Is PMS a signal that lifestyle needs to change? Possibly. There about 150 symptoms associated with PMS – anxiety, short fuse and mood swings being at the top of the list. Bloating, breast tenderness, food cravings and headaches are also common. Symptoms may begin at or after mid-cycle and may last for a couple of days or the full 2 weeks. Some women suffer with PMS monthly, other women may experience it occasionally. While PMS is common, it’s not ‘normal’. An estimated 20% of women do not experience pre-menstrual symptoms. In this case, they only know their period is coming by the calendar date.
Does diet matter? Absolutely! In a nutritional analysis published in 1983, Guy Abraham, M.D., reported that PMS patients consumed 62 percent more refined carbohydrates than women who did not have PMS, 275 percent more refined sugar, 79 percent more dairy products, 78 percent more sodium, 53 percent less iron, 50 percent less magnesium , and 52 percent less zinc.
Do vitamins and minerals matter? Absolutely! A deficiency of prostaglandin E1 is associated with PMS symptoms. To make PgE1 we require magnesium, linoleic acid, vitamin B6, zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin B3.
Does exercise matter? Absolutely! In all studies looking at the effects of exercise on PMS, regular exercisers showed improvement in all PMS parameters. Cardiovascular exercise appears more effective than strength straining at reducing PMS. Also, frequency of exercise seems more effective than intensity.
Can herbal treatments be effective? Yes, in some cases herbal therapies will be integrated into the treatment plan for a specific effect.
Is hormone testing needed? Not always. In many cases, the hormonal imbalance picture is clear with a thorough review of symptoms and history.
Could there be other factors at play? Yes. There may be underlying depression or anxiety that is being amplified pre-menstrually. There is interplay between serotonin and estrogen which some women may be more sensitive to. In this case more targeted naturopathic interventions for mood disorders are used.