Can the B vitamins vanquish hot flashes?

Note to readers: (April 20, 2014 edit)
I edited this post and moved the information about methylation down to the bottom of the post to clarify my writing. I think I muddied the waters a bit by adding the information into the body of the post. The ensuing comments, although always welcome, focused more on methylation and the MTHFR gene mutation than the information I was trying to present about menopause hot flashes and the B vitamins. I’ve done this not to curtail the conversation below, but rather to clarify my point about supplementing with B vitamins to eliminate hot flashes. If you are an under-methylator, please make sure you read down to the bottom for the additonal information that might be valid to your specific health issues.

______________________________

There is no question that I’ve presented theory after theory on why we might suffer from hot flashes and what might stop them. I’ve talked about the acid/alkaline body, boron, carbohydrates, raisins, and potatoes.

I’ve read so many different reasons why the “experts” think women have hot flashes it could make your head spin. Do we have a shrinking section of our brains that handles the hot flash signal? This is unsubstantiated and just sounds ridiculous. Is it the release of toxins because we no longer slough off the blood of our periods? Makes no sense to me. Periods are not about getting rid of toxins per se. Can flashes only be treated by replacing the estrogen you’re losing through menopause with HRT like so many doctors say? Why should we work to replace something your body naturally wants to stop producing? This always aggravates me. Why do doctors think they know better than mother nature?

The one thing I’ve read consistently that does make sense is that your thermostat is broken. Maybe not in those words, but that your brain thinks your body is hot before it is and then the brain dilates the blood vessels to throw off the excess heat that’s not really there so you have a flash…or something like that. I’ve read also that the brain thinks you’re cold when you’re not…you get the picture.

If the problem is a dysfunctional thermostat, then it seems it would be a problem with the system of your brain that controls body temperature. This would point to the hypothalamus.

I decided that I needed to solve the broken thermostat problem myself using the logic I’ve used to heal my histamine intolerance. I started with the idea that menopause has caused an imbalance in the hypothalamus and that imbalance needs to be corrected.

It was easy to find within minutes that the nutrient that supports the hypothalamus’ function is B1. But this was just the tip of the iceberg for me. I naturally had to research for three more hours to figure out what the trigger for the imbalance is. Why is the B1 out of kilter? And is it really that?

I continued my search to back-up the B1 finding by looking at what Asian women’s diets look like. No matter where you look, someone is bound to write that Asian women do not suffer from hot flashes and Japanese women don’t even have a word for hot flashes. This is almost always attributed to soy. But again, how short sighted is it to focus only on one thing in an entire diet? I wondered if something they eat has a lot of B1, so I started to research rice.

I wasn’t getting the results I wanted so I moved on. I started researching the fight or flight reaction in the brain because that starts with the amygdala telling the hypothalamus to get busy. So I was back in the autonomic nervous system. It was in that search that I saw the link between anxiety and homocysteine. I honestly cannot remember the original thing I read, but whatever it was propelled me into a search to understand homocysteine.

From the site Life Extension:

Homocysteine is an intermediary within a metabolic cycle known as methylation. Methylation reactions, relying largely on B-vitamin cofactors (particularly, B6, B12, and folic acid), are critical for the proper synthesis of the neurotransmitters that play an important role in mood regulation.

As B-vitamin levels decline, the methylation cycle becomes impaired-leading to a concurrent increase in homocysteine levels (because it is no longer being recycled efficiently) and a disruption in neurotransmitter synthesis. The close relationship between neurotransmitter synthesis and homocysteine formation has lead some researchers to suspect that there is a link between homocysteine and mood. Indeed, studies suggest that levels of homocysteine are an effective marker for B-vitamin status, and that changes in homocysteine levels correlate with changes in mood.

To me it sounded like a relationship between the autonomic nervous system that the hypothalamus is a key part of, or some kind of overlap in symptoms of imbalance.
Keep in mind, methylation is linked to histamine intolerance. It is believed under-methylators (there is a link below if you do not know what I am talking about) do not process histamine or homocysteine properly. This is one of the reasons I kept going in my research on homocysteine.

