PMS (PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME)
Written by Slawomir Gromadzki, MPH
Many of our female customers greatly improved their health or even completely recovered from PMS and other problems associated with hormonal imbalance and painful, irregular or heavy menstruation. For instance, I remember one gentleman by the name Andy who wanted to get rid of his tiredness so I suggested him to avoid coffee, black tea, chocolate, pizza, cheese, sugar and other refined foods and to include in his diet more raw vegetable salads and some other unrefined raw and nutrient-rich foods. In addition I recommended him to get one of the highest in energy-boosting chlorophyll super grasses together with good quality multivitamin-mineral formula. But there was another problem which bothered him more than his fatigue. He worried about his wife who normally was a very peaceful and very kind loving person but whenever her menstruation was about to start she behaved “like a beast”, he said, impossible to live with. So after explaining how he could overcome his caffeine addiction I also suggested some lifestyle improvements and herbal remedies for his wife that were aimed at regulating her progesterone imbalance. The same day, after closing the shop, we mentioned him and his wife in our prayers as we have a custom of asking loving God to bless our customers and their efforts to recover from different conditions. After some time I met Andy again and was very happy to hear that he managed to greatly reduce his caffeine intake. But the most important good news was that as soon as his wife started taking the herbal remedies she never experienced the PMS symptoms anymore and again she is continually the same kind and loving wife she used to be!
WHAT IS PMS?
PMS (or premenstrual syndrome) is the term used to describe a set of physical and emotional symptoms which often occur in one to two weeks before menstruation. It is estimated that PMS affects between 40 to 70% of fertile women.
The symptoms of PMS last for about 5-7 days and usually disappear when menstruation starts. The following symptoms are associated with PMS: Fatigue, irritability, tender breasts, bloating, mood changes, acne, insomnia, backache, joint and muscle pain, food cravings, anxiety, mood swings, changes in sex drive, etc.
Some symptoms of PMS can be caused by Hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose levels) – another very common condition. >
POSSIBLE KEY CAUSES
– Hormonal imbalance (too much estrogen and low progesterone). Under normal circumstances, during the first half of the menstrual cycle, oestrogen levels should rise. Then, during the second half of the cycle the ovulation takes place followed by raise of progesterone level. And in case no egg is fertilised, the levels of both estrogen and progesterone drop and another period starts. Unfortunately due to certain factors the Progesterone level drops too much causing PMS symptoms. It is very important to have normal level of Progesterone as it gives many benefits: For instance, it has a regulating effect on brain neurotransmitters, thus improving moods. It also helps to control hunger or cravings by regulating blood sugar levels.
– Nutritional deficiencies (especially vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, calcium, zinc, and vitamin D deficiency). PMS is often a manifestation of nutritional deficiencies caused by refined diet (white flour products, polished rice), high sugar intake, stimulants, avoiding good quality nutritional supplements, low raw vegetable consumption, etc.
– Neurotransmitters imbalance (low serotonin and beta endorphin, high glutamate levels). Just before menstruation the levels of serotonin (strongest antidepressant and feel good hormone) are decreased while levels of glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter) are increased. In most women experiencing PMS also the level of beta endorphin (opioid neurotransmitter) falls causing an opiate-like withdrawal symptoms that may be responsible for the mood changes experienced during PMS.
– Candida albicans overgrowth: There is a reason to believe that candida albicans (pathological yeast) overgrowth can greatly contribute to PMS symptoms as candida causes negative changes in the functioning of the immune system. Insufficient number of good probiotic bacteria in the gut caused by unhealthy diet, bad lifestyle, antibiotics, oral contraceptives, stimulants, lack of dietary fibre, etc., leads to candida overgrowth which eventually damages the lining of the colon creating a common condition called the leaky gut syndrome. As a result candida moves from the gut into the bloodstream starting systemic candida infection thus triggering the autoimmune reaction and chronic inflammation.
Systemic candidiasis by triggering autoimmune reactions contributes to the imbalance of the female sex hormones and PMS symptoms. It is believed that estrogen should be regarded as the key trigger responsible for candida overgrowth in women with PMS because estrogen dominance during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle may empower candida to trigger an autoimmune reaction leading to PMS.
