Premenstrual Syndrome & Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder: Eliminating symptoms naturally
Neither of these conditions is a disease, but a combination of irritating, disabling and dysfunctional symptoms that many women suffer prior to, and sometimes during menstruation. The difference between PMS and PMDD is mainly one of extremes. Historically PMS was the term for all of these symptoms, but more and more women view PMS as "normal" leading to the need for a new category of symptoms, PMDD. Truthfully, these symptoms are one of the most common health problems in our society. The reality, however, is that the normal menstrual cycle should be free of pain, bloating, cramping or mood swings, so PMS or PMDD are indications of an imbalance, a problem, and are warnings of health problems to come.
For our purposes, I will include both PMDD and PMS together as PMS since there is only a difference in intensity of symptoms. Recent studies have shown that there may be a strong correlation between nutrition and PMS. Excess coffee, fats, sugars and cigarette smoke, to name a few, can increase the symptoms of PMS, as can lack of exercise and an insufficient supply of certain nutrients. Vitamin B6, magnesium, zinc, vitamins E, C, certain essential fatty acids and others have been shown to be very helpful in reducing the symptoms associated with PMS.
A second cause of PMS is an intestinal tract that is constipated. Since the colon and the uterus are virtually wall to wall, it is very easy for the permeable membranes to allow toxic material from the intestinal tract to pass into the uterus. This toxicity can cause the muscles of the uterus to contract, causing pain. This is especially true in cases of Candida yeast overgrowth, which can also move the lining of the intestinal tract into the uterus and vagina, causing painful yeast infections.
A third cause of PMS symptoms is simply the poor positioning of the uterus in the abdominal cavity. The balance of the pelvis controls the strength and flexibility of ligaments and supporting soft tissue. If the pelvis is imbalanced, it can cause the uterus to fold in on itself and "tip". This improper angling of the uterus can cause severe cramping when the uterus swells with the pre-menstrual lining that the body builds. A simple adjustment of the uterus, nutrition to strengthen connective tissue in the abdominal cavity, and a few sessions of myofascial therapy for pelvic balance can correct this problem in virtually a few weeks.
However, the most frequent cause of premenstrual symptoms is undiagnosed weak thyroid function and estrogen dominance in relation to progesterone levels. Many women when tested actually have normal levels of estrogen and are still estrogen dominant because of the level of progesterone at any given time. If you look at the function of estrogen and progesterone in women's monthly cycles, you will see how estrogen dominance can interfere with a normal menstrual experience.
In working with thousands of women in my career, I have developed a system of five categories for women's symptoms. Women may have one or more than one. Each type has its own specific set of symptoms. Being able to distinguish between the types will help to determine the best course of treatment for you. Then you can browse my Solutions for PMS listed below for additional suggestions to round out your monthly protocol.
Craving PMS - this type of PMS symptomology includes increased appetite, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and a pounding heart. Core treatment is Gymnema.
Anxiety PMS - this type of PMS symptomology includes nervousness, tension, irritability, mood changes and anxiety. Core treatment is Valerian Complex.
Depression PMS - this type of PMS symptomology includes depression, forgetfulness, crying, confusion and insomnia. Core treatment is St. John's Wort.
Hyperhydration PMS - this type of PMS symptomology includes fluid retention, weight gain, swelling of the extremities, breast tenderness and abdominal bloating. Core treatment is Gingko and Horsechestnut Complex.
Pain PMS -this type of PMS symptomology includes aching pains and sensitivity. Core treatment is Cramplex.
Now, since estrogen dominance is the primary motivating factor behind PMS, take a moment to review the most common causes of estrogen dominance in women, to see if this might be a contributing factor for you. If it is, or you suspect it may be, then be sure to add Vitex / Chaste Tree to your Core Treatment. This will help to correct any hormonal imbalance due to high levels of prolactin in the blood, and is often suggested throughout the cycle on a long-term basis. It can even help with chronic insomnia issues. Usual dosage is 2 tablets or 2 ml. upon rising each day, but another 2 before bed may be needed for severe imbalances.
Considerations for PMS:
Stress and adrenal fatigue - chronic stress can cause excess cortisol to be released by the adrenal glands, which can displace progesterone and cause levels of estrogen to remain high in relation to progesterone. If you suffer from anxiety, depression, insomnia and morning fatigue, then adrenal fatigue may be an issue. Try adding Drenamin tablets - 2-4 at breakfast and 2-4 at dinner.
Xenohormone exposure - this means excess hormones in your food such as beef, chicken and soy, as well as topical treatments for the skin that actually contain hormones. Exposure to these hormones can disrupt your natural hormone cycles. One of the best ways to minimize this besides conscious avoidance is to support your liver to filter these out of the blood. Try Cruciferous Complete tablets and Antronex tablets for 1-3 months.
