Sadly, for many women PMS rears its ugly head for about one week every month. I am quite lucky when it comes to PMS as mine isn’t too severe but I have seen clients who aren’t able to go to work for a few days as PMS is so bad. When you think about it, for many women that means nearly one fourth of the year is spent suffering through bloating, cramps, breast sensitivity, back pain, headaches, and more.
While there are a variety of over-the-counter and prescription medications available to tackle these symptoms, taking medication for a decent chunk of the year isn’t all that appealing – as a pharmacist I can advice you on OTC medication available however there are other things you can do reduce the amount of medication you take as well and this is what this post is all about.
Caffeine can make your PMS symptoms worse, so swap your morning cup of coffee for herbal tea. Chamomile tea helps lessen muscles spasms and reduces tension that can lead to anxiety and irritability. In fact, chamomile is a relaxing drink any time of the month!
Dandelion tea aids in relieving bloating, water retention, and menstrual cramps. Red raspberry leaf tea made from the leaf of raspberries is full of calcium and helps regulate hormones. It can also help lessen cramping and depression.
When used in aromatherapy, essential oils such as lavender, geranium, sage, and ylang ylang all have soothing and calming properties. As well as helping you relax, lavender can help relieve pain and ylang ylang can be used to reduce excess sebum production.
Supplements are an easy way to make up for any nutrients you are lacking, many of which can help decrease your PMS symptoms. Before taking any supplements, it is important to discuss this with your healthcare provider.
Calcium supplements have been shown to help with fatigue, depression, mood swings, tension, anxiety, bloating, breast tenderness, cramping, and generalized aches and pains.
According to some evidence, a magnesium deficiency can increase PMS symptoms. A study involving 192 women taking 400 mg of magnesium daily for PMS found that 95% experienced less breast pain and had less weight gain, 89% suffered less nervous tension and 43% had fewer headaches. Magnesium has also been found to ease sugar cravings, low blood sugar, and dizziness. Magnesium is a natural detoxifier and muscle relaxer that helps with cramps.
Potassium plays a big role in keeping mood swings in check. This important mineral also helps to reduce fluid retention and decrease bloating. Lack of adequate potassium can lead to muscle cramping which you want to avoid when menstrual cramps are around the corner. Apples and Bananas are a wonderful source of potassium. They’re also naturally sweet and loaded with fiber.
If PMS has you feeling tired and down in the dumps you probably need more B vitamins in your diet. These heavy lifters play a key role in keeping our energy levels and mood stable. Brown rice is an incredible source of B vitamins, which also help to stave off sugar cravings. Enjoy one serving per day with veggies, fish, or chicken during your luteal phase or buy Vitamin B supplements.
Is there anything that sounds less appealing than working out when you feel bloated and cramped? No, there isn’t. But no pain, no gain! In this case a little pain will help relieve a lot of pain. Primarily, exercise helps release endorphins, which decrease stress and lower pain. Exercise also improves circulation. When you exercise, your blood gets moving and carries oxygen and nutrients to the cells more efficiently, which makes you feel less fatigued.
Your diet can positively or negatively affect PMS symptoms, so make sure you are eating the proper foods during your least favorite time of the month. As mentioned earlier, calcium helps fight PMS symptoms, so add a little extra into your diet. Shoot for three servings of calcium rich foods a day such as low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, or certified orange juice. Eat apples for Potassium and dark leafy greens for Magnesium. A healthy diet is beneficial so many things including PMS.
Your shifting levels of estrogen and progesterone can decrease levels of chemical serotonin in the brain and trigger PMS symptoms. It’s natural to crave sugar to boost the serotonin levels, but it’s better to stay away from sugar and choose a whole grain instead. Too much sugar can lead to fatigue, anxiety, and irritability.
Avoiding salt can help with bloating, so do your best to avoid salty and processed food. Drinking lots of water can also help lessen bloating by flushing out excess sodium.
Now this one you already know, but it’s easy to overlook. Don’t forget to use your heating pad or hot water bottle! You will feel instant relief from cramps and during winter months will be nice and toasty.