Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, is a very real disorder for an estimated 40 million women whom suffer with regularly recurring symptoms from ovulation until menses. PMS characterized by a set of hormonal changes that trigger disruptive symptoms. The majority of women suffer for up to two weeks prior to menstruation. Often symptoms tend to taper off with menstruation and women remain symptom-free until the two weeks or so prior to the next menstrual period.
Not all women suffer with the same symptoms, or experience the same set, or level of symptoms with each cycle. Symptoms are both physical and emotional and severe to mild in nature. Common complaints are fatigue, headache or migraine, bloating, constipation, abdominal cramping, weight gain, fluid retention, lack of coordination, joint and back pain. Suffers also report crying-spells, depression, anxiety, anger, mood-swings, irritability, panic attacks, heart palpitations, food cravings, and decreased libido.
Many women feel controlled and consumed by the physical and emotional components that come with PMS. Although PMS is not fully understood it is generally believed that PMS stems from neurochemical and hormonal changes within the brain.
The female hormone estrogen starts to rise after menstruation and peaks around mid-cycle (ovulation). It then rapidly drops only to slowly rise and then fall again in the time before menstruation. Estrogen has a central neurologic effect: it can contribute to increase brain activity. Estrogen holds fluid and with increasing estrogen comes fluid retention: many women report weight gains of five pounds premenstrually. It can also contribute to retention of salt and a drop in blood sugar. Estrogen can also slow bowel motility. It has other functions to promote formation of female secondary sex characteristics, accelerate metabolism, reduce muscle mass, increase fat stores, increase vaginal lubrication, thicken the vaginal wall.
The rise and fall of estrogen can put women on an roller coater of emotions as well as frustrating weight fluctuations. Stress, low levels of vitamins and minerals, consuming a lot of salty foods, which may cause you to retain (keep) fluid, drinking alcohol and caffeine, which may alter your mood and energy level, all heighten PMS symptoms.
How do you control your hormones without letting them control you?
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get regular exercise; endorphins are released during physical activity that may help combat the negative emotions you may be feeling.
- Eat a balanced diet with large amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Consume foods rich in Vitamin B6 (chicken, turkey, cod, salmon, halibut, bell peppers, spinach, yams, green peas, broccoli, asparagus, sunflower seeds, cashews, hazelnuts, chickpeas, and kidney beans)
- Take “whole food based” supplementation B6
- Reduce the amount of caffeine, alcohol, and salt in your diet
- Find ways to outlet stress: exercise, yoga, meditation, deep breathing and relaxation, or seek a counselor.
- Visit a Chiropractor or Acupuncturist whom focus on the nervous system and female hormones whom can help you control PMS symptoms naturally