It was discovered that the pseudo-estrogen compounds released by Candida albicans stimulate the body to produce insufficient amounts of thyroxin which makes the already often existing hypothyroidism even worse. And the underactive thyroid makes the symptoms of PMS even more pronounced.
OTHER FACTORS THAT MAY CONTRIBUTE TO HORMONAL IMBALANCE AND PMS
– Obesity. Body fat contains an enzyme which helps to create oestrogen. It means that the more fat cells you have the more oestrogen they will produce. As a result the high estrogen level will contribute to progesterone deficiency.
– Inability of the liver to effectively break down oestrogen which might be caused by many reasons including vitamin B complex and magnesium deficiency.
– Contraceptives, antibiotics and other prescribed medication.
– Inability to control stress: Apart from Candida overgrowth (which lowers progesterone by increasing estrogen) also stress can contribute to the same estrogen dominance. Stress stimulates adrenal glands to make more cortisol by sacrificing progesterone. In addition, cortisol also blocks progesterone receptors inhibiting its effectiveness.
– Diet high in sugar and high fructose/glucose syrup.
– Caffeine (coffee, tea, cola drinks, etc.) and theobromine (chocolate products) intake.
– Alcohol consumption.
– Low mood, anxiety, depression.
– Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
– Deficiency of magnesium, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin E, etc.
HERBAL REMEDIES & SUPPLEMENTS
– Agnus Castus (known also as Vitex, Chaste Berry or Monk’s Pepper) is regarded as the most effective herbal remedy in coping with PMS symptoms. It is especially useful and even amazing when PMS is associated with heavy and painful periods, short cycle, mood swings, irritability, menstrual cramps, fluid retention, or tender breasts. Agnus castus is a large shrub (native to the Mediterranean region of southern Europe) with lilac or white flowers and small fruits.
Taking Agnus works by stimulating the body to produce more natural progesterone in a safe and controlled way.
According to a German study, over 90% of the female participants reported that their PMS symptoms either significantly decreased or even completely disappeared after 3 months of treatment with Agnus castus! In another large study (with 1,634 participants taking Agnus castus) 42% reported complete recovery from PMS while 51% managed to decrease symptoms. In addition, 86% of the physicians involved in the study declared that the treatment of PMS with Agnus castus had “a pronounced efficacy”. At the same time no serious side effects of using Agnus castus were reported.
For PMS I usually recommend Agnus castus in the form of tincture (Natures Answer) or tablets (Natures Aid) and our female customers repeatedly confirmed effectiveness of both of them. If you want Agnus castus to work faster take it in the form of tincture (Natures answer makes the most effective one). It must be taken every day throughout the cycle (not just the week before the period). Stop taking AC after the symptoms disappear and start again if they appear again.
It is not recommended to take Agnus castus or any other hormone-balancing herb (Dong quai, Black Cohosh, etc.) if you use hormonal contraceptives, hormonal medication, an implant or a coil as AC may nullify their effect by regulating the hormonal imbalance they cause.
– Magnesium: 2 times a day 400 mg of magnesium (citrate, etc.). Magnesium deficiency is rampant today and it is essential to cope with menstrual cramps and tension. Magnesium will also help you to relieve insomnia, anxiety, irritability, or nervousness, as it relaxes the nervous system. Magnesium together with chromium and potassium also helps reduce sugar cravings.
– Serotonin. Since one of the reasons of PMS is lower serotonin levels it is important to increase the production of this very important antidepressant and feel good hormone. The best way to do it is regular aerobic energetic exercise such as fast walk for about 30-60 min a day (especially in the morning). Try to exercise outside as the more light you see the more serotonin will be produced. Apart from that, also vitamin B6, folate, magnesium, zinc, L-tryptophan (5HTP) and complex carbohydrates (bananas, dried fruits, etc.) are required for proper synthesis of serotonin in the brain.
