Wednesday, January 29, 2020

The Naturopathic way to get rid of PMS

Dr. Jessica Nesbitt, ND, CFMP

Symptoms such as cramping, breast tenderness, bloating, mood swings, headaches, changes in bowel movements, anxiety and fatigue are not only annoying, they are often debilitating. 

More importantly, they are not normal and you don’t need to suffer every month.


In my practice I see many women who go through their reproductive years accepting PMS symptoms as “normal”.  Some of these women have tried medications only to find that once the medication is stopped the symptoms return or worse, their cycle stops altogether.  Birth control seems to be the number one-go to for just about any variation of “normal” related to female hormones. If symptom relief is the number one goal, birth control can help some women.  My number one concern with using a hormonal birth control pill is that it does not correct the underlying imbalance. Additionally, over time these hormonal imbalances may make it difficult to become pregnant, cause hair loss, weight gain, changes to mood and headaches.
GETTING TO THE ROOT CAUSE
PMS is a sign of  hormone imbalance and a full work up is needed to determine the root cause of your imbalance.  The two main hormones associated with PMS are estrogen and progesterone. I encourage my patients to test these hormones either through blood, urine or saliva testing in order to get an accurate picture to guide an effective personalized treatment protocol. Common factors that I have found that can influence hormones and contribute to PMS are: a diet high in sugar, simple carbohydrates, non-organic meats, dairy products, caffeine and alcohol. All of which can contribute to hormone imbalances. A diet that is high in healthy fats, clean protein, plenty of vegetables (especially the green leafy kind) and loads of fiber help to balance hormones.  Another factor that need to be considered is the effect of environmental pollutants.  One of the fundamental things I ask my patients to do is evaluate the ingredients in their skin care, make-up, hair products, deodorant and perfumes to ensure that there are no hormone disrupting chemicals in them.  
Other factors such as lack of daily physical movement and lack of daily bowel movement allow for estrogen to be recycled into your blood stream. Drinking alcohol over time may impair your liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen, all of which, again, keep your hormones imbalanced.
When working with my patients to restore hormonal balance and eliminate PMS, I start by reducing symptoms while at the same time looking to find the individualized root cause. These changes are pretty simple and after two to three cycles you should notice an improvement in your symptoms. 

Research has shown several natural agents such as ginger (PMID:31777743, PMID:2617793) help to decrease pain and cramping in students aged 18-25 years of age.  In another study (PMID:2349410) magnesium was shown to have a therapeutic effect on lower abdominal pain and back pain on the second and third day of menses, while also reducing the number of missed days from work due to cramping.

STRESS MANAGEMENT
When you are constantly in that “fight or flight” mode because of stress, your adrenal glands will produce cortisol and adrenaline. While this is a healthy and normal process, the issue is, that in order to make cortisol, your adrenal glands need progesterone. When progesterone is down and cortisol is up, you will likely see increased weight gain around the mid-section, breast tenderness, difficulty sleeping, anxiety, painful periods and weepiness.
There is no need to stress about your stress! To read my article about nine ways to break free from stress, click here.

HEALING YOUR HORMONES
When working with women who are dealing with PMS, my goal is to provide individualized and comprehensive care. This means that I will do a full intake, looking not only at hormones but also addressing lifestyle factors such as sleep habits, diet, stress management and other organ systems such as the liver and gut, all of which can impact hormonal health. 

If you know someone who is suffering needlessly from PMS, please share this article with them or  invite them to schedule their complimentary 15 min consult with me to learn more about how I can help them stop their monthly suffering.