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*Some strategies for PMS*

I have done a lot of work both in school and with clients on balancing female hormones and treating PMS and menstrual problems. So common, for a number of reasons.

PMS is a cluster of symptoms usually resulting from a hormonal imbalance due to an excess of estrogen and a deficiency of progesterone, a condition known as estrogen dominance. Estrogen dominance is the cause of myriad disorders associated with the female reproductive system, from PMS, uterine fibroids and endometriosis to breast cancer.

Women are socialized to believe that PMS is part of “being a woman” or that it’s “all in your head,” but it’s a very real condition that can be debilitating and can affect womens’ lives and relationships.

The most common symptoms are bloating, irritability, fatigue, cramps, depression, hopelessness, headache, and breast tenderness, a result of dropping hormone levels and already low progesterone.
These symptoms usually surface about 7-10 days before bleeding starts – a long time to feel this kind of discomfort!

Low progesterone is very common – it can result from taking hormonal birth control, which shuts down the body’s progesterone production to prevent pregnancy, because progesterone is the gestational hormone needed for pregnancy. Some women have irregular cycles when coming off the pill for this reason. Also, xenoestrogens, artificial estrogens from the hormones in food and chemicals in the environment and food supply are contributors. And of course, the ubiquitous “stress,” which raises cortisol and causes progesterone levels to drop. Liver congestion is a big cause too because if the liver is overworked, it cannot metabolize hormones, causing estrogens to build up.

SO. What to do? Focus on an organic diet rich in plants and hormone-free meats. Vegetables should make up the base of the PMS diet and the bulk of your plate at every meal. Focus on leafy green vegetables, which are high in magnesium, often low or deficient in PMS sufferers. Eat cruciferous vegetables freely, as they are rich in hormone regulating indole 3 carbinole and help liver detox. Avoid soy, which can exacerbate estrogen dominance. Avoid wheat and refined carbs (baked goods, white flour), which break down quickly as sugar. Coffee and alcohol can make PMS worse, so watch intake. Include fresh fruits, drink plenty of water, and mineral-rich herbal teas are good choices. I like the female tonic teas on the market. They often contain oatstraw, red rasberry leaf, and nettles.

Here are some supplements to try.
*I always give clients a wild yam extract, which is a plant-based progesterone product. These are drops, which bypass the liver and are absorbed easily. It’s easy to overdo the progesterone creams, which build up in fatty tissue and can swing you too far the other way – high progesterone! The wild yam works so well.
*B vitamin complex
*Chasteberry, a wonderful herb for balancing female hormones
*Magnesium, which can ease cramping
*Anti-oxidants (A,C,E, zinc.)
*Try milk thistle or oregon grape root to keep your liver happy.

Get moving! Do some exercise and stress reduction. It can help to measure stress hormone levels (cortisol) and female hormone levels so you can get an accurate snapshot and design a targeted program with plant-based hormones.

See the womens health section of my recommended reading. There are some great books out there.

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