When you’re out in that kind of heat, it’s natural to sweat, as it’s the body’s way of keeping cool. But, sometimes people are sweating for no good reason and that’s a problem. In this article we’ll talk about the purpose of sweat and how to regulate our body temperature in the heat, and how to deal with problems like hot flashes and night sweats.
When It’s Good to Sweat
Sweating is regulated by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Charged with maintaining core body temperature at around 98.6 degrees, the hypothalamus is able to influence many body functions that allow the body to conserve heat or increase heat loss. One of those mechanisms is to influence the tiny muscles in each sweat gland to either open or close.
When we sweat, evaporating water carries excess body heat away. While working in the summer heat, the body can lose as much as a gallon of water an hour to sweat. Furthermore, in dry desert climates, like the one I live in, a person may not even realize they are sweating because the sweat evaporates so quickly the skin stays dry.
That’s why it’s vital to know the signs and symptoms that indicate your body is overheating. As the body dehydrates and starts to overheat, a person progressively develops heat cramps, followed by heat exhaustion and then heat stroke.
Heat cramps occur when the core temperature rises to 99-100 degrees. The result is thirst, irritability, headache, dizziness and profuse sweating. When the internal temperature rises to 101-102 degrees, general weakness, decreased appetite, disorientation, confusion and shallow rapid breathing are added to the symptom list. When the temperature reaches 103-106, a person can go into shock and may suffer delirium or seizures. When the body gets that hot, one can go into a coma, have a stroke and even die from the exposure to the excess heat.
If you’re going to be hiking or working outdoors in the heat, it is important to recognize these symptoms, so you know when it’s time to cool down. It’s also important to know this information for emergency preparedness. People don’t just die from exposure in winter when power outages cause their central healing to fail. People can also die in the summer when the air conditioning goes out. So, it’s important to recognize when your body is getting to hot and what to do about it.
First, when you’re hot, drink more water. Force yourself to drink more water than you think you need. The only way to know that you’re drinking enough water is if you are urinating freely and your urine is clear (unless colored by vitamins you’re taking).
You also need to eat a little natural sea salt, because when we sweat, we also lose salt. Your body can’t hold onto the water you drink without some salt.
Secondly, seek some shade and take it easy. Exertion increases heat production and water loss. This is why people in the hot climate of Mexico have the custom of the afternoon siesta. They rest during the heat of the day and work during the cooler morning and evening hours.
Thirdly, you can also cool the body by reducing heat production, eat less fatty and calorie heavy foods and focus on watery, low calorie foods. Antioxidant-rich berries and sour fruits, like lemons, limes, raspberries and wolfberries, reduce oxidation and therefore heat production. This is why they have been used to reduce inflammation and fever. This same heat-reducing action can help cool your body when it’s hot.
Thai-Go contains many of these sour, heat-reducing fruits, making it an ideal “cooler” for hot summer days. In the hot days of summer, I like to make a cooling beverage I call Thai-Go Lemon-Aid. This is simply making a lemon-aid base with freshly squeezed lemon juice and an equal amount of pure maple syrup. I add about three to five tablespoons of this sweetened lemon juice to cool water (adjust it to taste) and then add about one tablespoon of Thai-Go (again adjust it to taste).
When I really need to hydrate, I find that adding this to sparkling water makes a refreshing alternative to soda pop and hydrates me more rapidly. Drinking this while also consuming extra water and salt, helps me keep my cool when my husband have to work outside in the heat.
Our Thai-Go is very special, see why: http://www.naturalhealthstore.us/thai-go/
Sea Salt (Two 7.5 oz Shakers) #150-6
Hot flashes often occur without warning, causing embarrassing episodes in which a woman’s face flushes. They can also cause a woman to sweat when she really doesn’t need to. Hot flashes occur when the hypothalamus is “tricked” into trying to get rid of excess body heat. It sends “cool down” signals, which tell your blood vessels to dilate, your heart rate to increase and your sweat glands to open up.
The result is a sudden, intense and unpleasant rush of heat, often accompanied by drenching perspiration, dizziness, and even heart palpitations. It can cause a person to feel nauseated, weak or faint, and experience a crawling sensation on the skin. Hot flashes usually last from two to thirty minutes.
The actual hot-flash episode may occur a few times each week or every few minutes throughout the day. Hot flashes may begin to appear several years before menopause starts and last for years after-wards. However, many women going through menopause never have hot flashes. Others have mild or infrequent flashes. The worst sufferers experience dozens of hot flashes each day. In addition, hot flashes are often more frequent and intense during hot weather or in an overheated room.
