PMS Blog

Fatigue, irritability, tender breasts, bloating, mood changes, acne, insomnia, backache, joint and muscle pain, food cravings, anxiety, mood swings and changes in sex drive – these are just some of PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) symptoms.

Not exactly something that women often discuss as they think that it is normal to suffer from PMS once a month. Yet 70% of fertile women are affected by it!

So do women have to suffer from PMS each month?

Before, I answer that; let’s get to the bottom of what actually causes PMS.

WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF PMS (PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME)?

PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) is the term used to describe a set of physical and emotional symptoms which often occur in one to two weeks before menstruation and last for about   5-7 days.

These symptoms are the result of hormonal imbalance caused by low progesterone and high oestrogen levels. Under normal circumstances, during the first half of the menstrual cycle, oestrogen levels should rise. Then, during the second half of the cycle the ovulation takes place followed by raise of progesterone level. And in case no egg is fertilised, the levels of both estrogen and progesterone drop and another period starts.

It is very important to have normal level of Progesterone as it gives many benefits to the body. For instance, it has a regulating effect on brain neurotransmitters, thus improving mood. It also helps to control hunger or cravings by regulating blood sugar levels.

Oestrogen, on the other hand, promotes fat distribution, maintains the health of female reproductive organs, assists in the control of fluid balance within the body, ensuring that our skin retains moisture, prepares the follicle for the release of an egg, and maintains bone density.

What causes Progesterone and Oestrogen imbalance?

Unfortunately due to various nutritional, emotional and environmental factors, the Progesterone level in many menstruating women drops too much while Oestrogen goes up, thus triggering unpleasant PMS symptoms.

One of these factors is associated with poor dietary habits leading to deficiency of Vitamin B6, Folate, Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E, caused by low consumption of whole foods, high sugar intake, frequent use of stimulants, and avoiding good quality nutritional supplements. Lack of vitamins and minerals contribute to hormonal imbalance as many of these nutrients are involved in the production of hormones and are essential for healthy nervous system and maintaining normal muscle function (including uterus).

It's also been suggested that changes in hormone levels during the menstrual cycle may affect the levels of certain brain chemicals and neurotransmitters. It has been demonstrated that just before menstruation the level of serotonin (strongest antidepressant and feel good hormone) is decreased while level of glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter) is increased. In most women experiencing PMS also the level of beta endorphin (opioid neurotransmitter) falls causing an opiate-like withdrawal symptoms that may be responsible for the mood changes experienced during PMS. 

Being overweight may also play important role in PMS. That is due to the fact that body fat contains an enzyme which helps to create oestrogen. It means that the more fat cells in the body the more oestrogen is produced, thus contributing to progesterone deficiency. Also in women who do not have a weight problem, the hidden visceral fat, which covers internal organs, may also trigger PMS.

PMS symptoms can also be associated with poor liver condition and function (caused by toxic overload, alcohol consumption, bad diet, or Vitamin B complex and Magnesium deficiency) as it leads to inability of the liver to effectively break down oestrogen.

Another important factor which is often blamed for triggering PMS symptoms is Candida albicans overgrowth (very common today) as it lowers progesterone by increasing estrogen.

Also inability to control stress is regarded as one of the causes of PMS as it contributes to estrogen dominance by stimulating adrenal glands to make more cortisol by sacrificing progesterone.

WHAT CAN BE DONE?

There are lots of ways to manage PMS which proved to be effective in many cases. What you need to do is to address as many above mentioned causes as possible.

First of all, try to exercise every day for 30 to 60 minutes and significantly increase consumption of healthy, unrefined plant foods as regular physical activity and healthy (high in nutrients) diet help resolve almost all causes of hormonal imbalance.

What’s more, these two factors will help you increase levels of Serotonin (strongest antidepressant and feel good hormone). For better results take good quality supplements which contains B vitamins, magnesium and zinc required for Serotonin production.

Regular consumption of foods such as Tofu that is high in amino acid Tryptophan. Should Tofu be not a food that you enjoy, you can buy Tryptophan supplement.

Reduce levels of Glutamate (an excitatory neurotransmitter) by avoiding processed products (Potato chips, frozen meals, cold cuts, gravies, salty flavoured snacks) with monosodium glutamate (MSG).

It is very important to reduce number of Candida albicans (it lowers progesterone by increasing estrogen) by increasing consumption of raw vegetables salads, avoiding foods with sugar and white flour products.

You will get better results if you manage to lower body weight (if you are overweight) with a healthy diet that is abundant in unrefined (high in fibre) plant-based foods (beans, grains, pulses, fruits, vegetables and nuts) and daily exercise.

Improving liver condition and function can be very helpful too. In this way you will help your liver to break down oestrogen, thus lowering its level. You can boost liver function by avoiding alcohol, fried foods, and taking supplements such as HealthAid Livercare as it contains Milk thistle extract, Artichoke, L- Cysteine, B vitamins and other ingredients, very effective in improving liver health.

Finally you also need to improve your ability to control stress levels by regular exercise, healthy unrefined diet, daily meditation and relaxation techniques, and supporting nervous system by using supplements containing high strength B vitamins, Magnesium, Zinc, Ginseng or Rhodiola.

WARNING

It is not recommended to take Agnus castus or any other hormone-balancing herb (Dong Quai, Black Cohosh, etc.) if you use hormonal contraceptives, hormonal medication, an implant or a coil as these herbs may nullify their effect by regulating the hormonal imbalance they cause.

Any information or product suggested in this article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition. Never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. Consult your primary healthcare physician before using any supplements or making any changes to your regime.

This blog post was written by Healthaid's Slawomir Gromadzki for Molly Mojo. Click here to view all HealthAid products.