Oral contraceptives or conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy - the use of oral contraceptives can actually increase estrogen levels beyond the body's ability to balance. You may feel that it helps your symptoms, but it may create other problems as side effects. It also can interfere with your fertility later in your reproductive years. Many of the side effects listed for oral contraceptives are due to an artificial estrogen dominance. I recommend avoiding oral contraceptives completely, as well as HRT. Instead opt for natural options like Chaste Tree.
Poor diet - a diet unusually high in carbohydrates and low in fat can cause excess estrogen to accumulate in the body tissues and blood.
Consumption of trans-fats - consuming hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in food can block the absorption and use of essential fatty acids that control estrogen / progesterone balance. Junk food, artificial additives, starches can all create strong imbalances in your cycle.
Synergistic nutrient deficiencies - minerals and many vitamins work in synergistic pairs to enhance the absorption and balance of each. Deficiencies in magnesium, zinc, copper and B vitamins can all lead to estrogen dominance.
Luteal insufficiency - without sufficient development of the endometrium of the uterus, estrogen and progesterone levels tend to become imbalanced. High levels of hormones, particularly progesterone can create excessive building of the endometrium, which is the basis for endometriosis and even fibroids.
Anovoluatory cycles - this is where menstruation occurs, but no ovulation and therefore no ovarian progesterone is produced, leaving high levels of estrogen throughout the cycle. Again Chaste Tree is perfect in this situation, but I add Ovex as well to help the ovary to regain ovulation.
Obesity - estrogen can be stored in adipose tissue, and in obese women, there is excessive amounts of adipose tissue available for estrogen storage. The more estrogen storage, the more possibility for hormonal imbalances throughout the cycle.
Now the Solutions for PMS!
First begin with the Core Treatment that you have developed above. Now, you must correct any Essential Fatty Acid deficiencies with Evening Primrose Oil in doses of 3000-4000 mg per day. This is especially necessary for symptoms of increased appetite, headaches, fatigue, dizziness and heart pounding which may be associated with a prostaglandin deficiency. Now pick from below the top symptoms that you notice with your PMS time. These are the ones that you should add to your protocol. However, you may want to try just the Core Treatment for at least two months first to see if that alone may correct your symptomology.
Breast tenderness - this condition is often part of estrogen dominance, but also can be the result of an inability to convert linoleic acid to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Using Black Currant Seed Oil can bypass this problem and provide essential GLA levels to reduce breast tenderness. Ginkgo throughout the cycle can also be effective for many breast symptoms.
Fibrocystic breasts - Prolamine Iodine is particularly excellent for fibrocystic breasts which can be a sign of a need for higher amounts of iodine. Also, lymphatic blockages due to calcium deposition or sluggish lymphatic drainage can contribute to fibrocystic breasts. I use Cleavers or Thymex with Decongestive Lymphatic Drainage to clear out sluggish lymphatics. To reduce calcium deposition, I always use Phosfood Liquid and Cal-Amo. Mammary PMG is also good for the long-term treatment of cystic breasts.
Hormonal acne - cold-pressed Wheat Germ oil provides vitamin E and anti-oxidants with estrogen support for menopausal symptoms such as hormonal acne, hair loss and capillary problems. Also DermaCo and Chezyn can provide support for clearer, healthier skin.
Nervous tension, insomnia, anxiety and depression - St. John's Wort can help as a tonic for depressive symptoms, while Valerian is excellent for anxiety or insomnia. Nevaton is perfect when there is a complex whirl of emotional symptoms. For PMS with crying spells, depression and fatigue or excessive perspiration, add Wild Yam Complex. Since estrogen levels are crucial during this premenstrual time, there can be a severe change in brain chemistry because estrogen is an excitatory hormone. This causes the limbic system to overact, which means that memory and emotion will be sporadic and unstable, a typical reaction with an estrogen surge during premenstrual time. The use of Chaste Tree helps to stabilize this estrogen surge, reducing many emotional symptoms.
Fluid retention - use Dandelion Leaves to reduce fluid accumulation.
Fatigue - during the premenstrual time, a body that is already under stress may exhaust its' resources quickly. Compensate for the adverse effects of stress with adaptogenic herbs such as Eleuthero and Withania. Changing the diet during this time to exclude processed foods can also be very beneficial.
Aches and pains beyond uterine cramping - use herbal analgesics such as Saligesic or Yellow Jasmine.
Sweats - typical herbal preparations of Sage are effective for PMS sweats.
Constipation - premenstrual constipation usually indicates a sluggish liver or gallbladder. Other accompanying symptoms such as nausea or reduced appetite can also be treated as biliary sluggishness. Try Silymarin or Milk Thistle Extract as well as Dandelion Root.
Ovex - this formula supports female androgen production and ovarian support. Essential for low libidos in women combined with the severe symptoms of PMS and menstrual irregularity.