I did not realize what a monster this post is until I did a word count after I finished. No wonder it took me forever to finish! Happy reading!
This is the final post on PMS treatment. This post is a discussion of the supplements commonly used by herbalists and natural practitioner to treat PMS. The two previous posts discuss whether PMS is a sign of hormonal imbalance and how commonly prescribed PMS medication do not work.
Thoughts on supplements and natural herbs
I am not going into a full scale discussion about how medicine is practiced in the US, but it is bias towards treating the signs of the illness once it develops and giving the patient a prescription. You can read my opinion on why I think everyone wants us to be fat.
Supplements and natural herbs to treat PMS is not something that is widely talked about among my friends. However, if one of us is one a prescription medication for some reason or another, it would dominate our entire lunch hour discussion. The money earned from selling preventative supplements and herbs are considered a small drizzle compared to the rainstorm of profits from medication with a big advertising budget.
But the funny thing is that I cannot get my mom to stop talking about supplements or herbs when I visit. My mom is big on the holistic approach to integrative health. Since she stopped working a few years ago, she has been spending more time exercising and watching the Chinese networks. My biggest problem is that sometimes I have a hard time trying to translate the Chinese name of an herb or body part into English to understand what the heck she is saying.
The weirdest thing is that I stopped dreaming in Chinese six years ago. It was one of those rare moments in my life where I paused and wondered about something and actually remember that defining moment. But that is what happens when I only spoke Chinese to my parents and I see them a few times a year.
How to incorporate supplements and natural herbs
After doing my own research about a supplement or natural herb, I will integrate it into my routine using the following method:
1. I start a new supplement or natural herb one at a time, giving it at least a month to gauge its effectiveness. I wait a few months before introducing another supplement or natural herb.
2. I take the lowest recommended dose possible.
3. I take the supplement or natural herb with food.
Most vitamins and medication require food to help with the absorption or use food to “buffer” the stomach from the medication. Think aspirin. Of course this is not always necessary, but I find that this practice gives me peace of mind.
4. I ask myself every evening, “how am I feeling?” and note everything in my journal.
If I feel positive or neutral, then I continue taking the supplement or natural herb. If I feel a tinge that something might be wrong, then I stop. The reason why I write down how I am feeling every day is so that I know right off the bat how many days I progressively feel better or worst.
Do I worry about being a guinea pig for supplements or natural herbs?
Doctors prescribe medications that are known to successfully treat your illness. However, due to our individual body composition, sometimes the drug either does not work or we develop a reaction to it. Then the doctor will prescribe another drug, and another drug, until they find something that will treat your illness.
How is that different than you slowly introducing a supplement or natural herb into your diet that you have thoughtfully researched and feel confident about? Who knows your body’s reaction best? You or the doctor? Of course, that is not to say that you should not run it by your doctor during your checkups about any supplements that you are taking.
But the key here is that you have carefully verify the information about a supplement or natural herb before deciding to give it a try. This means that you have to make the effort to find more than one or two websites on the internet about the supplement or natural herb.
Supplements and natural herbs that treat PMS
Vitamin B6 and PMS
Originally Vitamin B6 was used to treat women with depression in the 1970s, but is recognized in the late 1990s to help treat women with PMS. Vitamin B6 is diuretic, so it helps with water retention. Remember how I mentioned in previously that one cause of PMS is due to low magnesium? Well, Vitamin B6 helps shuttle magnesium into our cells so women who take Vitamin B6 with magnesium can dramatically reduce their PMS symptoms.
Magnesium and PMS
Studies have shown that women with extreme PMS symptoms tend to have low level of magnesium.
Calcium and PMS
Studies have found that taking 1,200 mg of calcium helps women reduce their PMS symptoms by as much as 40%!
However, do not fall for the dairy’s industry marketing ploy because milk does not help us lose weight nor is it the only source of calcium in our food supply. You can find calcium in dark leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, mustard greens, watercress, and beet greens.
Vitamin E and PMS
Supplementing with Vitamin E helps reduce breast tenderness, fatigue, food cravings, and weight gain. One study shows that women experience PMS relief within three months of Vitamin E supplementation.
