The (Hot) Flashdance: What’s going on with hot flashes?

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Let’s bust a myth that hot flashes mean someone has low estrogen levels.  In fact, research does not show a correlation between circulating estrogen levels and the incidence (or severity) of hot flashes. A hot flash is triggered by the hypothalamus in the brain and occurs to release heat that has built up in the body in response to a surge of norepinephrine and/or epinephrine (or what we typically call “adrenaline”).

A woman can still be estrogen dominant (and even have relatively high levels of estrogen) and still wrestle with hot flashes.  It is a sudden drop in estrogen that can trigger the cascade that causes a hot flash. But it’s more complex than that.

Have you ever tried a hot flash remedy suggested in a popular magazine that didn’t work for you? It may be that the driver of your hot flashes differs from the target of that remedy.

High cortisol, low cortisol, low progesterone, or low serotonin can all be a major driver of hot flashes. For instance, if hot flashes only happen at night, and especially in the 2-4am window that impairs sleep, it’s more likely that they are being driven by a cortisol surge.  Consider having your cortisol diurnal rhythm checked (e.g. with DUTCH testing) that also includes various estrogens (not just estradiol).

For some women, taking too much Vitamin D at once can drive magnesium too low (magnesium is needed to convert Vitamin D into its final form in the body). Magnesium helps the body to regulate and produce hormones.  In this scenario, it would be better to take smaller doses of Vitamin D throughout the day.  Because insufficient magnesium is so common, it’s a good idea to have your RBC Magnesium levels included as part of a thorough annual physical check-up.

This is why it’s important to test and not guess. Once your hot flash driver(s) are better identified, you can more effectively address them.

Lisa Jacobsen is a certified Functional Diagnostic Practitioner and Holistic Health Coach.  She works with men and women who suffer from fatigue, digestive issues, low sex drive and stubborn weight.  You can find her at G&T Westport on Wednesday mornings or find her at www.bewell4good.com

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Lisa Jacobsen is a certified Functional Diagnostic Practitioner and Holistic Health Coach.  She works with men and women who suffer from fatigue, digestive issues, low sex drive and stubborn weight.  You can find her at G&T Westport on Wednesday mornings or find her at www.bewell4good.com.

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