Holistic Solutions to PMS
By Dr. Tim Fargo, Chiropractor
PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) is a term used to describe a collection of symptoms that occur in the days leading up to the onset of menses. By some accounts there are tens of millions of women who are afflicted to one degree or another, and a high percentage of those women are affected to the point of incapacitation. It has been assumed that PMS is the result of a “hormone imbalance”, and thus hormones like progesterone are administered, sometimes with significant side-effects of their own. What is usually missed is that there are underlying reasons for such hormone imbalances and our efforts would be better spent identifying and working to correct those underlying factors.
The symptoms of PMS include some or all of the following:
- Tension or anxiety
- Appetite changes and carbohydrate cravings
- Mood swings and depression
- Trouble falling asleep (insomnia)
- Social withdrawal
- Poor concentration
- Change in libido
- Joint or muscle pain
- Weight gain and water retention
- Breast tenderness
- Acne flare-ups
- Constipation or diarrhea
As you can see from the above list, the symptoms are quite varied and, not surprisingly, the causes can also be. Some of the causes that have been proposed for this varied set of symptoms include:
- Reactive hypoglycemia (a condition that results from dramatic swings in blood sugar in response to sugar consumption.
- Estrogen excess.
- Progesterone deficiency.
- Nutritional deficiencies of various sorts.
- Yeast overgrowth in the gut (Candidiasis).
Given the above underlying causes there are a number of things that a woman can do to alleviate or altogether eliminate PMS.
Reducing sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption will help regulate blood sugar and will reduce overall stress on the body.
The liver is responsible for getting rid of excess estrogen and when the liver is overworked and does not have the necessary nutrients for this process, it will not do a good job and estrogen levels will remain higher than they should. Identifying and eliminating food sensitivities can improve liver function dramatically. Providing the liver with essential nutrients like folate, broccoli raffinate, DIM and N-Acetyl Cysteine can facilitate the liver’s processing of estrogen. These nutrients are all contained in a product called “Estro Balance” by Nutridyn. We have had excellent results with this product.
Progesterone deficiency is often associated with the use of the birth control pill, IUD use, increased stress, Vitamin A deficiency, and low thyroid function. Therefore each of these elements can be looked at and appropriate solutions created that can impact PMS.
Yeast overgrowth (Candidiasis) is a common condition which is primarily the result of the use of oral contraceptives, antibiotic use and a poor diet. Candidiasis has also been implicated in the creation of PMS. This is a very large topic unto itself, but suffice it to say that you can do the following to improve the situation:
- Limit the use of antibiotics
- Find alternative, non-hormonal, forms of contraception
- Take a high quality mixed probiotic culture every day.
- Increase fiber and vegetable intake.
- Reduce sugar and refined carbohydrate intake.
Finally, there are a number of different nutrients that have been shown to be effective in the treatment of the underlying conditions that produce PMS symptoms:
- B complex
- Vitamin A
- Essential fatty acids (Fish or Flax seed oil)
If it seems daunting to try to figure your way through the tangle of PMS, remember that simple and commonsense measures will probably make a big difference. Improve your diet, reduce your stress, sleep more, take some basic vitamins, eliminate food sensitivities and get a chiropractic adjustment. Chiropractic care improves the functioning of the nervous system and significantly reduces stress. I hope this helps.