Be sure to use only natural Vitamin E. Natural Vitamin E includes d-alpha-tocopherol, d-alpha-tocopheryl acetate, and d-alpha-tocopheryl succinate. Notice how all the natural forms of Vitamin E starts with “d-.” Synthetic Vitamin E starts with “dl-.”
Omega 3 and PMS
Since most Americans are deficient in Omega 3, it is no surprise that women suffering from PMS have even lower levels of Omega-3 than the general population.
I personally prefer Omega 3 supplements from plant sources since as flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds, or walnuts. Here is more information about sources of Omega 3.
Zinc and PMS
Zinc appears to be most helpful to women suffering from PMS related acne. Zinc promotes healing and prevents scarring. Women who suffer from PMS related acne can often reduce the acne by taking zinc and chastetree berry.
I basically take a One-A-Day Women””s multi-vitamin and multi-mineral and a Nature Made organic flaxseed oil supplement everyday. My PMS symptoms are very mild, just enough so that I have an excuse to eat chocolate.
During my two week vacation recently, I did not take my two supplements. When I got my period a week later, my PMS symptoms were bad. I got headaches, severe cramping, exhaustion, and my skin really broke out. The last time I experience such severe PMS symptoms was when I was a teenager. Next time when I go some where for an extended time period, I need to pack my supplements.
Chastetree Berry (Vitex) and PMS
Chastetree berry is the number one herb for PMS relief. The ancient Greeks used it all for kinds of menstrual problems including heavy periods, lack of periods, irregular periods, and lack of ovulation.
Chastetree berry enhances the progesterone cycle in women and inhibits the release of prolactin. Prolactin contributes greatly to the severe mood swings experience during PMS.
However, chastetree berry take a minimum of 3 months to effectively balance out your emotion, moods, and PMS symptoms. And it can take as long as 1-2 years to correct your underlying severe PMS problems if you have been suffering from them for a long time.
Please note that there is a chance that chastetree berry might interfere with the effectiveness of birth control pill. So be sure to have backup if you do not want to get pregnant.
If you take the standardized tablet form of chastetree berry, take 175-225 mg daily. If you take the standardized liquid extract, take 1/2 tsp (2 ML) once a day. You can also use the dried berries and ground them to make a tea, but you have to be a little more careful since there is no standardized dosage.
I am interested in chastetree berry for the benefit of clearing up PMS related acne problems. Since taking my supplements as mentioned above, I noticed a decrease in my PMS related breakouts, but I still get 2-3 large pimples every month. I need to do a little more research to see if this herbs interferes with conception and pregnancy before I am willing to give it a try. As I mentioned in previous posts, I think 2011 might be the year my husband and I try for a new addition to our small family.
Progesterone Cream and PMS
One of the common cause of PMS is estrogen dominance. Natural health practitioners have successful treated women with severe PMS with progesterone cream. Unlike all the other supplements and herbs for PMS relief in this post, progesterone cream is specific to each individual so it would require a visit to a natural health practitioner or your doctor.
SAMe and PMS
Dr. J from the Calorie Lab mentioned SAMe in the discussion of Common PMS Medication do not Work! SAMe increases serotonin and melatonin to help you feel less depressed and anxious during your period. You cannot use SAMe with other SSRI antidepressants or other serotonin producing herbs or drugs.
How do use this supplement information for PMS?
Do I take one or two supplements or everything you mentioned and keep my fingers crossed that it will help relief my PMS symptoms?
First, I will try the “mainstream” supplements first like a multi-vitamin and multi-mineral and an omega 3 supplement (adding additional calcium and magnesium as needed). But do not exceed 1,200 mg of calcium or 600 mg of magnesium. Having too much or too little of these two minerals can lead to health problems. Most multi-mineral supplements do not give you the 100% daily value because they expect you to get some of the minerals from your food. I would give it at least three months to gauge its effectiveness.
Next, if I am still experiencing severe PMS symptoms, then I will take Chastetree berry in the standardized tablet or liquid extract form. I would also give it three months to gauge its effectiveness. Then, combining the multi-vitamin/mineral, the omega 3, and the chastetree berry. Give it a few more months to see if that is reducing my PMS symptoms.
Last, if the above supplements are not working, I would incorporate the progesterone cream or SAMe as needed. But at this point, I will provide visit an herbalists and natural practitioner.
Until next time and thanks for stopping by.
Photo by: Randy Son of Robert””s.
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