co-written by Josée Fortin, Naturopath and Biochemist
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a health issue that affects between 70 and 75% of women during 1 or 2 weeks prior to their period. In 5% of cases, symptoms are so severe that the women are not able to go on with their normal activities. 30 to 40% of women claim that PMS affects their daily life…
Symptoms of PMS include bloating, acne, anxiety, backache, breast pain, abdominal cramps, depression, cravings, weakness, headache, insomnia, joint pain, nervousness, water retention and mood swings.
Your survival kit
- Vitex Agnus Castus: The main cause of PMS is a hormonal imbalance between estrogens and progesterone. An imbalance in the levels of these two hormones can cause water retention, which in turn affects blood circulation thus impeding oxygen delivery to the uterus, ovaries and brain. For this reason, PMS Vitex from A.Vogel is the first element you should have in your survival kit. Vitex agnus castus is the only plant on the market recognised for its regulating effect on estrogens and progesterone. It helps to gradually regulate the production of the two hormones and reaches its full efficacy within three months.
- Omega-3: Another factor that influences the intensity of PMS is the variable amount of prostaglandins, which have an impact on pain threshold. Some prostaglandins are anti-inflammatory and others are pro-inflammatory. To encourage the production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins, a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids is necessary, be it from food (flax or hemp oil) or from vegetarian Omega-3. The key advantage of vegetarian Omega-3 resides in the fact that its oils are extracted from plants that are free of heavy metal contaminants. Oils that undergo a decontamination process are harder to digest. Hence VegOmega-3 from A.Vogel is easier to digest and assimilate than fish oils, and is effective even in small doses.
- Epsom salt and essential oils: Stress affects PMS because of its devastating effect on endorphins, which are the hormones of happiness. It is essential to manage your stress in order to reduce its impact on endorphin production. A hot bath with Epsom salt is very relaxing. The heat, combined to the magnesium from the salt, eases your muscles and relieves cramps, promoting relaxation. To soothe severe menstrual camps, add 15 drops of essential oils to the Epsom salt before dissolving it into the bath water. For the oils to be properly diluted and avoid skin irritation, you must leave them to steep in the salt until they are completely absorbed, before adding the salt to the bath water. The following oils can be used either by themselves or combined:
– Lavender: relaxing, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory
– Anise: antispasmodic to soothe muscular cramps
– Clary sage: antispasmodic, soothing effect on hot flashes
– Ylang Ylang: aphrodisiac
Add a little laughter by watching comedies or reading comics. Your endorphin level can only rise, allowing you to be in a better mood.
- St-John’s Wort: For mood related symptoms such irritability, mood swings, periods of depression, anxiety or feeling unusually emotional, some relief can be found with St-John’s Wort. This plant has a well-documented regulating effect on moods that is very effective for PMS. For a thorough effect, it can be used in combination with PMS Vitex. St-John’s Wort cannot be used concomitantly with antidepressants or with birth control pills since it can neutralize its effect.
- Broccoli extract: Last but not least, a broccoli extract (indole-3-carbinol) should be included in your PMS survival kit. With all the environmental pollutants that mimic estrogenic activity, our cell’s estrogen receptors are overactive. This overload during PMS results in headaches, cramps, joint pain, ovarian cysts, endometriosis, fibromas, etc. There are some easy steps to take to reduce your contact with products that mimic estrogenic activity:- Choose organic food to reduce your intake of insecticides and pesticides.
– Avoid drinking and eating foods that have been stored into plastic containers.
– Favour cosmetics made of natural ingredients only.However, it is impossible to completely escape contact with those pollutants since so many can be found on furniture that we touch regularly, in restaurant food, etc. Indole-3-carbinol renders estrogen receptors less susceptible to estrogen-like chemical elements. This curbs the negative impact of the pollutants on the reproductive system. A daily intake of indole-3-carbino can make a big difference in the severity of PMS symptoms.
Since both the incidence and the severity of PMS symptoms are increasing, the right tools are needed to remedy the situation. A few decades ago, PMS symptoms were less pronounced and could be relieved with easy, simple solutions. Today, it is paramount to use good quality products to expect results.