PMS NATURAL ANSWERS
by Monte Kline, Ph.D.
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PMS, or Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, stands as one of the most prevalent health problems of our time. One study indicates that PMS affects 50% of the premenopausal menstruating female population. In other words, we’re talking about a problem that affects tens of millions of women.
And men . . . before you put this down as irrelevant to you, think again. The behavioral results of PMS affect men at least as much as women. The spouse, family, friends, and co-workers of PMS victims may suffer nearly as much from their behavior as the victim herself does. PMS correlates significantly with marital conflicts and child abuse.
WHAT IS PMS?
PMS is a hormonal disorder that occurs 1-14 days before the menstrual period begins, though it has been known in some women to last for three out of four weeks a month. It was first classified as a health disorder in the 1930’s by Dr. R. T. Frank, with symptoms including anxiety, nervous tension, irritability, mood swings, depression, crying spells, confusion, insomnia, rage, increased appetite, craving sweet or salty foods, water retention, weight gain, breast tenderness, swelling, headaches, fatigue and joint tenderness.
More than 20 or 30 years ago, medical doctors would have just told you these PMS symptoms were “all in your head, or maybe have given you tranquilizers. It’s probably been only the advent of more female medical doctors that has changed the view on PMS to regarding it as a real, physical health problem.
One of the results of this problem being denied for so long by the medical profession is that many women consider PMS symptoms “normal.” In fact, one scientific study I read about found that 74% of the women surveyed considered their PMS symptoms “normal” and just “part of being a woman. I have good news for you — PMS is not normal, it is not just “part of being a woman”!
JUST A “HORMONAL IMBALANCE”?
I’ll never forget a medical doctor telling me once that PMS was “just a hormonal imbalance.” He never took it to the next step of what causes the hormonal imbalance. Now if your M.D. thinks your PMS is “just a hormonal imbalance,” guess what the treatment is going to be? You got it — synthetic hormones!
To answer the question, “What causes the hormonal balance?” we need to have some understanding of hormones. Hormones are simply chemicals the body makes from various nutrients we take in. Thus we can conclude that:
Hormonal Imbalance = Nutrient Deficiency
Actually, this isn’t just my opinion, but that of Guy Abraham, M.D., who has written widely in the medical journals on the subject of PMS. Dr. Abraham says there are four sub-categories of PMS that can be classified based on symptoms. They are:
- PMS-A (anxiety) — PMS-A is characterized by anxiety, irritability and nervous tension between ovulation and the onset of menses and then improving. In this type of PMS estrogen is elevated and progesterone is depressed.Estrogens stimulate the central nervous system, while progesterones depress it. Therefore, estrogens stimulate anxiety and nervous tension. Scientific studies on estrogen dominant birth control pills show they produce assertiveness, aggression and hostility.
So, why is the estrogen elevated? The liver is the primary organ responsible for deactivating estrogen. Morton Biskind, M.D. did research which found that decreased liver metabolism of estrogens resulted from . . . B complex deficiencies.
There’s also a strong correlation with lack of fiber in the diet. Vegetarian women, who tend to have more fiber in the diet, have far less PMS problems than meat-eating women. Why? The bowels eliminate a significant amount of estrogen, which with the constipation associated with a low fiber diet will just be recycled. Thus, the end result is estrogen excess.
Another cause of PMS-A is magnesium deficiency. Muscular spasms, cramps and mood swings may be related to magnesium deficiency. The connection here involves neurotransmitters including serotonin, dopamine, epinephrine (adrenalin) and norepinephrine. Magnesium deficiency lowers the dopamine without lowering the other three “brain chemicals.” PMS-A symptoms result.
So, how do we get magnesium deficient? Besides the fact that most people are deficient in not only magnesium, but in most vitamins and minerals, dairy product intake is a key culprit. High calcium foods like dairy products interfere with the body’s absorption of magnesium. The average PMS-A woman consumes five times more dairy products than women not having this type of PMS!
Our old enemy, refined sugar, again rears its ugly head. As refined sugar intake increases, so does urinary excretion of magnesium. On top of that, magnesium deficiency will increase your B-vitamin deficiencies, interfering with the liver’s ability to break down the excess estrogen.
- PMS-H (hyperhydration) — Weight gain, edema, abdominal bloating and breast inflammation identify PMS-H. The hormone aldosteroneis elevated, resulting in sodium and water retention symptoms. Magnesium deficiencyis again tied to this category of PMS in that elevated aldosterone can result from a magnesium deficiency.
Then there’s emotional stress, which increases the ACTH (adrenal corticotrophic hormone), which in turn increases the aldosterone resulting in fluid retention. Vitamin B-6 deficiency in the kidneys produces a dopamine deficiency. This, in turn, inhibits the kidneys from excreting sodium, and thus you get water retention. Refined sugar gets into the act by causes excess insulin production, which decreases the production of chemicals called ketoacids, that normally would keep the kidneys clear of excess sodium and water.
- PMS-C (craving) — Craving for sweets, increased appetite, fatigue, fainting spells, headaches and palpitation characterize PMS-C. Refined sugar consumptionis the primary cause of PMS-C. B-vitamin deficiencies result in less of the stored glycogen in the liver being converted to glucose (blood sugar). This lowered blood sugar in the brain results in craving for sweets and a corresponding increased intake of refined sugar. It’s a vicious circle — sugar produces magnesium deficiencies and magnesium deficiencies produce craving for more sugar!
