There are so many women who suffer with PMS, irregular cycles, infertility, mood swings, estrogen dominance, PCOS, endometriosis… the list goes on. This post is inspired by my own personal experience with PMS, and my experience working in a naturopathic dispensary and health food store over the past two years.
I saw many women come in looking for natural support throughout their menstrual cycle, and it really opened my eyes to how many women suffer with hormone imbalance and PMS issues. I can only imagine how many other suffer in silence, or don’t know where to start when it comes to changing your lifestyle and feeling better.
I wanted to share my story, not because I think it is unique, but because I KNOW that so many others experience similar pain (or worse) and I think we need to talk about it. I know first hand how it feels to suffer with this kind of pain, and I also know that there are so many others that could benefit from what I’ve learned!
My Personal Story
In March of 2017, I was suffering with intense migraines, and my PMS symptoms were getting worse each month (aka: terrible menstrual pain and cramping!!!). I’ve always been prone to headaches, but I never had migraines before. The first time it happened, I knew it was more than just a headache because of the nausea, vomiting, blurred vision and pounding pain in my head – so intense I laid on the bathroom floor in tears. If I moved, or tried to take ANY pain medication – I couldn’t keep it down. I’m sure many of you know the feeling – so many people suffer with migraines!
I was desperate for help. I booked an appointment with a Naturopath, and waited patiently for 2 months to get in. The migraines continued to occur, and it was getting hard to be at work. One day I left work early and tried to drive home. I ended up pulling over on the side of the road (crying) and called my boyfriend because I didn’t think I could drive the last 5 km to get home safely. He walked me through it and I was able to slowly drive home. It was about 3:00 in the afternoon, and he left work early to make sure I was ok. He came to my house to find me on the floor of the bathroom, so nauseous it felt like the floor was spinning. The only thing I could do was take gravol and pass out for hours until it subsided. Anything else wouldn’t stay down (advil, turmeric capsules, magnesium, B vitamins – none of it). I’d wake up after 5 or 6 hours of sleep and feel like my thoughts were fuzzy.
When I saw my Naturopath, and she determined that it was a hormonal imbalance that was causing my migraines and other PMS issues. We decided on a supplement regime that would help get my hormones back in balance, and I began acupuncture treatments as well. I started to feel better slowly but surely (the acupuncture worked wonders!) and I my migraines are now very infrequent.
Below I am sharing 8 things that have helped me over the past year with balancing my hormones and reducing PMS symptoms. Keep in mind that everyone is different. This is what worked for me, but it may not work for you. Consult your doctor or Naturopath to determine a suitable plan for yourself!
1. Anti-inflammatory foods
As a nutritionist, of course the first thing I think of when it comes to any imbalance in the body is food. Chronic inflammation has been linked to many diseases, and one of the best ways to fight inflammation is an anti-inflammatory diet. Replace foods that promote inflammation (such as refined sugars, alcohol, red meat, fried food, pop, and processed food) with foods that fight inflammation!
Some top anti-inflammatory foods to incorporate in your diet are:
- cruciferous veggies
- leafy greens
- nuts and seeds
- wild salmon
- turmeric (use it in your cooking with black pepper to increase bioavailability)!
2. Supplement with Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is sometimes referred to as the miracle vitamin, because it can help with so many different health concerns (from nausea during pregnancy, to heart health, cognitive support, and balancing mood). In terms of PMS and period pain, vitamin B6 has many benefits as well!
- B6 may help balance your mood – it is involved in the production of serotonin and GABA
- Aids in detoxing estrogen from the body (and therefore helping with hormone balance)
- May help to reduce inflammation, and therefore reduce pain
Make sure you look for a high quality Vitamin B6 supplement that contains B6 in it’s active form – pyrodoxial-5-phosphate (P5P).
3. Essential Oils
With most of the essential oils mentioned below, I like to dilute with a carrier oil, and (using a roller bottle) apply them topically to my lower abdomen. They bring fast and long lasting support!
Clary Sage – Clary sage can be used topically or inhaled to help relieve headache, to help relieve joint or muscle pain, and when experiencing digestive discomfort clary sage can act as a carminative and antispasmodic.
Fennel – (Foeniculum vulgare) has a sweet, earthy, anise-like aroma that is energizing, vitalizing, and balancing. It also has a long history of encouraging grounding feelings. If can be used topically or inhaled when experiencing digestive discomfort and can act as a carminative and antispasmodic.
