This article originally appeared on Sanandi.com
Think, when was the last time you heard someone say, or said it yourself, “is it that time of the month?”
Considering that more than 70% of women have symptoms associated with PMS and it’s so common that it’s seen as a typical part of being a woman in our culture, there’s a good chance it was sometime within the past month.
But PMS isn’t “normal,” nor is it a necessary part of the female hormonal cycle.
What is PMS?
PMS stands for ‘premenstrual syndrome’ and is a group of symptoms that women experience one to two weeks before they start their period. This often coincides with ovulation or the period just after ovulation when no fertilized egg has been implanted and the body is preparing to shed the uterine lining.
The symptoms of PMS range from physical to emotional and they effect every woman differently. Most commonly, women experience cramping, insomnia, headache, fatigue, depression, anxiety, heightened emotional responses, and/or withdrawal or detachment.
Causes of PMS
There is no clear medical cause for PMS because this is an individual dis-ease, but there are a couple of main theories.
One of which is the hormone fluctuation of women during their cycles. The change in hormonal balance throughout the month in a woman’s body is drastic. This is especially true after ovulation. Hormone levels build and build until they peak during the fertile window, when that window ends, most of those hormones plummet and that’s when many women start to experience symptoms like pain and emotional disruption.
There are a lot of theories about the connection between depression or sadness and this part of the hormonal cycle. What stands out most to us is the evolutionary aspect of our brain chemistry. We’re hardwired to have children to further our species, and to preserve our own genetic line. When we do not get pregnant within a month, our bodies go through a period of mourning… in effect.
You see, studies show that there is a direct correlation between estrogen and serotonin. Estrogen is one of the main female cycle hormones, and serotonin is the neurotransmitter that relates directly to our happiness and ability to withstand pain. When the body’s estrogen rises, so does its serotonin.
During the first half of a woman’s cycle, estrogen is on the rise, and so is sertonin.
If a woman gets pregnant estrogen and serotonin continue to rise—increasing happiness and the ability to withstand pain. (Otherwise pregnancy and childbirth would be dreadfully unbearable.)
If a woman does not get pregnant and her ovulation period passes, estrogen levels spike and then plummet… and so does the body’s serotonin levels. Leading to sadness (the period of mourning) and being more easily affected by fatigue and pain ← that’s PMS.
Whether this baby = happy correlation is directly connected to an ancestral or evolutionary need to procreate is questionable, but it’s most assuredly not outside possibility.
Stress: Another piece of the PMS Puzzle
Serotonin is just one piece of this puzzle to look at. One. And it’s a happy making piece at that.
Think about this. Our bodies are finite, and the hormones that we can make are limited because the energy and nutrient levels in them are also finite. One really great example is how stress, especially chronic stress, can affect the hormone production in the body.
Women predominately have two types of hormones that run their monthly cycles, estrogen and progesterone. These two hormones keep each other in check throughout the whole month. If one goes up, the other comes down.
When we’re stressed, our bodies produce additional hormones—adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is the immediate reaction, and that hormone shunts energy from systems that aren’t vital into systems that are… for running away from a tiger. When we’re fearing for our lives, our bodies don’t exactly feel the need to reproduce.
Here’s the kicker though, cortisol is our long-term stress hormone. This is like those underlying stressers that might surface sometime (the tiger might come back). The precursor for the body to make cortisol is the same one our bodies need to make progesterone.
But wait… doesn’t progesterone help balance estrogen? And doesn’t estrogen build? And doesn’t the body need balance? Yes. When we’re under long term, chronic stress, the female body often doesn’t make enough progesterone to balance the estrogen, and while that seems fine because that means that the serotonin levels will rise, it also calls means that after ovulating, when our estrogen bottoms out, our progesterone isn’t there to help keep the cycle in check.
Here we are, being hormonally out of balance, emotional, maybe even bleeding irregularly, and potentially in quite a bit of pain. ← That’s PMS.
What Can We Do for PMS Symptoms?
Now is probably a good time to mention that a period and the preparation for that is a literally a shedding of a living membrane from inside of a very sensitive part of a woman’s body.. And for some women, that might just hurt.
So while there is a lot we can do to mitigate PMS pain and symptomatic periods, being a woman will always mean experiencing potential life and death every month. It makes us able to speak of Nature’s beauty and her cruelty in the same breath. It offers an insight into the cycles of life and a deeper connection to the empathetic yearnings of evolution.
So what can we do for those suffering?
1—Bring Balance to the Natural Cycle.
We have an extract that is very effective for this balance, the Fem-PMS extract. This extract has a delectable blend of vitex, maca, black cohosh, angelica, and yarrow. It’s beautifully synergised so that you can take it throughout the entire month, or as needed during those troublesome PMS days.
The vitex and maca are long term tonics, bringing the hormonal transition into a comfortable and painless cycle over time. The black cohosh works as a fast acting friend to swoop in and end symptoms like cramps and headaches while yarrow and angelica balance blood and help with emotional symptoms like depression and social withdrawal.
However, if you’re on any form birth control, it’s vital that you’re careful when using this or any other kind of herbal balancing formula on a regular basis because these plants help balance your hormones to normal levels in your body. It may mitigate symptoms, but it could also decrease the effectiveness of your birth control.
Our livers process our hormones.
Let me say that again.
Our livers process our hormones.
The liver also processes food, helps convert what we eat into energy, cleans our blood, metabolizes fats, stores vitamins and minerals… this list is almost endless. When we find that PMS is a real problem, we often start by going through a simple detox like the one in the first four weeks of this article.
This helps give the liver a break in metabolizing heavy foods so it can focus on repairing, processing, and cleaning itself out. Our livers are one of our body’s main centers for balancing and healing and when it’s overworked, it can have a hard time keeping up. Since hormonal balance is one of it’s many jobs, making sure that your liver is functioning optimally can be a really effective fix to PMS symptoms.
Other General Tips for PMS
1—Avoid cold and raw foods just after ovulation. The period of infertility is a time of cold in the body, so eating warming foods like soups and teas can help PMS symptoms.
2—Avoid processed foods, conventional meats and dairy products. These bog down the liver and can be hard for the body to process, you want to decrease the amount of excess work that your system needs to do so that it can focus on balancing itself.
3—Meditate. Calm and center your mind and your body will follow you. Spend a few minutes everyday focused on your breathing—work on elongating your breaths and breaking shortly at the top and bottom of each one. Count four seconds in, hold for one second, and four seconds out, hold for one second.
4—Drink high-quality, organic chamomile tea all day if you have PMS symptoms. It is very relaxing to the nervous system while being helpful for the liver and the digestive system.
5—Vitamin-B complex and magnesium supplements are very helpful in case of severe cramps.
Do you have a way to combat PMS? Tell us about it in the comments!