Natural Remedies for PMS
By Dr. Justin Marchegiani
75% of women are affected by premenstrual syndrome (PMS), the effects of which range from physical pain to emotional distress. While it is a common belief that PMS is just an unfortunate consequence of being a menstruating woman, the truth is that while PMS is common, it is not normal. In fact, when taking a holistic approach to health, PMS is completely preventable!
Common Symptoms of PMS
While PMS is different for every woman, the following are some of the most common symptoms. They tend to appear in the week before a woman begins her period, and she can experience any combination of the following physical and psychological symptoms.
- Food cravings, especially for sweet & salty foods
- Low sex drive
- Constipation or diarrhea, IBS-like symptoms
- Cramps, aching muscles
- Breast tenderness
- Oversleeping, or insomnia
- Anger, irritability, aggression
- Mood swings
- Trouble concentrating
- Social Withdrawal
There are several factors to take into account when assessing the possible causes of PMS. Largely, bad PMS symptoms are caused by hormone imbalances. However, diet, allergies, stress, thyroid disorders, and external toxins all play a part in PMS as well. The following are some easy changes you can implement to reduce PMS:
- Avoid toxins: Household cleaners, GMOs, the pesticides on non-organic foods, and pollution in the air are all toxic. Birth control and beauty products also contain artificial fragrances and chemicals that mimic hormones and disrupt the body’s natural production.
- Eat the right kinds of fat: When cooking, opt for coconut oil and organic animal fats. Avoid inflammatory omega-6 oils (canola oil, vegetable oil, margarine, etc.), which are suspected to contribute to endometriosis and PCOS.
- Minimize sugar and refined carbohydrates: Sugar and carbs cause inflammation, a major trigger for cramps. They can also provoke mood swings, irritability, and headaches.
- Watch your caffeine intake: Caffeine is dehydrating and may contribute to headaches and mood swings.
- Avoid inflammatory foods: While sugar, alcohol, dairy, and grains are inflammatory for most people, it is important to know your personal allergies and sensitivities so that you aren’t unintentionally aggravating your inflammatory response and making symptoms worse. In several cases, simply cutting out all dairy and grains has helped women’s PMS disappear!
- No soy: Soy in its many forms (soy milk, tofu, soy based margarines, etc.) is a major hormone disruptor!
Natural Remedies for PMS
There are several supplements and herbal remedies that can be taken to help resolve PMS. Some work to reduce symptoms immediately, while others help balance your hormones for permanent relief.
Vitamin B: B vitamins are critical for our health. They metabolize our food and provide our cells with energy. Vitamin B6 is connected to estrogen metabolism.
Vitamin D: Vitamin D is actually more of a hormone than a vitamin, and is very important for not only balancing hormones and PMS, but also for overall health! The best vitamin D is getting it straight from the source (the sun), but a high-quality vitamin D supplement does the job when catching rays isn’t possible.
Maca: Maca is known for its effect on libido, but it is also powerful for balancing hormones. Less symptoms of PMS and increased fertility are other reported results of taking maca.
Magnesium: Citrate or Glycinate. Magnesium is known for its muscle relaxing effects, and assists in balancing estrogen.
Pregnenolone: As “mother of all hormones,” pregnenolone is a precursor to all steroid hormones (including progesterone and estrogen, the big 2 that can cause PMS). Pregnenolone decreases as we age, and is also depleted by stress. Taking pregnenolone can help balance hormones and reduce PMS.
Red Raspberry Leaf: A tried and true remedy for PMS cramps, red raspberry leaf is commonly consumed as a tea, or it can be taken as part of a blend created specifically for PMS relief, such as Cycle Relief.
Vitex (Chasteberry): Promotes the balance of progesterone and estrogen, the two major hormones that are associated with PMS. For some women, this herb alone can alleviate all symptoms!
Bonus: Researchers in Taiwan studied the effects of yoga for PMS, and found that yoga practices reduced breast tenderness, cramping, and overall discomfort associated with the participants’ periods. Light exercise, getting enough good quality sleep, and meditation for mitigating stress have all been shown to reduce PMS.
PMS is not natural, so stop suffering needlessly each month! By supporting healthy hormone balance through a clean diet and proper supplementation, it is possible to make “that time of month” as comfortable as any other day.