Another cause of PMS-C is prostaglandin deficiency. Prostaglandins are chemical regulators produced in the tissues to control various functions. Prostaglandin E1 (PGE1) deficiency in the pancreas results in increased insulin production, and therefore, more sugar cravings to soak up that extra insulin. Without going into the details, let me just say that several nutrients are involved in prostaglandin synthesis. These include certain essential fatty acids from certain vegetable oils, Vitamin B-6, Vitamin B-3, Zinc, and Vitamin C. Deficiency of any of those may result in prostaglandin deficiency.
- PMS-D (depression) — Though rare in the absence of PMS-A, PMS-D is actually the most dangerous kind of PMS. By itself, PMS-D, is the opposite of PMS-A — low estrogen and high progesterone.Its severe depression is mainly the result of a deficiency of norepinephrine. According to Dr. Abraham, this norepinephrine deficiency may be due to deficiency of the amino acid, tyrosine, or simply due to the low estrogen levels.
The conventional medicine approach to PMS (like everything else) is symptom-treating drugs. The most commonly used are synthetic hormones. Like all drugs synthetic hormones have side-effects. Though there have been contradictory studies on the subject, the fact that some studies have indicated increased cancer risk from taking synthetic hormones should at least make you cautious about moving in that direction.
The other primary drug approach to PMS is anti-depressants, such as Prozac. Guess what? You don’t have PMS because your body has a deficiency of Prozac! The side-effects of anti-depressants, their addictive nature, and the fact that they are only treating symptoms should make you very hesitant to use them.
The broader problem is that synthetically replacing the deficient hormone by-passes ever finding out why the hormone is deficient. The underlying nutrient deficiencies that are causing the hormonal deficiencies will probably produce other health problems as well. Taking the drug prevents you from pursuing the problem to its root cause.
Not surprisingly, some basic “junk food” areas that are good for anyone to avoid just for overall health, are also issues when it comes to PMS. Likely offending foods which should be avoided include caffeine (coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, caffeine-containing pain relievers), alcohol, salt, sugar, refined foods, animal fats, hydrogenated oils, and fried foods.
A significant part of why PMS seems to be more of a problem today than in the past is the crummy eating habits most people have. With more and more dependence on fast food and instant everything, many health problems are worsened, PMS being just one of them. If you need help in transitioning into a healthier diet, my booklet, The Junk Food Withdrawal Manual is recommended.
NATURAL MEDICINE APPROACHES
Though in Dr. Abraham’s research he found different types of PMS caused by different hormonal imbalances, the common denominators of B-vitamin deficiency, magnesium deficiency, and essential fatty acid deficiency are primary concerns. The possible supplements (subject to individual testing) might include:
- A PMS Multi — We use a couple of different formulas that combine the vitamins, minerals, and essential oils appropriate for correcting PMS symptoms, along with specific herbs that provide a natural hormone supplementation.
- Extra Vitamin B-6 — Though for most women the amount of B-6 in the PMS Multi is adequate, some will still test deficient after using it. In such cases we use extra B-6 in its active form, Pyridoxal 5’ Phosphate.
- Glandular Supplements — Though the PMS multi supplements usually contain some glandulars, a separate supplement may be appropriate as another way of providing some natural hormone stimulation. The typical glandulars used are ovarian, uterine, pituitary, and adrenal.
- A Chelated Multi-Mineral —Almost all women, especially those with PMS need a separate multi-mineral to get adequate calcium and magnesium. Most often a higher magnesium formula is best with PMS.
- An Essential Fatty Acid Supplement — G.L.A. (gamma linoleic acid) is another hormonal “building block.” It’s richly supplied in primrose, flax or borage oil supplements.
- Herbs — Herbs including Dong Quai, Mexican Wild Yam, Damiana, Raspberry, and others have hormone properties.
- Natural Progesterone Cream — Progesterone is broken down by the stomach acid if taken orally, so the most effective progesterone supplements are creams that are rubbed into the skin. If you are progesterone deficient, this can be a helpful product.
- Homeopathic Formulas — Specific homeopathic formulas have been very helpful over the years in helping deal with PMS problems. Homeopathics use micro-dilutions of different plant, mineral or glandular materials to address PMS solutions without harmful side-effects.
Let me emphasize that not everyone with PMS needs to take all the above supplements. Rather, the above are possibilities that would be used based on individual testing at the clinic.
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Better Health Update is published by Pacific Health Center, PO Box 857, Sahuarita, AZ 85629, providing remote “virtual health screening” appointments anywhere in the world. Phone (800) 255-4246. E-Mail: email@example.com. Monte Kline, Ph.D., Author. Reproduction Prohibited.
DISCLAIMER: The information contained in this publication is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose illness nor prescribe treatment. Rather, this material is designed to be used in cooperation with your nutritionally-oriented health professional to deal with your personal health problems. Should you use this information on your own, you are prescribing for yourself, which is your constitutional right, but neither the author nor publisher assume responsibility.