Articles from Potent People Magazine
by Douglas Canier, CMT
In some women, one half of their cycle during most of their lives can be affected by P.M.S. Here is an explaination of what it looks like and a few things you can do about it. This syndrome affects one third to one half of women between the ages eighteen and fifty in the United States. The symptoms usually begin ten to fourteen days prior to the beginning of the menstrual period and become more intense until the period starts. The symptoms can affect almost every organ system in the body. More than 150 symptoms have been documented and attributed to P.M.S. This makes P.M.S. a complicated syndrome to diagnose.
P.M.S. has the potential to increase extreme behavior patterns, such as being prone to accidents, alcohol abuse, suicide attempts, and crimes, says Dr. Katharina Dalton, specialist in P.M.S. A high percentage of women with P.M.S. have severe personality changes, sometimes described as the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde effect. Women who are victimized by P.M.S. can spend the rest of the month repairing damage done from picking fights, and snapping at friends and co-workers during the time before their periods start. The woman suffering from P.M.S. often doesn't understand why she is losing control. It is an "in and out again" type of disorder which is very confusing to the doctor as well as the victim. P.M.S. is sometimes diagnosed as a manic-depressive condition because of the roller coaster-like symptoms. Health professionals did not recognize that P.M.S. even existed until the last decade. In order for women to be helped, doctors must be given accurate information on P.M.S.
Generally, a woman's option has been to turn to a physician for help where she would be offered only tranquilizers or a psychiatric referral, or even as drastic a remedy as a hysterectomy. A hysterectomy adds to the confusion and feelings of failure and powerlessness often experienced by sufferers of P.M.S. People are learning to take more responsibility to help themselves by using various resources and support systems as more research is being done to improve our understanding of the causes of this problem.
These are some statistical factors that increase your risk of P.M.S.:
*You have taken the Pill.
Types of P.M.S.:
*Type A (for anxiety): irritability, mood swings.
*Acne: pimples, oily skin and hair.
P.M.S. is experienced as a complex array of symptoms which are triggered by hormonal fluctuations related to the menstruation cycle. It is important to understand your individual cycle, and recently many good books and resources have become available from which you may learn more about P.M.S. This syndrome usually involves some combination of pain, altered moods, temperature change, and weight gain. The symptoms can include headaches (migraines), abdominal bloating and/or cramping, backache, tenderness & swelling of the breast, leg heaviness, tension, anxiety, irritability, depression, crying spells, tiredness, hostility, mood swings, dizziness, edema (fluid retention), and food cravings.²
P.M.S. has more physical causes than mental/emotional ones. One gland in the endocrine system called the hypothalamus is shown to have a strong influence on the hormones released during the menstrual cycle. From my view as a body therapist I understand that the endocrine system is only as strong as the weakest gland. All the glands in this system interelate in governing the biochemical balance. It's important to understanding the causes of P.M.S. and probable treatments, and that any hormones prescribed must be considered and monitored with the endocrine system as a whole. This is imperative! Some of the professionals that I would look to first would be traditional professionals such as endocrinologists. Body therapy is excellent for tuning the endocrine system if the practitioner has the ability and knowledge to do so. One treatment that should only be done with a doctor's supervision which has received good results in more serious conditions is the use of progesterone. The Pill has been connected to P.M.S.; Taking any hormone can be a risk to attaining the biochemical balance that is so important to the healing of the body. Keep in mind that doctors do not always know how to administer hormones to a patient. If there is a misunderstanding of women's cycles, timing and dosage, this lack of knowledge is critical. Some women have been institutionalized for this condition and this is a crime of ignorance, to say the very least. Be a intelligent and pro-active consumer of professional services: Trust your body and carefully consider the medical information and treatments which you are offered. Ask many questions. Here are resources: P.M.S. access 1-800-222-4767. Another resource is, P.M.S. Clinic, 2760 29th St. #205, Boulder, CO 80301. A woman's group called P.M.S. Action, P.O.# 9326, Madison, WI 53715, 608-274-6688. The National P.M.S. Society, P.O. # 11467, Durham, NC 27703. A local woman doctor working with P.M.S. is Dr. Megan Thurmond.