Dragon time – this blend is a LIFE saver. This blend includes fennel, clary sage, marjoram, lavender, yarrow and jasmine. Dragon time supports the body though PMS and menstrual discomforts. Apply topically every couple of hours as needed. Trust me, you’ll want this one in your natural remedies first aid kit!
Deep Relief – combines essential oils such as Peppermint, Wintergreen, Dorado Azul, and Helichrysum, known for their soothing and long-lasting benefits, to create a convenient blend. Peppermint oil, a primary ingredient in Deep Relief, is used in aromatherapy to help relieve joint and muscle pain associated with sprains, strains, or rheumatoid arthritis. Apply to your skin and enjoy the cooling sensation of Peppermint in this popular blend.
If you’d like to learn more about essential oils I’d be happy to chat with you! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get you hooked up with the best essential oils on the planet! You can also click here to get started with using Young Living oils right away!
4. Drink one of these herbal teas…
Cozy up with a mug of warm herbal tea!
- Red raspberry leaf tea: is rich in antioxidants, and can be used to help reduce heavy bleeding and intense cramps. Not only that, it will help ease digestion and reduce bloating.
- Chamomile tea: if heavy bleeding and painful cramps aren’t your biggest concern – opt for some chamomile tea to help ease irritability, stress, and insomnia.
- Ginger tea: ginger is of course amazing for digestion and bloating. Holy basil tea is another great option – this adaptogenic herb helps your body function optimally during times of stress!
5. Ginger Supplements
Whether you take it in supplement form, drink some ginger tea, or chew on raw ginger… ginger root is an amazing anti-inflammatory! In fact, this is the ONE supplement that I aways have in my purse no matter where I go. Why? Because it can be used to treat migraines, soothe digestive upset, and has also been proven to help relieve dysmenorrhea. I’d say that ginger checks off a lot of boxes with it comes to menstrual pain and PMS! Not only that, it is also going to help boost your immune system, so you can’t go wrong here. Look for a good quality ginger supplement with 250 mg per capsule.
6. Magnesium Supplements
Magnesium is involved in over 300 biochemical pathways in the body – from muscle and function, to maintaining blood pressure, bone growth, producing energy, and DNA synthesis. Magnesium is directly involved in muscle contraction and relaxation, and it is also believed to be involved in hormone regulation. Applying magnesium chloride gel, taking a magnesium bath, or supplementing with magnesium glycinate can help relax muscles, reduce cramping, and calm the mind before bed. Along with ginger, this is another one of my must-have supplements!
Drinking more water sounds simple, but is often overlooked! Make sure you’re getting enough water during your period (and throughout the rest of the month!) to help reduce bloating and water retention. Adding a pinch of himalayan sea salt or Celtic sea salt to your water is a good way to ensure that you’re getting enough electrolytes (a tip I learned from Dr. Barbra O’Neill).
8. Ditch and switch
Xenoestrogens are endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen in the body. Some common sources of xenoestrogens are plastics, synthetic fragrances, makeup, cosmetics, personal care products – even conventional tampons and pads! Xenoestrogens are a BIG problem, because they can mimic our natural hormones and block or bind to receptor sites in our body. Normally, our endocrine system releases hormones that signal different tissues with information on what to do. When these receptor sites are blocked, our natural hormones cannot do their job! When xenoestrogens enter the body, they result in estrogen dominance because the body recognizes them as if they were natural estrogen.
The build up of xenoestrogens in the body has been indicated in many conditions including: breast, prostate and testicular cancer, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages and diabetes.
It’s hard to get away from them, but we can do our best to limit our exposure and cleanse the body of these nasty endocrine disruptors. Balancing them might seem daunting, but thankfully we can use natural solutions such as essential oils and good nutrition, and it’s actually not that complicated!
- Ditch synthetic scents, plastics, food additives, and toxic personal care products that cause contain xenoestrogens. Download the Think Dirty app, which allows you to scan products while you shop and see how “clean” or “dirty” their ingredients are!
- Switch to natural alternatives! The biggest contributors to toxic chemicals in our homes are from fabric softener, dryer sheets, air freshener plug-ins, and candles. Yuck! Take my quiz to find out if your cleaning products are really safe!
I hope that you find these tips useful! Again, keep in mind that everyone is different. These are things that worked well for me, but it may not work for you. Consult your doctor or Naturopath to determine a suitable plan for yourself!
** Since publishing this blog post I have since tried Livia, The Off Switch for Period Pain. I have found it to be extremely useful! You can read my full honest review of Livia here.