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pMS - premenstrual Syndrome/premenstrual Tension

premenstrual Syndrome/premenstrual Tension

If you have premenstrual syndrome., there's no need to keep it. There are very many ways possible to control or eliminate pMS, either singly or in combination. These include diet change, supplemental vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, natural hormone treatment and candida treatment.

"Mainstream" medical treatment of pMS sometimes involves prescription of diuretics for fluid retention and if symptoms are severe, tranquilizers and antidepressants. An increasing number of "mainstream" medical practitioners prescribe progesterone for pMS symptoms.

Sugar and refined carbohydrate elimination are necessary for the best results in controlling pMS. This maybe difficult if you have a "sweet tooth", but do the best you can and improve to zero over time. Check your natural food store for alternatives to refined sugar. As alcohol can aggravate the same problems as sugar and refined carbohydrates, it should also be eliminated.

Caffeine needs to go, too. This includes not only coffee, but also black and green tea, "cola" drinks and chocolate. Yes, Chocolate!

For some women with pMS, food allergy elimination is a major part of pMS symptom elimination. It's not clear why food allergies should cause symptoms at only one time of the month and not others, but so many of the women I've worked with have confirmed this to be so that I've learned to be alert for the possibility of food allergy. If you have allergy symptoms now, have had them in the past, or if members of your family have allergies, consider identifying and eliminating food allergies as part of your overall pMS elimination program. For more information about allergy testing, you may want to read the brief regarding Allergy Testing, or you might call The American Academy of Environmental Medicine at 913-642-6062 or the International Federation of Electrodermal Screeners at 800-258-2172 for a referral to a doctor knowledgeable and skilled in food allergy testing near you.

Even for women without food allergies, elimination of milk and dairy products is still helpful in reducing symptoms of pMS.

Summarizing to this point

if you're going "all-out" to eliminate your pMS, necessary diet changes include elimination of sugar and refined carbohydrate, caffeine, alcohol, milk and dairy products and in may cases food allergies. Since this is a lengthy list, once you've done it and your pMS is under control, you might "challenge" these eliminations by re-introducing them one at a time and observe which ones are important in your case.

Several nutrients can reduce pMS symptoms. If used together, they can sometimes completely control it. These nutrients include vitamin E, vitamin B6 and the rest of the B-complex, magnesium and essential fatty acids.

vitamin E reduces a number of pMS symptoms, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability, sugar craving, headache and fatigue. I usually recommend 800 units daily in the initial stages of pMS treatment.

vitamin B6 is far and away the most useful of the B-vitamins for reducing pMS symptoms. It particularly reduces fluid retention, breast swelling and tenderness, bloating and edema in general, as well as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, sugar craving and symptoms caused by refined sugar. I usually recommend 100 to 200 milligrams of vitamin B6, three times daily. Many women have told me that adequate reduction in bloating and fluid retention is actually the best indication of how much vitamin B6 to use. The entire B-complex should always be used along with individual B-vitamins such as vitamin B6.

magnesium should always be used along with vitamin B6 as the two work closely together in many of our bodies' system. magnesium also reduces pMS symptoms on its' own. I usually recommend 200 milligrams of magnesium three times daily.

A particular type of essential fatty acids, called 'gamma linoleic acid' gamma lin-oh-lay-ik acid or GLA g-l-a, can be very helpful in reducing pMS symptoms. GLA is found in primrose oil, black currant oil and borage oil. I usually recommend 80 to 240 milligrams of GLA as found in one of these oils daily. Extra vitamin E should be taken with essential fatty acid supplements but of course vitamin E is already on any pMS supplement list.

Many natural food stores sell ''combination'' pMS supplements that include vitamin E, vitamin B6, B-complex, magnesium and a source of GLA. If your pMS symptoms are mild to moderate, such a combination is often sufficient, but if you have a severe problem, you'll likely want to use them individually at first.

Whenever I recommend individual nutrient supplements, I also recommend a general multiple vitamin-mineral supplement as a "back-up".