Please keep a calendar and chart your minstrual cycle on it in order to understand your symptoms. This takes time and patience. It is the way to create clarity of your situation that no one else can do. No one, even a doctor, can know your body like you do. Because of the complexity of a woman's body, it's helpful to have seven days or more of symptom-free interval in the cycle in order to diagnose correctly. I suggest that you keep a daily log of information about your body. It can include temperature, any pain, abnormal anxiety, cravings, and the menstrual cycle. If you do not know how your cycle works, how do you expect to change your cycle into a stable and trouble-free one. It takes only a small amount of time. I have been helpful in the process of exploring options by going with my partner to classes or to women's clinics and talking with her about her cycle in a caring way. Women may be more successful in helping men to take part if a man can perceive value in spending time and energy learning about women's menstrual cycles. Let's face it. P.M.S. affects us all, especially if we are in a close relationship. And who's is to say that men do not get something like P.M.S. themselves?
Husbands of P.M.S. sufferers have said, "I thought she was having a mental breakdown." "Just the day ago or even an hour before, she wouldn't have reacted to this." "She seems to turn into a monster every month." "She loses total control, exhibiting off the wall, bizarre behavior." "My wife and I suffered ten years of operations and doctors." "My wife even tried to run over me with my car." A lot of men just leave the relationship, perhaps due to a lack of awareness of what is really happening to their women partners or because they feel powerless to help them. Many women, even with good jobs and a good family, get to the point of not wanting to live the way they are living. Here are some specific ways to help yourself and the women in your life. Educate yourselves! Gather the resources at hand. Life is learning. Learn how to live the way you want. Be willing.
Nutrition is very important. The highest priority is a cleansing diet. The body will not be able to assimilate nutrients if you do not cleanse and create an environment of healing. How do we do this? You have many choices. Some people like to use the raw/live food diet to cleanse. Others like a macrobiotic diet. The point here is to get clean, potent nutrients that taste good and look good. It is an evolutionary process to reverse the process of illness or dis-ease such as P.M.S. Enjoy the creative process it is and the power you have to choose it. The nutrients that seem to be important are calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, Vit B, Zinc, Iron, Vit C, Vit E, Vit A, Potassium, and Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA). The way that I would take almost all this in one food would be algae. Algae gives you a lot of food quality for the money and time spent and offers an excellent way to get nutrients not easily obtained any other way.
The foods to be aware of which have a possible disruptive nature to the body are caffeine, salt, sugar, alcohol, chocolate, and fats especially in commercial meats (which contain synthetic estrogens used during raising). You can read labels and avoid the many foods and drugs which contain these substances.
15-30% of women have noted significant relief by just eliminating caffeine.
Salt has been proven to retain water in the body and acts as a preservative. We are taught that we need salt to be healthy, but salt creates digestive problems. Instead one can use salt alternatives such as Braggs' Aminos or Quick-Sip by Dr. Bronners to make your food taste good and give you nutrition safely too. Salt is also addictive. The more you use, the more your taste buds desire the hit that salt offers.
Sugar is very difficult for the body to process, especially if the body has habitually had a great deal of sugar to process in the past. There are complex carbohydrates such as maple syrup that are much easier for the body to process. Changing the diet to include carbohydrates that the body can use more easily is an important key to reducing the symptoms of P.M.S. Notice the connection between the six foods listed above: caffeine, salt, sugar (artificial sweeteners), alcohol, chocolate, and fats. All six of these foods are a stimulants by how these foods are used in the body. When our bodies' metabolism is in balance and healthy and these six substances are used in moderation or not at all, then the unpleasant roller coaster effects of P.M.S. diminish or disappear. One key to resolving P.M.S. difficulties is to balance the blood sugar and the body's ability to utilize the intake of food.