Read more about effective ways to increase serotonin >
– Good quality Probiotic formula is one of the best ways to keep Candida (one of the key causes of PMS). The most effective probiotic formulas are the following: UltraProbio, ImmuProbio, ColiProbio by HealthAid. Another excellent probiotic supplement is Symprove as it delivers live, active multi-strains of bacteria to the gut – just where they are needed. It’s totally different to any other multi-strain supplement because of its Unique Delivery System (UDS). This special delivery system protects the ‘beneficial’ bacteria from the gastric juices in the digestive tract, where they quickly reach targeted areas of the gut and colonise. The bacteria arrive, thrive and survive. Independent research shows best results come when used continually for 12 weeks. Many people then go on to take a maintenance dose (half dose) as part of their daily diet. Delivered as a refreshing, water-based, Mango & Passion Fruit drink, Symprove is non-dairy and gluten-free.
– Vitamin D3 >: 20-30,000 IU a day with meals (plus 2 times a day 400 mg of magnesium citrate as D3 leads to magnesium deficiency!) for 4-6 months. 5,000 – 10,000 IU a day after that.
According to one study women who took vitamin D supplements had 41 percent reduced PMS symptoms. Here is an example of how vitamin D supplement helped to recover from PMS: “In my youth, my life was literally high-jacked by my cycle. For half of the month I lived on Xanax and Percocet. My moods were so completely subject to whatever day of the month it happened to be folks who knew me well enough also knew just when to avoid me. One marriage and several relationships ended over my PMS and painful menstruations. Even with Percocet, there were days I could not get out of bed. Since raising my vitamin D level to above 74 ng/ml, I am pain-free, and my mood is always sunny. Vitamin D has literally return to me my life. I suffered since age 11. It’s not much of a stretch to say I lost my entire youth to PMS and painful periods.” >
– Calcium (only citrate): 500 mg a day with breakfast.
– Vitamin B6: A group of British researchers suggest that taking daily dose of 100 to 200 milligrams of vitamin B6 may be very helpful in relieving PMS symptoms. According to the study women with PMS taking vitamin B6 supplements experienced significantly reduced PMS symptoms (such as depression) compared to the placebo group. In order to be more effective B6 supplements should be taken about seven days before menstruation. For the first two weeks of the cycle, it is recommanded to take about 100 mg of B6 daily with other B vitamins. Also keep in mind that the more vitamin B6 you is used, the more magnesium is needed. magnesium is also necessary to be used with vitamin D supplements.
– Zinc: According to some sources vitamin B6 must be taken with zinc as without it B6 wont help to cope with PMS symptoms! You need to take about 20 to 30mg of zinc after breakfast.
– Apart from Agnus castus also Liquorice and Dong quai are often reported as helpful in alleviating PMS symptoms.
– Black cohosh. This herb is recommended instead of Agnus castus in case of light periods with longer cycle (more than 4 weeks apart) and low mood, tiredness.
– Raspberry leaf. It may bring relief in menstrual pain and heavy periods.
– Completely eliminate intake of refined sugar as it is one of the key causes of candida overgrowth of Candida which is one of the key causes of PMS. Instead of sugar use safe sweeteners such as xylitol or stevia. Don’t use artificial sweeteners as they cause numerous very dangerous side effects. Even honey and sugary foods should be avoided at this stage of your menstrual cycle. Also avoid products made from white flour as well as snacks with significant fat content. Besides soda drinks, alcohol and caffeinated drinks should also be avoided. In place of these foods, eat more vegetables, seafood, nuts, beans and seeds.
– Avoid caffeine
– Don’t drink tap water as it is often high in estradiol (100 times more powerful than estrogen) which lowers testosterone. Drink only 3 times 3 glasses of distilled water between meals. Read more about drinking water >.
– According to some specialists, detoxifying the liver can relieve PMS symptoms. Raw vegetable juices, Milk Thistle, Chlorella, Taurine and Charcoal are most excellent in helping liver to get rid of toxins. Avoid processed foods, stimulants, medication, toxins, sugar, meat products, fried foods, and bad fats (refined oils, margarine, animal fats). Use only organic raw coconut oil. Drink only distilled water between meals.
– If your periods are very heavy, take 2 times a day 10 tablets of chlorella or spirulina (highest natural sources of iron) or another natural iron supplement to support your iron levels and prevent fatigue.
– Avoid meat and dairy products as they contribute to hormonal imbalance.
– A good quality multivitamin-mineral formula (now Foods, Solgar, etc.): 1 after breakfast.
