As published in the September 2003 issue of Vitality Magazine
As women, our habitual negative attitude towards menstruation and PMS perpetuates society’s prejudice towards women’s credibility and competence during their menstrual cycle. Many people are unaware of its positive affects, thus PMS is often associated with suffering, a medical condition requiring drugs, and other helpless states over which women have no control.
In optimal health, as nature intended, women can experience the positive effects of their menstrual cycle; productivity, high energy, sexual desire, vivid dreaming, increased creativity and intuition. To reclaim their menstrual power women must overcome the physical and emotional discomforts of PMS. Changing our attitude and learning to embrace and celebrate our femininity is a good starting point. Understanding our anatomy and the monthly hormonal changes is the next milestone. Taking charge of our health with good nutrition, exercise and utilizing the deep healing powers of homeopathy can empower women to break the vicious cycle of self-sabotage and enjoy the fruits of their feminine advantage.
Considered to be an emotional problem for many years, PMS is due to hormonal imbalance, particularly excessive levels of estrogen and inadequate levels of progesterone. While discomforts of PMS are largely due to unnatural living in industrialized societies, pre-menstrual baboons in Kenya have been observed withdrawing from social contact and spending more time in the trees, feeding. 
Some women sail through their monthly cycles by experiencing only slight discomfort, or none at all, while others suffer considerably. It is estimated that 90% of fertile women are affected by PMS at some point in their lives. The constellation of symptoms characterized as pre-menstrual syndrome, or PMS, include many physical and emotional states and affect women from 2 – 14 days leading up to their period and disappear at the onset of, or shortly after, the menstrual flow. Over 150 symptoms are attributed to PMS, affecting or involving virtually every organ and system in the body. Metabolically speaking, PMS symptoms can be grouped in 4 categories.
Category 1 PMS: Mood swings, nervous tension, anxiety and irritability are the most common group of symptoms and are caused by increased levels of estrogen. The liver is unable to metabolize the excess estrogen without the help of extra vitamin B6. Thus the excess estrogen remains in the body affecting mood and behaviour in different ways: 1) by creating an imbalance in the brain chemicals; excess adrenaline and serotonin are produced, giving rise to anxiety and irritability; too little dopamine leads to a loss of calming effect; 2)by blocking the vitamin B6 metabolism which is essential for dopamine synthesis. Vitamin B6 is necessary for increasing the efficiency with which tissues make use of essential fatty acids. High saturated fatty acid levels in the diet will lead to poor metabolism of the essential fatty acids, which in addition to B6 require supplies of magnesium, zinc, vitamin C, vitamin B3 and chromium. 
Stephanie was suffering from severe mood swings, irritability, frustration and anger. “I don’t like who I become before my periods” she confided during our first meeting 8 months ago. “I say things to my husband and kids I later regret”. During the 2-hour consultation, while discovering her medical history, I learned that Stephanie’s PMS symptoms were triggered by the birth of her 2nd child. It is common for people to manifest symptoms and conditions following a traumatic or stressful event, such as break up, divorce, loss of employment, moving to a different country, puberty, death of a loved one and, in Stephanie’s case, childbirth. Under stress, our weakest organ/system starts to break down according to our hereditary predisposition. Analyzing her unique set of symptoms and personality traits lead me to prescribe Kali-carbonicum. Six months later, not only had her PMS symptoms reduced by 90%, her bowels were more regular and Stephanie was enjoying a level of self-confidence she never thought possible.
Category 2 PMS: Fluid retention, weight gain, breast swelling and heaviness and abdominal bloating are the 2nd most common group of symptoms. Similar to Category 1 PMS, the estrogen levels are too high producing excess amounts of serotonin, which in turn leads to over-secretion of aldosterone. Excess aldosterone produces salt and water retention, which in turn causes the excess swelling and weight gain.
Prolactine is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland, which affects the amount of estrogen and progesterone produced in the menstrual cycle. Deficiency of essential fatty acids in the diet affects the levels of prolactin in the blood. The excess prolactin can affect breast tissue, making them swollen and tender. Primrose oil is an effective supplement in regulating the estrogen and progesterone relationship.
