relies on other tissues to produce estrogen – namely the adrenals, liver and breast tissue. The problem today is that the glands mostly relied on aren’t up to snuff. The liver is so overloaded with the synthetic byproducts of the pre-packaged, junk and fast foods we eat, the pollutants in the air and other factors, that making estrogen just doesn’t appear to be at the top of the list of priorities.
The adrenal glands take the greatest burden of estrogen production, but in a weakened state, it too doesn’t perform up to par. Adrenals are the major part of the stress-coping mechanism in the body. Whilst they help you to cope with stress, they are also weakened by prolonged stress. Sugar, alcohol, coffee and stress are the biggest culprits for interference with adrenal function. I’m not talking about adrenal failure here. I’m talking about that grey area between perfect function and adrenal failure, commonly referred to as adrenal fatigue. When the adrenals are tired, estrogen levels diminish – a hormonal imbalance.
There’s much that can be done to prevent hot flashes. This includes providing the raw materials the body needs to make hormones (need good nutritional recommendations), taking the burden off the liver with a carefully monitored detoxification program, acupuncture treatments, herbal treatments, etc.
Many medications and Xenoestrogens (chemicals that mimic estrogenic activity), and other compounds interfere with adrenal and liver function, pre-disposing you to hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. When any of the endocrine glands are out of balance, so will the sex hormones be. Diabetes, hypo or hyperthyroidism, pituitary challenges, and previous PMS are all endocrine imbalances that will pre-dispose you to peri-menopausal or menopausal symptoms. There’s much that can be done to help these conditions as well. Women don’t have to suffer!
By taking some positive action to support the function of the entire endocrine system and the health of the body as a whole, you can go through this period of time feeling energetic instead of fatigued, calm and peaceful instead of erratic emotions, “sharp as a tack” instead of fuzzy-thinking, and in general, enjoy the fullness this period of your life is meant to be!
© 2009 Holly A. Carling, O.M.D., L.Ac., Ph.D.