It is interesting to me that all of these things result in the same kind of symptoms. Take a look at the lists and you will see fatigue, brain fog and a host of other symptoms that could be menopause, high homocysteine, or even mast cell degranulation disorders like histamine intolerance. Depression is a big one that shows up on all the lists.

I started to put together the importance of all of the B vitamins as I worked through my research. Remember that vitamin B6 is vital in controlling the DAO enzyme responsible for breaking down histamine in your gut. B1 (thiamine) is vital for the hypothalamus to function properly. Vitamin B9, (folic acid), helps bring down homocysteine levels. Vitamin B12 is vital for proper neurological health. It all seemed so interconnected to me.

As I kept researching, I started finding links to folate and hot flashes, with the suggestion that women should take it to reduce hot flashes.

The last thing I wanted to know that brought it all home was do homocysteine levels rise as estrogen falls?

Yes.

So did menopause trigger my histamine intolerance alone or did it also raise my homocysteine level? I’ve always said it is never one thing that causes our problems. In my final theory as to why I am histamine intolerant I explored adrenal fatigue and too much cortisol. I still believe this could be the case. But now I also wonder if I have a high homocysteine level. If that’s the case, supplementing with B9 could really help eliminate hot flashes. And I’ll go one step further. Why not supplement with B1 for the hypothalamus and B9 for the homocysteine, because I still have not ruled out a sluggish hypothalamus.

Theoretically you could supplement with B6 to support DAO production, B9 to lower homocysteine levels and B1 to support hypothalamus function. Add in B12 for neurological health and you have a full spectrum of support.

I don’t really like to take supplements, but it seems to me it’s difficult to get the daily amounts eating food only, so I am going to supplement for a few weeks and see if I notice a difference.

It is my opinion, and keep in my mind I am not a doctor but just a menopausal woman sitting at her laptop at her dining room table with a cat in the way, that if you supplement with vitamins B1, B6, B9, and B12, you can bring your body back into balance and reduce histamine intolerance and high homocysteine levels, as well as eliminate hot flashes.

As long as you are careful to not overdo, you can supplement with B vitamins. If you are getting too much B6, for example, you might have numbness or tingling in your extremities or sensitivity to light. You’d probably have an upset stomach and other digestive issues before that happens, however. And before you decide to take anything, please read about the contraindications and results of overdosing.

Other than taking a multivitamin, there is a very easy way to supplement with all of them at once. Red Star Nutritional Yeast has all the B’s. I used it in the past, but worried at some point that I was getting too much B6 with it and instead of just cutting back on it I stopped it all together. And ya know what happened, now that I look back on when my hot flashes started again…

Red Star is an inactive yeast. It is not a probiotic. The B vitamins are actually an additive. There are other products called Brewers yeast that say their vitamins are natural to the product, but you have to take a lot of it to get the same amount that Red Star has in it, and I figure if I’m going to take a supplement this one seems to work for me. (I have no affiliation with this product other than I’ve used it for years. I am vegetarian and am aware of B12 deficiencies in non meat-eaters)

If you do decide to supplement, it is best to do it so you get B9 (folic acid) with vitamin B12. Folic acid can mask a B12 deficiency, so it is recommended to take both.

Ultimately, if the B vitamins do work I might not really know which one worked I guess. If I only need to take B1 to jump-start my hypothalamus and I don’t really need to lower homocysteine I won’t really know. Or vice versa. But I have the Red Star here and I’m not really feeling the need to figure that out right now. If someone out there tries one and not the other, I’d love to hear the results.

For now, I want my hot flashes to stop and am willing to take all the B’s to stop them.

So there you have it. My latest big stab at vanquishing those demonic hot flashes. Let me know down in the comments what you think or if you’ve already tried to eliminate hot flashes with the B’s.

