Ladies, that time of the month is never as pleasant as the commercials depict with women frolicking in a park or dancing in a tight dress. PMS can be miserable. So miserable that we take time off work and away from family and friends to nurse our monthly flow. We are told that PMS is normal—your mom had it, your sister has it, your grandma had it—and the only treatment is popping Advil and retreating from society.
Guess what?! PMS IS NOT NORMAL. PMS is a constellation of symptoms that tell us our hormones are imbalanced. Using you symptoms as the guide sheds light on your specific imbalance.
The 5 types of PMS are caused by different imbalances, all of which are treatable with dietary and lifestyle changes and supplementation.
Type A for Anxiety. Up to 80 % of women experience this type, characterized by hypersensitivity, mood swings, irritability, tension and crying easily. This type results from a relative drop in progesterone at the end of the cycle, which can also cause the period to start suddenly and contain heavy clots.
Type C for Cravings. Women with cravings (you know who you are!), usually crave chocolate or sweets and notice a dramatic, sometimes uncontrollable increase in appetite. This type, affecting 50% of women, is related to abnormal insulin levels and blood sugar. Headaches, fatigue, moodiness and irritability can also occur. Eating frequently and focusing on protein curbs those cravings by stabilizing excess insulin.
Type D for Depression. Depression, forgetfulness, insomnia, confusion, withdrawal and clumsiness characterize this PMS type. It is caused by relatively low levels of estrogen and serotonin—your feel-good brain chemical. Exercise is very important and eating phytoestrogens, such as fennel and flaxseed, can reduce your symptoms.
Type H for Hyper-hydration. Water retention causes swollen fingers and ankles, breast tenderness, bloating and weight gain. There are a few causes, including too much stress, impaired lymphatic flow and high serotonin. Alcohol and excess sodium should be avoided and potassium-rich foods, such as broccoli, avocados and bananas, should be consumed to reduce these pre-menstrual symptoms.
Type P for Pain: Pain can be a debilitating symptom of PMS, occurring in the joints, lower back, abdomen or head. Because this is caused by an increase in inflammatory chemicals, the nightshade vegetables, which exacerbate existing inflammation and include potatoes, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes, should be avoided. Consuming omega-3s, which are high in anti-inflammatory chemicals, can reduce symptom severity over time.
What if you have symptoms from each category?! This is common, whether you experience a combination of types with each period or it changes from month to month. This is because our diet and lifestyle dramatically affect our interconnected web of hormones and brain chemicals. The starting point is a always improving your diet and regulating lifestyle factors, such as stress. These modifications make a huge difference and with a few herbal and nutritional supplements, PMS is no longer your norm.