Are you one of the 35 million women in the US suffering from PMS? Are you also unwilling to turn to prescription or over-the-counter medications because you don’t like the side-effects or the idea of taking drugs for your monthly scourge? Good news: You can effectively treat PMS with simple changes in your diet, herbal supplements and exercise. Read on to learn how you can put an end to PMS – naturally.
Unbearable PMS is not normal
In the book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Natural Remedies, written by Chrystle Fielder, naturopathic doctor Holly Lucille says the menstrual cycle is not a steady straight line where your mood and personality stays the same, but that anything that is made more magnified or acute, in terms of the symptoms, like painful breasts, isn’t considered normal.Dr. Susan Thys-Jacobs, MD, practicing endocrinologist and leader in the study of PMS, seconds that and says PMS is the result of a nutritional imbalance and that changes in your diet and lifestyle can reduce, if not eliminate, those pesky PMS symptoms.Though turning to an over-the-counter or prescription drug may seem to be an easy solution, it only masks the root of your PMS symptoms and does little to solve your monthly suffering for good. Instead of relying on medications, try these natural remedies and put an end to the unpleasantness — or unbearableness — of PMS.
Natural remedies for PMS
1. Take a multivitamin
Balanced nutrition is essential for your health as well as in reducing the severity of PMS symptoms. According to Fielder, who is also a columnist for Remedy magazine, studies show that women who take a good multivitamin have fewer symptoms of PMS than women who don’t.
2. Up your calcium and vitamin D
Dr Thys-Jacobs, who created the PMS supplement Premcal, says, “If women don’t ingest enough dietary calcium and vitamin D, the hormones that regulate calcium react negatively with estrogen and progesterone and trigger PMS symptoms.” The PMS specialist says the typical American woman isn’t getting enough calcium or vitamin D through dietary means and that a supplement is a good way to ensure adequate intake. Fielder adds, “Calcium and magnesium, which is a smooth muscle relaxant, can help reduce cramps.” (Click for a delicious way to get more calcium.)
3. Be sure to get enough B6 and folic acid
Birth control pills can cause deficiencies in B6 and folic acid, which can cause depression and fatigue during PMS and menstruation. Vitamin B6 is responsible for red blood cell metabolism (a deficiency can lead to anemia), blood sugar levels, and function of the immune and nervous symptoms. A good multivitamin will keep your B6 and folic acid intake covered as can dietary consumption of whole grains, beans, lean meats, bananas and baked potatoes. A deficiency in folic acid can also cause lethargy or, at worst, anemia. Up your intake of fortified whole grain cereals and leafy greens, such as spinach.
4. Iron is important
Because of the loss of blood during menstruation, women can get tired and even anemic if their iron intake is too low. To keep your energy up all month long, be sure to get enough iron in your diet — and don’t overdo it with supplements because too much iron can lead to constipation and toxicity. If you’re exhausted, talk to your doctor about testing you for anemia.
5. Fill up on flax
According to Fielder, ground flaxseed is high in lignans, which help bind up free estrogen, and high in fiber, which will help relieve constipation and move hormones out of the body. Flax also contains phytoestrogens that can help reduce PMS symptoms because they bind to estrogen receptor sites, blocking stronger estrogens.
6. Go gamma linoleic acid
Found in borage oil, black currant oil, and evening primrose oil, gamma linoleic acid increases a substance in the body called prostaglandin E-1, which will help reduce inflammation and relieve breast tenderness, cramps and headaches. Fielder says taking vitamins C and B6 as well as magnesium and zinc, will help the body use gamma linoleic acid more effectively.
7. Herbal remedies for PMS
Fielder recommends chaste tree berry, a favorite of the ancient Greeks, to help balance hormones and reduce PMS symptoms. She says chaste tree is often taken together with black cohosh, an herb used by Native Americans for menstrual cramps and menopause.Herbal remedy licorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) is another phytoestrogen that can ease breast tenderness and bloating. Fielder warns, however, do not take licorice if you have blood pressure, diabetes, or kidney, heart or liver disease.Dong quai, a popular herb in China, is an herb also used for treating PMS and other symptoms of hormone fluctuations.
8. Try a cup of tea
Agatha M Thrash, MD, co-founder of Uchee Pines Lifestyle Center in Seale, Alabama, recommends red raspberry, chamomile, catnip, and partridge berry teas for PMS. Fielder recommends valerian, for its relaxing properties, and dandelion leaf tea, because it acts as a diuretic (do not drink if you are taking prescription diuretics).
9. Relax and recharge with aromatherapy
To battle the fatigue that often comes with PMS, put a few drops of lavender, rosemary, or lemon balm in a diffuser and breathe deep. You can also try lemon balm to reduce stress or rosemary to help clear your head.
10. Ease PMS with exercise
Though exercise may be the last thing you want to do when you’re in the throes of PMS, it is actually quite effective in helping reduce PMS symptoms. Aerobic or cardio exercise reduces stress, boosts circulation, releases endorphins, and has been shown to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of PMS, in addition to the many other health benefits it delivers.If you have any questions about taking supplements or herbal remedies, talk to your doctor or a naturopathic specialist.