The Invisible Inflammation: Hot Flashes

Holly Lucille

April 27, 2012

2 Min Read
The Invisible Inflammation: Hot Flashes

We had a saying in Naturopathic Medical School: “If you want to heal a person, heal the gut." It's fitting that I have written about digestive issues like intestinal permeability or “leaky gut syndrome” and all of its complications various times in the past decade. With inflammation being this month's topic, the time has come again.

Intestinal permeability describes a cascade of symptoms and disorders that stem from small intestine’s semi-permeable membrane becoming excessively permeable for a variety of reasons, allowing infiltration of microbial and metabolic toxins (as well as undigested food) into the bloodstream. These include fatigue, immune deficiency, food allergies, asthma and eczema. Intestinal permeability may also be a contributor to other modern illnesses such as insulin resistance, obesity, neurotransmitter disorders, autoimmune disorders, and cancer. In fact, it may account for 50 percent of chronic illness. 

One symptom that I have not linked to intestinal permeability, which has been getting my attention lately, is the vasomotor symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, an overlooked aspect of inflammation.  Here's what happens: Intestinal permeability stimulates a classic hypersensitivity response to the undigested foods and to components of the normal gut flora and bacterial endotoxins that are “leaked" into the bloodstream.  This creates a “non-specific” activation of inflammatory pathways through inflammatory mediators. TNF Alpha, produced mainly by macrophages, mediates acute inflammation by helping to stimulate inflammation in the endothelial tissue cells. It also helps white blood cells migrate into the tissue space and helps macrophages secrete IL1 and PGE2. This is all part of the body’s response to inflammation. Another function of inflammation is something called  “diapedesis." This is the passage of blood cells through the intact wall of the capillaries and it accompanies an inflammatory reaction. It is basically vasodilatation! 

Have you ever wondered why one of the main pieces of advice from any column, article, doctor, or health advocate to decrease hot flashes is related to certain foods?  Sure, it is helpful to avoid spicy foods, alcohol, dairy products, and sugar, but I have been getting fantastic results with women by going back to what I first learned. 

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