What can I do for PMS? I get depressed, restless, tired, and out of sorts with my husband and children. Sometimes I am in such a fog that I can't remember my mother's telephone number. The worst problem is bloating which makes me miserable. I get the backache and swollen tender breasts. I don't like taking drugs or hormones, and wonder if there is any other alternative as I also don't like having nearly one-third of my life spent in this alternative condition. My neighbor says she read it is all in the bead. I don't agree with that. What do you say?
The premenstrual syndrome is a very real condition, related to a fluctuation in hormones. In addition to changes in female hormones, catecholamine may go up or down; endorphins may go up at ovulation and down at menstruation. Dietary and metabolic factors are often a part of this problem. An increase in insulin receptors on cells early in the cycle, and increased glucose tolerance just before the period may account for the cravings for sweets some women experience. Make the diagnosis yourself by keeping a record of weight, temperature, and observing if your time of symptoms repeated in a distinct pattern over a three-month period, associated with the menstrual period. Several things are known to be of help in controlling the condition without the use of drugs or hormones.
Even with all the help one can get from any kind of outside measures, a woman must still exert control over her spirit and be kind to children and husband when they do the inevitable irritating things. Do not allow neurotic tendencies to express themselves, or negative attitudes. Be kind, smiling, tolerant of other people's shortcomings, even when their failures increase your work. A woman must exercise and eat properly even when she is tired or has cravings. There is never an excuse for irritability or destructive behavior, even sickness. Therefore, do not allow yourself to make life miserable for those around you. Learn to maintain a sweet silence when something irritates you. Remember that you will feel better in a few days. Personal discipline is easier, however, if one feels good; so, let's study how to minimize the causes of PMS.
First, try entirely eliminating salt from your diet for six months. Purchase absolutely no food that has salt added, and leave salt out of your food both at the table and in the kitchen. Use no dairy products of any kind as they are high in natural salt, especially cheeses. Don't even dream of approaching a vending machine.
Second, eliminate all obvious fats (butters containing free fats such as margarine, peanut butter, mayonnaise, fried foods, and cooking fats). Some people are sensitive to fats and have unclear thoughts and disordered thinking after using them.
Sugar must also be eliminated along with honey, molasses, sweetened drinks or pastries, and any food containing sugar. Some persons have sensitivities to such foods as dairy products, coffee, tea, colas, chocolate, citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, bananas, apples, and many other foods (see a complete listing at the end of this article).
Eliminating these foods along with salt, fats, and sugars for a period of three months may be sufficient to set a woman on the road to identifying her food sensitivities. If the symptoms clear up, which they have an 80% likelihood of doing, you can determine your sensitivities by adding back one group at a time every four weeks. Any group causing a return of symptoms must be eliminated for one year before you try it again. Eliminating the offending foods can be curative for many women. Do not overeat, even of foods not causing sensitivities. Sodium and potassium are both taken in too high quantity with overeating as they are present in most foods. The temporary overload in the bloodstream after meals can cause pelvic congestion, poor nerve function and other problems, before the excess is excreted.
It is an interesting fact that researchers have found that women who use refined carbohydrates, sugar and dairy products have more PMS than those who do not.
We use a stretching exercise which many women find to so improve the circulation to the pelvis as to reduce or stop PMS. It consists of drawing a line parallel to the wall two feet from it. Stand on the line with your right side toward the wall. Brace your right hand against the wall and put the right hip against the wall. Hold this stretch for ten seconds, push away from the wall for five seconds, and repeat three times. Turn the left side toward the wall with the feet on the two-foot marker again, and lean the other hip into the wall, again holding it for ten seconds with three repetitions. Do this stretching exercise three times daily for three months for the best results, and then once a week thereafter. Normal ovarian function is encouraged by this pelvic ligament stretch. During the same 3 month period, walk slowly up 100 steps each day. Stairs are ideal, but any set may be used. Allow the hips free movement during each step.
If you are overweight, start the exercise 10-15 minutes after a meal to help lose weight. If you are thin and do not wish to lose weight, start the exercise 3 hours or more after your last meal, and at least 45 minutes before your next meal. Practice good posture at all times.
Outdoor exercise daily is essential, particularly during the time of the menstrual period to combat that out-of-sorts feeling.
Never wear bands or belts around the waist, as no matter how loose they may be while standing, they will be snug on sitting. The pressure on the waist causes pelvic congestion and poor health of the ovaries and uterus, causing poor control of hormone levels, even though the menstrual period is not near. Hormone control is a month-long duty of the ovaries. Keep the extremities constantly warm. In order to have warm feet, the thighs and legs must be warmly clothed.
