Many women accept PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, as a normal, although irritating, part of being a woman. We’ll go to a doctor for other ailments, but when it comes to PMS, a lot of us just think we have to suck it up and take some ibuprofen or ride out the symptoms for 3-10 days a month.
To make matters worse, society has been known to shames and poke fun at women with PMS. Jokes about the disorder abound, especially among men (no offense, guys!). I suppose men kid about their wives and girlfriends as a way to relieve the tension of having to live with women who are prone to biting their heads off and becoming despondent during that time of the month- well, I do sympathize with you, Guys.
But really, PMS is no laughing matter. If you’re going to laugh about PMS, you might as well laugh at people who have heart disease, or chronic fatigue, or cancer, or any other illness. Because for many women, PMS feels like an illness, with symptoms akin to chronic fatigue syndrome, including migraines, insomnia, fatigue, brain fog and depression, among others.
And as the amount of environmental toxins in our environment increases, and as a variety of stressors burn out our adrenal glands, women are experiencing increasingly difficult and challenging symptoms of PMS. By some estimates, up to 75% of women have PMS, especially those who are 35 and older, and it can last anywhere from 3-10 days per month. Which means that some women are in misery a third of their lives from PMS alone- never mind the other health challenges that they might be facing!
Sometimes, I want to ask God why He made the female body so sensitive and susceptible to the effects of toxins and stress, but then I remind myself that God didn’t create PMS- we did, because of how we’ve polluted the earth and lived out of alignment with God’s design for humanity.
Many of our industrial chemicals, especially phthalates and other chemicals from plastic- have xenoestrogenic effects upon the body- meaning, they mimic the effects of estrogen upon the body, causing an imbalance in the hormones, and consequently, PMS. Most of us are estrogen-dominant because of these chemicals and it’s severely disrupting our lives.
Fortunately, PMS can be managed or mitigated, although it’s not always a simple process.
Following I share some strategies that I have found to be helpful.
1) First, many women who suffer from PMS also have adrenal fatigue. The closer a woman gets to menopause, the more the adrenals begin to take over the production of the body’s sex hormones as the ovaries produce fewer of these hormones. If your adrenals are taxed or overtired, your body will struggle to produce balanced amounts of estrogen and progesterone.
So the first thing you want to do is- support your adrenals! I highly recommend reading more about how to do this in Dr. Lam’s book, Adrenal Fatigue. My 2012 book, Beyond Lyme Disease also contains a chapter on adrenal fatigue.
2) Get your progesterone and estrogen levels tested. If you have a progesterone deficiency, you can supplement with compounded or over-the-counter natural progesterone cream (Do not take synthetic progestin drugs, which only make the problem worse).
If you have high levels of both progesterone and estrogen (this can occur if you have already been taking supplemental progesterone for several years and some of the residue of the cream has built up in your skin), don’t take more progesterone! I learned the hard way that this is a bad idea and can exacerbate symptoms of PMS. What most doctors don’t know is that symptoms of progesterone excess are often similar to symptoms of progesterone deficiency, but when they see high levels of estrogen relative to progesterone in their patients, they will often prescribe their patients even more progesterone, even if the progesterone levels are in the high-normal range. This is a very bad idea!
3) If you have high levels of both estrogen and progesterone, you might fare better by focusing on lowering your estrogen levels, rather than increasing progesterone. You can do this by avoiding sources of plastic toxins, such as plastic food wrapping, plastic water bottles and non-organic food, and doing saunas, which remove plastic toxins from the body.
Also, you can help your liver to metabolize estrogens by doing a liver cleanse periodically, which, over time, will also lower your body’s estrogen levels. (In my previous blog post I provide a link on how to do a liver cleanse).
Take a supplement called Di-indole-methane (DIM), which helps your body to eliminate excess estrogen. I recommend BioResponse Nutrients’ Bioresponse DIM 150. Other vitamins and minerals, especially B-vitamins, zinc, magnesium, and selenium, assist with estrogen metabolism, so make sure you also have adequate amounts of all of these vitamins and minerals in your diet. Drinking green tea and eating cruciferous vegetables can also be helpful.
4) Get your other hormones balanced. Sabre Sciences tests for hormonal imbalances, and then recommends compounded bioidentical hormone products, such as pregnenolone, DHEA, thyroid hormone- among others, to balance the body (as needed). Bioidentical hormone replacement is an art and requires a lot of skill to do properly, so I recommend working with a holistic doctor that specializes in this, for best results.
5) Avoid stress, food allergens, and high amounts of protein, especially during the two weeks before the start of your monthly cycle. Sugar, caffeine, alcohol, animal protein and stress can all seriously exacerbate PMS. If you have adrenal fatigue, protein avoidance isn’t a good idea, but eating more veggies and low glycemic fruits in the week or two before the start of your cycle can help to mitigate symptoms.