Cramps, sore boobs, headaches, skin breakouts, insomnia, homicidal thoughts, emotional breakdowns, bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea. Feeling like you just want to crawl under a rock with a heating bag and a Costco sized box of chocolates for 3 days until life can be tolerable again. Yes, my friends, these are the wonderful symptoms we have all experienced at some point in our lives as a result of our "Lady Days" (aka our PERIOD). No one really warns us about it all when we are young and innocent little girls. We just know, either from learning from our mothers, our friends or through our health class at school, that one day we will magically enter the world of womanhood and that every month an ovary will release an egg that, if not fertilized, will be discarded from our bodies along with the blood that has lined our uterus. That itself sounds gross enough to a 10 or 11 year-old so of course none of the REALLY scary details ever get shared until we learn for ourselves what the real deal is. We just learn to either deal with it or go to see our family doctor and end up getting a prescription for the birth control pill to make things "normal".
STOP THE INSANITY!
LISTEN UP LADIES. We don't just have to "deal with it" and the birth control pill does absolutely nothing to make things normal. It simply puts a Band-aid on the underlying cause of the problems and exposes us to a host of other health issues such as nutrient depletion and excess estrogen buildup (BAD NEWS!!!). Our periods don't have to make us feel like we want to die and we really can sail through them each and every month like a lady with the help of some key nutrients. These nutrients will set the path for clear-sailing visits with Aunt Flow and will keep our hormones balanced and the butcher knives in the knife block where they belong;
Indole-3-carbinol is a nutrient found in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and Brussels sprouts). I3C can:
Because our fat cells also manufacture estrogen, and excess estrogen leads to weight gain, I-3-C will help combat the excess pounds and the cellulite that can come with it.
Green Tea Extract
Green tea has been getting a lot of press in recent years and for good reason. A staple of Asian culture, its health benefits are astounding. There are thousands of studies touting the health benefits of green tea. Green tea extract is a powerhouse antioxidant which contains polyphenols, catechins and flavanoids which protect the body against estrogen-dominant conditions and related cancers, such as ovarian and breast. Green tea extract has been shown to:
Now I don't want you to be concerned about the caffeine content of green tea. It takes 3 cups of green tea to generate the same amount of caffeine as one cup of drip coffee. But the difference is that green tea contains L-theanine which negates the bad side-effects of the caffeine found in green tea. L-theanine is a well-studied compound which is proven to help with relaxation, improve learning and concentration, support immune function, lower cholesterol and help reduce stress and anxiety. So drink up!
Magnesium is a mineral that is required for over 300 metabolic processes in the body, and much of the population is deficient in it.. Magnesium deficiency has been implicated as a causative factor in PMS and accounts for many of the unpleasant symptoms that come with it. Eating magnesium rich foods such as bran cereals, brown rice, spinach, almonds and lima beans, and supplementing with a quality magnesium supplement will help:
While magnesium is good on it's own, it has an even stronger effect when taken with vitamin B6, so taking a high potency multivitamin with a good dose of B6 will give this glorious mineral a major boost.
Vitamin E can be found in foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, avocados and rainbow trout and can help bring relief from:
Vitamin E has also been shown to boost energy and help reduce cravings for sweets.
Vitex (Chaste Tree Berry)
Known as the #1 hormone balancing herb for women, Vitex is one powerful little plant. It contains no hormones and has no direct hormonal activity, yet is well known for enhancing progesterone production in women. Its active ingredients work on the pituitary gland to stimulate the production of Luteinizing Hormone which in turn increases progesterone production and thereby helps to regulate the menstrual cycle. Vitex has been extensively researched and is often used for the treatment of menstrual abnormalities, PMS, menopausal complaints, PCOS and infertility. One German study found that Vitex was more effective in the treatment of PMS complaints of breast tenderness, swelling, headaches, constipation, depression and skin problems than vitamin B6 which is a common treatment for PMS symptoms. Vitex is often recommended for and successful in treating:
Note that it does take time to feel the beneficial effects of Vitex, typically two menstrual cycles for PMS symptoms. Also, Vitex should not be used during pregnancy or breast feeding.
GLA - Gamma Linoleic Acid
GLA is an Omega-6 essential fatty acid (meaning it cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through food sources or supplementation) that is found in Evening Primrose oil, Borage oil and Black Current Seed oil. Now before you get all freaked out about Omega-6's, be aware that there are two types...the "good" type and the "bad" type. The "good" Omega-6 oils include the ones previously mentioned are extremely beneficial for the body and have an anti-inflammatory effect, unlike the "bad" Omega-6 oils which do not contain GLA (corn, safflower, canola and soy) and are shown to promote inflammation and disease. Good GLA oils are excellent for:
Doctors and pharmacists have played a role in giving Evening Primrose and Borage oils a bad name, advising women that they are estrogenic, promote breast cancer and should be avoided. These concerns were based on studies which did not consider the type of Omega-6 oils that the subjects were using. These concerns are not supported and, in fact, there are many studies which show that these oils are safe, non-estrogenic and "good" oils that should be consumed by women to promote hormone health.
Move Your Body!!
Yes, it's true...exercise will help reduce PMS symptoms! Many studies have shown that women to take part in regular exercise have far less symptoms of do not suffer from PMS nearly as often as sedentary women do. Because of all the wonderful endorphins released by a good bout of physical activity, mood and concentration are improved as are the aches and pains that we are all so familiar with. So here's just one more reason to add to the many reasons to get some daily exercise into your life!
So there you have it my lovelies. Don't suffer every month with your period. With the right nutritional support and daily exercise, you really can march through your monthly Lady Days like a champ and be your beautiful blissful self all month long!
Jill Taylor is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist based in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. She is the mom of two pretty awesome teenagers, s very dramatic dog, a hedgehog and a snake (yikes!). Jill assists her clients in achieving true wellness through thoughtful and compassionate dietary and lifestyle coaching. Feel free to visit the "Contact" page to get in touch. Jill would love to hear from you!