Dale

A word to the under-methylators in the crowd

I am talking about hot flashes in separate terms from histamine intolerance. I do not believe I am an under-methylator. Menopause triggered my histamine intolerance. My hot flashes were quite horrible when I was acutely histamine intolerant so I do still believe there was a connection there, but my histamine is under control now and I still have quite a few flashes a day. They are milder and quicker, but still quite bothersome. I also believe they are an indicator of an imbalance in the body and show the presence of inflammation. I do believe inflammation is deadly, thus the ultimate goal in getting rid of hot flashes is to get rid of systemic inflammation.

If you are reading all of this and think you are histamine intolerant and think you are an under-methylator, taking B vitamins, especially vitamin B9 (folic acid) as I will ultimately suggest might not be a good idea for you. If you do not know what methylation is I suggest you take a look at this link. It is a very complicated system and I would not be able to explain it better than the blog I am suggesting you read. There are many scientific and medical sites that explain methylation, but this guy does it very clearly and succinctly.

If you are an under-methylator and want to explore the idea of using B6, research the alternate way to keep homocysteine from building up with B6/magnesium. But supplementation with folic acid might not be for you.

Also, there is something called the MTHFR gene mutation. Interestingly enough people who have this often suffer from mast cell dysfunction which could very well manifest as histamine intolerance. They also often cannot regulate homocysteine levels. I think that’s a really interesting overlap. But if you have that mutation, supplementing with folate might be complicated. Some people do well with folate supplementation and others don’t. But it is something you have to solve to get your homocysteine levels down and folate is the thing to do it.

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Posted in histamine intolerance, menopause, peri-menopause, Women's health
32 comments on “Can the B vitamins vanquish hot flashes?
  1. Audrey says:

    Very interesting since I have the MTHFR mutation and my HIT got worse from taking methyl B12 and methyl folate… so frustrating!

  2. OH my! So much to think about! Your recent research brings ups possibilities and questions. I need to have my MTHFR checked out to see if I have a mutation. Since I have an antibody to intrinsic factor, I can not absorb B12 from food. But I do get shots. I had a suspicion that the shots made my flashes worse. They do contain aluminum as a preservative and I was wondering if that was it. I might as well find out. I could do 23andMe. I am hoping you have hit the jackpot here and you will be flash free soon : )
    Thank you for sharing all your hard work with us.

  3. Julie says:

    I am homozygous for MTHFR A1298c, and have been supplementing up to 12mg l-methylfolate/day (from what I understand, folic acid competes with absorption of l-methylfolate, so be sure to take the latter with MTHFR variants). Folate improved my mood, but didn’t help (much?) with histamine reactions.

    I’ve had histamine problems probably my entire life, but it wasn’t until ~40 that I experienced the fight-or-flight response after eating, and the full facial flare. My symptoms get worse under stress.

    I made a recent discovery that helps. At first, I took glycine, a GABA-ergenic amino acid. This is super calming, and reduced that flight-or-flight/flushing reponse. Then I added l-theanine, and then GABA itself. Wow. I haven’t flushed in 24 hours (which is saying a lot). I had a dinner party last night, and had many non-fresh things, and felt some discomfort in the heart-racing dept, but not a full on ‘run for the ice pack’ feeling… but no heat, no visible redness at all.

    I did a quick search on pubmed, and found that GABA reduces the histamine response, and progesterone binds to the GABA receptor, inducing a GABA-ergenic response. So, there may be a histamine-hormonal link via GABA.

    If you want to experiment with this, I recommend trying glycine first, since it’s very fast-acting. I use 1tsp at a time (2g). Alternatively, try some gelatin (a very rich source of glycine). Some people who promote a ‘paleo’ diet suggest that we should generally be eating more collagen (glycine-rich) foods to balance the muscle meat (methionine-rich). So it may be that the Japanese are just eating more glycine. Pork rinds are a great source of glycine (but also of histamine ;).

    • Julie says:

      Sorry, I meant 12g l-methylfolate/day (2g every 6 hours, since folate has a fairly short half-life).

      • Marcia says:

        Hi Julie,

        That’s really interesting to hear how glycine helped w/your histamine issues. I used to take it years ago, and didn’t have the severe problems I’m experiencing now. Thanks for mentioning it.