CHOSEN CUSTOMER REVIEWS ON AGNUS CASTUS – (FROM AMAZON)
“Am nearly 45 and bordering menopausal. All the emotional symptoms, depression, mood swings, irritability. I have started taking Agnus Castus and literally feel 20 years younger overnight. Completely back to the ‘me’ I know.”
“I was on birth control pills for over 6 years, once I decided to stop I didn’t get my period in 3 months. After the 2nd month had passed I decided to try this product and a little bit over 5 weeks since I started taking it my period came and not as painful as I was expecting it to be since it was the first after 6 years of birth control pills.”
“For me, this meant my cycle was as regular as ever (still the usual 26-27 days) but my period was lasting for some 21-24 days of that cycle! I was becoming oestrogen-dominant, and my progesterone levels were falling. Since progesterone is the hormone that tells your periods when they need to stop, my body was no longer getting that clear signal after the usual four or five days, and it just carried on… This went on for five months, until I ordered these tablets in absolute desperation, and took one per day, every day. Having seen previous reviews that mentioned them needing a month to take full effect, I was prepared for my next period to be just as bad… but it wasn’t. Yes, one day of it was as heavy as before, but the entire period lasted just four days. As did the next one. And the one after that. And every one I’ve had since. The only downside? The cramps are back (understandable, since Agnus Castus is known as “nature’s progesterone”, and it’s progesterone that releases the prostaglandins in the body, which cause cramps), but I can live with those for one or two days if it means I get my life back. Put bluntly, these things have saved my sanity. They’ve also saved my wallet. If you’re having problems with long, heavy periods -especially if you’re entering or in perimenopause, I highly recommend giving these a try.”
“I started taking these pills at 45. I was still getting very swollen sore boobs before my period and had been diagnosed with Fibroids. My periods got very heavy and irregular. I was recommended to have the coil fitted which I did and that stopped the heavy periods but not the very sharp pain deep in my groin throughout the month. After taking these for a few weeks the pain has stopped. When I have missed the tablets (whilst waiting to get to shops for more) then the pain reappears, so I know it helps. No more sore boobs either!”
“Very happy and will purchase regularly, cannot believe how well they work for me. Brought them as I h
ave had irregular extra-long cycles, but after a month of taking them religiously, daily, 2 times a day, my period is here more than two weeks earlier, which is great when you’re ttc!!!”
“Ordered these as they are supposed to help with fertility and regulating hormones and ovulation. I don’t ovulate every month and have been taking these for the last 3 months and have ovulated every month :).”
“This is brilliant for those women looking to balance their hormones and regulate their cycle. Mine have always been a little all over the place and now 3 months on this, I’m pretty much to the day. I also feel better in myself generally. I was suffering with bouts of depression, possibly related to PMDD (as well as underlying depression) but this seems to have helped with those symptoms also.”
“I’ve been taking Vitex since the last 9 months and it’s significantly helped to eliminate my awful PMS symptoms which I would normally suffer from a week after my periods, and then would gradually get worse 2 weeks prior to my periods as well.”
“I initially bought this product to help with my anxiety and hormonal imbalance problems, but all that happened to me in the two months of taking it was PREGNANCY! This is not what me OR my partner expected at all and it was definitely this stuff that did it. We are over the moon though and remarkably my anxiety and hormonal problems have dispersed – but I do think this is due to the pregnancy NOT the Agnus Castus.”
“I started taking these for two months after I had not been getting any periods from coming off the pill. After this time, I slowly began spotting and then finally a few months later had my first real period after stopping the pill. I only wish I had started these earlier as my husband and I were trying to conceive. I was diagnosed with PCOS which obviously does not help the period situation but I swear that it was these tablets that kick started my body into trying to get pregnant. It’s certainly worth a try — they’re only herbal after all!”
“Gave it a try, suffered emotions/depression for few days pre menstruation then aching all over like I had been kicked and a head full of cotton way, for several days post menstruation, had this for couple of years. Been taking 2 tablets for 3 months and now symptoms only last a day each. Feel much better.”
