Women’s HealthPMS Management
PMS is a loose collection of symptoms triggered by hormonal shifts that afflict an estimated 80 percent of all women during the last week or two of their menstrual cycle.
PMS symptoms include: increased appetite and sugar cravings, fatigue, headaches, dizziness, palpitations, depression, weight gain, breast tenderness, emotional volatility, vaginal infections, constipation, worsening of allergies, acne or skin eruptions. For 10 to 20 percent of women the syndrome is incapacitating.
In Chinese Medicine, these symptoms are associated with various disharmonies : Liver Qi Stagnation, Depressive Liver Fire, Heart Xue Deficiency/Liver Xue Deficiency, Stomach Heat and Spleen Qi Deficiency with Dampness.
In addition to the general gynecologic dietary guidelines, if you have PMS, you should:
- Eliminate all refined sugars from the diet.
- Eliminate caffeinated coffee, chocolate and dark sodas.
- Reduce fat content of diet to 25% of daily calories.
- Avoid over-the-counter diuretics. Instead adjust diet to eliminate excess salt, increase grains and fiber.
- Drink 48 ounces of filtered or spring water a day.
No nutritional supplements should be taken without talking to your Western doctor and/or Chinese practitioner since there may be contraindications you don’t know about.
- B6 may provide some relief in doses between 250 and 500mg a day. The proof that it works is anecdotal at this point.
- Zinc — Science News reports that women with PMS have lower zinc levels during the luteal phase, which is between ovulation and onset and may be associated with PMS symptoms. However, only take supplements under the direction of your practitioner. Minimal amounts of zinc are needed as supplements and there have been reported side effects from doses as small as the RDA of 15 mg each day. These include interference with copper and iron metabolism leading to a negative impact on serum lipids (fat in the blood) and immune function.
- Calcium Hydroxyapatite and Magnesium. Chocolate cravings associated with PMS may in fact result from magnesium deficiency — chocolate is relatively high in magnesium. And calcium is important for general gynecologic health plus as a preventive measure against osteoporosis — the brittle bone syndrome that afflicts so many women after menopause.
Bringing in Additional Supplements:
One of the most innovative solutions to PMS is the use of Wild Yam cream to provide a small boost in the level of natural progesterone in the later half of the cycle.
The common theory about PMS is that it stems from elevated levels of estrogen. But another view holds that it is the relative lack of progesterone in relation to the amount of estrogen that causes PMS. Western science does prescribe synthetic progestin to counter menopausal symptoms, but this chemical is not a satisfactory replica of natural progesterone. In fact, progestin seems to actually inhibit the body’s natural synthesis of progesterone, thereby worsening symptoms.
Wild Yam contains a chemical that can be converted into natural progesterone and is nearly identical to the molecule produced in a woman’s body. By using a cream containing wild yam, the effects of unbalanced estrogen production can often be eliminated.
Warning: This cream should never be used without a practitioner’s supervision and never in conjunction with other hormones or medicines without consulting both your Chinese and Western doctor.
To re-establish a regular, symptom-free cycle, the first step is to use Yoga, Qi Gong warm-up exercises and walking to stimulate balanced flow. Once a routine is established (daily for 30 minutes), you can expand your exercises to include aerobics such as jogging, cycling and swimming. Exercising 5 times a week, 45 minutes a day will strengthen Qi — but you should avoid exercise to the point of exhaustion or you will deplete Qi. Your total exercise time should be about 7.25 hours a week including the Yoga and/or Qi Gong and aerobics.
If you have any gynecological disharmony, weight lifting exercises should be done only 3 days a week — the process of tearing down and building up muscle tissue can cause a Spleen Deficiency, which could lead to a Xue Deficiency and increased menstrual problems.