        I’m rather shocked though that you are able to take 12 GRAMS of methylfolate a day, let alone afford it! Are you absolutely certain you mean grams and not milligrams??

        I only ask because 12 grams would equal 800 – prescription strength methylfolate (Deplin 15mgs) per day!

        I hope you see this and can clarify things. Thanks again.

      • Julie says:

        hi Marcia,
        I no longer take huge doses of methylfolate (yes, it was 12g, and yes, it was expensive). I suspect my b12 levels were low, and additional folate didn’t help. (I was vegetarian/vegan most of my life. i had a b12 test, and it was barely sufficient). If you take >2g of folate/day, watch for signs of potassium deficiency. At one point, I used potassium gluconate powder because potassium pills are only 99mg).
        I’m convinced that my histamine insensitivity is a result of gut dysbiosis. I’ve been on a strict low FODMAP diet for about 3 months and I’m experiencing better results than when I was taking folate/glycine. I made a lot of mistakes along the way though. For example, I can’t tolerate fermented dairy (yogurt or lactose-free kefir), nor most of the veggies recommended on FODMAP diet. Also, I can’t tolerate fructose – even from fruit recommended on the FODMAP diet. It takes about 4 days of eating fruit to cause problems. So my recovery diet where I experience almost no symptoms is: lactose-free whole milk, leafy greens, eggs, butter and small amounts of 1-year goat gouda, or Kerrygold Dubliner. I found that cheese is tricky. I can only tolerate low-lactose aged cheeses (cheese aged >1 year), but most of those have histamine. So if you like cheese, then keep testing. I found Kerrygold Dubliner is low histamine.
        My diet contains almost no fiber, but I have regular bowel movements (sorry TMI). If you’re concerned about fiber, then I recommend reading a book called ‘the fiber menance’ by Konstantin Monastyrsky. It’s interesting, and is a good topic of conversation with friends :). There are many people who recover from skin disorders by going on a low fiber diet (google ‘soylent’). I suspect that these people are improving from the lack of FODMAPS. But the diet I mentioned above is almost nutritionally complete – there is no need for a multivitamin. I do take a few vitamins (to meet the RDA, no more): niacin, folate, and vite.
        Sorry for the winded response. I’ve been through so much, it would be nice to help others.

  4. Kim says:

    Julie, that was a great response; I am also homozygous for the same mutation. Dale, you’ve probably come across this, but there are actually 2 different MTHFR mutations that can predispose you to different conditions. Those with the MTHFR C677T tend to have homocysteine problems, while those with A1298C not necessarily. That one is more newly discovered, so there’s not quite as much info on it. People with these mutations can also have other mutations (that I haven’t looked into as much nor had tested)…I think one is COMT or something like that, which makes them more or less tolerant to certain methyl donors. Some people do better with hydroxycobalamin rather than methylcobalamin and I seem to be one of them.

    Dale, I know I haven’t posted for a while, but in addition to this mutation, I also found out that probably my most glaring issue is that I was diagnosed with a raging case of SIBO. Which can raise your histamine levels and/or cause damage to your small intestine impairing enzyme function, as well as inhibit proper absorption nutrients – including, quite interestingly, B-1, B-12, zinc, and the friend I mentioned before – copper. I’ve had a horrible time. I’m 5′ 4″ and down to 95 lb. I had some improvement on a low histamine diet but then got stuck. I found out SIBO is nearly impossible to eradicate with diet alone, and by the time I got diagnosed it was really bad. It can’t be detected with a blood, urine, or stool test. It’s a breath test that checks for exhaled gasses (hydrogen and/or methane) which are the result of bacterial fermentation in the SMALL rather than the large intestine. You follow a special diet for 36 hrs, fast for 12, take a baseline reading, drink either a glucose or lactulose solution, and then take 5 more readings over 2 hours to check for bacterial overgrowth the whole length of the small intestine. Low level infection is between 11 and 32 ppm, severe is over 32 ppm. The chart on the test I took went to 80. My baseline was normal, my first 3 readings indicated low level infection (12 – 13). But my 4th one was 154. The lab sent me a note on my 5th one; my hydrogen levels exceeded their ability to measure, so they inserted 152 for calculation purposes for a max of 155+. Pretty much everything I’d been looking into was tied in, but this explains why I got “stuck” and then got worse. And to complicate matters, most of the recommended dietary “fixes” for SIBO tend to worsen other symptoms, including histamine problems. Which is why I’m going to consult/start hyperbaric oxygen therapy on Monday; it’s been tested in a lot of conditions and been shown to help with low risk of problems. Haven’t researched it when it comes to menopause, but interestingly, it HAS been used for “anti-aging” which could mean that it helps there too.

