You can take a painkiller if you experience stomach cramps, but wouldn’t it be nice if you could manage your PMS symptoms in a more natural and free from side effects way? Below you will find explanation how to accomplish this goal.
WHAT CAUSES PMS AND PREMENSTRUAL PROBLEMS?
Hormones have a much bigger impact on our health and well-being than many people think, and women realise it as soon as they start suffering from hormone related symptoms associated with PMS. It is therefore, very important to understand what causes PMS and menstrual problems, all the more since it is estimated that PMS affects between 40 to 70% of fertile women. PMS (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 and last for about 5-7 days.
Although PMS symptoms may vary they usually include one or more of the following: Fatigue, irritability, tender breasts, bloating, mood changes, acne, insomnia, backache, joint and muscle pain, food cravings, anxiety, mood swings, changes in sex drive. These problems are the result of hormonal imbalance caused by low progesterone and high oestrogen levels. 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.
It is very important to have normal level of Progesterone as it gives many benefits to the body: For instance, it has a regulating effect on brain neurotransmitters, thus improving mood. It also helps to control hunger or cravings by regulating blood sugar levels. Oestrogen, on the other hand, promotes fat distribution, maintains the health of female reproductive organs, assists in the control of fluid balance within the body, ensuring that our skin retains moisture, prepares the follicle for the release of an egg, and maintains bone density.
Unfortunately, due to various nutritional, emotional and environmental factors (listed below), in many menstruating women the Progesterone level drops too much while Oestrogen goes up, thus triggering unpleasant PMS symptoms.
WHAT FACTORS MAY CONTRIBUTE TO IMBALANCE OF PROGESTERONE AND OESTROGEN?
There is still a lot to learn with regards to this question, but there are reasons to believe that PMS symptoms can be triggered by various nutritional, emotional and environmental factors. One of them is associated with poor dietary habits leading to deficiency of Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E, caused by low consumption of whole foods, high sugar intake, frequent use of stimulants, and avoiding good quality nutritional supplements. Lack of vitamins and minerals contribute to hormonal imbalance as many of these nutrients are involved in the production of hormones and are essential for healthy nervous system and maintaining normal muscle function (including uterus).
It’s also been suggested that changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle may affect the levels of certain brain chemicals and neurotransmitters. It has been demonstrated that just before menstruation the level of serotonin (strongest antidepressant and feel good hormone) is decreased while level of glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter) is 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.
Also obesity and overweight may play important role in PMS due to the fact that body fat contains an enzyme which helps to create oestrogen. It means that the more fat cells in the body the more oestrogen is produced, thus contributing to progesterone deficiency. Also in women who do not look overweight the hidden visceral fat, which covers internal organs, may also trigger PMS.
PMS symptoms can also be associated with poor liver condition and function (caused by toxic overload, alcohol consumption, bad diet, or Vitamin B complex and Magnesium deficiency) as it leads to inability of the liver to effectively break down oestrogen.
Another important factor which is often blamed for triggering PMS symptoms is Candida albicans overgrowth (very common today) as it lowers progesterone by increasing estrogen.
Also inability to control stress is regarded as one of the causes of PMS as it contributes to estrogen dominance by stimulating adrenal glands to make more cortisol by sacrificing progesterone.
WHAT YOU CAN DO?
There are lots of ways to manage PMS which proved to be effective in many cases. Even if you find out you can’t completely fix this problem, it’s nice to know you have the power to do something about it and help yourself. Everything you need to do is to address as many mentioned above causes as possible.
First of all, try exercise every day for 30 to 60 minutes and significantly increase consumption of healthy unrefined plant foods as regular physical activity and healthy (high in nutrients) diet help resolve almost all causes of hormonal imbalance.
For instance, these two factors will help you increase levels of Serotonin (strongest antidepressant and feel good hormone). For better results take good quality supplements which contain B vitamins, magnesium and zinc required for Serotonin production. Regular consumption of high in amino acid Tryptophan foods such as Tofu, or even better by taking Tryptophan supplements such as 5HTP.
Reduce levels of Glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter) by avoiding products with monosodium glutamate (MSG), and using high quality probiotic supplements such as UltraProbio to increase levels of GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), another feel-good hormone and neurotransmitter.
It is very important to reduce number of Candida albicans (it lowers progesterone by increasing estrogen) by increasing consumption of raw vegetables salads, avoiding foods with sugar and white flour products. If you take antibiotics you must always address the imbalance of bacterial flora by using good quality probiotic formulas such as HealthAid Sacardi.
