I suffer from severe PMS nearly every month, like clockwork around the same time I am due to get my period I noticed a massive change in my mood. I can be up one minute and down the next, I fluctuate from road rage to weeping in front of the telly when I see something sad on the news and I have really painful breast tenderness. I feel that it has worsened as the years have gone on. I am 26 years old and my relationship has started to suffer because of this. We use natural methods for contraception and I absolutely don’t want to take any form contraceptive pill, which I have heard can help to regulate moods. However, I would like to know if there is anything I can do help combat these symptoms naturally.
The complex dance of a woman’s hormones can be sweet and sour… Vitamin B6 has been shown in studies to be useful for many PMS symptoms. I’d suggest 50 – 100 mg of B6 per day in conjunction with a B Complex or a Multi that contains all your B’s – this is important so that your general levels of B Vitamins don’t get out of balance. If you find a supplement with the active form of B6 (P-5-P), the dose can be much lower than this, however you are unlikely to find P-5-P across the counter. Also, a specific omega-6 called GLA can be very helpful for hormonal balance and GLA has been shown to support tender breasts associated with PMS – GLA is from Evening Primrose Oil or Borage Oil. It’s important to take this in conjunction with omega-3 from fish oils to avoid an imbalance of your essential fatty acids which could lead to inflammation. Look out for a product that contains both EPA and DHA together with GLA for convenience.
From the sounds of your symptoms you are experiencing high oestrogen leading up to your period – this accounts for the breast tenderness and road rage, as the oestrogen fluctuates that causes the tearyness. Chaste Tree or Vitex is a herb works to support your progesterone. Progesterone drops leading up to your period and that can be why the oestrogen becomes prominent (it’s a bit like a see saw), by taking Chaste Tree it means that the progesterone doesn’t drop as fast so there isn’t such a dramatic change in your hormones. This may be enough in itself, but if not you could add something to specifically address the oestrogen levels such as Calcium D-Glucarate – not to be confused with a Calcium supplement! This works to encourage certain detoxification pathways in the body to excrete excess oestrogen. Excess oestrogen can lead to all sorts of serious issues including fibroids and oestrogen related cancers so it’s a good idea to balance your oestrogen levels if you feel they are still in excess after trying Chaste Tree B6 and GLA for 3 months.
All supplements mentioned need to be taken daily, not just leading up to your period. Chaste Tree can be discontinued for the duration of your period though. If you decide to practice natural conception instead of contraception you would need to discontinue the Calcium D-Glucarate. Finally, try to get your partner on board with what you are doing, he is more likely to be supportive if he knows you are doing something to help the situation. Be upfront about the fact your period is due and you are experiencing PMS and apologise in advance for any unreasonable behaviour. I’ve always found that approach and disclaimer works wonders in our household!
*Please note that the information provided above is only to educate, not to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please seek advice from your own healthcare provider before embarking on any treatment/health program.
By Michele Wilton
ND, Dip Med Herb
Michele is a Naturopath, Medical Herbalist and works as a Technical Advisor for NaturalMeds.