The Overlooked Cause of Hot Flashes
Why is it that some women suffer through menopause while others seem to get through it completely unscathed? In countries where women are under less stress and have healthier diets, the negative symptoms of menopause are nearly nonexistent. So why do American women rank among the sufferers? The simple answer is chronic stress and poor eating habits.
The adrenals are two little triangular shaped glands that sit on top of each kidney in the flank area of your waist. These glands make a variety of hormones that are involved in many regulatory functions through out the body. The primary adrenal hormone that is involved in hot flashes is estrogen.
Although the ovaries are the primary site of estrogen production for pre-menopausal women, the adrenal glands become the primary site of estrogen production for the years of a woman’s life after menopause. If the adrenals were “burnt out” before a woman hits menopause, this important supplier of post menopausal hormones isn’t available to a woman when she needs it the most.
Stress causes the adrenal glands to release cortisol. Cortisol allows the body to release stored blood sugar to give us a boost of energy in times of need. This is a survival mechanism and an important way for our bodies to deal with increased stress. However, this mechanism can wear out the adrenal glands in instances of extreme or chronic stress. This can leave you feeling fatigued, depressed and experiencing an unpleasant array of menopausal symptoms.
Blood sugar stability is also an important factor in this equation because unstable blood sugar stresses the adrenals due to an increased demand for cortisol. When cortisol demand is increased because of unstable blood sugar and chronic stress, the body reacts by shifting the adrenals away from sex hormone production to create more cortisol. The adrenals do this because the need for the blood sugar boosting effect of cortisol is more important for survival than making the other adrenal hormones.
A simple saliva test can tell you whether your adrenals are contributing to your hot flashes and other menopausal symptoms. Healing the adrenals and managing blood sugar are important first steps in taking charge of your symptoms and regaining the energy and vitality needed to reach your full potential.
Dr Lindy Vaughn
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