MAMA D.O.C. Talk
Those Horrible Hot Flashes
"Don’t think of them as ‘hot flashes’, think of them
as POWER SURGES!"
I laughed when my male friend said that, since having endured six
years of this phenomena – I actually knew he was right.
These phenomena are a physiological indication of a bodily response to perceived
necessity. They are initiated by a dump of adrenalin into the system. Dumps
of adrenalin, the ‘fight or flight’ hormone, power us up physiologically.
We gain literally in strength, quickness of nervous response, clarity of
eye and mind, etc., and this is all fueled by an opening of the blood vessels
and increased blood flow.
Thus we feel hotter, because we are hotter. Suddenly all the blood vessels,
especially the ones to the head and the brain, open up! Blood from the interior
of the body, where it is held at 98plus degrees, rushes out to the periphery:
the head, the skin and the limbs. Body temperature in those locations is
closer to the ambient air temperature, usually much cooler. The sensors in
our skin pick up on the heat surge and automatically react by opening the
pores and sweating. Evaporation of sweat cools the skin, so it is a very
What seems inappropriate is the extent of the physiological reaction to
the stimulus. Typical stimuli to these menopausal heat flashes are: noticing
one is slightly off balance; hearing something that makes one slightly angry,
or is just a bit of an affront; being startled by someone or something; being
under the mild stresses of driving, or just living. These are all things
that one has always reacted to, but it did not cascade into such an unbearable
sense of heat and the subsequent profuse sweat.
Most adrenal gland activity we are blissfully unaware of. People who have
gone through an anger management activity have learned to sense immediately
the onset of adrenalin. So can you. And there are many things you can do
to mitigate and attenuate the surge itself, as well as your physiological
Why is the response so strong? I think the view from the other side is better:
the adrenalin dump isn’t any stronger, it’s that as we age, our
resting state is lower in adrenalin. As kids and teens we’re high on
running all the time! As adults we harness that energy towards productive
work. As elders we are meant to slow down. Rest, relax, take it easy, take
time to reflect on our amazing life: spend more time talking and less effort
doing. This is the way to preserve the body, and make best use of the accumulated
wisdom of mind.
So, by comparison, an adrenalin release that is no different than before,
seems extraordinary, and generates elevated responses.
These responses can be mitigated. The temperature control mechanism for
the body is up in the middle of the cranium, near the pituitary at the center
of the skull. Cool the skull and you will cool down the heat response. As
simple a tool as a folding fan is all that is needed to maintain one’s
sanity (it kept me from ripping off almost all my clothes in public, many
times!). An ice pack or cool metal to the left or right temple is also very
effective. Just do it immediately.
Before the heat surge proper there is a small surge like an "aura" that
you can sense. Also, you know if you have been startled or stressed.
Immediately start fanning the face, or apply a cool towel to your temple.
Why fans have gone out of fashion I can’t say, but they were standard
ladies wear. Even if you didn’t have a purse, you had a fan. They can
be hard to find today: the best are the beautifully painted silk and bamboo
folding fans from Japan.
There is an important physiological reason for the sweat triggering response.
With age, less activity and reduction in estrogen comes the potential for
weakening of the bones. Vitamin D is produced naturally in the skin, activated
by sunlight, but the process only happens if you get hot enough for the pores
to open and sweat to form. This hair trigger overheating, as we experience
it, is the body’s way of being sure that when we do see the sun, it
can be used to make that essential vitamin D.
Herbs can mitigate the intensity, duration and frequency of these adrenalin
episodes. How they work has yet to be investigated by our current pharmaceutically
oriented medicine. That they work is well documented by Naturopathic/Ayurvedic
and Chinese Traditional doctors. The formula which I found to be most effective
contained: Wild Yam Root (Dioscorea – the same wild yam in our Isis
formula) 300 mg; Unicorn Root 200 mg; Dong Quai 200 mg; Licorice 200 mg;
Passion Flower 100 mg and Black Cohosh 100mg. The simplest formula that is
still effective is Dong Quai and Black Cohosh. These formulas should only
be used as needed and never by pregnant women.
Relax about them and think of them as power surges, giving extra energy
that you can put to use.
Fan the face immediately you sense one coming on.
Get plenty of sunlight while you’re surging, to build up lots of vitamin
D and keep bones strong.
Take an herbal formula, under the supervision of your Naturopathic doctor.
Written by Cheryl Kolander aka "MAMA D.O.C.", Homeopath, © 2005
Isis Formula, a natural hormone balancer containing Dioscorea (true yam
root), and other roots traditionally used in the Caribbean Islands, is available
from Natural Safe Hormones.