Natural progesterone is used for pMS in quantities ranging from 25 to 400 milligrams daily during the second part of the menstrual cycle. I've rarely found supplemental progesterone in milligram quantities necessary. Instead, I frequently recommend progesterone and other menstrual cycle hormones in homeopathic dilutions and have found them to be very effective at relieving pMS symptoms. To find a doctor who can help you with this approach, you might call the International Federation of Electrodermal Screeners at 800-258-2172.

Candida infections, whether obvious or not, can also contribute to pMS symptoms. To be checked for hidden candida problems, you might want to contact the American College of Advancement in Medicine, at the number given below, for referral to a doctor knowledgeable and skilled in detection and treatment of candida near you. You also might want to read the brief regarding Yeast infections (Candida) for further information on candida treatment.

Because of differences in age, sex, metabolism, or potential allergy, these diet and supplement therapies may not be suitable for you. Consult a health care professional skilled in nutritional and natural therapies. To locate one near you, you might call the American College of Advancement in Medicine at 800-532-3688 or the American Association of Naturopathic physicians at 206-323-7610.

Many premenopausal women suffer from symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (pMS) at the end of a monthly cycle and are frequently relieved when the next menstrual cycle begins. Specific problems-cramping, bloating, mood changes, and breast tenderness-may vary from woman to woman. Women with breast tenderness should see the section on fibrocystic breast disease.

Dietary changes that may be helpful

Women who eat more sugary foods appear to have an increased risk of pMS.1 Alcohol can effect hormone metabolism, and alcoholic women are more likely to suffer pMS.2 Tea consumption in China is strongly related to pMS.3 The same is true for coffee and other caffeine-containing beverages in the U.S.4 The more coffee women drink, the higher their risk.5 Therefore, many nutritionally oriented doctors recommend that women with pMS avoid sugar, alcohol, and caffeine.

Several studies suggest that diets low in fat or high in fiber may help to reduce symptoms.6 Many nutritionally oriented doctors suggest diets very low in meat and dairy fat and high in fruit, vegetables, and whole grains.

Lifestyle changes that may be helpful

Six months of jogging (averaging less than two miles per day) was reported to lower breast tenderness, fluid retention, depression, and stress in a group of women with pMS.7 Nutritionally oriented doctors frequently recommend regular exercise as a way to reduce symptoms.

Nutritional supplements that may be helpful

vitamin B6 can reduce effects of estrogen in animals, and excess estrogen may be responsible for pMS symptoms. A number of studies show that 200-400 mg of vitamin B6 per day for several months can relieve symptoms of pMS.8 9 10 11 12 Although the amount of vitamin B6 is sometimes too low,13 or the length of the trial too short,14 some studies have not found vitamin B6 helpful.15 16 Most nutritionally oriented doctors feel that vitamin B6 is worth a try and suggest 200-400 mg per day for at least three months. This amount can cause side effects. See the contraindications section below.

Many years ago, research linked B vitamin deficiencies to pMS.17 18 This work has only rarely been followed up, but some nutritionally oriented doctors still recommend the B-complex vitamins.19

Women with pMS show abnormalities in the processing of fatty acids.20 In theory, these problems should resolve with evening primrose oil, or EpO. Of the double-blind trials, some report that EpO is quite helpful,21 22 23 24 while others find it no better than placebo.25 26 While the issue remains unresolved, many nutritionally oriented doctors consider EpO to be worth a try, suggesting 3-4 grams of EpO per day. EpO seems to work best when used over several cycles and may be more helpful in women with pMS who also experience breast tenderness or fibrocystic breast disease.27

Women with pMS are often deficient in magnesium.28 29 Supplementing with magnesium may help reduce symptoms.30 31 While the ideal amount of magnesium has yet to be determined, some doctors recommend 400 mg per day.32

Women who consume more calcium from their diets are less likely to suffer severe pMS.33 Double-blind research has shown that supplementing 1,000 mg of calcium per day relieves symptoms in women with pMS.34 35

progesterone may relieve some symptoms of pMS and vitamin A appears to increase progesterone levels.36 Very high doses of vitamin A-100,000 IU per day or more-have reduced symptoms of pMS,37 38 but such an amount is dangerous. Women who are or who could become pregnant should not supplement with more than 10,000 IU (3,000 mcg) per day of vitamin A. Other people should not take 100,000 IU without the supervision of their nutritionally oriented doctor.

