Pre-menstrual discomfort is shockingly normal. In fact, about 2/3 of menstruating women regularly experience PMS symptoms like headaches, cramps and mood swings.
Although many women turn to birth control to regulate their cycle, balance their hormones, and reduce their monthly symptoms, the use of synthetic hormones may do more harm than good in the long run.
Luckily, you can balance your hormones through simple lifestyle changes, which can drastically reduce or even completely prevent PMS symptoms from occurring.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Clean up your diet
Your diet plays a huge role in the way you feel, and this is especially true around that time of the month! Try to stick to the following guidelines the week before your period—if not all month long!
· Cut out sugar, refined flour and processed foods
· Stop drinking alcohol and reduce your caffeine intake
· Increase healthy fats like coconut oil, omega 3s and grass-fed butter
· Try to have some protein with every meal
· Stick to organic produce
· Increase your intake of dark leafy green foods
· Consider completely eliminating common allergens like soy, dairy and gluten for a month to see if your symptoms improve.
A few studies have shown that regular moderate intensity aerobic exercise can reduce PMS symptoms. Aim to exercise 4-5 times per week for 30 min-1 hour, as exercise is crucial for stress relief and balancing hormones. Keep in mind that exercising too strenuously can actually disrupt hormones.
3. Get Enough Sleep
As we know, getting enough sleep is important for health at all times of the month, but it’s especially important as you approach menstruation. That’s because when you’re sleep deprived, stress hormones like cortisol remain at high levels, which can contribute to fatigue and make PMS symptoms worse.
4. Address Your Stress
Like sleep, stress levels have a huge impact on hormones. A 2010 study showed that women who felt stressed at the beginning of their cycles were more likely to experience PMS symptoms such as cramping, bloating and mood swings once their period came around. To prevent PMS symptoms, practice stress-relieving techniques like yoga, meditation and deep breathing, which both reduce stress levels and make you more capable of dealing with stressful moments when they hit.
5. Use Essential Oils
Certain essential oils can help relieve PMS symptoms, particularly those related to energy levels and mood, and as a bonus, you can add them to a hot bath to practice some of that stress relief we talked about earlier. According to Kathi Keville, director of the American Herb Association, the best herbs for PMS symptoms are chamomile, clary, sage, geranium, jasmine, marjoram, neroli and rose.
6. Avoid Chemicals and Plastics
The endocrine disrupters found in processed food and its packaging, household and cosmetic products, and plastics, confuse your body by imitating real hormones. Exposure to these products leads to out of balance hormones and, voila, PMS! If you have monthly PMS symptoms along with other signs of a hormonal imbalance, consider switching from plastic to glass for food and drink storage, use natural household cleaners, and eat organic whenever possible.
7. Incorporate Herbal Supplements
If lifestyle changes aren’t enough, you might want to consider using one or more of the following herbal supplements to treat your PMS symptoms.
St. John’s Wort can help with the depression and mood swings associated with PMS. However, if you’ve been diagnosed as being manic-depressive or bipolar, avoid this herb as it can worsen symptoms.
Evening Primrose Oil can help with breast tenderness.
Dandelion Leaf can reduce swelling, bloating and water retention.
Although PMS symptoms are common and normal, that doesn’t mean you have to suffer from them. Like with most conditions, a healthy lifestyle can dramatically reduce symptoms—if not make them disappear altogether!
-The Alternative Daily