The exact mechanism is unknown, but what we do know is, that there is a part in your brain called the hypothalamus, that is responsible for temperature regulation, sex drive, sleep, moods, and memory. This area contains many estrogen receptors. Estrogen is needed to bind to these receptors in order for the hypothalamus to work effectively. When estrogen levels start to drop, this causes changes in the way the hypothalamus functions and symptoms may occur.
Estrogen receptors are not just found in the reproductive system and brain; they are also in your skin, breast tissue, adrenals, bladder, kidney, bone, joints, lung, intestines, thymus, lymphatic vessels, heart and blood vessels. Wherever the receptors are located, we can experience changes in function once the available estrogen levels have reduced or the receptors become dysfunctional.
But the issue can be 2 fold, it can be the reduction of available estrogen to bind to the receptors or it can be that the receptors are “dirty” or dysfunctional. They may be clogged up and unable to accept any available estrogen. Receptors become dirty when exposed to xenoestrogens, toxic metals, and other toxic chemicals. (To learn more about this go to Healthy Homes for Healthy Hormones)
Healthy receptors need available co-factors for optimal functioning. Co-factors are nutrients that encourage and allow hormones to bind. These include important nutrients such as Zinc, B vitamins, Iodine, Vitamin A and Magnesium.
Naturopathic treatment involves looking at the whole person, assessing for nutrient deficiencies, looking at the environment, lifestyle habits, etc. This is one example where hopefully you can see by topping up on certain nutrients and cleaning up your environment can actually have direct implications on your body's ability to utilise estrogen. The more effectively your body is processing estrogen, the less of it you need.
We also have a podcast episode on hot flushes