PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome) is identified by problems such as: irritability, food cravings (usually for sweets or chocolate or diary products), headaches, breast tenderness, abdominal bloating and weight gain.
The exact cause of PMS symptoms are unknown. In fact, it is not known why some women have severe symptoms and some have mild or no symptomology at all. It is generally believed that PMS irritability stems from neurochemical changes within the brain. Hormonal factors such as estrogen levels have not been closely studied in relationship to PMS until recently.
The female hormone estrogen starts to rise after menstruation and peaks around mid-cycle (ovulation). It then rapidly drops only to slowly rise and then fall again in the time before menstruation. Estrogen holds fluid and with increased estrogen comes fluid retention causing many women to report weight gain of up to five pounds premenstrually! Estrogen also has a central neurologic effect: it can contribute to increased brain activity and blood sugar while adding to salt retention. PMS patients and migraine sufferers alike can benefit from both salt and sugar restriction.
Hormonal imbalance, whatever the reason is largely responsible for most of the dysfunctions experianced by menstruating women. From premenstrual syndrome (PMS), fibrcystic breast disease (FCBD), uterine fibroids and endometriosis to infertility, ovarian cysts and cancer, PMS is one of the most common disorders of women of reproductive age.
PMS symptoms are mostly a manifestation of estrogen dominance and its consequences.
One insidious and dangerous threat to the delicate estrogen-progesterone imbalance is the estrogens that are routinely fed to livestock. Our cattle are plied with synthetic growth hormones and estrogen to increase lactation to make them heavier at a quicker rate. When we consume the meat, the milk and its byproducts - cheese, ice cream and even yogurt - we also ingest large quantities of exogenous estrogens.
The worst of all exogenous estrogens are xenoestrogens (toxic exogenous estrogens) that exhibit estrogen-like activity. The worst xenoestrogens are those that come from petrochemical sources. These insidious toxic estrogens come from environmental pollutants, pesticides, toxic fumes and plastic-coated cans. The lacquer-coating, used on the inside of many canned foods, contains bisphenol-A. This plastic is a potent xenoestrogen, which can leach into the contents of the can. Whatever their source, xenoestrogens are metabolized by the body into carcinogenic forms of estrogen, which compete with our own estrogen to bind to our receptor sites.
This overload of estrogen creates a negative feedback with the hypothalamus, which, in turn, impairs ovulation and the subsequent production of progesterone. Many girls and young women who have severe PMS menstruate without ovulating (anovulatory cycles). With very little or inadequate bioidentical progesterone, they are even more vulnerable to stress. Stress, in turn, increases the utilization of important nutrients, such as zinc, magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6 - necessary for hormonal balance and the metabolism of essential fatty acids (EFA's).
PMS is probably triggered and made worse by a fast food diet loaded with exogenous estrogens. In addition, these foods are low in vital nutrients and high in saturated fats - the precursor of the pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid series 2 hormone-like prostaglandins (PG2s). Researchers have documented that a predominance of PG2s can stimulate PMS, particularly the symptom of painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea).
Common PMS Symptoms
- Tension and mood swings
- Bloating and water retention
- Carbohydrate and chocolate cravings
- Breast tenderness
- Irregular periods
- Headaches (premenstrual migraines)
- Sleep disturbances
- Skin eruptions
- Bowel changes
Natural Alternatives for PMS
The benefits of taking Maca for PMS are numerous. This herb targets the hormonal imbalance which is the cause of most PMS problems. Most users notice a marked change for the better during their first period after beginning Maca as the effects of the herb accumulate. The overall benefits continue with each period with a decrease in cramping, bloating, fatigue, irritability, food cravings and headaches.
For many women, natural bioidentical progesterone cream provides significant relief from symptoms related to shifts in the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is known that transdermal application allows for easier absorbtion than any oral medication or supplement partially due to the fact that the condition of the colon can compromise its effectiveness. Natural bioidentical progesterone provides a safe, pleasant and efficient way to help the body help itself. It is the way nature designed the body to work.