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PMS- Something NEW
by Dave Foreman
That usually gets a smile from the women I mention it to-as well as a few "Amens." The fact remains that PMS can be debilitating and not funny at all for many women. Even with the large number of women who suffer monthly, modern medicine still doesn't offer much to help. Yes there are drugs to mask the underlying cause(s), but these often come with a price to pay...not just financially but with side effects. It is estimated that about 85 percent of women have one or more physical or emotional symptoms prior to the start of their period. These symptoms range from physical to emotional to behavioral, and vary depending on the woman's age and health situation.
Too often, society will say it is just an excuse, yet to the women who experience these symptoms, they are all too real. So what is causing the women in our lives to suffer each month? My previous articles on PMS focused just on the hormonal aspects of PMS-the endocrine system. This delicate and intricate system of chemicals (hormones) in the body can impact many aspects of health. Regretfully, modern medicine doesn't seem to be able to help balance this system easily. In fact, most of the "treatment programs" involve adding in more hormones or just hiding and masking the symptoms for short periods of time. My new approach to helping with PMS is to support the body in two different ways. Just as with menopause, I now work on supporting the liver as well as providing supplements to help with symptoms.
Before we get into specific supplements, let's first look at some lifestyle changes that can be beneficial. With regards to diet, removing sugar and other refined foods is a great start. Caffeine is another evil for women with PMS symptoms. Increased caffeine consumption can actually increase the incidence and the severity of PMS. Alcohol consumption (or other drugs that impact liver health) is a no-no too. Alcohol bogs down the liver (which is helpful in metabolizing the hormones released during your monthly cycle). Increasing your fiber and decreasing dairy and animal fats can also be helpful at reducing your symptoms. And increased activity is almost always a positive lifestyle choice. Of course this is part of my 4-Pillars of Great Health anyway, so I shouldn't have to really say anything more.
As stated before, dietary supplements do help significantly for the symptoms of PMS. I prefer not to treat each symptom separately, but address the hormone balancing head on. Modern and natural medicine both believe that PMS symptoms are the result of an improperly balanced endocrine system. In order to get this system back on an even keel, here's what I suggest:
My approach is strictly herbal. I recommend three herbs as part of my PMS program. I have found that using these together for a three-month period (or three menstrual cycles) usually does the trick. The magic herbs are Vitex, Dong Quai and Black Cohosh. Both Vitex and Black Cohosh have direct hormonal effects, and DongQuai is more of a tonic (supportive) herb for female health. Vitex has been researched and seems to be the big winner when it comes to helping PMS. As I always preach though, synergy is what is best. Most of the herbal combination products for PMS combine Vitex with one or both of the other herbs I mentioned. Why spend a ton of money and time on addressing your symptoms when balancing your hormones will probably take care of everything?
Liver support: My experience has shown that using a basic/multisystem cleanse (Cleanse Smart, Perfect Cleanse, Whole Body Cleanse, etc.) is a great start. These will work on the many "lines and filters" (Refer to Step 2 in my January 2009 newsletter), and get you headed in the right direction. After completing a general cleanse, wait about 2 weeks and then use a Liver Cleanse (Renew Life, Enzymatic Therapy, etc.). The liver cleanse will not only detoxify your liver, but help it function better in the future. In many cases, hormonal imbalances will "bog down" your liver and manifest as symptoms such as insomnia, bloating, fatigue and acne. By cleansing the liver and then supporting its function you will often eliminate the many symptoms of PMS (and menopause). Digestive bitters, for example dandelion, artichoke, or a combination like Critical Liver Care (Renew Life) or Liver Blend SP-13 (Solaray), can also be effective.
Aside from trying to balance your hormones naturally and supporting liver health, it may be necessary to address your specific symptoms. Looking for a combination product to address your needs should be relatively easy.Whether it is stress, anxiety, fluid retention, bloating or headaches, your neighborhood Vitamin Shoppe will have something natural to address your needs. Remember, these supplements should really only be used in the meantime until you can address your hormonal imbalance and liver support naturally. Changing your diet and getting more activity will also provide you with the boost you need to feel healthy again.
Insomnia (Can't fall asleep)
Insomnia (wake between 2-4am)
Hot Flashes/Night Sweats
Combo of Valerian and Passion Flower
Above plus Milk Thistle
B-6 or Dandelion
Vitamin E or Evening Primrose Oil
Dandelion or Digestive Enzymes
B-Complex, Fish Oil, Lecithin
Passion Flower, Chamomile, Valerian
Black Cohosh, Red Clover, Vitex
Vitex, Progesterone Cream, or Damiana