PMS or PMT (Pre Menstrual Syndrome/Tension) refers to not one but a group of emotional symptoms such as anxiety, depression, emotional, anger or irritability.  And also a group of physical symptoms such as fluid retention, fatigue, bloating, headaches, brain fog, cravings, breast pain, pimples or sleep issues.

PMS can happen up to 10 days before your period and then go away after your bleed.

What causes PMS?

  • Too much estrogen – estrogen is the growth and stimulating hormone.  Too much will cause an imbalance with progesterone.
  • Estrogen departure – when it drops down, serotonin (mood stabiliser) and dopamine (feel good hormone) also decline.
  • Inadequate production of progesterone. Progesterone is a calming hormone and counterbalances estrogen.

Conventional approach

  • Is hormonal birth control – this can reduce symptoms but it doesn’t solve the problem.  It actually flattens your hormones so you’re not making any.  It’s call chemical menopause

Natural Approach

  • To support your natural hormone fluctuations
  • Enhance progesterone. 
  • Supporting GABA – a calming neurotransmitter
  • Support healthy estrogen levels and metabolism.
  • Reduce inflammation – leads to better ovulation, more progesterone and GABA
  • Reduce and manage stress

Let’s look at these in more detail:

Enhancing Progesterone

  • In pre menopause use supportive herbs and nutrients such as vitex, B6, ashwaganda
  • In peri menopause as well as the above body identical progesterone can help
  • Eating adequate protein, fats and cofactors zinc and iodine

Supporting GABA

  • Supporting healthy progesterone will support healthy GABA (exception PMDD)
  • Foods that support GABA production are; bone broths, fish, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, walnuts, soybeans
  • B6 and magnesium as cofactors
  • GABA supplement
  • Destressing activities such as meditation, breath walk, grounding and yoga.

Supporting healthy estrogen production and metabolism

  • Maintain a healthy microbiome – The estrobolome is a collection of bacteria in the gut which metabolises and modulates the body’s circulating estrogen. 
  • A full stool motion at least once a day. This is one way estrogen is removed from the body.
  • Eating phytoestrogen rich foods such as flaxseeds, legumes and vegetables as they bind weakly to estrogen receptors to reduce etsrogen.
  • Avoid chemicals/xenoestrogens – They can hyper stimulate estrogen receptors.
  • Reduce alcohol – When you have alcohol in your system, your liver will focus on metabolising the alcohol (poison) and not estrogen and chemicals.
  • There are some great supplements to help estrogen metabolism which you will need advice on for your individual circumstances.  EG:  Calcium-D-Glucurate, NAC, sulphurane, probiotic.
  • Identify histamine intolerance and manage – High histamine will stimulate estrogen and estrogen can stimulate histamine production.

Reduce inflammation

  • Reduce inflammatory foods – inflammatory foods can interfere with hormone production and communication.  Removing inflammatory foods such as wheat, dairy, sugar, refined vegetable oils and food sensitivities can help.
  • Chemicals and xenoestrogens –  more exposure to toxins and chemical in the environment will contribute to systemic inflammation and put more load on your system creating imbalances.
  • Increase supportive foods – foods high in antioxidants and polyphenols to combat oxidative stress.  EG:  Vegetables and berries.
  • Extra supplementation to reduce inflammation: Glutathione, NAC, curcumin, DHA/EPA, Quercetin, Zinc, magnesium and b vitamins.  Be sure to be guided by a certified practitioner.

Reduce and Manage stress

  • Chronic stress means more pressure on the adrenals and brain.  Cortisol the stress hormone can be made at the expense of progesterone, the calming hormone.  This means managing stress will support heathy progesterone and GABA levels.
  • We are exposed to various stressors throughout the day, particularly in this pandemic there is an overwhelming collective stress that is really hard to escape.
  • Think about all these possible stressors in your life;
    • Physical – an injury or pain
    • Emotional – disconnection with friends/partner
    • Psychological – the pandemic
    • Electromagnetic – WIFI, phones
    • Chemical – pesticides, toiletries
    • Infectious – Viruses, gut infections
    • Nutrition – poor food choices, intolerances

That’s a lot of potential stress in one day that could be contributing to hormonal imbalances.

  • Manage stress – I talk a lot with my patients about activating the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) several times throughout the day, every day.  It’s about retraining your nervous system to get out of sympathetic mode (fight, flight, freeze) to spend more time in parasympathetic mode so you can digest food, produce adequate hormones and heal.
  • PNS activation tools – are things like breath work, mindfulness, being present, gratitude, tapping and grounding.  Everybody talks about meditation but I see a lot of mums who are busy and it’s too far a reach for them to sit and settle their minds for 15 minutes so we talk about little habits to do throughout the day to activate the PNS.

If you experience PMS try some of these tips for 3 months and see if they help.  If your PMS impacts your life so you can’t do everyday tasks or your mental health is suffering it could be premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) which is a severe extension of PMS.  This effects 1 in 20 women.  If this is you, you may need extra support but it can be managed really well with nutrition, lifestyle and specific supplements.

Make an appointment with Mel for to find out more.

Melissa Aytan
Functional Nutritionist
Bach.App.Sci (Human Movement), Adv.Dip Nutritional Medicine, Adv Dip Sec.Edu, Certified Functional Diagnostic Nutrition (FDN)

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