Premenstrual Syndrome – The Knowledge to Heal
(AZ Networking News, August/Sept 2002 issue)
Do you find that you feel irritable, bloated and tired before your period? If so, you may be suffering from premenstrual syndrome (PMS). PMS is a disorder that may affect as many as 75% of menstruating women. Although the severity and frequency of symptoms vary greatly among women, there are common symptoms that women report. They include: weight gain, nervousness, irritability, depression, headaches, water retention, fatigue, and food cravings. These symptoms usually begin 7-14 days before the menses and are relieved with the onset, or within the first 1-2 days, of the menstrual flow.
If you think you suffer from PMS, it’s NOT all in your head! Doctors used to think symptoms of PMS were not a true disorder but a psychosomatic phenomenon. We now know, that an estimated 30-40% of women suffer from PMS and have such severe physical and emotional stress, that it affects their daily living.
Did you know that there are actually 4 types of PMS: PMS-A which has a primary symptoms of anxiety, PMS-C which has craving of sugars and carbohydrates, PMS-D which includes the symptoms of depression, and PMS-H which has a primary symptoms of water retention.
Although the cause of PMS is unknown, diet, hormonal influences, brain chemicals, and nutritional deficiencies may all play a significant role. Regardless of the type of PMS you have, there are numerous treatment options to help you feel better. Standard treatment of PMS has consisted of drug therapy such as oral contraceptives, anti-inflammatory drugs, and anti-depressants. These drug therapies may provide relief for some women; however, side effects of medication may be a major deterrent for the use of these therapies. This may be a reason why so many women have turned to natural, non-invasive treatment for their PMS symptoms.
How can you help yourself? First, stick to the basics! Get regular exercise, a good night’s sleep, avoid chemicals such as caffeine, alcohol, and smoking, and drink adequate amounts of water and non-caffeinated fluids, and get regular exercise. Next, try doing some activity that helps to reduce stress, such as meditation or yoga. Include adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium, Vitamin E, and B-6, in your diet which may provide significant relief from PMS.
Asides from the basics, diet, medicinal plants, and acupuncture may be effective areas to utilize for relief of your symptoms. Dietary changes include avoiding processed foods, refined carbohydrates, sugar, and high fat foods, especially those from animal sources. Instead, focus on diet rich in whole grains, fresh organic fruits and vegetables, nut, seeds, and complex carbohydrates. Include adequate amounts of essential fatty acids from fresh water fish, such as salmon, flaxseed oil, and other nuts and seeds. This type of diet is high in fiber which helps to binds and excrete excess estrogens from the body associated with PMS symptoms and is rich in nutrients that may prevent or decrease the symptoms of PMS.
In addition, research has shown that the medicinal plant vitex agnus castus, better know as chaste tree berry, has shown to be effective and well tolerated to reduce the symptoms of PMS. There are many other medicinal plants that can play a role in hormonal regulation and subsequent reduction of PMS symptoms.
The National Institute of Health has reported that acupuncture may be an effective treatment of headaches and menstrual cramps, both common symptoms of PMS. Acupuncture, like Naturopathic Medicine, address the whole person and treats you as an individual. It helps with symptoms, but most importantly, it assists the body in creating balance mentally, emotionally, and physically.
Making simple dietary and lifestyle changes, in addition to using medicinal plants and acupuncture can decrease or eliminate PMS symptoms. You have the knowledge to heal, so start making empowering choices toward feeling better today.