“I am still within the initial three months of time needed to allow for the medication to be working in my system fully. I am taking just one each day. I felt like I was coming together somehow, I am beginning the menopause, so feel desperate for some help right now. My water retention is cared for now too thanks to these tablets. I would like to come back to my feedback to explain I unfortunately, have had a bad experience since taking Agnus castus. perhaps it is because I suffered with eczema since a child and anxiety later in adult life but I developed a skin rash, which just kept getting worse and worse and itched like crazy, so decided it seemed to happen since taking these, but otherwise I felt like I am coming together so would not have stopped taking if not for the rash, which has spread up both arms and starting to pass my elbows but within about fourth day of not taking the itching has begun to calm down so I am certain I have experienced the side effects quite severely as also to begin with I did experience terrible panic attacks at time of pmt but at the time did not realise I was having pmt as mine began to be irregular before I began Agnus, Agnus definitely regulated me, so sad really for me now that I had to stop taking.”
“I, like many other people researched the tablets and their benefits before I purchased. I suffer from thin PCOS and have very long and irregular cycles. I am not at the right stage (according to our fantastic NHS!) to receive any fertility treatment. I had heard that Agnus Castus helps PCOS so I decided to take charge of my condition and try it. I am so pleased. I was 63 days into another long cycle when I started taking this. Usually long PCOS cycles are anovulatory so I was just expecting my period soon, however, 11 days later I appeared to ovulate on my own! I use BBT charting and ovulation tests so I am pretty certain I ovulated. I am now waiting to see if I’m pregnant. If I am then I will certainly be shouting from the rooftops about this product as I will have achieved it on my first cycle of trying and that is a massive achievement for a PCOS’er. There is hope and I would urge anyone in a similar situation to try it.”
“I rarely write reviews, but thought I’d have to for this. I took 2 a day for approx 3 weeks and started my period again after not having one for months after coming off birth control. I also felt a lot better after having the symptoms of a menopausal woman for a while (estrogen tested extremely low). Obviously no one can ever be 100% positive it is due to Agnus Castus, though it is definitely worth a try for its price. I did, however, notice that it did make my stomach sensitive, though with plenty of fibre, absolutely fine!! For the record I am a 22 year old.”
“On June ’13, my blood test showed I had high prolactin level. Me and hubby had started ttc a month before that result. After trying for all these months (no + results yet) I started to read, search and get informed online about a ”solution”. I’ve read in so many blogs that AC was a good one for women who have high prolactin level and it was good in balancing the hormonal imbalances. Based on BBT, CM and POK I ovulate, but usually on 26CD-29CD and my cycles are 45 days long average. I gave it a try and bought it. Started to take it on 18/09/13 (CD4) and a week after 25/09/13 did a blood test at my endocrinologist appointment. I received his call just now saying that the PROLACTIN LEVELS are normal and I don’t need to take Cabergoline (he had prescribed it in case they were high again). I had my 1st Flashy Face on my Clearblue Ov Monitor on CD16 and is still flashy today, hopefully I’ll Ov tomorrow, CD20. So it seems that AC is working for me balancing my hormonal levels… and fingers crossed I hope to see my first BFP soon!!!”
“I was quite sceptical when I ordered these tablets, however I have been really surprised by just how quickly these tablets have helped me. I am in my late thirties and I have very long, irregular periods- within 1 month of taking these tablets my cycle has been reduced from approx 60 days down to 25days!!! I cannot praise these tablets enough!!!! I can’t believe i suffered for years without them!!!!”
“I would also agree with other reviewers in that I feel more like ‘me’ again. I have always had severe mood swings (gine one minute, almost depressed the next). Not only have the tablets helped in shortening my cycle, they have also helped with ovulation and made it more regular and like ‘clock-work’ (very helpful for women who are trying for a baby). My moods are less severe and I feel more on an even keel are they say!!!!”
British Medical Journal May 22, 1999;318:1375-1381.
Loch E-G, Selle H, Boblitz N. Journal of Women’s Health and Gender-Based Medicine 2000; 9 (3): 315-20.
Van DIe, MD, et al.. “Effects of a combination of Hypericum perforatum and Vitex agnus-castus on PMS-like symptoms in late-perimenopausal women: findings from a subpopulation analysis.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 15.9 (2009): n. pag. pubmed.gov. Web. 21 May 2014.
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