5 Ways to Banish PMS Symptoms Naturally
First things first, I’d like to break down a myth that is way too commonly accepted; that as someone with a menstrual cycle you must endure symptoms of PMS. No. No. No.
I have so many patients who come to me and brush off the validity of symptoms, both emotional and physical, as “just pms.” I get it because I do it too and I’ve struggled with some serious symptoms myself. That being said, your symptoms are both valid and reparable. The bottom line is, your body is trying to tell you something.
The body is a well oiled machine. One of the most important sources of form and function for that machine are hormones. Hormones, in short, are substances that move through the body via tissues or blood to stimulate necessary processes into action. They have a very strong impact on mood, behavior, and energy.
Hormone related symptoms vary greatly and differ from person to person, as do the root causes. That being said, being treated holistically for your symptoms is important, and often blood work and hormone tests are necessary. These tips are general and can have a positive effect on hormone imbalance regardless of what the root cause is.
Take a Serious Inventory of Your Diet
Proper nutrition may sound like an obvious solution, but I’m talking about nutrition with a focus on blood sugar regulation. That means eating real foods and eating them regularly- meaning not skipping meals. Eating processed foods and foods high in sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which can lead to estrogen dominance, which can then lead to relative progesterone deficiency. Sufficient protein intake from hormone-free meat sources is a great way to keep your blood sugar balanced.
Another key diet tip to banish PMS is to increase your intake of Omega-3 fats. That can be in the form on wild salmon, sardines, walnuts, and flax seed oil.
Adjust Your Exercise Routine with Your Cycle
In Chinese medical theory we look at the menstrual cycle in 4 different phases. Something different is happening hormonally with each phase, and different levels of energy are needed for each of these processes. That means that it’s normal for our outward energy to change with each phase. With each change we should be listening to our bodies and adjusting our exercise routines accordingly.
Phase 1 (menstruation):
This phase begins when your period starts and ends when you stop bleeding. This is a time of rest. Avoid intense cardio during menstruation and stick to restorative type yoga or gentle walks.
Phase 2 (pre-ovulation):
Begins once your period has ended. You can introduce higher intensity cardio and aerobics back into your routine. Aim for 30 minutes a day, alternating days between higher intensity aerobics and lower intensity weight training.
Phase 3 (ovulation):
Exercise for this phase is a combo of the last two. You want to keep exercising and moving to promote blood flow, but try not to over-do it. If you’re noticing that you’re exhausted after a workout, that’s over doing it, so just scale back and give your body the rest it's asking for.
Phase 4 (post-ovulation):
This is when you really want to listen to your body. Sometimes it’ll be asking for different things. In general, this is a great time for yoga classes that break a sweat and exercise that might not feel like exercise (ie dancing, hiking with a friend). Common pre-period symptoms are irritability, breast tenderness, and heightened emotions. These are all signs of qi stagnation. Flexible movement promotes a release of that pent up and stagnant qi, helping to alleviate the above symptoms.
These are chemical estrogens that are not manufactured by the body. ‘Xeno’ means foreign, so these are literally translated to ‘foreign estrogens.’ They are either synthetic or come from natural chemical compounds. They are similar enough in chemical structure for the body to mistake them for regular estrogen, but are different enough to be harmful to the body and to disrupt certain processes. They clog up receptors, leaving no space for the real estrogens to bind and do their thing.
Here’s a list of common xenoestrogens and the products they are commonly found in:
• Parabens - found in personal care products, creams and lotions.
• 4-Methylbenzylidene camphor (4-MBC)- found in sunscreen
• Benzophenone - found in sunscreen
• E127 (Erythrosine) – used as red food coloring
• Butylated hydroxyanisole / BHA - food preservative
• Phthalates - used as plasticizers in plastic bottles, food wrapping foils and any other plastic items such as toys, containers, tupperware etc.
• DEHP - another PVC plasticizer.
• Propyl gallate - antioxidant used in oil production.
• PCB’s - used in glues, paint and lubricants.
• Atrazine - used as herbicide.
• Pentachlorophenol - used as wood preservative and pesticide
• Nonylphenol - found in surfactants, detergents, pesticides and emulsifiers.
• Hexachlorocyclohexane and heptachlor - found in pesticides.
• TSP - Tri-sodium phosphates found in washing detergents and fabric softeners.
Supplement with Magnesium
Magnesium has been called the anti-stress mineral. It is a natural detoxifier
and a natural muscle relaxer (great for painful cramps, constipation, and
breast tenderness). It relaxes the nervous system which helps to ease anxiety, depression, and irritability.
Supplementing with magnesium is vital for most people, with or without symptoms of PMS. That's because the body doesn't store it, meaning there's no back up stores of magnesium for when we fall short. Whatever you get via your daily intake is what you have to work with.
There are many different forms of magnesium, and they are all absorbed differently. Try to find either magnesium citrate or magnesium glycinate and get 400-600mg daily. Magnesium is a natural laxative, so if you get loose stools scale back to a smaller dose until that doesn't happen.
Make Stress Management a Priority
Stress hormones have a direct effect on sex hormones. Do you ever notice that in times of higher stress your PMS symptoms get worse? It's no coincidence. When stress hormone levels get out of balance, we lose our ability to cope with things that would otherwise not be as bothersome. We reach our tipping point faster. Having healthy coping mechanisms is key. Try adding one or more of these to your regular routine: meditation, breathing exercises, creativity, getting out in nature, yoga, acupuncture.
Having a change of energy, both physical and emotional, is a completely normal part of having a healthy cycle. Extremes aren't necessary though and we shouldn't have to endure them.
One tip I didn't mention here but is definitely worth mentioning is taking your temperature every morning with a BBT thermometer. This is pretty mainstream info for women trying to conceive, but it's not really used often for this purpose. The reason it's helpful is because you can get a really good look at what's happening hormonally through each phase of the cycle. It does require some diligence on your part because your temperature needs to be taken at the same time every day and it needs to be taken immediately after waking up. Like right after you open your eyes immediately. Once you have a full cycle charted, from Day 1 to your next period, bring the chart to a holistic healthcare practitioner who works with fertility and hormones and they should be able to dissect it with you.