You will get better results if you manage to lower body weight (if you are overweight) with a healthy diet that is abundant in unrefined (high in fibre) plant-based foods and daily exercise.
Improving liver condition and function can be very helpful too. In this way you will help your liver to break down oestrogen, thus lowering its level. You can boost liver function by avoiding alcohol, fried foods, and taking supplements such as Livercare as it contains Milk thistle extract, Artichoke, L- Cysteine, B vitamins and other ingredients, very effective in improving liver health.
Finally you also need to improve your ability to control of stress levels by regular exercise, healthy unrefined diet, daily meditation and relaxation techniques, and supporting nervous system by using supplements containing high strength B vitamins, Magnesium, Zinc, Ginseng or Rhodiola.
WHAT NUTRITIONAL SUPPLEMENT YOU CAN USE TO SUPPORT HORMONAL BALANCE?
Balanced nutrition is essential for maintaining healthy hormonal balance and reducing the severity of PMS symptoms. Studies show that women who take a good multi-vitamin and mineral formulas have fewer symptoms of PMS than women who don’t.
Agnus Castus Extract (known also as Vitex, Chaste Berry or Monk’s Pepper) is a large shrub (native to the Mediterranean region of southern Europe) with lilac or white flowers and small fruits. Its two active ingredients agnusides and aucubins have demonstrated ability to stimulate 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.
Chamomile, according to a 2013 study results, “seems to be more effective than a drug in relieving the intensity of PMS associated symptomatic psychological pains”.
Researchers found that Ginger Root (found also in FemmeVit) reduced menstruation pain similarly to the two NSAIDs. Another study tested 120 women with primary dysmenorrhea. Half of them received 500 milligrams of ground Ginger three times a day for the first three days of the menstrual period. The other 60 participants received a placebo. The researchers found that the Ginger group experienced significantly less pain and noticed reduction in pain duration compared to the placebo group.
Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) is often recommended for women because its key active ingredient component Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) is converted in the body into molecules that seem to counteract biochemical changes in the body that might underlie PMS. However, the Star Flower Oil (Borage Oil), included in FemmeVit, is two time higher in GLA then Evening Primrose Oil.
By providing the body with B Vitamins, Zinc, Magnesium and Vitamin C, which are required for Serotonin production supplements can contribute to the increased levels of this most precious feel-good hormone deficiency of which is linked to PMS.
Magnesium deficiency is regarded as rampant today due to soil depletion, stress and poor dietary habits. Since Magnesium contributes to normal muscle function and relaxes the nervous system it is also essential to cope with menstrual cramps and tension, helps relieve insomnia and irritability. Scientific studies repeatedly demonstrated that oral “Magnesium is effective in reducing premenstrual symptoms in women with PMS” and “successfully relieves premenstrual mood changes”. Scientists have found magnesium deficiencies in the red blood cells of women suffering from PMS symptoms. According to one study results 89 percent of the women experienced relief of nervous tension as a result of receiving magnesium supplements one week premenstrually and during the first two days of menstruation. Magnesium is also required to facilitate the conversion of the linoleic acid to gamma linolenic acid and the conversion of gamma linolenic acid to the prostaglandin hormones which help to reduce the anxiety and mood swing symptoms of PMS.
According to a 2016 study women who took Vitamin D3 and E supplements had 41 percent reduced PMS symptoms!
Vitamin B6. A group of British researchers proved that taking daily Vitamin B6 supplementation may be very helpful in relieving PMS symptoms. Vitamin B6 works even better when it is combined with other B vitamins and magnesium. It is important to know that Vitamin B6 must be taken with Zinc as without it B6 won’t help to cope with PMS symptoms!
Iodine makes cells less sensitive to estrogen which makes iodine one of the most important aids in dealing with estrogen excess and dominance which leads to PMS.
Oat Seed Extract (Avena Sativa) has a proven calming effect on the nervous system and ability to increase energy levels.
B-complex vitamins and Chromium help to decrease hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar levels) and sugar cravings in women with PMS. Since B Vitamins help deactivate estrogen, their deficiency contributes to increased levels of this hormone and PMS symptoms. B Vitamins also regulate mood by facilitating carbohydrate metabolism and conversion of glucose to energy.
Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
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 these herbs may nullify their effect by regulating the hormonal imbalance they cause.
REFERENCESS & SOURCESS
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– Lara Briden (2016) Why I Prescribe Iodine for Breast Pain, Ovarian Cysts, and PMS, February 19, 2016 (www.larabriden.com/iodine-for-breast-pain-ovarian-cysts-and-pms/)
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Written by Slawomir (“Swavak”) Gromadzki, MPH
Any information or product suggested in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.