Posts Tagged PMS

Natural Strategies for Dealing with PMS

Premenstrual syndrome is very common. According to research, 75% of menstruating women experience some symptoms of PMS that can range from physical to emotional, and mild to severe. PMS physical symptoms include breast tenderness, bloating, water retention, sugar cravings, headaches and lack of energy. Emotionally, women can go through mood swings, feeling easily irritated, frustrated and not being able to cope.

The major cause of PMS is hormonal imbalance, particularly during the last half of the menstrual cycle (the luteal phase). These imbalances can be quite subtle but can have profound effects. Some researchers suggest PMS may also result from a woman’s increased sensitivity to natural fluctuations in hormone levels at this time of the menstrual cycle. It is interesting that the most common times of emotional difficulties for women are at times in their lives when hormonal fluctuations occur, for example in the premenstrual time, after giving the birth and around the menopausal years.

Women also need to be aware of a severe form of PMS called Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), even though it is considered to be less common and affects only 3% to 8% of women with regular menstrual cycle. PMDD is distinguished from general PMS by more acute signs of depression, moodiness, anxiety, tension and irritability. This form of PMS can be quite disruptive and destructive to women’s lives in general and relationships in particular.

Battling PMS Symptoms Conventionally

Unfortunately not many women know how to deal with these issues or are not even aware that there are natural solutions that can relieve the PMS symptoms and help them ‘sail through’ this time of the cycle without feeling miserable. Medically PMS is usually managed with hormone therapy or antidepressants. These are effective in some cases but both treatments can have side effects and neither address the underlying cause of the PMS.

Dealing with PMS Naturally: The Power of Herbs and Nutrients

Natural treatment with herbs and nutrients is another option that is very effective, without the side effects of drug treatments. For example, Chaste Tree is a fantastic herb, quite commonly used for PMS treatment. In some trials, Chaste Tree was shown to help regulate hormones. According to research Chaste Tree has a beneficial affect on brain neurotransmitters, which in turn regulate hormones. These neurotransmitters are also linked to the feelings of pleasure and reward. During PMS this function can be reduced, which can result in reduced motivation, attention, memory, desire, ability to cope and increased anxiety.

Remember, to be effective, Chaste Tree needs to be prescribed in right doses, tailored to the individual requirements. More so, Chaste Tree on its own is often not enough. It is also important to treat the symptoms throughout the whole cycle (before, during and after PMS). It is most likely that to achieve the desired results, we usually combine Chaste Tree with other herbs that are needed to nourish the nervous system and improve your body’s response to stress, reduce mood fluctuations and help you deal with water retention and bloating.

Nutrients are just as vital and are usually a necessary part of the treatment process. As an example, Zinc levels often drop in premenstrual times and this alone can reduce your immunity. This could explain why some women are more prone to various infections in the premenstrual time: from colds and flus to herpes flare-ups. Magnesium is another key nutrient as it helps balance neurotransmitters and hormones. B complex vitamins, calcium and vitamin C are also necessary to improve the nervous system and adrenal function.

Eat Well

Do not skip breakfast and eat regular meals with healthy snacks in between, as this will help prevent your blood sugar dropping, hence lessen the cravings. Avoid refined sugars, an excessive amount of starchy carbohydrates and saturated fat as well as processed foods. Include more lean protein in your diet such as chicken breast, turkey, fish and avoid having red meat more than twice a week. For healthy fats e.g. Omega 3 enjoy salmon (grilled or baked) coupled with vegetables. Make fresh fruits and vegetables a daily must-have. For example, bananas are full of potassium, known to alleviate PMS symptoms. Combine it with vitamin B rich nuts and you will have a tasty and nutritious snack. Drink plenty of water, as it will help lessen bloating and ease water retention. Don’t think that by drinking less water you will ease bloating.

Sleep Longer for Feeling Better

Many people underestimate the importance of sleep. Sleep helps us restore our nervous system, improve hormonal balance, maintain healthy weight and ultimately improve longevity. Get seven to eight hours of sleep each night. Make it a priority throughout the whole cycle. Exercise for energy. Research suggests that regular aerobic activity throughout the cycle can reduce the symptoms of PMS such as bloating, fatigue and irritability at the premenstrual times. Exercising releases endorphins, which means you will feel happier and energetic afterwards. If you are experiencing a severe form of PMS (or menstruation), take a milder form of aerobic activity e.g. walking or easy jogging. Several yoga poses are considered to be particularly beneficial in relieving the cramps and helping you adapt better to stress and anxiety.

Apart from getting the right herbal prescription and adjusting your lifestyle habits, what else can you do to cope better and reduce stress premenstrually?

PMS usually intensifies the feelings you already have. During PMS women often don’t feel supported or validated. My advice would be to think through the things that you find particularly stressful during PMS and try to improve the situation or address it beforehand. Here is a good example: women tend to overload their schedules and ‘squeezing things’ in already tight agendas. If that sounds familiar, learn to say ‘No’ and don’t make any hasty promises if your schedule is already full, particularly if the additional activities coincide with your premenstrual time. BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF.

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