Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome, more commonly know as PMS, is a disorder that affects high numbers-almost 75 percent-of menstruating women. It usually occurs a week or two before bleeding begins and is characterized by a wide range of symptoms including (but not limited to) bloating, breast tenderness, emotional changes, cramps, and fatigue. Some women with PMS experience just one or two of these symptoms and find them quite mild and tolerable; others are hit with several symptoms, each so intense as to be incapacitating. Most women's symptoms exist somewhere between the two extremes, producing a moderate level of discomfort and at least some disruption of daily activities.
Because so many women experience PMS, Western medicine long considered most PMS symptoms a normal part of womanhood. If a woman had debilitating PMS, she was likely to be dismissed-to a Western doctor, her symptoms were clearly "all in her head." We now know that PMS is a physical disorder-and a highly treatable one, at that.
Each month, a woman's hormones follow a predictable cycle of change. Some fluctuation is absolutely normal and necessary, but when the ups and downs become severe, or when the different kinds of hormones needed to regulate body functions are knocked out of balance, the result is water retention, cramps, fatigue, or any of the other symptoms of PMS. Hormone imbalance is a common problem with PMS. While excessive estrogen and progesterone deficiency (or an imbalanced ratio between the two) are believed by many practitioners and researchers to be the key imbalance, there can also be issues with elevated prolactin (pituitary hormone), increased aldosterone (adrenal gland dysfunction), serotonin deficiency, and thyroid abnormality (usually, low thyroid). One must also consider the role of the liver with PMS, as it is responsible for metabolizing hormones. Improving liver function with natural therapies often helps to lessen the symptoms of PMS.
Poor diet and nutritional deficiencies can be root problems of PMS as well. One must also consider the role of "hormone disrupters" in the environment, such as pesticides and herbicides.
In addition, PMS can be caused or aggravated by food allergies, seasonal affective disorder, stress, and depression; a wise course of treatment will address each of these potential triggers. If you have severe PMS that is not resolved by using the home treatments suggested here, consult with a holistic doctor. You may have an underlying disorder, such as hypoglycemia or an under active thyroid.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
Prescription for Natural Cures by: James F. Balch, M.D. & Mark Stengler,
Prescription #1 Women’s Balance - PMS Formula - LifeSource Product
formula was scientifically engineered to support the normal hormone function of
today's active female. With Wild Yam, Borage Oil, Dong Quai and more, this
perfectly balanced blend of potent herbal extracts and essential fatty acids
(omega-3 and -6) may encourage normal menstruation, reduce the severity of
cramps and support a healthy positive mood.
Prescription # 2 Homeopathic Combination PMS Formula
Take as directed on
the container. It contains a blend of the most common homeopathic remedies
for PMS. It's very effective for acute relief of can be used preventatively.
Prescription #3 Vitamin B Complex - LifeSource
Products – See All of our
Vitamin B Products.
Take 50 mg daily.
Numerous studies have found vitamin B6 to help PMS. It works synergistically
with magnesium as a co-factor for estrogen metabolism by the liver.
Prescription #4 Magnesium - LifeSource
Take 250 mg twice
daily. Magnesium is a co-factor required for the metabolism of estrogen, and
it relieves cramping.
Prescription #5 Progesterone Creme - Natural - LifeSource
Apply 1/4 teaspoon
(10 mg) twice daily to areas of thin skin, such as the insides of your
forearms and your wrists, beginning after ovulation (approximately Day 15 if
you have a regular 28-day cycle) until one day before your period begins.
Natural progesterone is a stronger therapy for women with severe PMS.
Prescription #6 Calcium / Magnesium – LifeSource
Products - See All of our
Take 600 mg twice
daily. Studies have shown that this mineral prevents PMS.
Prescription #7 Don Quai
Take 300 to 500 mg
twice daily, on the last seven days of your cycle. Dong quai reduces the
painful cramps and the breast tenderness that are associated with menses. It
is thought to relax the smooth muscles of the uterus, thereby relieving
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- Mood swings
- Loss of concentration
- Mental confusion and fatigue
- Change in libido
- Crying spells
- Weight gain (fluid)
- Breast tenderness
- Pelvic discomfort and pain
- Change in bowel habits
- Increased appetite
- Sugar cravings
- Generalized aches and pains
- Physical tiredness
- Hormonal imbalances
- Poor diet
- Food allergies
- Seasonal affective disorder
- Thyroid problems
- Environmental toxins (e.g. pesticides)
- Poor liver function
- Nutritional deficiencies
A diet that's high in meat, fat, sugar, and salt will make hormones fluctuate out of control and will intensify the symptoms of PMS. It has been shown that vegetarian women have much less circulating free estrogen in their blood than nonvegetarian women do. This does not mean you have to become totally vegetarian. However, it does suggest that a diet that focuses on plant foods leads to less circulating estrogen, thus decreasing one's susceptibility to PMS. A good, wholesome diet can significantly reduce or even eliminate problems altogether.
