The dreaded PMS. Ladies, if your chronic illness has contributed to an upset in your system, it’s possible that you are going through some things every month. (Gents, look away.) We asked Dr. Alex for a little help in this arena, to help bring the system back into balance as much as possible, so he gave us his top 5 recommendations to naturally relieve PMS symptoms, along with the “why” behind the “what.”
1. Eat your cruciferous vegetables like Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Bok Choy and Kale. Active chemicals found in this group of vegetables like indole-3-carbinol help your liver detoxify and reduce exposure to harmful estrogen metabolites. It is the build-up of estrogen in the week before your cycle that is thought to contribute to severe PMS symptoms.
2. Make sure you’re getting ample vitamin B6 and Magnesium. These work together to help regulate over 300 different functions in the body, including important roles in the synthesis of serotonin and dopamine.
Studies show that because of the Standard American Diet (SAD), the majority of women are deficient in B6 and magnesium. The high intake of calcium, dairy, and refined carbs in the SAD diet can interfere with B6 absorption, and increases the amount of magnesium you lose in your urine. A deficiency in B6 and magnesium can lead to depression, fatigue, muscle cramping, headaches, heightened pain sensitivity, and mood changes. Sound familiar? Thankfully, B6 and magnesium are found in dark leafy greens, so your medicine is right in the kitchen.
The body acts intelligently, even for those of us with chronic disease. Magnesium and calcium share functions and compete for absorption; adequate magnesium intake may lower your need for calcium, and therefore reduce your need for inflammatory dairy products, which then naturally boosts B6 levels! Cool, right?
3. Researchers believe that women with PMS have lower levels of endorphins. Exercise, deep breathing, sleep, meditation, and a healthy sex life are important in this regard. [Ed: We are so on board with this.]
One little-known fact is that by-products of dairy and wheat metabolism, which are often poorly digested, have been shown to actually pass the blood-brain-barrier, and have opiate-like effects in the brain. Yikes!
A sensitivity to wheat and/or dairy products may be yet another reason why women find themselves craving carbohydrates and fat from these food groups during their cycle. If this sounds like you, you may want to get screened for food allergies and sensitivities — and find more Zen in your life!
4. What’s your type? There are different “types” of PMS. Whether the cause is vitamin and mineral deficiencies, estrogen to progesterone ratio imbalance, stress, or some combination thereof, women may fit into one of four groups: anxiety, depression, water retention or carbohydrate cravings. A clinician is guided toward more personalized recommendations depending what group of symptoms predominate during PMS.
This explains why some women respond to an herb like Black Cohosh, while others will respond to Chaste Tree. Some women may need B6 and Magnesium support, while others will respond from simply reducing lifestyle stress and triggers like caffeine and refined carbs.
5. Lifestyle works! Ideally if we eat a diet rich in dark, leafy greens such as cruciferous vegetables, stay away from inflammatory grains and dairy products, and reduce stress in our lives, we can begin to balance serotonin/dopamine levels, improve estrogen metabolism, and ultimately reduce PMS symptoms and severity.
Are you with us? If so, go make yourself some kale chips and munch away!
Photo: Kelly Cline
Dr. Alex Rinehart is a Chiropractor and Certified Clinical Nutritionist. Through his practice at Arizona Nutrition Center, his commitment to mind/body/spirit integration is emphasized by working in partnership with his patients to achieve wellness, with specialized services to support chronic conditions.