Your period hits and immediately you’re struck with pain, discomfort, and a general sense of NOT feeling well. For many women, their period is a time of great trouble. Some even find themselves calling in sick to work, so they can stay at home in bed and not deal with the world.
If PMS has you down, know that there is hope. You can get past this problem and get back on to feeling great again with a few natural remedies.
While you can always turn to over the counter medications to help tame your cramps, ease your headache, and help relieve the muscle or joint pain you might be feeling, these medications often come with side effects. Using them month after month is never a wise solution.
The natural route is the route you should take, plus it is a better way and less riddled with problems.
Before we go into the natural remedies to try, let’s first cover exactly what PMS is. Then discuss what symptoms you might notice, and get into what you can to do help relieve those issues.
What Is PMS
PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome and is a set of symptoms that many women face when their period is on the horizon. You might notice that you rarely ever get these symptoms and are one of the ‘lucky’ ones who get away unscathed. But for most women, they’ll notice at least one or two symptoms during this time.
Then there are those who are very unlucky and get all the symptoms sometimes at a severe degree. These are the women who we’re really trying to help today.
About half of all women can continue about their day-to-day lives with minor inconvenience while on their period. While the other half notice a serious decline in quality of life for about a week or so before their period begins and leading into those first few days.
Luckily, once their period gets underway and the heaviest days are over, they’ll start to notice the symptoms subside. This offers temporary relief until they start to fear the next month ahead.
The Typical Symptoms Of PMS You Might Experience
So what symptoms of PMS can you expect to experience when on your period? The symptoms will vary from woman to woman so not everyone will be noticing the same things taking place. This is why the treatment that you choose to use is going to be unique for you, depending on the symptoms that you notice presently.
Here are the big ones that are most common.
· Cramping. Your uterus is hard at work trying to expel the lining that has built up over the course of the month should an egg have gotten fertilized and needed to be implanted in the body. Think of these cramps as a mini-labor. They are the same types of cramps that will occur when you have contractions during birth only to higher severity. Nevertheless, they can be quite painful for many women who aren’t using any sort of pain medication (as you very likely would be during actual labor).
· Aches and pains. Many women also report getting quite achy during the PMS period. You might notice your back is more sore, especially in the lower back region. Your muscles are tender, and even your joints may be achier than they normally are. All of this makes you want to lay in bed and not do much of anything.
· Headaches. Let’s not forget the symptom that’s common to so many women – headaches. You might feel like your head is pounding all the time when you’re on your period and you just can’t break free. For many, this is one of the most problematic of all side effects.
· Water retention. Ah, the bloat. Some women can see their weight shoot up by 5 or even more pounds when their period comes around. This can be not only frustrating if you’re currently trying to lose weight (it may make it seem like all your hard work has vanished!), but it’s also quite annoying. You might feel puffy, uncomfortable and your clothes are probably fitting tighter, which is aggravating, to say the least. Thankfully, this bloating will disappear once you’re no longer on your period.
· Mood swings. Mood swings are very typical in a woman who experiences PMS. As most women know this as the ‘hallmark’ trait that others will complain about. Not to worry – it really isn’t entirely your fault. Your hormones are shifting and this can very well cause a change in your mood. So don’t get too hung up on the fact that you may not be feeling your best and may snap at your partner during this time. Just try to be mindful and apologize if you do so you don’t cause any long-term relationship damage.
· Fatigue. Finally, don’t be surprised if you feel exhausted during the days before you have your period. You might feel like you don’t want to get up off the couch and if you even think about a workout, you may feel as though you want to cry.
These are just a handful of the symptoms that can come on when you’re dealing with PMS and every woman will be different. You may experience symptoms that aren’t even listed here but come on with a vengeance once a month. You know your body and what you’re hit with the most.
Now let’s look at some of the best natural remedies.
Causes Of PMS
In order to better understand the natural remedies we’ll be discussing to help you alleviate the problems associated with PMS, it’s important that you understand some causes of PMS1. While the main cause is obviously the occurrence of your period, there are other things at work here. Some of these include:
· Changes in hormones that are associated with your period (as noted above)
· Chemical changes taking place in the brain as a result of those alterations in hormones
· Consuming a poor diet. Most women who are on their period tend to have a heavy reliance on fast or processed food during their period
· Lack of vitamins in the diet that are causing the PMS symptoms to become even more noticeable than normal
· Suffering from high levels of emotional and physical stress during this time
· Dealing with underlying depression or anxiety that has not been optimally treated
· Battling thyroid-related issues such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
· Coming into contact with various environmental toxins
· Consuming too much alcohol, caffeine, or very sugary beverages
· Eating too much salt, which can lead to worsening of the bloating already present
· Being overweight, which will then lead to a change in the normal hormonal profile that should be taking place and contribute to more severe symptoms
· Lack of physical activity
One or more of these may be at play in your life, really tilting the scales in favor of you suffering from more PMS related symptoms than you should be.
This said, here are some natural treatment methods that you’ll want to look into.
Water, Water, Water
As odd as it may sound, to help deal with the bloating, focus on getting more water into your day. The more water you take in, the better your body will be able to let go of the water its holding. Then you should notice much less water retention overall2.
Try to remember to carry around a large bottle of water with you at all times so you can take sips of it during the day.
Take note, caffeine and alcohol are not advisable when on your period. You might get a boost of energy momentarily, but after a while, you are left even more tired than usual. Plus, caffeine dehydrates you so it can make bloating even worse.
For this reason, try to choose plain water whenever possible. Even things like juice should be off the table during this time as the extra sugar can aggravate your symptoms even more.
