I have been asked on many occasions if there are any natural ways to help lessen PMS. This is a condition that affects many women before and at onset of their menstrual period. Symptoms include bloating, breast tenderness, cramps, mood swings, food cravings and anxiety. It’s unsure what causes PMS but some studies have pointed to hormone imbalances, stress, over-production of inflammatory prostaglandins and sluggish liver function. Whatever the cause, luckily there are many natural dietary and lifestyle remedies that can help.
- Increase foods rich in potassium, such as: Tomato puree, baked potatoes, beans, brown rice, sardines, mackerel, and bananas. Studies have shown that maintaining good levels of potassium can help with PMS symptoms.
- Eat smaller, more frequent, low carb meals, to help balance blood sugar levels. Fluctuating blood sugar levels can exacerbate PMS symptoms.
- Increase intake of anti inflammatory fruits, vegetables and fish, along with hormone balancing foods such as: beans and pulses, flax oil and flax seeds. I recommend 1 tbsp. of ground flax seeds over morning cereal to help with hormone balance.
- Increase intake of green veg, (especially spinach and broccoli) tinned sardines, nuts (especially almonds), and seeds. These are all good non-dairy sources of calcium and magnesium, which research has shown can help lessen PMS symptoms.
- Drink 2 litres of water to help hydrate and detox.
- Start the day with a large glass of hot water with half a freshly squeezed lemon. This will act as
a gentle liver boost and will help the liver to detox excess and used hormones, a build up of which can contribute to PMS symptoms.
- Avoid processed junk food, such as pizza, crisps, white bread, and fizzy drinks. These are inflammatory and will only make PMS symptoms worse.
- Decrease intake of fatty foods, high-sugar foods and red meat, as these can also be inflammatory and can increase painful cramps.
- Reducing sugar and salt intake is especially useful to help lessen bloating and breast tenderness.
- Avoid caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
- Avoid alcohol. If consumed in excess, it will slow down liver function and hinder detoxification of used and excess hormones.
Regular aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, swimming, or cycling may help relieve PMS symptoms. In one study, the frequency but not the intensity of exercise was associated with a decrease in PMS symptoms. Not so easy, I know, when you are suffering with PMS but gentle exercising on a regular basis may help to prevent onset of symptoms.
Practice stress reduction techniques. Stress can deplete progesterone in the body and lead to a surge of oestrogen. Taking the time to de-stress can help with PMS symptoms. Ensure to get adequate sleep, since lack of proper sleep can contribute to stress.
Breathing exercises, meditation, aromatherapy and yoga are some natural ways to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Rest, if you need to, especially on the first day of your period or when cramps are at their worst.
Try Herbal Remedies:
Many hormone balancing herbal remedies really do work. One in particular is a herb called Vitex also known as Agnus Castus.
Vitex has been shown to help re-establish normal balance of oestrogen and progesterone during the menstrual cycle. It also blocks prolactin secretion in women with excessive levels of this hormone, which in turn can lead to breast tenderness and failure to ovulate. A double-blind trial has confirmed that Vitex reduces mildly elevated levels of prolactin before a woman's period. Studies have shown that using Vitex once in the morning over a period of several months can help normalise hormone balance, help alleviate PMS symptoms and boost fertility.
Helpful Supplements for PMS include:
Calcium. (800 -1,000mg) Can help with PMS symptoms, cramping and anxiety
Magnesium (200mg) Can help lessen cramping and anxiety.
Evening Primrose oil (Anti inflammatory and hormone balancing)
Omega 3 supplements. (Anti inflammatory).
Vitamin B6 (50mg) important to regulate neurotransmitters and may help with essential fatty acid metabolism and fluid balance.
Revive Active Health Supplement includes magnesium and vitamin B6, as well as many other natural ingredients. Revive Active Krill Oil is the best source for essential Omega 3 Fatty Acids on the market. Have you tried them yet?
So, there’s a lot that can be done to help relieve PMS, that recurring monthly misery that many women experience! Even try just some of the remedies in this blog and see what works for you…
By Liz Gale Dip. N.T. mNTOI.
Thanks to Liz for contributing to the our blog this week as part of the Nutritional Therapy Awareness Week 2016.
Liz is a qualified nutritional therapist specialising in digestive health, autoimmune disorders, diabetes and anti- ageing. Her
nutritional therapy practice is evidence-based and she uses only scientifically researched dietary
treatments and therapies to help her clients
reach optimal health. Her qualifications and interests include:
- Diploma in Naturopathic Nutrition from the College of Naturopathic Medicine (Dublin)
- She runs a nutritional therapy practice in Dublin, Cork and online.
- She is an active committee member of the Nutritional Therapists of Ireland (NTOI)
- She is the researcher and nutritional therapy consultant for an innovative new app, called Cook and Cure. This is the first mobile app that helps you find foods, supplements, recipes, and remedies specific to your overlapping medical conditions, health goals, and personal diet preferences, brought to you from multiple health practitioners’ perspectives.