The Essence of Women: PMS
PMS is nothing new. So many women have assumed that PMS is normal that now we've even developed a separate term to designate those women with SEVERE PMS. PMDD - Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. But the truth is that any disruption in a woman's cycle is not normal, not even if it has been that way from the start. In fact, most women experience imbalances in their reproductive hormones, causing a variety of symptoms. PMS and PMDD are not diseases, but a combination of symptoms that many women suffer prior to, and sometimes during menstruation. But ladies, the truth is that no one, not one woman should be experiencing any pain, bloating, cramping, sensitivity, mood swings, nausea, headaches or sugar cravings before or during their period. 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. This also explains why many women who work out and diet can develop worsening PMS symptoms if they do not make sure their nutritional levels remain supported.
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. Long term constipation can cause the uterus to actually shift in position, creating a "tipped uterus".
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 causing 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. But dealing with the underlying constipation issue is paramount. Colonics, fiber and increased mineral intake are all important for getting bowel function to be more regular.
However, the most frequent cause of premenstrual symptoms is estrogen dominance which means estrogen levels in relation to progesterone at various key points in the cycle. There are no accurate blood tests for estrogen levels unless the tests are conducted every day through the cycle. Saliva testing exists which can give a much more accurate picture of estrogen levels. But remember, that it is the balance of estrogen to progesterone that is the key. Taking herbs that are estrogen balancing and focusing on the foods that have an effect on estrogen levels (such as soy and cow's milk) can really help to bring the cycle of hormones back into balance.
Where to Start
To get an idea of where to begin, look at the PMS categories that divide 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 our list of PMS symptoms 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.
Solutions for Estrogen Dominance
Now, since estrogen dominance is the primary motivating factor behind PMS, take a moment to look as well at 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 to your Core Treatment Vitex or Chaste Tree. This will help to correct any hormonal imbalance particularly due to high levels of prolactin in the blood, and is often suggested throughout the cycle on a long-term basis. Usual dosage is 2 tablets or 2 ml. upon rising each day:
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. In addition to the Chaste Tree, add 2 Drenamin tablets at breakfast and lunch to support the adrenal glands.
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. Many foods contain phytoestrogens or chemicals that can boost estrogen levels. Soy is at the top of the list. Especially for vegetarians, soy can be a great protein source, but if you suffer from PMS, you may want to think twice, since it suppresses thyroid function and is a phytoestrogen. Certain nuts, cow's milk, hormone-laden meats and even pharmaceutical residue in the water you drink, can all create estrogen dominance.
Oral contraceptives or conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy - the use of oral contraceptives can actually increase estrogen levels beyond the body's ability to balance. Many of the side effects listed for oral contraceptives are due to an artificial estrogen dominance.
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.
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.
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.
Obesity - estrogen can be stored in adipose tissue, and in obese women, there is excessive amounts of adipose tissue available for estrogen storage.
Create Your Own Treatment
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. We recommend Poke Root, Cleavers or Thymex with Lymphatic Drainage Massage to clear out sluggish lymphatics. To reduce calcium deposition, we suggest 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 can also be a complex for many varying 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 - 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.
Low Libido - Ovex is a great formula that supports female androgen production and ovarian support. Essential for low libidos in women combined with the severe symptoms of PMS and menstrual irregularity.