Do you struggle with managing your emotions in the weeks before your period?
Around 25% of women of reproductive age suffer with Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) which can be extremely distressing and affect the quality of life for the days preceding and during menstruation. The syndrome is characterised by feelings of irritation, tension, and low mood. You might wake up in a great mood but find yourself becoming angry and anxious an hour or two later for no reason.
These symptoms occur during the luteal phase, which is the week or so running up to menstruation. In this period serotonin levels drop, while progesterone and oestrogen rise, if pregnancy does not occur menstruation is triggered by a drop in these hormones.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate your mood, sleep cycle, and appetite. Low levels of serotonin are linked to feelings of sadness and irritability, and the disruption in these hormonal changes are suggested to be the root cause of these PMS symptoms.
Top tips to naturally manage your PMS Symptoms:
Lifestyle and diet changes can be a successful part in managing your PMS symptoms, to help to stabilise mood swings and improve emotional health in the week before menstruation.
Nutrition: Try to resist the junk food cravings that can come with PMS. Large amounts of sugar, fast food and fizzy drinks can all play havoc on your mood. You don’t have to cut them out completely, but try to balance out these foods with good quality protein sources at each meal, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. This will help keep you full throughout the day, avoid drops in blood sugar, which can make you feel irritable and improve hormone balance.
Limit Caffeine: Caffeine stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and triggers the release of adrenaline. This means that too many cups of coffee or cans of energy drink can leave you feeling nervous, jittery and anxious as well as putting pressure on your adrenal glands. This is the time of the month to slow down and not push on through with stimulants.
Exercise: Engage in at least 30 minutes of brisk walking, cycling, swimming or other aerobic activity most days of the week. Regular exercise can improve your overall health and alleviate certain symptoms, such as fatigue and a depressed mood. Aerobic exercise increases blood flow to the brain and boosts mood-enhancing endorphins.
Stress: Unmanaged stress can worsen mood swings. Use deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga to calm both your mind and body, especially when you feel PMS symptoms coming on.
Sometimes, eating right and exercising may still not be enough. You may also benefit from specific supplement support. Here are our top nutrients and herbs that may be beneficial in supporting your hormonal health & PMS symptoms:
Magnesium is ‘nature’s tranquiliser’ and gives some clue as to how beneficial this mineral can be in supporting symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome. Women with PMS have been found to have lower blood levels of magnesium than those without PMS. For symptoms of anxiety and tension, magnesium may help to calm everything down. Magnesium may also help to soothe and relax painful muscle cramps, balance sugar cravings, support a balanced mood and reduce menstrual headaches too.
B-vitamins are crucial for hormone balance and support specific pathways that are required for the processing of oestrogens in the body. B6 works closely with magnesium and plays an important role in the regulation of your hormonal activity, whilst making brain chemicals, which influence mood and behaviour. B-vitamins work together in the body so it is always best to supplement as a complex rather than individually.
Ashwagandha is one of our favourite ‘adaptogens’ when it comes to supporting a return to balance. Ashwagandha is effective at reducing symptoms of heightened anxiety, stress and supporting focus, and mental well-being. Whether that imbalance has been caused by external stresses or from internal changes such as inflammation or hormonal fluctuations.
Milk thistle is a plant extract with a long history of use for supporting liver function. When your liver is backed up (with chemicals, toxins, medications or other waste products) it can affect how your hormones are detoxified and eliminated. This can upset that delicate balance of oestrogen and progesterone. Supporting liver function is therefore important for hormonal balance and detoxification when women are struggling with hormonal conditions.
Chaste tree (Vitex agnus castus) is wonderful herb can help normalise short and long cycles, balance out oestrogen levels and increase the effect of progesterone on the body. It can also be particularly effective if suffering with breast tenderness.
If you are considering taking supplements it is important to take those that are most suited to your symptoms, diet, lifestyle and other considerations including any medications you are taking. Our team of registered nutritional therapists are here to help and advise on personalised solutions. Call the team on 0161 439 9856 or book a FREE health review call