Your Plan of Action – The Natural Approach
- Look for the underlying cause of hormonal imbalances such as stress, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, thyroid conditions
- Eat a well-balanced diet including nuts and seeds daily
- A good B complex may be useful along with magnesium
- Herbs may be particularly useful in reducing PMS
Best Test Options: Rhythm Plus Test (saliva)
What Is PMS?
PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) is a term used to describe any symptoms which occur any time after ovulation and disappear almost as soon as the period arrives. So the crucial point is not what symptoms you experience but when.
What Are The Symptoms Of PMS?
This is where a lot of confusion has arisen because over 150 symptoms can be classed as PMS. These can include:
- Mood swings
- Anxiety and tension
- Breast tenderness and swelling
- Water retention
- Weight gain
- Crying spells
- Sugar and food cravings
Quite a list!
Personality changes associated with this time can be very severe with some women describing the feeling like a different person pre-menstrually. Women say that they know they are feeling and thinking differently to the point of being irrational but they have no control over those changes. For some women at that time, the world seems completely negative, ‘everything seems black’, doom and gloom and they will often cry at the slightest thing without any real reason.
Can Nutrition Help?
PMS is caused when your hormone levels fall at the end of a cycle. This fall or change in hormones can be less severe if you support good hormonal balance through diet, supplements and herbs. In our experience, PMS in most cases can be greatly reduced with these supports.
Balancing blood sugar is often the first step in hormonal balance and can be achieved by eating more regularly and opting for complex carbohydrates paired with protein and healthy fats. Avoiding foods high in sugar and achieving a healthy weight may be helpful.
As well as eating a healthy diet, supplementation can be beneficial
A number of studies have shown the effectiveness of vitamin B6 on PMS. Vitamin B6 plays a vital part in synthesising certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that control your mood and behaviour.
Magnesium is classed as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and so is vital in those aspects of the pre-menstrual symptoms which relate to anxiety, tension, etc. Women with PMS have been found to have lower levels of magnesium than women who don’t have symptoms and the supplementation of magnesium has been found to be extremely useful in alleviating many of the PMS symptoms and even more effective when taken with vitamin B6 at the same time.
A magnesium deficiency can cause blood vessels to go into spasms so if you suffer from menstrual migraines, magnesium can be useful in preventing these spasms.
This ability of chromium to help with cravings is especially important if one of your main pre-menstrual symptoms involves appetite changes. Some women can find that they can eat a packet of biscuits or a box of chocolates a day in the lead-up to their periods, while they would not think of eating like that at any other time of the month.
Agnus Castus (Vitex agnus castus) is the herb of choice for premenstrual symptoms (PMS). It has a balancing effect on the female hormones. A good double blind placebo controlled clinical trial in the British Medical Journal showed that agnus castus is an ‘effective and well tolerated treatment’ for PMS. Its effects have even been compared to an anti-depressant in the severe form of PMS termed premenstrual dysphoric disorder and there was no statistically significant difference between how well the drug worked versus the herb.
Tests For PMS
The Rhythm Plus Test (saliva) can help to identify hormonal imbalances. We can look at your hormones in the second half of your cycle and also track the interplay between all the hormones throughout the cycle. This test will also look at whether stress is a big factor for your PMS symptoms as it measures the level of your stress hormone cortisol.
We can also check if you are deficient in key nutrients such as magnesium and the B vitamins. Our Nutritional Profile MGL4 (blood) will show you what vitamins and minerals you actually need to take.
Where to Start?
Make sure you are eating well to support your symptoms. If you would like personalised advice on what to do next then request a consultation with one of our qualified nutritionists.