Orginal article on CORA's Blood + Milk
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is common but does not have to be a normal occurrence in your monthly schedule. It doesn’t have to be an uphill battle and it can even become a thing of the past. Often, clients want me to tell them how to ‘fix’ their body. There’s no quick fix for hormonal issues (and more likely other undercurrent issues you are experiencing like food sensitivity and adrenal fatigue), but we can assist our bodies in their natural cycle.
Eighty percent of women report some emotional and physical fluctuations in the luteal phase (second half of their cycle). Twenty percent of women experience symptoms severe enough to seek medical help. The good news is that PMS responds quickly and well to natural treatment. You can learn more about improving your emotional symptoms and PMS mood swings here, and below I’ll share tips for reducing pain and physical PMS symptoms.
Curcumin is a powerful ingredient in turmeric. It is not only an impactful brain booster but also an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. In the luteal phase, your liver is working on detoxifying estrogen; however, chronic inflammation can impair estrogen detoxification. When estrogen lingers in your bloodstream, it builds up and throws off the balance your endocrine system is trying to maintain. This congestion and estrogen dominance lead to many PMS symptoms.
Additionally, inflammation impairs the manufacturing of progesterone. Progesterone counterbalances estrogen. One way it does this is that progesterone thins your uterine lining while estrogen thickens it. Progesterone also calms your nervous system, so you can feel relaxed during stressful times. Therefore, more progesterone during your luteal phase will have a relaxing effect on your body and mood. Curcumin is a golden ingredient to help your body’s natural estrogen detoxification system. I recommend making a turmeric paste and begin adding it to soups, rice, and chicken (and really, any meal) one week before your period, and every day during. The paste includes black pepper and coconut oil to make the curcumin more effective.
Curcumin Paste Recipe:
- 1 cup of water
- ½ cup of organic turmeric root powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup organic cold pressed virgin coconut oil
- Mix and stir the turmeric powder with the cup of water in a pot on very low heat for about five minutes or until it forms a thick paste.
- Once it turns into a paste, add freshly ground black pepper and coconut oil and mix well.
- Cool and store in a mason jar and store in your fridge.
It should last in your refrigerator for two weeks.
Since women are the protectors of life, our ovaries are the first area in our bodies that feel and react to stress. This can lead to many hormonal issues. Here is a wonderful yoga pose to practice when experiencing cramping, bloating, and other physical PMS symptoms. Breathe deeply as you gently move through this pose.
Sit on the heels. Extend the left leg straight back along the ground. Bend forward and place the forehead on the ground. Put both arms back along the sides, palms up. Relax all the muscles and relax the breath. Hold for three minutes. Then slowly rise up on the inhale. Bring both legs under, sitting on the heels. Repeat on the other side also for three minutes.
When you have PMS cramps, drink fennel seeds after a meal. This tea gets your digestive fire going! Fennel is known to ease and regulate menstruation by properly regulating hormonal action in the body. The antispasmodic properties help to relax the muscles in the uterus, relieving cramping, releasing muscle tension, and soothing inflammation.
To make fennel tea, add one teaspoon of fennel seeds to a cup of water. Let the pot simmer for about five minutes. Turn it off and then strain the tea.
It’s also fun to chew on a few fennel seeds after a meal. It warms the digestive tract. If you experience any burping, acid reflux, or discomfort then please stop using.
PMS DURING OVULATION
Ovulation occurs when estrogen peaks. Since estrogen is surging, you’ll want to make sure your body is efficiently metabolizing and eliminating the surplus of estrogen. Three days before ovulation and during PMS, add foods with high levels of the antioxidant glutathione to support a first stage liver detox. These foods will help in detoxing estrogen from your liver. Having PMS symptoms such as bloating, a rise in temperature, headaches, and mood swings around ovulation is usually an indicator that estrogen is dominant in relation to progesterone.
If this is the case, start filling up on organic brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, and kale. Keep them cooked and you can add the curcumin paste recipe from tip #1!
PMS DURING THE LUTEAL PHASE
Progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone rise and then drop throughout this phase. Estrogen and serotonin are your normal appetite suppressants so when they drop, it’s normal to become extra hungry closer to your bleed. Additionally, progesterone is a natural appetite stimulant so get ready to eat! But, no worries because progesterone also speeds up your metabolism. Sugar cravings are hard to beat at this stage of your cycle. Focus on clean and organic forms of protein to feel full without hurting your health. When sugar cravings show up during PMS, you can start supplementing with B6 and magnesium. Together they calm inflammation, regulate stress, enhance GABA activity, detoxify estrogen, and relieve histamine intolerance. They are the best gift any woman experiencing PMS can ask for! My favorite brands are Thorne, Gaia and Pure Encapsulations.
Every woman has the power to heal all PMS and hormonal symptoms by creating a lifestyle that includes the correct nutrient-dense foods that are hormonally balancing, to calm the mind, and to create an authentic lifestyle. By adding simple, hormonally healthy habits, the unbalancing habits will naturally drop. Have fun exploring foods and lifestyle tools that bring you into balance!