Kristen came to me 2 years ago complaining of PMS symptoms. While suffering with a number of different symptoms, including anxiety, insomnia and a mild depression, her main concern was the swelling and heaviness of her breasts. “They weigh a ton. It’s like carrying a small sac of potatoes”, she complained. Kristen was also suffering from constipation, low self-esteem and recurrent throat infections. Lac Caninum was prescribed to correspond with Kristen’s physical and emotional states. Over a one-year period Kristen’s health improved dramatically. After 15 years of suffering, the breast engorgement was no longer an issue.
Category 3 PMS: Increased appetite, sweet cravings, headaches, heart palpitations, fatigue, dizziness and fainting are the 3rd most common set of symptoms, largely due to carbohydrate intolerance, resulting in hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. High intake of refined sugars and carbohydrates can lead to poor blood sugar control resulting in mood changes. Coffee and tea interfere with nutrient absorption, and are associated with mood change, irritability and insomnia. In addition to disturbing blood sugar control, alcohol may change the liver’s vitamins and minerals balance and cause a reduction in the clearance of estrogen from the liver.
Seven days leading up to her period, Aline would develop a voracious appetite for sweets. During our discussion, 3 months ago, I learned that eating was Aline’s way of dealing with her emotional upheavals. “I have all the answers. I know exactly what I should and should not do in terms of eating right”, she told me. “I feel as though I have two personalities. One wants to do all the right things, and the other sabotages all my hard work”. Aline was also suffering with migraine headaches and had a long history of emotional disorders. Six weeks and 3 doses of Anacardium Orientale later, Aline told me that she felt more in control of herself. She was able to eat more moderately, and her migraine headaches had improved by 50%.
Category 4 PMS: depression, crying, confusion, forgetfulness and insomnia are the 4th most common set of symptoms and are characterized by high progesterone and low estrogen levels. Low estrogen may result in an increased breakdown of neurotransmitters. One theory is that lead poisoning (from exhaust fumes, factories, etc.) blocks the action of estrogen but not progesterone. If so, adequate intakes of vitamin B1, magnesium, zinc, and iron are important to decrease the absorption and deposition, and to increase excretion of the lead.
Penny, a 20 year old university student, experienced severe depression one week leading up to her period. Her unbearably painful periods kept her in bed on the first day of the flow. Her other symptoms included acne, frequent colds (one every 2-3 months) constipation, aversion to company and an incredible love for music. The remedy Aurum Metallicum matched the totality of Penny’s symptoms. I saw Penny in mid June for the 3rd time in 5 months.Her depression was completely gone and the cramps were 80% improved. She was totally functional on the first day of her period and had not had a cold in 5 months.
Each woman’s experience of PMS is different and can include an array of symptoms from categories one to four. Additional symptoms of PMS include abdominal cramps, skin disorders, panic attacks, phobias, aversion to company, suicidal tendencies, and hair loss, to name just a few. There are also social implications associated with PMS; students achieving low grades, absenteeism from work and school, antisocial behaviour, etc. The negative behaviour of the sufferer can influence the lives of their partners, families, friends and neighbours. Children are sensitive to their mothers’ negative emotional states and may respond by producing psychosomatic symptoms such as runny nose, cough, vomiting and headaches.
Exercise and proper diet are 2 essential components for PMS reduction. Exercise helps release endorphins, which are natural pain relievers and help boost mood. As for a healthy diet, start by reducing or eliminating the intake of caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, salt, refined sugars and carbohydrates and polyunsaturated fats. Use only safflower or extra virgin olive oils. If you must use dairy, use only certified organic products. Increase your intake of fish-omega oils, (such as found in salmon). Take primrose oil supplements to help with estrogen balance. Increase your intake of natural fiber.
While supplements can reduce or alleviate PMS symptoms, they are a temporary measure since you must keep taking them to realize continued benefits. Homeopathy goes a step further and offers a permanent solution. By activating your body’s own healing power, homeopathy helps the body correct its functional deficiencies and restore the delicate balance of mind, body and emotions. When your body’s innate healing intelligence is awakened, the hormones are maintained in perfect harmony without outside help.
Women are at their greatest wisdom when menstruating. Our deepest fears and anxieties surface during the pre-menstrual period. Some women’s instinctive response is to eat, drink, take pills and avoid the discomfort at any cost. If we are willing to tune in and listen instead, serious healing can take place.
Both comments and pings are currently closed.