Natural Solutions for PMSNatural Solutions for PMS

By Stephanie Yong, L.Ac., Dipl.OM

It is normal to have mild breast tenderness, slight bloating or achiness a few days before your period, but what if these become more severe or are accompanied by a myriad of other physically uncomfortable and emotionally disruptive symptoms? This cyclical occurrence of symptoms is referred to as Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Some examples of PMS symptoms are depression, irritability, anxiety, fatigue, insomnia, diarrhea or constipation, acne, food cravings, headaches, low back pain, and cramps. PMS can have a dramatic effect on your quality of life, force you to make abrupt changes in your schedule and can even undermine your confidence.

An estimated 3 out of 4 women experience some degree of PMS. Although PMS is common, that does not mean that it is normal and healthy. PMS symptoms are direct messages from the endocrine system that normal hormonal balance has been disrupted. Itís important to pay attention to those messages and not just try to mask the symptoms.

Women who experience PMS earlier in life are more predisposed to have difficulties around perimenopause. The sooner you take action to stop PMS symptoms, the better it will be for your body now and as you near menopause. Despite what you may have been told, you donít have to live with PMS. Many of the best options for relieving PMS are natural approaches that target the root causes. Here are some simple natural solutions that can offer lasting relief.

Nutrition

Good nutrition fosters appropriate levels of hormones at key times throughout the menstrual cycle. Ideally, you should get the nutrients you need from whole foods and a well-balanced diet rather than from supplements.

Studies have shown that consuming 1000-1200mg of calcium per day can significantly curb PMS symptoms. Good sources of calcium are yogurt, sardines, salmon, tofu, kale and bok choy. Vitamin D is also essential because it allows the body to absorb the calcium. It can be found in salmon and egg yolks, and the body can also synthesize vitamin D from as little as 15 minutes of sun exposure.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, high intakes of thiamine (B1) and riboflavin (B2) from food sources significantly lowered the risk of PMS in women. Chickpeas, salmon, chicken, turkey, bananas and green leafy vegetables are food sources of vitamin B.

Foods that you should avoid because they can potentially leach essential nutrients and minerals from your diet are caffeine, alcohol and carbonated beverages. Also, avoid a diet high in sugar and salt because it can increase bloating and cravings.

Lifestyle

Exercise is not only essential to overall health but can be a great tool in managing PMS symptoms. Exercise is a proven mood lifter and stress reliever. Try to move your body everyday with rigorous exercise, yoga, qi gong, or even just a walk around the block.

Attention to emotional wellness is also important, because in times of hormonal instability it is more difficult to deal with issues that may be simmering beneath the surface.

Chinese Medicine

Chinese herbs and acupuncture have long been used to treat the discomforts associated with a womanís menstrual cycle. Acupuncture has been found to reduce stress and modulate mood. Chinese herbs such as Angelicae root, or Dang Gui, has been traditionally used to modulate reproductive hormones and relax the uterus during premenstrual cramping. Ginkgo Biloba, another Chinese herb, not only increases circulation and decreases inflammation, but also contains bioflavonoids or stress modulators that can improve mood and depressive symptoms.

Itís possible for you to change your monthly experience. The key to lasting PMS relief is to provide a foundation of support that enables your body to make and balance its hormones as it is intended to do. To achieve this, it is important to seek appropriate treatment and to make lasting changes to your nutrition and lifestyle choices.



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