B vitamins are necessary for a healthy nervous system. Three sources that are on the top of the list in depleting B vitamins are tobacco, caffeine, and alcohol. If you want a healthy body and relief from P.M.S. symptoms you will use little or none of these toxins.
Toxemia is also a key to P.M.S. Through cleansing the body, one can create an environment for the body to balance the biochemistry that has been altered by P.M.S. The body will balance its own blood sugar with understanding and correct food. The body will help in cleansing its own filtration system if given the chance. Remember that the more processed food you eat, the more the body has to process it to use it. Processed food usually contains chemicals that are toxic to the body and unavailable to be utilized. Some chemicals are a lot worse than others! It is nearly impossible to eliminate some of the toxins found in processed foods, and it isn't necessary to eat them. It is the balance of moderation and the understanding of what we are doing and how we feel about what we are doing that gives us the power to make healthy choices. How many times have you heard these statements: "Everything that I like is bad for me!" Or "I've eaten this way my whole life and it hasn't killed me yet." We can change to a more healthy way of thinking about nutrition.
One very good cleansing concoction is Fire Water. Start with fresh squeezed lemon juice of 5-7 lemons added to 1 gallon of filtered or distilled water. Add 3-5 tsp. of maple syrup. Add 3-5 tsp. of cayenne pepper (red pepper). I suggest that the cayenne be put in last and put in a little at a time to your taste. You can always add more but you can't take it out. You may find drinking 2-3 cups a day helpful in cleansing your body.
Here is a good source of calcium that costs next to nothing. Try using it three times a week. Take in the evening, one large whole organic range egg that has been raised in the open, not in a tiny cage. Range eggs have not been given antibiotics or artificial stimulants. It is so important to think about where your food comes from and what happened there. Cover the raw egg still in its shell with lemon juice and let it sit over night. This will soften the shell and break down the calcium in the shell so that it is in a liquid form to be assimilated in your body. In the morning you can perhaps cook the egg soft boiled and use the lemon juice in the Fire Water. This will start to change your fatigue by cleansing and getting a highly assimilable calcium into your system. Lemon is a calcium fixative and digestive aid, and it clears parasites from the system. It cleanses the liver, kidney, bladder, and joints and tones the heart, thins the blood without coagulation, cleanses the arteries, and is a blood purifier. Other powerful foods to get into your body are garlic, olive oil, carrot juice, cabbage and of course algae.
A powerful liver and pancreas healer is 2 tbs. of fenugreek in 2 cups of water cooked until reduced to 1 cup. Let it cool overnight. This infusion will stimulate the assimilation process when you drink it.
Evening primrose oil has reduced P.M.S. symptoms and is an excellent aid for lowering blood pressure. Flaxseed oil is a powerful food that is helpful in cleansing and rejuvinating the body that has had to deal with processed foods.
There is a cheap and safe way to clean the intestines and improve the assimilation process. This combination has these ingredients, fine clay called bentonite to absorb impurities, psyllium seed husks which are scrubbing buddies. The rule of thumb here is if you cleanse the blood with food and herbs you will eventually cleanse, heal, and balance the various systems of your body.
Use your menstrual calendar to explore your possible symptoms. If you have any questions about your health please contact a health professional. There are many women's clinics popping up. Perhaps there is one in your area. Whether you need one or not, it is a good thing to know about clinics that are set up to educate women about their bodies and health, as well as to counsel and treat a variety of women's situations. This article is a composite of many sources intended to strike a cord in people who want more out of life. There is so much more to healing P.M.S. That you'll discover for yourself, such as specific foods and herbs to help certain discomforts. There are specific exercises in managing stresses and balancing the energies of the body such as yoga, massage of the lymphatic and circulatory systems, acupressure points and more. My last note is for you to enjoy the exploration of health. It is an evolutionary process of learning about who you are. Be kind to yourself and allow goodness to come into your life by releasing yourself from the dis-ease of P.M.S.