Although women with pMS don't appear to be vitamin E deficient,39 double-blind research shows that 300 IU of vitamin E per day may decrease symptoms of pMS.40

Some of the nutrients mentioned above appear together in multi-vitamin/mineral supplements. One double-blind trial used multi-vitamin/mineral supplements containing vitamin B6 (600 mg per day), magnesium (500 mg per day), vitamin E (200 IU per day), vitamin A (25,000 IU per day), B-complex vitamins, plus other vitamins and minerals.41 In the trial, all four groups of women with pMS benefited more from supplements than from placebo. These results have been independently confirmed.42

Are there any side effects or interactions

(Refer to the individual supplement for complete information.) Although side effects from vitamin B6 supplements are rare, at very high levels this vitamin can damage sensory nerves, leading to numbness in the hands and feet as well as difficulty walking. Vitamin B6 supplementation should be stopped if these symptoms develop.

Taking too much magnesium often leads to diarrhea. This can happen at doses as low as 350-500 mg per day. Excessive magnesium intake is more serious but is rarely caused by magnesium supplements. people with kidney disease should not take calcium or magnesium supplements without consulting a physician. Individuals with sarcoidosis, hyperparathyroidism, or with chronic kidney disease should not supplement with calcium.

Women who are or could become pregnant should take less than 10,000 IU per day of vitamin A to avoid the risk of birth defects. For other adults, intake above 25,000 IU per day can in rare cases cause headaches, dry skin, hair loss, fatigue, bone problems, and liver damage.

Herbs that may be helpful

Agnus Castus has been shown to help re-establish normal balance of estrogen and progesterone during a woman's menstrual cycle. This is important because some women will suffer from pMS and other menstrual irregularities due to underproduction of the hormone progesterone during the second half of their cycle. Agnus Castus stimulates the pituitary gland to produce more luteinizing hormone, and this leads to greater production of progesterone.43 Studies have shown that using Agnus Castus once in the morning over a period of several months will help normalize hormone balance and alleviate the symptoms of pMS.44

Use 40 drops of a liquid, concentrated vitex extract or one capsule of the equivalent dried, powdered extract once per day in the morning with some liquid. Agnus Castus should be taken for at least four cycles to determine efficacy.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Dong quai, Angelica sinensis, is often referred to as the "female ginseng." Dong quai helps promote normal hormone balance and is particularly useful for women experiencing premenstrual cramping and pain.45 Many women take 2-3 grams of Dong quai capsules or tablets per day.

The medicinal use of false unicorn root is based in Native American tradition, where it was recommended for a large number of women's health conditions, including lack of menstruation (amenorrhea), painful menstruation, and other irregularities of menstruation, as well as to prevent miscarriages.46 Steroidal saponins are generally credited with providing false unicorn root's activity. Modern investigations have not confirmed this, and there is no research yet about the medical applications of this herb.

Checklist for premenstrual Syndrome (pMS)

Nutritional Supplements

Herbs

Homeopathic Remedies

Fiber

vitamin B6

B-complex

Evenint primrose Oil

magnesium

Calcium

vitamin A

vitamin E

Multiple Vitamin/Mineral

Agnus Castus

Dong quai

false unicorn root

Sepia 30c

pulsatilla 30c

Cimicifuga 6c
email request

Lycopodium 30c
email request

References

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  3. Rossignol AM, Zhang J, Chen Y, Xiang Z. Tea and premenstrual syndrome in the people's Republic of China. Am J public Health 1989;79:67-9.
  4. Rossignol AM. Caffeine-containing beverages and premenstrual syndrome in young women. Am J public Health 1985;75(11):1335-7.
  5. Rossignol AM, Bonnlander H. Caffeine-containing beverages, total fluid consumption, and premenstrual syndrome. Am J public Health 1990;80:1106-10.
  6. Werbach MR. Nutritional influences on illness, 2d ed. Tarzana, CA: Third Line press, 1993,540-41 review.
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