Meals based on whole, high-fiber foods will balance your blood sugar, ease digestive problems, and reduce stress on your liver. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, herbs, nuts, and seeds should be plentiful in the diet.
Fermented soy products, such as tofu, tempeh, and miso, can also help prevent PMS, due to their hormone-balancing phytonutrients.
Make sure your animal products (meal, poultry, etc.) are hormone free.
Eat at least two servings of green leafy vegetables every day. They're a good source of calcium, which supports and calms the nervous system, and they also have a diuretic effect.
Essential fatty acids, found in cold-water fish, flax seeds, and flax seed oil, will reduce inflammation.
Consume 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds daily, along with 10 ounces of water, to promote healthy estrogen metabolism.
Vitamin B6 has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of PMS. Add wheat germ or brewer's yeast to one of your meals every day.
Foods to Avoid
A diet that's low in saturated fat (the type found in red meat and dairy products) helps reduce excess estrogen levels. It is also important to avoid harmful fats, such as trans-fatty acids, which occur in margarine and partially hydrogenated oils. Studies have shown that women who follow a low-fat diet experience a reduction in PMS symptoms.
Food allergies often mimic the symptoms of PMS or make existing symptoms worse. If you can identify foods that give you trouble, eliminate them from your diet completely.
Sugar throws blood-sugar levels off balance, promoting mood swings and tension. Excessive consumption of highly refined sugar can deplete valuable reserves of chromium, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and B vitamins. These nutrients are necessary for the metabolism of sugar. Sugar also worsens symptoms of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), especially premenstrually, resulting in symptoms of irritability, poor concentration, sugar cravings, and headaches. Restrict your intake of sugar food throughout the month, and eliminate it during the two weeks before your period.
If you retain water, drastically restrict your consumption of sodium. Processed and junk foods are the highest sources of salt in the American diet.
Restrict caffeine-containing products, such as coffee, soft drinks, chocolate, and some pain relievers. Caffeine worsens PMS symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and breast tenderness. Instead of coffee, we recommend that you focus on herbal teas, such as peppermint and chamomile.
Alcohol has a dehydrating effect, which only makes many PMS symptoms worse. It also wreaks havoc on your blood-sugar levels. Avoid it during the two weeks before your period.
Every month, plan a vegetable juice fast for one to two days before your symptoms usually begin. If they don't begin at a predictable time, do the fast two weeks before your period starts. This fast will help eliminate the toxins, especially the environmental estrogens, that make PMS worse, and it also gives your liver a break from processing hormonal imbalances.
- Passionflower (Passiflora incarnate) gently relaxes the nervous system and improves symptoms of restlessness, irritability, and insomnia. Take 2 ml or 300 mg three times daily for anxiety and irritability.
- Dandelion leaf (Taraxacum officinale) lessens the water retention that is associated with PMS. Take 3 ml or 300 mg three times daily for the one to two weeks before your cycle when you experience water retention.
- Zinc has been shown to be low in women with PMS. Take 15 to 30 mg daily as part of a multivitamin.
- Vitamin E-complex helps to effectively reduce the breast tenderness that is associated with PMS. It has also been shown to significantly reduce other PMS symptoms. We recommend 400 to 800 IU daily. Natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol), with a blend of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols, is best.
- Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis) is an excellent dietary source of GLA. This essential fatty acid is a precursor to prostaglandins, which have a regulating effect on hormones and other systems of the body. Some studies have shown the benefits of evening primrose oil supplementation for PMS-related depression, irritability, breast pain and tenderness, and fluid retention. Take 2,000 mg (200 mg of GLA) to 3,000 mg (300 mg of GLA), along with an oil blend that includes omega-3 fatty acids (flaxseed oil and fish oil).
- D-glucarate is a phytonutrient that assists the liver in metabolizing estrogen. Take 500 mg twice daily.
- Indole-3 carbinole assists the liver in metabolizing estrogen. Take 300 mg daily.
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) improves liver detoxification. Take 250 mg of a 80 to 85 percent silymarin extract three times daily.
- Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) also promotes good liver detoxification. Take 300 mg three times daily.
- Crampbark (Viburnum opulus) is an herb that alleviates menstrual cramps. Take 3 ml or 500 mg every thirty to sixty minutes for acute menstrual cramps.
- A high-potency multivitamin provides a base of nutrients that promotes hormonal health. Take as directed on the container.
- The supplement 5-HTP reduces depression and anxiety associated with PMS. Take 50 to 100 mg three times daily for relief of symptoms. Do not use it if you are taking a pharmaceutical antidepressant or an anti-anxiety medication.
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