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Hot Flashes and the Adrenal Glands

Stress, even in women in their 20s and 30s, can manifest in hot flashes and menopause-like symptoms, explains Dr. Ann Lovick

Ann Lovick, NMD

Hot flashes and night sweats are classic menopause symptoms. Many women in their 20s and 30s experience them and worry that they are going through early menopause, but while these uncontrollable moments of flushing and sweating can be due to a decline in estrogen production by the ovaries, they are often due to low adrenal function.

The adrenal glands sit on top of the kidneys and release hormones in response to stress. Most people associate them with cortisol production, but they actually produce a variety of hormones, including DHEA, testosterone and estrogen.

Many people are under all types of stress these days. Unless you are three years old and mom and dad still meet all your needs, the odds are that you are experiencing some stress. The body is amazing and does adapt to adverse conditions, but sometimes it adapts to the point where we are unaware that we are dealing with stress. Unfortunately, chronic overstimulation of our adrenals is very common.

For some people, the stress feedback loop becomes stronger and stronger, causing increasingly negative reactions to stress. So we continue on day-to-day while our body is under stress until eventually, we tire, get sick and feel burned out. This is a sign that our adrenals are fatigued.

Hot flashes are not the only sign that adrenal function may be off. Anxiety, depression, weight gain, fatigue and trouble sleeping can all be signs that the adrenals are out of balance. The good news is that this can be corrected.

The adrenal glands respond very well to nutrition and acupuncture, as well as diet and lifestyle changes. The body is a highly complex, interconnected system and a doctor should be consulted in cases of hot flashes and night sweats. Proper lab testing and assessment is crucial for establishing a treatment plan and restoring a sweat-free, blissful night’s sleep.

Ann Lovick is a naturopathic physician specializing in women’s health care at Integrative Health, in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-657-0003 visit MyIntegrativeHealth.com.