5 ways to naturally beat your PMS
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, refers to the symptoms a lot of girls and women get in the few days or even 2 weeks leading up to the start of their period. They range from mood disturbances like weepiness and irritability, to bodily aches, acne, water retention and painful breasts. Due to the fact that as many as 3 out of 4 females experience PMS, we almost believe it is 'normal' and nothing can be done about it.
However, this is luckily not the case. PMS is a sign that your hormones are out of balance, and if we balance those, the PMS will most likely magically disappear or at least become a lot less. A common underlying cause is something called estrogen dominance, where estrogen is too high in relationship to progesterone. Below are some simple steps to address this issue.
What You'll Need
- Cruciferous vegetables most days, ideally cooked or steamed to avoid them slowing down your thyroid.
- Bitter foods like artichokes, dandelion, chicory, lemon with peel.
- Meditation and playtime.
- Natural skincare and household products.
- Get a good quality water filter and glass or stainless steel bottle to stop drinking out of plastic bottles.
What You'll Do
- Increase your estrogen clearance by supporting liver function. Our liver not only deals with alcohol, it also functions to break down hormones including estrogen for excretion from the body. Increasing your intake of cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, onion and garlic and protein is a great way to support your liver get rid of excess estrogen. Add in some bile boosting foods too, such as eggs, lemons, artichokes and coffee, as bile transports the estrogen from the liver into the gut for elimination.
- Reduce your exposure to 'fake estrogens'. There are many substances in our day-to-day life that mimick estrogen in our body, including plastics (not only BPA, but also other BPA-free alternatives), synthetic cleaning and body care items, hormone-treated animal products. However, as they aren't our own human hormones, the liver doesn't know how to get rid of it adequately, contributing to estrogen dominance.
- Increase your body's progesterone production. Progesterone, as other hormones, is made primarily out of fats. In order to make enough of it, we have to consume good quality fats like avocados, olives, salmon, pasture-raised beef, butter and coconut oil.
- Reduce something called 'pregnenolone steal', where the body produces the stress hormone cortisol instead of progesterone. Both are made from the same precursor, pregnenolone. When we are under long-term stress, the body deems it to be more important to make cortisol to 'survive', than the 'fertility' hormone progesterone. Incorporate stress reduction techniques such as meditation, being in nature and other relaxing methods to reduce the body's need to produce cortisol, and free up the precursor to make progesterone.
- Switch to a low sugar, nutrient dense diet. In addition to the above mentioned benefits of including liver and progesterone supporting foods, a nutrient dense diet also supports overall hormonal function and lowers inflammation. Reducing sugars and 'healthy' foods that turn into sugar inside the body such as starchy carbs like quinoa, rice, legumes, lowers blood sugar imbalances and with it hormone disruptions. Including adequate amounts of high quality protein will keep your blood sugar stable, and colourful vegetables your free radical damage at bay.
Tips & Warnings
- The above steps are a great way to get started. If you have tried them, but symptoms persist, you most likely would benefit from working with a practitioner that is trained and experienced in Functional Medicine or Naturopathic Medicine to dig deeper for underlying reasons for your symptoms. Existing heavy metal burden such as mercury, yeast or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, genetic mutations like in your COMT gene, low grade inflammation and nutrient deficiencies can all contribute, and may need specialized testing to determine what the reason is for you and how best to tackle it.