We now know that there is a large biochemical diversity among women and that is why each woman has different reactions before and during her period. The menstrual monthly cycle of a woman sees the levels of hormones rise and fall, and estrogen and progesterone levels vary constantly. Most women, mainly in their thirties, experience premenstrual syndrome (or PMS), and one out of twenty has symptoms so severe that they cannot function for at least a week prior to their period. And it is one of those areas where conventional medicine has poor results!
I chose the title of this post, along with the picture, as a way to lighten up a little bit, but I do not mean to minimize or make fun of this issue. This is something that comes back every month for many years for many women and if I could help with those recommendations, I would be glad.
Historically, female problems were not taken seriously until pretty recently. They were generally attributed to a psychological imbalance and summarized under the term ‘’woman hysteria’’ (a convenient ”umbrella” for nervousness, water retention and bloating, muscle spasms, irritability, anorexia, insomnia, faintness, and more). Incidentally, the word hysteria comes from the Greek word for uterus (hystera). But menstrual cramps and PMS are real, so are depression, headaches and migraines associated with them.
PMS is a combination of physical, emotional, psychological and mood disturbances. It can start as early as right after the ovulation and generally ends at the onset of the menstrual flow (to qualify as PMS, there must be a symptom-free period until next ovulation). There are many symptoms and the most common ones are: joint or muscle pain, headache, fatigue, weight gain mainly due to water retention, bloating, breast tenderness, acne flare-ups and even consequences on the digestive tract (constipation/diarrhea). The emotional symptoms are tension, anxiety, mood swings, feeling sad and wanting to cry, difficulty to concentrate, poor sleep, urge to eat more.
What causes PMS?
We are still not sure of what causes PMS but it is probably related to a hormonal change. PMS is more likely to happen during what we call the luteal phase (between the ovulation and the onset of the periods). This is when there is secretion of both progesterone and estradiol (or E2, which is the most potent of the 4 estrogens) to prepare the uterus to accept a potential fertilized egg. Both hormones affect a woman’s mood by influencing neurotransmitters. However, it seems an excess of estrogen is the one to blame the most. Those neurotransmitters are mainly serotonin (involved in carbohydrate craving and depression), GABA (feeling calm), endorphins (pain and pleasure) and norepinephrine (mood, blood pressure and heart rate).
Other causes could also be attributed to:
- Deficiencies in Calcium and Magnesium
-Birth control pills that can cause deficiency in Vitamin B6 and therefore be involved in depression.
-Deficiency in folic acid (in women who have a specific anemia, or sometimes in women who are taking a birth control pill) can cause low energy and depression
-Lack of vitamin A (found in cheeses, egg, and liver), niacinamide (vitamin B3) and zinc will decrease levels of progesterone and therefore estrogen will become more potent (progesterone and estrogen are antagonist: when one goes down, the other gets more ”power”).
Yet most medications taken for these monthly discomforts contain just a general pain reliever.
Other medications include diuretics, painkillers, oral contraceptives (to stabilize the ovarian hormone levels), antidepressants (serotonin re-uptake inhibitors such as Prozac and Paxil), Benzodiazepines (such as Xanax), etc.
At most, a medication might also include caffeine or another diuretic to help with water retention and a hormonal substance for emotional symptoms. As a result, PMS sufferers may have to endure nervousness, sleeplessness or other side effects on top of PMS symptoms.
- Try to exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Exercise is known to release endorphins that contribute to euphoric sensation and affect mood, memory and concentration.
- Control your intake of salt and drink plenty of flat water as salt and dehydration contribute to water retention.
- Reduce intake of refined sugars
- Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
- Taking vitamin B6, vitamin E, fish oil, calcium and magnesium could help too.
You can try this combination of homeopathic medicines. Take 5 pellets of each morning and evening when you start experiencing PMS symptoms:
- Folliculinum 30C which is a homeopathic dilution of estrone E1 and will relieve discomfort and aches in PMS
- Natrum muriaticum 12C which is a homeopathic dilution of sea salt and will act on water retention and irritability
- Sepia 12C which is a homeopathic dilution of the cuttlefish ink and will help with bloating and lower back pain
This combination also exist as a formulation called CYCLEASE PMS tablets by Boiron.
(You can also watch my interview with Josh Lane on Here’s to your Health.)