In honor of our young females, today’s focus is on the characteristics of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), a set of physical and psychological strains that may interfere with a person’s family, social or work functioning.

Common symptoms include: cramping, water retention/bloating, breast tenderness/lumpiness/enlarged breasts, weight gain, acne, headaches/migraines, emotional hypersensitivity, depression/irritability/anxiety/anger/agitation, insomnia.

While many turn to allopathic treatment (birth control, anti-depressants, or pain relievers), some have seen promising results with other conservative means. While the cause is unknown, fixing a mineral deficiency has been shown to often fix the problem.

Women with PMS often eat greater amounts of dairy, higher-sodium foods and refined sugars. A good first step would be to avoid these foods and note any symptom changes.

High estrogen levels have been linked with some who suffer from PMS. In terms of controlling this through food, high fat foods may increase estrogen and fiber has been shown to decrease estrogen levels via its effects on intestinal flora. So, one may want to try to incorporate a low fat, high fiber diet and note any subsequent relief.

With female hormone complications there is most often an estrogen dominance issue. A little background on estrogen: its precursor is cholesterol (which is produced in the liver and intestines as needed). Note: cholesterol is a component of healthy bile made in the gall bladder (if you don’t break down fat with healthy bile you can’t make sex hormones. In addition, you’ll store this fat instead). Our adrenal glands produce the hormones: pregnenolone, DHEA/S, and cortisol. This gland is influenced greatly by stress! Prolonged stress leads to symptoms that overlap with PMS and Peri Menopause:

Elevated cortisol (initially): think of an excited kid before exhaustion; elevated sex hormones; down-regulated HPA axis; Estrogen dominance; weakened immune system; thyroid disorders; inflammation; sleep disorders (from high cortisol).

Nutrition and supplemenation support is aimed at reducing excess circulating hormones; providing gall bladder/liver support (normal processing of dietary fats and normal toxin elimination); remove excess copper (common with estrogen dominance); regulate adrenals for energy and mood support and encouraging a healthy stress response; enzymes for protein digestion and synthesis for hormone production; general endocrine support (hypothalamus, pituitary, thyroid, liver, spleen, kidneys, adrenals and ovaries); minerals to address fluid retention and support breast tissue.

Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, was shown to help reduce some symptoms of PMS. I’m always looking for reasons to spark people to move, so here’s another one for you!

Yoga, massage, light therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), homeopathy and chiropractic treatment may all also be beneficial.