PMS symptoms

The Natural Keys To Controlling PMS

PMS is by far the most common woman's health complaint. For some women, PMS is a minor inconvenience that lasts a few days. For others, it disrupts the whole month! A woman's body is delicately tuned, and can become unbalanced easily, causing pain, poor function, and a disconcerting feeling of not being "together," especially during the menstrual cycle. Fortunately, women can take relieve PMS effectively with a simple 4 point program.

1. Use essential fatty acids to balance prostaglandins. Prostaglandins are vital hormone-type compounds that regulate body functions almost like an electrical current.

2. Love your liver. The liver is in charge of hormone metabolism, and helps to rebalance estrogen and progesterone levels.

3. Enhance your thyroid to reduce PMS. Excess estrogen in the body is related to thyroid imbalance. If the thyroid does not have enough iodine, insufficient thyroid hormone is produced and too much estrogen builds up. Seaweeds are a good choice because they are rich in iodine.

4. Phytohormone-rich plants like soybeans, wild yam, licorice root and dong quai, help control PMS symptoms and have a safety record of centuries. An phytohormone-rich combination like  works as a balancing resource to keep PMS symptoms at bay, naturally.

A woman can expect a natural healing program for PMS relief to take at least two months, as the body works through both ovary cycles. The first month, there is a noticeable decrease in PMS symptoms; the second month often finds them dramatically reduced.

To Life-long health,

Linda Page

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November Herb of the Month- Evening Primrose

Evening primrose- Oenothera biennis Today’s common uses: Evening primrose GLA (gamma linolenic acid) positively affects sex hormone response and balance. It should be a key part of any hormone program to control PMS, menopausal problems, infertility, and prostate problems for men. It also prevents hardening of the arteries and lowers cholesterol. A primary herb for skin beauty, hair loss and soothing breast soreness. An excellent preventive remedy for hangovers and cell damage from drugs and alcohol. As an EFA source, evening primrose helps even serious degenerative diseases like M.S. and muscular dystrophy. GLA from evening primrose is important for increasing prostaglandin production to treat many problems caused by low essential fatty acids: eczema, fibocystic breast pain, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage of legs, feet, arms and hands of long-term diabetics). Traditional Herbal Medicine uses: Native Americans used it for digestive problems, coughs and sore throats and wounds, and as a staple food. They made a tea from the roots for obesity and bowel problems.

Common doses: 2 to 3 500mg gelcaps daily for hormone problems; 2 caps daily for EFA related problems.

Key compounds: A GLA (gamma linoleic acid) rich herb to enhance prostaglandin balance which helps regulate blood clotting, decrease inflammation, stimulate hormone production, and regulate PMS-related water retention. The oil has 74 percent linolenic acid (LA) and 8-10 percent gamma linolenic acid (GLA).  High in tryptophan, to promote healthy sleep patterns.

Can be taken during pregnancy precisely because the body requires more essential fatty acids during that time.

Works in synergy with: 1) for PMS and cramping, combine with dong quai and vitex. 2) Or Try Evening Primrose Pearls.

Note: There are a number of GLA rich herbs available - borage seed, black currant, arugula, sea weed, ginger are all worthy sources, but in my experience, Evening Primrose oil, is by far the most effective for hormone related problems for both men and women.

-Sarah

What causes PMS?

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PMS is by far the most common women’s health complaint. For some women, it disrupts their whole lives. PMS seems to be partly a consequence of our modern lives. In times past, our diets consisted of more whole and fresh foods than they do today. Our environment wasn’t full of chemicals, nor our foods full of junk. The modern woman’s lifestyle seems almost made to order for stress and imbalance. Today’s foods and our environment are full of chemicals that clearly affect hormone balance. 90% of premenopausal American women experience some degree of PMS. Over 150 symptoms have been documented - new ones are being added all the time. Symptoms like headaches, adult acne, food cravings, bloating, irregular bowel movements, and mood swings can last anywhere from 2 days to as long as 2 weeks! Some women say their cycles make them feel out of control most of the month! While most women try to grin and bear PMS aggravation, up to 10% have symptoms serious enough to seek professional help.

What's happening to our bodies?

The hormone shift in estrogen/progesterone ratios during the menstrual cycle is the major factor in PMS symptoms. (Women report the most symptoms in the two week period before menstruation, when the ratios are the most elevated.) Low brain serotonin, low thyroid, excess estrogen along with prostaglandin imbalance because of poor liver malfunction, and a diet loaded with too much salt, red meat, sugar and caffeine are all implicated in PMS. Most women who get PMS don’t get enough regular exercise. Many have low B vitamins, don’t get enough quality protein and have several mineral deficiencies. Stress or long term emotional distress can be a big factor.

But drugs and chemical medicines to take care of the symptoms, standing as they do outside a woman’s natural cycle, usually do not bring positive results for women. The medical establishment, with highly focused “one-treatment-for-one-symptom” protocols, has not been successful in addressing PMS. For example, contraceptive drugs, regularly given to reduce symptoms, make PMS worse for some women. Antidepressant drugs, the new rage for PMS treatment, mean insomnia and shakiness for many patients instead of relaxation.

PMS symptoms tends to get worse for women in their late thirties. Hormone imbalances after taking birth control pills, after pregnancy, and just before menopause magnify symptoms. For some women, a PMS problem becomes an endometriosis diagnosis as they move into their thirties. Switch from tampons to pads if you are very congested. Some research also shows that tampons may raise the risk of endometriosis. Up to 60% of women with severe PMS also struggle with allergies, especially to yeast. When the immune system attacks an allergen it produces inflammatory prostaglandins that trigger menstrual pain. Clearly there is no one cause and no one treatment for PMS. A holistic approach is more beneficial and allows a woman to tailor treatment to her own needs. See next page, Liver Cleansing page 211 and Hypoglycemia Diet page 470 for more information.

Do You Get PMS? Check out the following most common signs of PMS to see if they apply to you.

  • Are you unusually irritable, depressed, argumentative or tense at certain times each month?

  • Do you experience cyclical water retention, bloating, and constipation each month?

  • Do you feel a noticeable energy drop before your period… to the point where you don’t want to get out of bed or do anything?

  • Do you get regular monthly headaches or lower back pain before your period?

  • Do you get sore, swollen breasts before your period?

  • Do you get nausea attacks and heavy cramping just before and during your period?

  • Do you get food cravings for salt and sweets before and during your period? Do you tend to binge during certain times of the month?

  • Do you get acne and skin eruptions before and during your period?

  • Do you get pre-period mouth sores? (Mouth sores with mood swings mean probable low progesterone or thyroid levels.)

To Life-long health,

Linda Page, Ph.D., Traditional Naturopath