How Probiotics Can Help Fight Hot Flashes
Finding relief from menopausal symptoms can be a complex and challenging journey. Every woman is different, and therefore not all treatments will provide the same benefits for everyone. Some methods may be more effective than others and permanent changes to diet and other lifestyle areas may be necessary to reap the most benefits and support symptom relief.
While changes to diet, exercise, and other lifestyle aspects can go a long way to supporting menopausal health, what else can women do for symptom relief—specifically, alleviating hot flashes?
How Probiotics Can Help With Hot Flashes
Probiotics are bacterial strains that help support the health of your body’s microbiome, the existing microorganism population that lives inside various bodily systems, primarily in your gut. Probiotics help deliver beneficial bacteria to your digestive tract. When enough beneficial bacteria populates your gut, they can help your body receive nutrients and information to better regulate itself.
So, how do hot flashes come into play, and, more importantly, how can probiotics help regulate body temperature?
The area of the brain called the hypothalamus is responsible for regulating body temperature. When estrogen levels begin to fluctuate and deplete, it causes the hypothalamus to become extremely sensitive to changes in temperature. When the hypothalamus thinks the body is overheating, it triggers a hot flash in an attempt to release sweat on the skin and cool the body down from the outside in. Probiotics help support the hypothalamus so it functions at its best and is less likely to misinterpret that the body is overheating.
Furthermore, probiotics support biodiversity in the gut that might be altered by the menopause transition. As the gut rebalances, the health of all its connected improve and the body is better able at handling symptoms. “The health of our gut affects our mood, energy, immune system, inflammation, and hormones,” says MenoLabs resident expert Dr. Maggie Ney. “All the areas that can also be affected when our hormones start to decline during the menopause transition. Which is why supporting our gut health becomes even more important during this time.”
How Probiotics Are Designed to Help
There are ingredients in some probiotic blends that are specifically designed to improve gut health and support menopausal symptom relief. Some also include phytoestrogens, plant compounds that mimic the role of your body’s natural estrogen, just at a weaker level.
Phytoestrogens bind onto estrogen receptors in the body. Once they bind to these receptors, they help maintain hormonal levels and steadily regulate multiple functions throughout the body. Many herbal ingredients like red clover and dong quai contain phytoestrogens and, when paired with key vitamins, minerals, and probiotics, can help improve the body’s natural ability to regulate itself which contributes to fewer symptoms.
Two noted phytoestrogens are red clover and dong quai.
- Red clover has a number of effects on the body. It acts as an anti-inflammatory, which helps the body’s immune system to lower the risk of infections and illness. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it’s full of phytoestrogens known as isoflavones. There are two primary isoflavones in red clover that can help steady the decrease of the body’s natural estrogen, Biochanin A and Formononetin. When both of these compounds work together, they bind onto estrogen receptors in the body and help flatten the depletion of estrogen in the body, which in turn, helps the hypothalamus better regulate body temperature.
- Dong quai (also known as “female ginseng”) is an herb that’s been used for its medicinal purposes for thousands of years, specifically in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM.) Dong Quai helps improve both blood circulation. High blood pressure and increased heart rate can trick the hypothalamus into thinking the body is overheating, thus triggering a hot flash. Dong quai’s ability to improve blood flow helps to maintains blood pressure and heart rate, which can help you better maintain a steady body temperature and avoid hot flashes.
Preventing and relieving hot flashes take multi-pronged approaches and not every technique works for all women. But probiotics can be a helpful addition to your symptom relief arsenal while also providing their other beneficial effects on human health. If you’re struggling with hot flashes, popping a probiotic may not be a magic solution, but alongside healthy lifestyle changes, it just may contribute to your overall relief.