Menopause Archives - Balm Natural Health

Hot flush or power surge?

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Some months ago, before the whole COVID situation took over our lives, I wrote a blog on Menopause and why some women breeze through it while others suffer terrible symptoms.

I promised my next blog would be all about the hot flush and so finally here it is.

It is one of the most troublesome and common symptoms of menopause. Some women report just a few mild flushes per week while others report debilitating extreme flushes every hour. The natural drop in oestrogen at this time contributes to this symptom but is not the only cause.

What is a hot flush?

The hot flush is the body’s way of quickly lowering the body’s core temperature when it senses that the body has become overheated. Blood vessels near the skins surface expand (or vasodilate) allowing that excess heat to escape from the body via the skin. So why are menopausal women’s bodies overheating so much?

The hypothalamus in the brain acts like a thermostat, keeping body temperature to within a particular temperature range. When the body’s temperature falls outside this range, it will bring in mechanisms to either heat or cool the body to bring it back within the range. For women who suffer regular hot flushes, it seems this temperature range is narrowed meaning the body is more likely to fall outside of the acceptable range, causing the body to think it is overheating.

Why does the thermostat narrow?

The lowered oestrogen levels which go hand in hand with menopause are partially to blame for this temperature thermostat narrowing, however, levels of other types of body chemicals are also involved. For example, a neurotransmitter called GABA is important for sleep and feeling relaxed. This can narrow the thermostat when it is low.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter important for feelings of happiness and wellbeing. This can narrow the thermostat when it is low.

DHEA is produced by the adrenals and can be converted to oestrogen in the tissues of the body.  This too can narrow the thermostat when it is low.

Stress

There is one major thing that can cause all of these things to be depleted in the body and that is stress. Stress also raises the level of cortisol in the body, otherwise known as the stress hormone. And you guessed it, high cortisol also narrows this thermostat range. This explains why women who are stressed often experience more severe hot flush symptoms.

Controlling stress is key

One of the best things you can do to control your hot flushes is therefore lowering or managing your stress level. There are so many physical techniques and lifestyle adjustments you can make which can make a huge difference here. There are also a lot of beautiful herbs and nutritional supplements which can help the body cope with stress and raise the levels of GABA, serotonin, DHEA and even oestrogen, while helping lower cortisol.

Click here for more information on how naturopathy can help with all of your menopause symptoms.

Why do some women breeze through menopause while others suffer?

Posted by | Balm Blog, Blog, Cardiovascular disease, Diet, Digestion, Fat, Health, hormones, Hot Flush, Insomnia, Menopause, Microbiome, Naturopathy, Sleep, Weight Gain, Weight Loss | No Comments

Menopause seems to be a uniquely different experience for every woman. However in my experience as a naturopath helping women through the transition, a few symptoms seem to be more common than others. Hot flushes and weight gain around the middle are of course the main ones. Another common complaint is swinging wildly between anxiety, depression and irritability. Sometimes so bad it almost becomes rage. One lady explained how her rage seemed to be centred on one poor man at her work who hadn’t even done anything in particular to anger her. She would just see him and immediately feel rage at him. It sounds like a script for a comedy but it was actually quite distressing for her as she wasn’t that sort of person and she felt guilty for the way she was thinking. Other common symptoms are fatigue, feeling more highly stressed, insomnia, night sweats, loss of libido, aches and pains and changes in skin and hair condition.

I’m going crazy, why aren’t you?

So why do you feel like you are going crazy and that life is about to end while your friend says “Oh my periods just stopped one day and that was it”. That can be infuriating to hear from someone already suffering bouts of rage and depression. Of course genetics do play a large role in how well your body copes with the transition. Generally, if your mother and older sisters had a hard time of it, chances are it won’t be a breeze for you either. But there are a lot of other factors involved which you do have much more control over.

Stress and body weight

One of the biggest things determining how well you will experience menopause is your stress levels. When you are constantly under stress, your adrenal glands are continuously being stimulated and their production of something called DHEA is affected. DHEA can be converted to a form of oestrogen in your fat cells. When the production of oestrogen from the ovaries is in rapid decline, this source of oestrogen can really help to reduce the symptoms of menopause.

For this same reason, your weight plays a big part too. Thinner women can sometimes experience more symptoms simply because they don’t have the fat reserves needed for this oestrogen conversion to occur.  This is also the reason the body seems to put weight on at this time.

Diet and lifestyle

As you will have guessed, diet and exercise are also extremely important determinants of how well you cope with the transition to menopause. Phyto-estrogen rich foods such as tofu and flaxseeds help raise the body’s perceived level of oestrogen. This can greatly reduce hot flushes and night sweats, not to mention help reduce the later risks of osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease.

Consumption of stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol, sugar and spicy foods will be detrimental while good dietary fibre, antioxidant rich foods and good fats will help.

There’s not much exercise isn’t good for and menopause symptoms are no exception. Many studies have found exercise, especially of the short burst HIIT (high intensity interval training) variety, to be most effective in reducing many common symptoms of menopause. Since stress is not helpful, spending gruelling long hours in the gym won’t help and isn’t necessary. Just a couple of short sessions a week (combining both cardio and weight bearing exercises) can make a huge difference.

My specialty area

Menopause and the associated symptoms, especially fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression, is my specialty area. If you think you could use some help, book yourself in online or if you’re not sure, give me a call for a free 10 minute phone chat to explore if it’s the right thing for you. Check out my webpage all about menopause here. I can work with you to design a tailored plan to help you through the transition and beyond with dietary and lifestyle advise as well as TGA approved, highly affective herbal and nutritional supplements.

Want more?

Email me if you’d like a great 3 page handout with diet and lifestyle recommendations for managing menopause. balmnaturalhealth@gmail.com

Keep an eye out for my next blog which will be all about the hot flush. What is happening and why and what to do about it.