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“Normal” nausea or PMS?

by Sonia Chartier, on 21 December 2015, Digestion, Women's Health
nausea

Although rather rare, nausea is a very real and possible symptom of PMS. And no, it’s not because you gave into your junk food cravings despite your best intentions.

If, a few days before your period, nausea destroys your sense of enjoyment or makes you grumpier than you already are, then this article is for you.

Nausea can spoil your appetite and prevent you from carrying out your day-to-day tasks and your work. Given that nausea can also occur during pregnancy, it can be disconcerting and even bring up a whole range of emotions that, frankly, we could all do without.

Why nausea?

Hormones and pain can explain the nausea that comes with PMS. Just like in the first trimester of a pregancy, hormonal disruptions can affect the part of the brain that regulates nausea and vomiting. Hormones—estrogen in particular—can also directly interfere with digestion.

The body produces prostaglandins, which cause uterine cramps to get your menstrual flow going. Sometimes, they produce painful muscle spasms not only in the uterus, but also the digestive tract, which leads to nausea. Prostaglandins can also cause headaches in some women experiencing PMS.

How to deal with it yourself

While in this case nausea isn’t caused by a poor diet, it is still a good idea to:

  • Avoid fat, chocolate, sweets and foods that are generally hard to digest; a low-fat diet also slows the production of prostaglandines and estrogens.
  • Drink water and avoid coffee (which contains some fat) and carbonated soft drinks.
  • Eat enough fibre to facilitate the elimination of hormones.

Some women use accupressure bracelets to relieve nausea: acupuncture point P6, on the inside of the wrist, helps relieve nausea associated with motion sickness, pregnancy and PMS.

And if that isn’t enough?

  • Vitamin B6 is known to relieve nausea during pregnancy and PMS. A systematic review of studies on the benefits of vitamin B6 in relieving PMS concluded that a dose of up to 100 mg a day can be beneficial1. In fact, it is preferable to take it in combination with other B-complex vitamins, because they work in harmony.
  • Ginger in any form—herbal tea, mother tincture, marinated, dried, or simply sliced and placed in a cup of hot water—is well known for easing nausea.
  • Given that nausea is caused by hormonal fluctuations, re-establishing an equilibrium and avoiding sudden variations during your cycle can make all the difference. The plant called Vitex agnus castus (chasteberry or monk’s pepper) is very effective for regulating the hormones involved. You probably won’t see a difference during your first menstrual cycle because it takes two to three months for the plant to take full effect.
  • Bitter plants stimulate digestion and can be useful for relieving nausea, even if hormone-related. Boldocynara contains a number of these plants: it eases digestion and helps relieve spasms in the digestive tract.

The good news is that all these simple solutions should help relieve not only nausea, but also other PMS symptoms, and yes, even those bad moods!

1-Pubmed 10334745

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