Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) involves recurrent symptoms such as irritability, mood changes, fatigue, bloating, constipation, loose stools, food cravings, headache, acne, or breast tenderness, that occur in the 7-14 days before menstruation. There are several hormonal components that generate the menstrual cycle and that can play a role in PMS development. Other contributing factors include stress and nutritional status. There are many body systems that require investigation when addressing PMS, but the following four methods are an excellent starting place to assist in making the days leading up to menstruation less of a mental and physical burden.
PMS is less common among people who exercise regularly compared to those who are sedentary. Exercise increases endorphin levels, which have a significantly beneficial impact on mood. Regular exercise supports a healthy mental-emotional state and helps prevent mood changes before menstruation.
Blood Sugar Balance
Sugar cravings are a common occurrence before menstruation, and balancing blood sugar is essential in reducing these cravings. Limiting refined sugar intake and eating regular meals with adequate protein, fiber, and healthy fat reduces rapid spikes and drops in blood sugar and the cravings that often accompany these “sugar crashes”.
The liver plays a vital role in hormone metabolism and detoxification. Limiting exposure to toxins such as BPA, phthalates, parabens, and excess alcohol is helpful to reduce the toxic load. Liver function can be further supported with certain foods and nutrients. Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage contain the compounds diindolymethane (DIM) and indole-3-carbinol (I3C), which are directly used by the liver in estrogen metabolism. B Vitamins are also excellent in assisting the liver with hormone metabolism and detoxification.
Vitex, also known as Chasteberry has a long history of traditional use in women’s health. Its beneficial effects on PMS come from its action on the hypothalamus and pituitary gland, two structures in the brain that release many hormones, including those that influence the menstrual cycle. Vitex can have different actions depending on the dose used, so it’s important to consult with a licensed healthcare provider to determine the appropriate treatment.
Disclaimer: This information is intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be substituted for professional medical advice. Certain herbs and supplements discussed in this article are not safe for everyone. Always consult your licensed healthcare provider before initiating new treatment.