Consuming More Plant-Based Foods
Another trick you can do to help better manage your PMS symptoms is loading up on fresh fruits and vegetables during this time. Chances are when PMS hits, you get food cravings for a wide array of processed foods. Deep-fried foods, sugary foods, and basically anything else that could be lumped into the ‘unhealthy category’.
Fight these urges. While having ‘cheat treat’ here and there when you’re dealing with PMS is fine, if you take in too much of these types of foods, it will make your symptoms worse3.
Instead, focus on foods that are high in fiber, lower in calories, and full of potassium. Fresh fruits and vegetables are also naturally nearly sodium-free, so they aren’t going to contribute at all to bloating. In fact, the potassium in them will help relieve it.
Because they’re lower in calories, this will also minimize any actual weight gain you might experience during your period. Which you would then have to focus on losing later on in the month.
Don’t Avoid Dairy
While many of you may be avoiding dairy entirely as you either think it’s fattening or because you struggle with lactose intolerance, during your period, it can actually be very beneficial to eat.
Dairy rich foods are loaded with calcium and calcium has been proven to help provide some natural relief for PMS symptoms4.
You do want to choose reduced-fat forms of dairy and preferably those that don’t have as much added sugar for best results. Good options would include things like plain Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, low-fat cheese, or even skim or 1% milk.
If you are someone who does suffer from lactose intolerance, you might also consider taking a quality digestive enzyme product such as MassZymes, which will help provide the enzymes your body needs to break down the sugar in the milk and help minimize those unwanted symptoms you might otherwise experience.
Eat More High Fiber Foods
Another thing you’ll want to focus on doing is eating as many high fiber foods as you can in your diet plan. Fiber-rich foods should be eaten all month long, not just during your PMS period. This is because a higher fiber diet helps to remove excess estrogen out of the body and too much estrogen is one of the primary factors that can make PMS symptoms stronger.
You should be aiming to eat at least 30 grams of fiber each day from whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, and legumes.
Many women are not even getting 15-20 grams of fiber per day, so this really needs to be a focus and worked on. The more fiber you eat (to a degree, of course), the less noticeable your PMS symptoms will likely be.
As an added benefit, you’ll also probably notice you drop a few pounds, your hunger is lower, and your blood glucose levels are better regulated as well.
Some of the best fiber-rich foods include:
· Black beans
· Brussels sprouts
· Split peas
If you aren’t eating at least a couple of these each week, now is definitely the time to start.
Consider Vitamin B6
Another supplement you might consider taking to help alleviate your PMS symptoms is vitamin B6. This vitamin is involved in the metabolism of estrogen in the body. So if you aren’t getting enough of it, there is a higher chance that your estrogen levels may be more predominant in the body. This could worsen the symptoms that you are experiencing.
Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that if you don’t get in enough each and every day, it’ll simply be washed out of the body and you’ll fall deficient.
This is why for some people, supplementation is simply the best choice.
It’s also important that you’re getting enough probiotics into your diet plan as well. These are the healthy bacteria that reside in the gut and play a key role in keeping your immune system strong and your body balanced overall.
When your natural probiotic level is very low, there is a much greater chance that you’ll deal with things such as bloating and headaches. A quality probiotic product such as P3-OM can help provide quick relief from these PMS symptoms and help take your overall health one step further as well.
Most people aren’t eating enough naturally occurring probiotics with the foods they consume therefore it’ll pay off to instead turn to supplementation for support.
Finally, the last strategy you’ll want to employ to ensure that you’re doing your part to attempt to minimize PMS symptoms is getting more exercise in.
Now, it can be hard to do any exercise at all when you’re feeling bloated, fatigued, and generally just quite cranky. But know that even light exercise can really help you out and get you feeling better and help reduce the severity of the PMS symptoms that you’re dealing with5.
Make a deal with yourself that you can hit the gym and do 10 minutes. If after that 10 minutes is up, you’ve decided you no longer want to stay in the gym, give yourself permission to leave.
Nine times out of ten once you get moving, you’ll want to stay and keep at it. But do know this: now is not the time to start trying to push yourself to the limit. You will likely feel weaker and have lower levels of endurance during your PMS period, so you’ll only get frustrated if you try to set a personal best.
Make it an easier paced workout and one that you can focus on just enjoying rather than pushing yourself. If you do this, you’ll be less likely to dread hitting the gym and more likely to keep yourself in your regular routine. This will translate to fewer PMS symptoms to deal with.
So there you have the natural methods that you can use to help combat PMS and get feeling back on top of your game again. There’s no question that PMS can be a frustrating time but if you take it seriously and put some key strategies in place, there’s no reason it needs to get you down any longer. Each and every woman will be unique in terms of what works for her, so make sure that you try a few different methods. Until you come up with the one that will work for you to achieve what you hope to accomplish.
- Doyle, Caroline, Holly A. Swain Ewald, and Paul W. Ewald. “Premenstrual syndrome: an evolutionary perspective on its causes and treatment.” Perspectives in biology and medicine 50.2 (2007): 181-202.
- Johnson, William G., Rebecca E. Carr-Nangle, and Kimberly C. Bergeron. “Macronutrient intake, eating habits, and exercise as moderators of menstrual distress in healthy women.” Psychosomatic medicine 57.4 (1995): 324-330.
- Cross, Giordana B., et al. “Changes in nutrient intake during the menstrual cycle of overweight women with premenstrual syndrome.” British Journal of Nutrition 85.4 (2001): 475-482.
- Thys-Jacobs, Susan, et al. “Calcium supplementation in premenstrual syndrome.” Journal of General Internal Medicine 4.3 (1989): 183-189.
- Daley, Amanda. “Exercise and premenstrual symptomatology: a comprehensive review.” Journal of women’s health 18.6 (2009): 895-899.