Hot flashes can occur during a young woman’s menstrual cycle, in which case there may be a problem with her pituitary gland. In younger women who are surgically menopausal, hot flashes are generally more intense than in older women, and they can last through the normal menopausal age.
Emotional and dietary factors can contribute to hot flashes. These include:
- High levels of anxiety (can increase the incidence of hot flashes and night sweats up to 5 times)
- Certain foods like sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and hot spices are known to trigger hot flashes
- Women with hot flashes and night sweats often report related symptoms of hormonal imbalance, such as insomnia, anxiety, fatigue and headaches.
Chillin’ the Natural Way
The standard medical approach to hot flashes and night sweats is still Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). The choice to go this route is a personal one, but HRT can be expensive and “magic pills” from the pharmacy can’t offer the lasting results that a natural approach can.
There are effective, natural options that work to restore balance to the three hormones that fluctuate during perimenopause and menopause: estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. These options offer the best long-term relief – without subjecting you to the known risks and frequent side effects of HRT.
The most popular herb used for this purpose is Black Cohosh #80-3. While it is popularly believed black cohosh works because it acts as a natural hormone replacement therapy, modern research suggests this isn’t the case. It appears to work on the hypothalamus and help down-regulate the mechanisms that heat the body up and cause sweating. NSP’s Flash-Ease #81-4, which contains black cohosh and dong quai.
Another strategy is to use essential oils that affect the hypothalamus, reducing heat and sweating. Rose Bulgaria #3892-8 and Peppermint #3910-9 are good choices, but you can also try Clary sage #3902-4, Geranium #3905-3 and Pink Grapefruit #3906-7. The easiest way to use these oils is to make a hydrosol. Add a few drops of essential oils to water in a spray bottle and shaking the bottle vigorously, When you feel a hot flash coming on, shake your hydrosol vigorously to disperse the oils, then close your eyes and mist your face with the water containing the diluted oils. This will often “cool down” hot flashes very quickly. You can mix up to 5 essential oils in your personal mixture.
Night Sweats and Adrenal Fatigue
Night sweats are episodes of sweating that occur while a person is sleeping. The person affected by night sweats can wake up with their night-clothes and bedding damp with sweat. Some people can also sweat excessively during the day. Night sweats also involve the hypothalamus, but in this case, the kidneys and adrenals are also involved. In TCM, it can signal a depletion of the energy the Chinese call jing, which is our basic life energy.
The adrenal glands work with the hypothalamus to regulate inflammation and body temperature. They produce cortisol, a hormone which cools down inflammation and heat in the body. When the adrenals are weak or exhausted, levels of heat and inflammation can rise. The adrenal glands influence the kidneys and the kidneys influence the hypothalamus to help regulate water retention and loss.
Night sweats are a major symptom of adrenal fatigue. Other symptoms include moodiness (unreasonable anger or sadness), absent-mindedness, fatigue, anxiety and restless sleep. Due to excessive stress, sugar and caffeine consumption and nutritional deficiencies, many women’s adrenal glands are exhausted by the time they reach menopause, which is why adrenal fatigue can be a factor in hot flashes (and other menopausal symptoms).
Licorice Root #424-5 can be helpful here. Not only does it have a cortisol-sparing action, it also contains phytoestrogens. Licorice helps the body hold onto fluids better, thus reducing night sweats. When the adrenals are severely weakened, Adrenal Support #1507-0 may be helpful.
The Schizandra berries in Nervous Fatigue #1017-1 Formula are used in TCM to help the body conserve jing and prevent the loss of fluids. This blend may be helpful when night sweats are accompanied by a feeling of burn-out and nervous exhaustion.
Yin deficiency is also seen as a cause of night sweats in TCM. HY-C is designed to treat deficient yin. If you have night sweats along with excessive thirst, dryness of the mouth and a burning sensation in the palms of the hands or the soles of the feet, this formula may also be helpful.
Another specific herb for night sweats is Sage #610-1. Sage has the ability to help the hypothalamus regulate the sweat glands. Taken as a hot tea (open 2 capsules), it promotes sweating. Taken as a cold decoction it has the opposite effect and helps to reduce hot flashes, night sweats and excessive perspiration.
So, this summer, don’t sweat it! Figure out what remedies your body needs and keep cool instead.
See also: Heart Attack: http://www.naturalhealthstore.us/heart-attack/
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