Most women accept the notion that PMS, premenstrual syndrome, is a normal part of a monthly cycle. But what if I told you PMS is common but not normal and that those frustrating symptoms you have every month the week before your period can be alleviated naturally!
Premenstrual syndrome symptoms can be physical like bloating, water retention, joint pain, headaches, food cravings, pimples, or can be emotional like anxiety, depression, irritability and weepiness. If you typically have these symptoms but they are worsened before your period it is called premenstrual magnification not premenstrual syndrome, and would be treated differently.
PMS symptoms appear the week before your period and quickly disappear in the first day or two of flow. Too often these symptoms are dismissed which leave women frustrated.
Estrogen is high in the first half of your cycle. Day 1 (first day of flow) until you ovulate estrogen is the dominant hormone and it is great as it increases serotonin (feel good hormone) and gives us better insulin sensitivity. But too much estrogen can be bad and can lead to symptoms like headaches and water retention and breast tenderness. As we near the end of our cycle, before our next period, our estrogen falls and the steeper the fall the steeper the serotonin drop.
If we make enough progesterone, our estrogen withdrawal symptoms are less severe. Progesterone is our relaxation or calming hormone.
So we need estrogen and we need progesterone and more importantly we need to be able to adapt to the ups and downs of these hormones within our cycles. Ultimately PMS is when estrogen is high (dominant) either absolutely or relatively to progesterone. In order to fix it we need to improve estrogen metabolism, improve progesterone, and usually decrease inflammation. Inflammation can cause less progesterone by decreasing the responsiveness of progesterone receptors and the production. Inflammation can also interfere with estrogen detoxification.
One supplement will never fix your PMS. Just like the birth control pill will never fix your PMS. It takes a multi-dimensional approach over a few months to address all the individual factors.
Seed cycling is a nourishing way to not only improve elimination, but more importantly to support estrogen and progesterone. If you have a regular menstrual cycle that is around 28 days, you can take 2 tbsp ground flaxseed from day 1 to day 14. Flax is a phytoestrogen and supports the follicular phase. On day 15 you can stop the flaxseed and instead take in 2 tbsp raw sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds support progesterone which is what we want in the second half (luteal phase).
While addressing the diet and lifestyle factors involved, it may also be necessary to add in supplementation for symptomatic relief or to further assist in constipation or stress management or inflammation. I may look to turmeric, omega 3, calcium-d-glucarate, vitex, evening primrose oil, probiotics or magnesium among other things to put a full treatment together for an individual. Running a DUTCH test or bloodwork on a specific day of the cycle may be done to identify which hormones need the most work.