Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a number of physical and emotional symptoms that occur prior to a period.
This cluster of symptoms is commonly caused by an imbalance in the hormones required for healthy menstruation, such as oestrogen.
Oestrogen is a necessary hormone for menstrual cycle regulation, growth and maintenance of tissues, especially bones and the uterus lining.
Although oestrogen is an essential hormone, excess amounts can disrupt the balance of other hormones and lead to menstrual cycle challenges, such as PMS.
There are a number of factors that may contribute to the build-up of oestrogen, including diet, lifestyle and liver function.
Oestrogen is cleared via the liver; therefore if the liver is functioning sub-optimally, oestrogen is likely to become excessive.
The good news is that PMS is highly influenced by diet and lifestyle, so we have the ability to implement daily changes to help ease PMS symptoms! See below our top 8 tips to help balance hormones and manage PMS symptoms:
- 1. Avoid: processed foods, refined carbohydrates and caffeine:
Consume less sugar, white rice, pasta, pizza, pastries and white breads as these types of foods spike blood sugar, triggering a hormonal response which contributes to excess oestrogen and PMS. Caffeine is also strongly linked to the prevalence of PMS symptoms due to its ability to overstimulate the adrenal glands, and contribute to adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances and sugar cravings.
- 2. Cruciferous vegetables:
Think broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, bok choy and collard greens. This family of sulfur containing vegetables assists the liver with detoxification, processing and elimination of excess hormones linked to PMS.
- 3. Include Phytoestrogens:
In PMS phytoestrogens (anti-inflammatory, hormone balancing chemicals) help to reduce excess oestrogen and therefore reduce symptoms of PMS. The best dietary sources of phytoestrogens include linseed and soy (such as tofu, tempeh, miso and soy milk).
- 4. Maintain a healthy weight:
Excess fat is actually a hormone producing organ; therefore, an overweight person is more likely to experience disrupted hormones and PMS. Moderate exercise assists by not only maintaining a healthy body weight, but also for its actions in reducing excess hormones, improving blood flow, reducing pain, reducing water retention and helping to achieve a healthy mood!
- 5. Avoid Xeno-oestrogens:
Found mostly in plastic products, xeno-oestrogens are man-made chemicals that mimic oestrogen and un-naturally raise their levels in the body, contributing to PMS symptoms. We recommend avoiding products such as; plastic bottles, packaging and food wraps, chemical based cosmetics and cleaning agents, and trying to select organic produce where available.
- 6. Manage stress:
While we may not be able to control the events that cause stress, we can control our response to them. Excess stress places a burden on the adrenal glands, which in turn can disturb hormone levels and contribute to PMS. Some enjoyable ways to combat excess stress include: exercise, meditation, crafts, mindfulness and time in nature.
- 7. Sleep:
Adequate sleep is essential for healthy hormone production. Aim for 8 hours (give or take depending on the person) a night and to sleep by 10-11pm. This helps your body to produce and balance hormones more effectively and therefore assist with reducing PMS symptoms.
- 8. Supplements:
Certain herbs and nutrients can be used to treat different symptoms of PMS and to help generally achieve a balanced hormonal profile and reduced oxidative stress. Many herbs can be found in combination with one another. Some of the most common herbs and nutrients used for PMS include: Vitex angus-castus, Curcumin, Angelica, White peony, Flase unicorn root, Cordyceps and milk thistle