How much do you know about period pain? We’ve invited holistic health practitioner Giselle Cooke to give us the lowdown.
Throughout my medical training I was unable to find any solutions to managing the unpleasant, uncomfortable and often disabling symptoms or premenstrual syndrome or “PMS”. I now understand that this is because it is a condition of menstrual hormone imbalance and nutritional deficiency, which can be alleviated or corrected by restoring these factors.
Symptoms of PMS start one to two weeks before the onset of menstruation and subside when the next period starts.
- Acne, oily skin and/or oily hair
- Digestive disturbances, such as diarrhoea or constipation
- Food cravings (especially for chocolate, sweet and salty foods) and appetite changes
- Bloating and fluid retention, causing weight gain and abdominal fullness
- Breast fullness, tenderness and pain
- Headaches, backaches, muscle aches and joint pain
- Uterine cramping
- Depressed mood, anxiety and crying spells
- Mood swings, irritability, hostility, tension, anger, libido changes
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Poor concentration
- Fatigue, sometimes with excessive sleepiness
- Insomnia and disturbed sleep
Excessive oestrogen levels can build in a woman’s system prior to her period if this is her genetic tendency (her mother and grandmother may have had heavy periods and menstrual problems, too). Oestrogen needs detoxification through the liver, so alcohol and caffeine intake can interfere with the removal of excess oestrogen from a woman’s bloodstream premenstrually.
This will cause fluid retention, headache, sore breasts, increased appetite and weight gain symptoms, which can be alleviated by taking pyridoxine (vitamin B6) 100mg daily until the next period starts. Supporting this with a dandelion root supplement, these will improve liver clearance of excess oestrogen and reduce these symptoms within 1-2 days.
Progesterone deficiency can cause mood disturbances and fatigue predominantly in PMS. A supplement of the full B-complex of vitamins with zinc can be taken throughout the month to stabilize a woman’s mood throughout her cycle. The mineral chromium will stabilize blood glucose levels to keep energy and mood on the level, while potassium and magnesium manage stress and tension in the nervous system and muscles.
High testosterone will increase acne breakouts premenstrually, which can be aggravated by eating more sugar and fat at this time (often in the form of chocolate). This hormone can also make a woman irritable, impatient and even aggressive. Zinc supplementation regulates testosterone levels and with vitamin D and betacarotene reduces premenstrual acne, if taken as supplements throughout each month.
So the easiest way to get all the nutrients necessary to manage PMS is in one high quality, comprehensive multivitamin and mineral supplement designed for women – Hivita High Potency Women’s Multi, taken once daily throughout each month and twice daily during the premenstrual week. I also suggest pairing this with the wonder herb, Vitex agnus castus, which can be obtained from a naturopath or health food store, which normalizes oestrogen and progesterone levels throughout a woman’s cycle if taken daily alongside her top quality Women’s Multi.