Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is a condition experienced by women up to a week or two before the onset of their menstrual cycle. The emotional and physical symptoms that women experience typically resolve with the start of their menses and can vary monthly. PMS affects women during their reproductive years (12-51). Not all females will experience PMS and there is even a percentage of women, who suffer debilitating symptoms that interfere with activities of daily living and quality of life. Some of these symptoms include:
- Menstrual cramps
- Mood Changes (anxiety, depression, irritability),
- Food cravings
- Breast tenderness
- Changes in libido
PMS is best viewed as a multifactorial condition and this is where the beauty of naturopathic medicine shines. Naturopathic doctors are taught to treat the person as a whole and to get to the root cause of a condition and it is no different when treating PMS. Clinically, I have seen high stress levels, estrogen-progesterone imbalance, poor nutrition and thyroid disease all play a role in PMS manifestation and resolution. I have worked with women who were used to heavily relying on Midol, heating pads and chocolate to get them through their PMS to not needing any of it. So, here are my top 5 tips for treating PMS.
1. Reduce the sugar
A 1983 study found that patients with PMS, consumed 62% more refined carbohydrates than women who didn’t experience PMS. Diets high in sugar are often due to high levels of processed foods, which only exacerbates estrogen dominance in the body.
2. Eat more flax
Flax seeds are rich in lignans, which have been shown to have the ability to block the effects of estrogen. Excess estrogen leads to a state of estrogen dominance and can increase severity of PMS symptoms.
3. Reduce the stress
During periods of high stress, cortisol can have an effect on our ovarian hormones. Researchers found that women who reported high stress levels noticed a corresponding increase in the severity of their PMS the following month. From a naturopathic perspective, the body is interconnected pieces working together, when one area is impacted it can throw off other areas of the body.
4. Just move
No need to run a marathon, but regular exercise has many health benefits. One of them is that it helps to reduce stress, releases endorphins and boosts energy. Both of which are key when it comes to treating PMS.
5. Cut the toxins
Endocrine disruptors are toxic molecules that can interfere with the body’s endocrine (hormone) system. Many of them are commonly found in beauty products, feminine hygiene products, food and beverage containers. Given that endocrine disruptors can mimic actions of hormones in the body, they will only exacerbate a pre-existing hormone imbalance.
Guest Post from Dr. Khadija Douglas at My Infinite Wellness