    I’m on a special antibiotic, rifaximin, now, but my weight has gotten critical. I’ve done HOT (hehehe, that sounds like a pun on this page) before for Lyme Disease with great success; hopefully it’ll give me a jump on this and I’ll be able to get back to feeling human.

  5. Audrey says:

    Oh, I so wish I could take GABA but I also have the CBS and COMT mutations so I don’t do well with any animal protein or amino acid supplements. I have both the A1298c and the 677T MTHFR mutations. Apparently I have very unfortunate genetics! Figuring it all out and finding things I tolerate has been very challenging. For the last 13 years I felt amazing on a raw vegan diet but then perimenopause started and my HIT went crazy. Pushing methylation too hard makes it worse. I’m thinking of switching from methyl B12 to hydroxy to see if that helps because the B12 did help some things like energy and strength and lowering some OCD tendencies.

  6. Well I’m going to let you girls talk about your methylation issues and stay out of it. I only put a reference in the post because I knew it could be important to some of you if you were considering taking folic acid, but ultimately the post is about menopause hot flashes and B vitamins.

    I just don’t know enough about all the nuances of the gene mutation to really weigh in. But please keep sharing. It seems as if you are all really helping each other based on your individual situations.

    • Audrey says:

      Lets talk more about getting Bs naturally from food then. I suspect that I’d have a lot less issues getting Bs in their natural form rather than isolated. Other than olives (I just ordered some organic, raw ones online and can’t wait to get them!) and nutritional yeast which I don’t tolerate, I really don’t know what to eat that I can tolerate that is high in Bs since I’m a vegan.

    • Julie says:

      Audrey, I use a website called cronometer.com (it’s free) to track vitamin intake, and as a food diary. Another great tool is nutritiondata.com, which you can use to find foods high in a particular nutrient (under ‘Tools’ select ‘Nutrient Search Tool’).

  7. […] a substantial reduction in my hot flashes since taking the B vitamins I talked about in my earlier post But now I’ve seen even better results adding magnesium ascorbate into the […]

  8. Linda says:

    Dale, I just recently found out I have Hashimotos disease. It causes a Hypothyroid condition. But it also causes gluten intolerance and leaky gut syndrome. This causes a difficiency of vitamins. Which could be the reason I have been sweating for the last 10 years with hot flashes. They are so bad that I have to wear shorts all the time…even in the winter! I just got my order of vitamins and B12 is one of them. I will be ordering the rest of the B’s. Fingers crossed this will finally give me relief.

  9. Linda,

    I really hope the B’s get you on track and help. Also ask your doctor, if you are being supervised because of your health issues, about magnesium. I rarely have hot flashes anymore. Once I gave up green tea the flashes stopped almost instantly and pretty much permanently. But when I do start to get a little warmer than usual I start using my transdermal magnesium and I see a difference right away. I also always take Olive Leaf extract which I also believe really helps keep them at bay.

    Good luck and let me know how you’re doing. I always like to hear that someone is healing thanks to something they might have learned here.

