Diet for Premenstrual Syndrome PMS
If you want to eliminate PMS, the most important thing you can do is to follow the hormone-balancing diet, and, in particular, take steps to balance your blood sugar. This means cutting out refined sugar and refined carbohydrates, eliminating alcohol, and eating six small meals a day (including three healthy snacks, such as a handful of nuts), always with a little protein, to keep your energy levels stable. Balancing your blood sugar reduces the strain on your adrenal glands, which, when overloaded, can upset the balance of progesterone in the latter part of your cycle.
Foods to treat PMS symptoms
The hormone-balance diet will increase your intake of unrefined whole carbohydrates (brown rice, oats, and so on), which will help balance your blood sugar and encourage your body’s production of serotonin, a natural feel-good hormone that can make you feel brighter and happier (improving dark moods) and also reduce your cravings for certain foods.
To combat water retention or bloating, limit your intake of salt and fatty foods and drink plenty of pure water, or juice or herbal tea. If you don’t drink enough, your body thinks there is a drought and tries to retain any water you have, storing it in your tissues and contributing to water retention. Aim for six to eight cups of healthy fluids a day. This means that sugary, sweet drinks don’t count. Nor do drinks containing caffeine (including black and green tea), which are diuretic and will worsen the PMS symptoms of breast tenderness and pain if you suffer from them.
Vitamins and Supplements
Providing your body with the right levels of nutrients can help relieve many of the most debilitating symptoms of PMS. Take good-quality versions of the following:
• Vitamin B6 Many studies indicate that vitamin B6 shows promise in the treatment of PMS-related symptoms, but a combination of magnesium and B6 together is even more effective. (In fact, a good daily multi-vitamin and mineral supplement should provide both these vital nutrients). Make sure you take B6 as pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P) rather than pyridoxine (the cheaper form, found in many supplements). P-5-P is the active form of vitamin B6, saving your body the job of converting the inactive form (pyridoxine).
• Vitamin E It will help treat breast problems, mood swings, and irritability. Take the vitamin as d-alpha tocopherol.
• Magnesium This vital nutrient is often deficient in women who suffer from PMS. Magnesium is a calming nutrient, having a relaxing effect on the nervous system, including easing menstrual headaches and migraines. Take magnesium as magnesium citrate, or amino acid chelate.
• Zinc This important mineral plays a major part in balancing your sex hormones and women with PMS are often deficient in it.
• Evening Primrose Oil (150mg GLA, daily) Evening primrose oil is a source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA), an essential fat that according to some studies is effective in reducing PMS-related breast tenderness – although other research has shown no effect at all. The most positive results happened when women were also taking a multi. I’ve noticed that women need to take evening primrose oil for three months before they see any effects.
The following herbs help balance hormones and ease symptoms of PMS. You should be able to get good combined herbal supplements that include agnus castus, black cohosh, and skullcap (as well as perhaps milk thistle) from your local natural pharmacy, or order one online. Alternatively, take them individually.
• Agnus Castus This hormonal wonder-herb helps stimulate and normalize the function of your pituitary gland. One study in the British Medical Journal stated that agnus castus is an “effective and well-tolerated treatment” for PMS, specifically. Furthermore, in studies comparing the anti-depressant effects of agnus castus against those of conventional medication in cases of PMS, the results were almost the same.
• Black Cohosh With its calming effect on the nervous system and balancing effect on the hormones, black cohosh may be helpful if you suffer from anxiety, tension, depression, and premenstrual headaches.
• Dandelion A liver tonic and natural diuretic, dandelion helps flush out excess fluid to relieve bloating but doesn’t flush out nutrients at the same time.
• Dong Quai This herb can help promote normal hormone balance and prevent muscle spasm, so reducing abdominal cramping.
• Skullcap Another herb good for the nervous system (so helpful for symptoms of anxiety) is skullcap.
Other Natural Treatments
Homeopathy The following homeopathic remedies have a good track record for treating the symptoms of PMS. Take them 24 hours before your symptoms usually begin. Use a 30c dilution every 12 hours for up to three days, unless your homeopath advises otherwise (a constitutional-based treatment is always best).
• Causticum when you get pains in your lower abdomen and feel the need to urinate frequently
• Lachesis for tender breasts
• Nat mur for breast pain, depression, and bloating
• Sepia when you feel tearful and crave comfort food
Acupuncture and osteopathy Both these natural therapies have been shown to be effective at treating the symptoms of PMS. You’ll need to see a specialist practitioner in each for individual treatments.
Aromatherapy Essential oils can help with problems such as hormonal imbalance, impaired liver function, stress, and poor sleep. Use the oils most relevant to your symptoms from the list below. Add five drops of each oil, up to three at a time, to your bath water, or add 15 drops of oil per 6 tsp. of sweet almond oil to use in a massage (over the abdomen is best for PMS).
• Clary sage to lift mood and balance your hormones
• Fennel and rosemary for water retention
• Jasmine to ease depression, tension, and anxiety
• Juniper to ease bloating and detoxify the liver (so balancing your hormones)
• Grapefruit to ease constipation and headaches
• Geranium to cool and regulate your system, easing depression and anxiety
• Bergamot and Roman or German chamomile to reduce depression and ease irritability
• Lavender to reduce tension, balance the whole body system, and improve sleep, if your sleep is affected.
Reflexology Various studies prove the effectiveness of reflexology in the treatment of PMS, and many women report feeling calmer and finding it easier to stay in control when they’re having reflexology treatments.
Keep a journal If your problems occur always in the second half of your cycle, you almost certainly have PMS, but it may also be useful to keep a symptom journal to rule out any other possible causes. It’s important to get to know your body. If you encounter any unusual or erratic variations, tell your doctor.
Take care of your liver follow experts recommendations for improving liver function, so your liver can efficiently eliminate “old” hormones during each cycle. This is particularly important if you suffer from premenstrual or menstrual migraines and / or premenstrual headaches.
Stay active Exercise is particularly beneficial for women who suffer from premenstrual stress, anxiety, and depression because exercise releases brain chemicals called endorphins. These help us to feel happier, more alert, and calmer. Try to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Anything that raises your heart rate a little is worthwhile.
Beat stress During times of stress, your adrenal glands release the hormone adrenaline, and this prepares your body to fight or flee from danger. When this happens during the lacteal phase (latter half) of your cycle, the adrenaline inhibits the body’s ability to use progesterone, leading to hormonal imbalance. Make time for dedicated relaxation at least twice weekly.
Come off the Pill If your symptoms get worse when you’re on the Pill, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss another form of contraception. In your case the medication is causing your PMS, not your natural cycle. (Never take herbs if you’re on the Pill unless you’re supervised by a qualified herbal practitioner).