Modern medicine can solve a lot of complex issues but hot flashes are still a mystery!
Hot flashes are theorized to come from the brain centers where temperature is controlled.
The process of temperature regulation is a symphony of communication between receptors for the autonomic nervous system.
This is the system that is in control of when you go into fight or flight (sympathetic) or rest and digest (parasympathetic) modes.
The receptors that are most active with hot flashes and night sweats are adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin and acetylcholine.
These receptors are known as adrenergic receptors and there are alpha-1 (a-1), alpha-2 (a-2), beta-1(b-1) and beta-2 (b-2).
All of these receptors are involved in how the body responds to stress as well as your surrounding environment.
In the case of temperature regulation, they are the ones signaling for you to process whether it’s cold or hot outside.
And they trigger sweating on hot days or when you decide to provoke change in your core temperature like when you sit outside in the sun and sip on hot tea while writing emails like this one!
Should have chosen iced tea this morning…but I digress.
Hormonal shifts like decreases in estrogen, cyclically or with menopause cause the fight or flight nervous system to pop of messages.
Alerting your body that something isn’t right.
That you might need to flee a life threatening situation.
Feeling hot and sweaty are normal responses to stress.
They are your body increasing blood flow and attempting to “pre-cool” you prior to your great escape from a threat.
If your nervous system is in a good place, meaning it’s not hyper-vigilant stuck in fight or flight mode, you will tend not to have night sweats and hot flashes.
This is why your Mom or some women going through “the change” might say they never had hot flashes or night sweats.
Or it was minimal for them.
They are the lucky ones and I’d like to know what makes them different.
I’m not aware of any studies comparing women that have hot flashes and night sweats versus those that do not.
I have theories as to why some women have more severe hot flashes and night sweats than others, I’ll get to that in a little bit.
Most medications that are used for hot flashes are theorized to help by inhibiting a-2 receptors.
This is why your doctor may have prescribed an anti-depressant to help with hot flashes.
Estrogens have an impact on brain adrenergic (adrenaline) receptors.
Elevated brain norepinephrine (adrenaline) and decreased estrogen levels are theorized to be the main triggers for hot flashes and night sweats.
What causes this to happen?
Increased sympathetic, fight or flight mode, activity in the body.
Sweating is regulated using acetylcholine and cholinergic receptors.
Acetylcholine is main communication molecule for nerves to talk with each other.
If your brain senses a threat it gets your nerves talking and more acetylcholine is released.
So if you live with a constant level of stress you might be provoked to sweat easily.
And you’re a bit more chill you might not have the quick to sweat response.
Some people weren’t prone to sweating till they entered peri-menopause and beyond.
Others were great at sweating their entire lives.
What’s the difference between sweaters and non-sweaters?
The strength of their fight or flight nervous system response.
One of the researched theories for controlling night sweats and hot flashes is CBD because of it’s effect on the endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system uses the same sweat regulating receptors as acetylcholine for communication.
Research has shown the endocannabinoid system is involved in helping the autonomic nervous system in the response to stress.
Low Dose Naltrexone (LDN), the medication I mentioned last week for reducing inflam-aging exerts it’s effect on the endocannabinoid system to reduce inflammation and has also been helpful for hot flashes and night sweats.
Every angle I look at to counter hot flashes and night sweats it appears that there has to be a nervous system calming aspect to the therapy used.
My theory: If you have hot flashes, night sweats or you want to prevent them it’s well worth it to nurture your nervous system on a daily basis.
How can you nurture your nervous system daily?
- breath work
- mindset work
- adjusting your days to be as stress free as possible
- l-theanine or holy basil to calm the fight or flight response
- consider CBD or LDN to calm the endocannabioid system
- functional neurology nerve balancing work
- laugh, smile
- lie down with your legs up 5 minutes each day (positional parasympathetic breathing)
- exercise and movement – tai chi
- fascial release therapy (check out Human Garage)
- balance your blood sugar, hormone and thyroid levels
Taking care of your nervous system has benefits beyond hot flashes and night sweats…
…it can slow down the aging process too!
Tonight 8/14/2023 @ 4:30 pm PST/7:30 pm ET – I’m hosting a masterclass on “What’s Accelerating Your Aging?”
Hint…hormone imbalances are one of the aging accelerators.
Even if you’ve completed your quiz and you know where to focus, this masterclass will give you more insights into how to slow down the aging process.
If you can’t make it, that’s ok – register and I’ll send you a replay!
If you are reading this on my blog page be sure to join my email list by taking the quiz so you can join us for the next masterclass.
Here’s to your health,