Your hormones do not have to turn your life upside down every month. Find out how you can use practical and effective remedies to treat PMS.
Most people have heard of the dreaded PMS (or PMT) that even husbands and boyfriends pick up on before a period! More than 3/4 of women suffer from some form of PMS, occurring cyclically each month seven to ten days prior to their period. It is characterised by irritability, depression, anxiety, headaches, breast swelling and pain, sugar and chocolate cravings and acne. There are over 150 recorded symptoms of PMS.
With PMS there is a relative excess of oestrogen, or there may be not enough progesterone to balance the oestrogen as these two hormones work together to regulate our fertility and menstrual cycles. Hormonal changes can play a significant role in the worsening of some diseases premenstrually, eg., asthma, migraines, diabetes, depression, epilepsy. PMS has been associated in studies with physical and mental impairment, work absenteeism, relationship problems and difficulties with role acceptance.
Compared to symptom-free women, PMS patients have been found to consume 62% more refined carbohydrates, 275% more refined sugar, 79% more dairy products, 78% more sodium, 53% less iron, 77% less manganese and 52% less zinc.
Eat small regular meals: preferably five small meals a day to maintain even blood sugar levels and energy levels.
Reduce sugars and refined carbohydrates, including sweets, white flour products, honey, dried fruit, soft drinks, alcohol and fruit juice.
Eat protein every meal to balance blood sugar levels and increase the liver’s detoxification of oestrogen: fish, organic chicken and eggs, meat, beans, legumes, nuts, dairy.
Avoid foods that cause inflammation: fried foods, animal fats, sugars, alcohol, margarine, white flour products and the caffeine in coffee, chocolate, cola drinks and guarana.
Eat more anti-inflammatory foods which contain omega-3 oils including cold water oily fish, walnuts, flaxmeal and avocado.
Herbs and vitamins
Chaste tree is specific for PMS. Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) corrects the relative deficiency of progesterone, enhances the function of the corpus luteum, inhibits prolactin and helps reduce lumpy, ropey breasts. It is best taken between 6 am and 9 am each day when the pituitary gland is most active.
Magnesium reduces sugar and chocolate cravings, alleviates cramps, headaches and fluid retention as well as balances mood swings.
Vitamin B6 has been shown to improve the depression and anxiety that are associated with the oral contraceptive pill and alleviates fluid retention and swollen breasts.
Exercise increases circulation to the reproductive organs including the ovaries that produce oestrogen and progesterone, reduces excess body fat, is an outlet for bottled-up stress and for a feeling of wellbeing! Believe it or not, 50% of Australians don’t do enough exercise. Most people drive everywhere and sit most of the day at computers and desks. It can be difficult to find the time to exercise – so it is important to choose an exercise that you enjoy. Then you will be motivated to do it. It could be swimming, walking, yoga or dancing. Even a physical activity like sex is exercise! Longer duration moderate exercise is best – one hour three or four times per week – rather than strenuous exercise for less time.
Reducing stress! Have an emotional outlet for built-up tensions, eg., playing sport, screaming into a pillow, counselling, as well as relaxing the mind and body through meditation, massage or listening to relaxing music in a hot bath – or even letting your creative juices flow by putting your passions and emotions into art, gardening, cooking, dancing, singing or writing.
Allow yourself to be a little unreasonable throughout your cycle, rather than relying on menstruation to restore this useful quality to your life! Express the cranky, bitchy, mean parts of yourself in less threatening ways, such as role-play or kick boxing classes! Question whether you are taking on too much and therefore preventing others from doing their fair share. You may be blaming others unnecessarily for not taking on more responsibility. Remember, life is about balance. Put some fun and play back into the simple things in your life!
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