What Is It?

PMS is a recurrent condition affecting approximately 50% to 90% (depending on your source) of all menstruating women in the United States. It usually occurs anywhere from 7 to 14 days prior to a woman’s menstrual period. The long list of symptoms includes: Mood swings, tension, irritability, depression, water retention, bloating, constipation, headaches, lower back pain, sore, swollen breasts, nausea, cramping, low energy, food cravings for salt and/or sweets, and acne. A major factor is the hormone shift in the estrogen/progesterone ratios during the cycle.

Risk Factors

Any menstruating woman is at risk, but it seems to be most common and more severe in those women who have one or more of the following: A prostaglandin imbalance, estrogen excess due to poor liver function, progesterone deficiency, hypothyrodisim, lack of exercise, lack of B vitamins, mineral and protein deficiencies, endometriosis, too much salt, red meat, sugar and caffeine in the diet, stress or emotional tension.

Dietary Considerations

  • Increase the consumption of plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
  • In general, limit consumption of red meat, sugars, diary products, and caffeine, and avoid these substances entirely during PMS days.
  • Eat fish 3 times a week.
  • Increase intake of soy foods.
  • Eat organically grown produce to eliminate pesticide and herbicide intake.
  • Eat cultured foods like yogurt and kefir for friendly bacteria flora in the intestines.
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of bottled or purified water a day.

Lifestyle Modifications

  • Exercise regularly (at least 1 hour three to four times a week). For optimal benefit, an exercise program needs to include cardiovascular activity in addition to some kind of stretching and strength training (yoga incorporates both strength and flexibility). Exercise will improve the way your body assimilates and metabolizes nutrients and hormones.
  • Learn to meditate and do it twice a day for 15-20 minutes for stress reduction
  • Stop smoking. Nicotine inhibits hormone function.
  • Get out in the sunshine at least 20 minutes every day.
  • Indulge yourself with a massage or shiatsu session sometime during your PMS days.

Suggested Supplementation

  • Take a good multi-vitamin-mineral supplement every day.
  • Take 100 mg of Vitamin B6 once a day
  • Take 500 mg of magnesium once a day
  • Take 400 IU of Vitamin E once a day
  • Try one or more of the following botanical medicines:
    • Angelica sinensis (angelica or dong quai): 1-2 grams of powdered root 3X a day
    • Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice): 1-2 grams of powdered root 3X a day
    • Cimicifuga racemosa (black cohosh): 4 mg 27-deoxyacteine 2X a day
    • Vitex agnus-castus (chaste berry): 175-225mg standardized extract (0.5% agnuside) 1X daily

The nutritional suggestions in this material are not offered to treat, mitigate or cure disease, and should not be used as a substitute for sound medical advice. This information is designed to be used in conjunction with the services of a trained, licensed healthcare practitioner.

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