What if doctors have it all wrong?
Well, it wouldn’t be the first time.
In the 1800’s doctors recommended cough syrup containing heroin.
Is that a chronic cough, or are you just addicted to your cough syrup?
In the 1940’s, mental disorders including depression and anxiety were being treated with frontal lobotomies.
You don’t really need that part of your brain, do you?
Yet, grave medical mistakes like these don’t happen in this day and age… or do they?
While it’s hard to compete with a medical mistake like having part of your brain removed, there’s an epidemic medical mistake that’s been overlooked for decades…
…and it’s likely one of the deadliest we’ve ever seen.
I’m referring to the medical mistake of using estrogen to treat many symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes and flushes.
Sure, estrogen is effective at reducing the symptoms of hot flashes.
But, what about the well-established increased risk of diseases caused by estrogen, including:
- Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis
- Autoimmune Diseases
- Thyroid Disease
- Blood Clots
Apparently doctors are not concerned about those, and therefore, you shouldn’t be either.
That’s a little scary isn’t it?
Treating hot flashes with estrogen is kind of like treating depression with a lobotomy.
No, the existence of the frontal lobe of your brain isn’t the cause of depression any more than estrogen deficiency is the cause of your hot flashes.
The Hot Flash Estrogen Deficiency Myth
If estrogen deficiency was the cause of hot flashes, then it would make sense that women who suffer from hot flashes would be “more deficient” in estrogen than those who do not.
However, according to renowned hormone physiologist Dr. Raymond Peat, that’s not the case at all.
At menopause, there are a number of hormonal changes that occur, including:
- A natural decline in thyroid function.
- An inhibition of progesterone production.
- An increase in stored estrogen within cells/tissue.
- An increase in activity of the estrogen producing aromatase enzyme.
While estrogen production may decline, progesterone production declines more severely resulting in estrogen dominance.
(Note: Estrogen levels at menopause are often 50 times higher than what is measured in the blood, as discussed in this article on hypothyroidism and estrogen.)
It’s important to understand that it’s the balance of estrogen to progesterone that matters most.
In menopause, the more estrogen dominant and progesterone deficient you become, the greater the danger to your thyroid health.
Dangers of Estrogen to Your Thyroid Health
There are certain points in a woman’s life when hypothyroidism either develops, or worsens.
Menopause is one those times due to the thyroid suppressive effects of estrogen dominance.
Estrogen dominance blocks thyroid function and drives hypothyroidism in a number of ways, including:
- Inhibiting the proteolytic enzymes that allow your thyroid gland to release its thyroid hormone, directly blocking your thyroid gland.
- Blocking your liver from converting inactive T4 thyroid hormone into the active T3 thyroid hormone your cells need to survive.
- Blocking your metabolism and preventing you from using thyroid hormone efficiently.
While the exact mechanism(s) that cause hot flashes are still not entirely understood, there are certain triggers that are well known to produce hot flashes, which can be corrected.
The 3 Hypothyroidism and Hot Flash Triggers and How to Fix Them
Here’s what we do know…
Some studies have demonstrated that hot flashes can be triggered by certain imbalances, and that correcting those imbalances can effectively prevent or reduce the risk of a hot flash occurring.
These hot flash triggers include:
- Progesterone Deficiency
- Increased Nitric Oxide
What’s interesting is that these imbalances are also commonly found in hypothyroidism and caused by estrogen dominance.
How can that be?
If these hot flash triggers are caused by estrogen dominance (and hypothyroidism), then why would estrogen improve hot flash symptoms?
How can something be both part of the problem and the solution at the same time?
This is exactly what continues to confuse so many.
The truth is that while large amounts of estrogen may alleviate the severity of hot flashes, it’s certainly NOT part of the solution.
Studies show that estrogen effectively lowers both body temperature and the environmental temperature at which your body begins to release heat.
Chronic hormone replacement therapy alters thermoregulatory and vasomotor function in postmenopausal women.
“These results suggest that 1) chronic ERT [Estrogen Replacement Therapy] likely acts centrally to decrease Tre [temperaure], 2) ERT lowers the Tre at which heat-loss effector mechanisms are initiated, primarily by actions on active cutaneous vasodilation, and 3) addition of exogenous progestins in HRT effectively blocks these effects.”
The higher your body temperature (more heat) and the faster the flash (release of that heat), the more severe the hot flash.
Supplementing estrogen both lowers body temperature (less heat) and slows the flash (release of heat), thus reducing the symptom.
In other words, it’s not fixing the problem.
It’s just making it less severe.
That makes estrogen great for your hot flashes, but (as we’ve already established) horrible for your health.
It’s never a good idea to try to solve one problem only to create a bigger and more serious problem in the process.
Instead, focus on fixing the underlying cause of your hot flashes by fixing these three hot flash triggers.
Hot Flash Trigger #1: Progesterone Deficiency
As mentioned previously, progesterone deficiency is common in hypothyroidism.
Not only is progesterone deficiency known to promote hot flashes, restoring progesterone levels is known to prevent them.
Progesterone for hot flush and night sweat treatment–effectiveness for severe vasomotor symptoms and lack of withdrawal rebound.
“In summary, progesterone is effective for severe VMS and does not cause a rebound increase in VMS when stopped.”
In this study of early menopausal women, 300 mg was shown to be effective against severe hot flashes.
Also, when the progesterone was stopped, the hot flashes didn’t come back with a vengeance as they do when you stop estrogen.
Hot Flash Trigger #2: Increased Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide levels are known to rise in hypothyroidism, estrogen dominance, and in response to severe traumatic stress.
It’s also known to trigger hot flashes.
Nitric oxide synthase inhibition attenuates cutaneous vasodilation during postmenopausal hot flash episodes.
“CONCLUSIONS: These data demonstrate that the mechanism for cutaneous vasodilation during hot flash episodes has a nitric oxide component.”
Research also shows that inhibiting nitric oxide can prevent or stop hot flashes from occurring.
Regulating thyroid function and metabolism will effectively lower nitric oxide levels, as can addressing the underlying estrogen dominance, which we often do with our Molecular Progesterone Oil and our Vitamin E Complex.
Hot Flash Trigger #3: Hypoglycemia
Hypothyroidism is also well known to promote blood sugar issues and hypoglycemia, due to hypothyroidism’s effects on your liver.
Being hypothyroid and prone to low blood sugar also makes you more susceptible to hot flashes.
Menopausal hot flash frequency changes in response to experimental manipulation of blood glucose.
“RESULTS: There was a significant reduction in the incidence of hot flashes during the experimental elevation of glucose concentrations (130 to 140 mg/dl) compared to the fasting state (<110 mg/dl) (t= -2.4, df= 9, p=.04).”
This is why hot flashes tend to occur more frequently at night when blood sugar is often lowest and during times of stress when blood sugar is used up more rapidly.
We always recommend eating the proper balance of nutrition, and frequently enough, to keep blood sugar stable.
Hypothyroidism is very common in menopause, and needless to say I’ve worked with a lot of menopausal clients.
Correcting these three hot flash triggers has been instrumental in alleviating hot flashes with many of them.
Yet, it’s not only menopausal women who suffer. I’ve also worked with non-menopausal women who experience hot flashes, and these same tips apply to them as well.
Unfortunately, the current medical approach to menopausal symptoms and hormone replacement therapy is extremely dangerous.
Putting yourself at unnecessary risk of developing life threatening diseases like cancer, thyroid disease, and stroke is surely not the solution…
…especially when there are other viable options, like progesterone supplementation, that can fix hot flashes and protect you from these very diseases at the same time.