Pelvic congestion is also caused by poor breathing techniques. Women who have abdominal (diaphragmatic) breathing have a better pelvic blood flow. Singing training is helpful, but for the non-musical, try this exercise: remove all clothing and lie on the back on a flat surface; flex the knees and put your arms by your sides to assist in relaxation of the abdominal muscles; place one hand on the abdomen to evaluate the amount of movement of the abdomen. By breathing action, first lift the abdomen with the hand on it as high, and then retract it as low as possible, performing the breathing slowly, smoothly, and rhythmically. Repeat the up and down cycle 10 times morning and night for 3 months. Learn to breathe deeply by taking a big breath each time you arise from sitting position, and each time you pass through a door.
Drink sufficient water to keep the urine pale - about 8410 glasses daily. Take a cool shower every morning followed by a brisk rubdown. Avoid poor posture, constipation, habitually chilled feet, overeating, overweight and sexual stimulation when plagued with symptoms of PMS. Avoid smoking entirely as well as the use of coffee, tea, colas, and chocolate.
Some researchers believe PMS is caused by the yeast organism, Candida albicans. If so, the same things that cause Candida infections would indirectly cause PMS - antibiotics, birth control pills, all cortisone type medications both for internal and external use. Avoid all these things.
The foregoing is preventive. Now for some treatments.
1. Hot sitz bath for 20 minutes, sufficient to cause vigorous sweating. Drink plenty of water.
2. Have a friend you give a five minute massage, using pressure with the heel of her hand and her body weight, just to the right of the spine from the waist to the end of the spine (the nerve outflow tracts to the pelvis are concentrated on the right, below the waist). This treatment requires a second person. If a do-it-yourself treatment is necessary, you can have a fair substitute for the massage by yourself with the following procedure: lie on a well padded floor and bring up the knees to the chest, lifting the head toward the knees to make a tight ball, hugging the knees with the arms, rock back and forth from stem to stern for 2 1/2 minutes, and from side to side for 2 1/2 minutes.
3. Drink a cup of red raspberry leaf tea each morning and a cup of catnip tea each night for their calming effect and to increase the level of plant sterols in the blood.
4. Use diuretic teas to discourage fluid retention. Each day you should take 8-10 glasses (8 ounce size) of water and one cup of one of the following teas: buchu, burdock, corn silk, or watermelon seed. Use one teaspoon to a cup for each of the last two. Remember that plain water has a diuretic effect.
5. Take a one mile walk morning and evening.
6. Eat a well balanced diet principally of fruit and whole grains for breakfast, and vegetables and whole grains for lunch, and a single piece of fruit or bread, or both, for supper if you tend to be underweight. Anything else should be taken sparingly. Animal fats contain arachidonic acid, a precursor of a prostaglandin, which inhibits the function of the corpus luteum, and may interfere with proper control of the cycle.
7. Eliminate all the caffeinated beverages, as well as the decaffeinated ones; they may tend to alter metabolism and to cause fractiousness and impatience.
8. Do not use refined carbohydrates - sugars, white flour products, white rice, etc. - as refined carbohydrates increase brain serotonin levels which stimulate increased insulin release, leading to salt and water retention, as well as to cravings for sweets. Being strict with the dietary suggestions for prevention and treatment will go far toward stopping symptoms. Remember that people who chew their food well have less marked swings in blood sugar levels and consequently fewer wide mood swings.
9. Since potassium helps to maintain water balance, and since most PMS sufferers have low tissue potassium levels, eat plenty of greens, fruits, and vegetables, as they are high in potassium. Potassium also prevents muscle cramping. Use legumes (beans and peas) generously, and whole grains, both breads and cereals, for their magnesium and zinc contribution to the diet.
Because of their high plant sterol content, take one tablespoon of unsweetened shredded coconut daily and one tablespoon of wheat germ. Take one cup of red raspberry leaf tea or one cup of alfalfa leaf tea daily. Women who use no meat, milk, eggs, or cheese, fare much better with their menstrual cycles than non-vegetarians, perhaps because of avoiding exposure to animal hormones and increased intake of plant sterols.
1. Milk and diary products in any quantity including casein, sodium caseinate, whey products, lactose, lactate, sodium lactate, and "non-diary" cheese.
2. Coffee, tea, chocolate, colas.
3. Citrus fruits and juices.
4. Wheat, corn, rice, oatmeal.
5. Night shade group (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, pimento, paprika)
6. Strawberries, apples, bananas.
7. Cane sugar, syrup, honey.
8. Eggs, beef, fish, pork.
9. Peanuts, all dried legumes, nuts, seeds.
10. Garlic, onion, lettuce, spices (nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper), flavorings, fats, colorings, yeast products, salt, alcohol, beer, wine.
The majority of this content is taken from Dr. Agatha Thrash of Uchee Pines Institute, printed with permission by Wildwood Inn Health Retreat.