    Dale

  10. […] If you get enough of the B vitamins in your diet it turns out, you can bring your homocysteine level down, thus bringing your body back into balance. So the B vitamins all play an important role in healing intolerance and bringing the body back to normal. Theoretically you could supplement, if you can’t get enough through your diet, with B9 to lower homocysteine levels, B1 to support hypothalamus function, and B6 to support DAO production. Add in B12 for neurological health and you have a full spectrum of support. You can read my post on all these findings here. […]

  11. Reblogged this on Homeopathyginatyler's Blog and commented:
    great article on hotflashes and vit b

  12. […] on April 19, 2014 by themenopausehistamineconnection — 22 […]

  13. Suzanne says:

    Hi there, I’ve just read your post due to the fact that I was looking for something that connected my own theory about vitamin b1, I had been taking it B1 supplement for a few months for anxiety and menopausal mood swings, I realised that my hot flushes had virtually disappears but thought I was obviously through that stage of the menopause and my body was dealing with things better!! I run out of vit b1 and forgot to order anymore, within 5 days of not taking it i started getting hot flushes again I hadn’t connected the two until I was talking to me partner about my hot flushes returning and he said what have you stopped doing that you were doing? Good question, I thought about it and the only difference for me was that I had stopped taking my regular vit b1 daily supplement over the past week, then I read this it kind of links to your theory about vit b1 thought I’d just let you know my personal ideas tally with yours,

    • Thanks so much for writing. Any kind of validation helps others to make good decisions about what to take.

    • Julie says:

      hi Suzanne,
      what version of thiamine do you use? lots of people sing the virtues of benfothiamine, others allothiamine. But the most popular (and cheapest!) is thiamine hydrochloride. I rarely flush anymore, but I do get other problems (anxiety, faster pulse, slight breathing discomfort, grumpiness), especially after I eat.

  14. Maddy says:

    Hi, great read thanks. I have a child who got histamine intolerance out of nowhere. DAO helps the migraines. Food allergies arrived w the migraines. Real allergies and what we now know is histamine intolerance because the DAO is affective. And food logs and such. I wanted to tell you yeast is LOADED with histidine. So maybe another source of b’s might be better for you. Folinic acid is also easier for your body to use. Folic acid is truly a man made synthetic.

  15. Violetta says:

    Thank your for your article and your research, your blogpost just gave me an epiphany. I am very excited about the whole B1 and hypothalamus connection because it leads me into new and very interesting research fields when it comes to migraines.

    I started researching B1 when I, like you, suspected that there is a connection between my hot flashes and B1 deficiency. I learned about B1 from the first time in connection with Methylation and my CBS++ issue, in clear words, I have issues with sulfur metabolism and that causes major migraines in my case. B1 tends to be depleted in people with sulfur problems, so I started supplementing and that’s how my research started.

    After I supplemented not only my menopausal hot flashes disappeared (they have never been catastrophic though), but more importantly I was suddenly able to take Magnesium. Magnesium is so important especially for Migraineurs but in my case it was so strange. Magnesium gave me migraines and it caused hot flashes, in smallest amounts. I searched the internet like crazy and never found sufficient answers to that phenomenon. Then, after decades of Magnesium intolerance, everything changed — after I started supplementing B1. No more hot flashes from Magnesium either, no more migraines from Magnesium. Right now I am slowly ramping up my magnesium intake and I feel like a different person. My migraines have changed from chronic to episodic now and I feel I have found a whole new approach.

    All that now leads me to the hypothalamus connection. After I read your post I checked medpub for the hypothalamus and migraine connection and bam — the articles popped up. I am working and researching migraine for a very long time (I have a blog in German about the topic), but I never came over that particular connection. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this new insight. Thank You so much!!

  16. Claires says:

    I suspect I have mast cell disease I have all the symptoms. I recently started on hrt because I was so weak but am I making things worse? I feel stronger but have had anaphylaxis events. I am 2 months into hrt do I just stop or step down? I am seeing an immunologist in two months for a diagnosis. I take h1 blocker and PPI would like to get off them all.

    • I’m afraid I can’t answer that for you. I can only tell you I never used it and made it through menopause in one piece. I don’t even have hot flashes now because I discovered they were also directly related to my trigger foods and histamine intolerance. So there is a possibility you could heal yourself without hrt, but I am not a doctor and do not give out medical advice.

      Dale

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