PMS is the term used to describe a cluster of symptoms commonly experienced by women in the week leading up to menstruation.
Not every woman suffers from PMS but for those who do there seems to be no escape from its cyclical regularity. I’m talking about physical symptoms such as bloating, tiredness, swollen and tender breasts and headaches, lower back pain, abdominal cramps, water retention. These range from uncomfortable to extremely unpleasant.
For others, however, there are also emotional symptoms such as irritability, mood swings, anxiety, anger or violent outbursts, depression and even thoughts of suicide that the sufferer is unable to control, making her withdrawn and antisocial.
PMS questionnaire :
– Are your periods irregular?
– Do you crave chocolate before a period?
– Are you irritable, intolerant, or anxious prior to menstruation?
– Do you suffer from weight gain or water retention each month?
– Do you experience premenstrual cramps?
There are three main causes :
– Glucose intolerance marked by a craving for sweet food and stimulants.
– Oestrogen dominance and relative progesterone deficiency. These hormones control the monthly cycle and their changing levels affects women in as many ways as there are various symptoms.
– Deficiency in essential fatty acids and vitamin B6, zinc and magnesium, which together create prostaglandins, which help to balance hormone levels.
Vitamin B6 is essential for all protein utilisation and it has been proved helpful in many conditions from PMS to carpal tunnel syndrome (strain condition affecting nerves in the wrist) and cardiovascular disease.
Magnesium is essential for many enzymes in the body. It works together with Vitamins B1 and B6, being involved in protein synthesis and therefore essential in the production of some hormones including prostaglandin of which higher level has beneficial effects on PMS.
Essential fatty acids are converted into prostaglandins with the help of Vitamins B3, B6, C and Biotin and minerals Magnesium and Zinc. So deficiency in any of these nutrients can also create the equivalent of hormonal imbalances.
Oestrogen dominance can be due to excess exposure to oestrogen substances, or lack of progesterone or a combination of both. But to help make sure it is not the earlier, it may be wise to eat less or avoid red meat and dairy products. Also, many pesticides, soft plastics used for wrapping and most birth control pill and HRT contain oestrogen and can participate in building up your oestrogen level and therefore making your PMS worse.
PMS symptoms can be eased by making changes to your diet and studies suggest that a diet high in carbohydrates and low in fat is helpful. Eat little and often before menstruation, snaking on fruit but avoiding sugary treats and stimulants (coffee, tea, chocolate). Ensure that your daily diet includes 1 tablespoon of cold press vegetable oil rich in both Omega3 and Omega6 fatty acids (or supplement with cod liver oil capsules).
Good eating habits coupled with supplements can often relieve symptoms of PMS all together. So to help keep your hormones in balance :
- keep animal fats very low in your diet.
- choose organic vegetables and meat wherever possible to reduce pesticide and hormone exposure.
- Don’t eat fatty foods wrapped in non-PVC cling film.
- Reduce the use of stimulants such as coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar and cigarette. If you are addicted to any of these you will need to break the habit.
- Do not let stress become a habit in your life. Make changes to your lifestyle to limit stress and the way you react to it.
- Make sure you are getting enough essential fats from seeds, their oils or supplements of primrose or borage oil (omega 6) or flax oil (omega 3).
- make sure your supplement programme includes optimal levels of vitamins B3 and B6, biotin, magnesium and zinc.
Helpful foods :
Spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables for magnesium and vitamin B6
Wholemeal bread and whole grains (brown rice, oat) for complex carbohydrates, vitamins B3 and B6, calcium, zinc and magnesium
Eggs, avocado, nuts and cold press virgin olive oil for vitamin E.
Fish (salmon, sardine, mackerel, herring, tuna) for Vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium and essential fatty acids (omega 3, 6)
If you have PMS or menopausal symptoms, consider using herbs such as lemon balm, sage, vervain, black cohosh, or St John’s Wort. These can relieve tension in various parts of the body by relieving liver tension and improving blood circulation and cardiovascular tone. Many women like to drink lemon balm tea because it is good for menstrual problems and cramps. It can also be added to food for flavouring.
Do not use herbs without checking first with a professional as it could interfere with any other treatment you may be taking.
I read a book by Dr Agus called The end of illness. I feel very strongly that our medical system is letting us down. It is the biggest profitable business failing. And I think like Dr Agus that we have got so use to it, we are now thinking about illness and heath in a way that fits the system even if it isn’t helping.
So like Dr Agus, I want to ask “Has the time come for us to stop thinking about illness as something the body ‘gets’ or ‘has’ but rather to think of it as something the body does?”
Our body is a very sophisticated creation, slightly different for each of us, but it does not come with any instruction or maintenance manual.
We have to learn to know for ourselves, how our own body works. That means stop thinking we can feed it just about anything without consequences.
What we eat, drink and do with our time is what makes our lifestyle. Our body is sensitive to it and reacts by giving symptoms more or less strong depending on how our body feels.
Now we can choose to be in tune with our body and listen to the complaints and think back to find what caused it. Or we can choose to ignore it and simply take a pill to shut it up.
How many signs and symptoms can we ignore and take drugs for before some really serious illness makes us stop. Our body is making us feel really ill because it has been abused so much it can’t take it any longer. So what makes us think that giving it more drugs will solve the accumulated problems (signs) our body has been trying to communicate to us?
I think it is worth thinking about how much we would give to be healthy, fit, feeling good, full of energy and happy with our body as a whole.
It is possible you know! And sometimes it only takes a few changes in what we eat, in how we organise our time to avoid high stress level, or in our lifestyle.
Let me know what you think. As a nutritionist-herbalist, I can help but ultimately, it is your body and who can know it better than yourself; you have to first make the decision to be the one doing (making the changes) with my help.
I look forward to hearing from you and/or reading your comments.
Herbs are rich in the minerals and vitamins as well as other micro-nutrients which enable the body in its own particular laboratory to manufacture as and when required all the substances necessary to combat dis-ease in all its forms and manifestations.
So the micro-nutrients which are found in these herbs not only give the body the means to cure, they also help to maintain healthy cell structure and so prevent dis-ease and build up immunity to attack.
What is nutrition?
The art of choosing our food to gain more control over how we feel, how we age, how we resist illnesses and how many years of active life we can enjoy. What we eat not only affects our day to day health but also helps determine the quality and the length of our life.
As the media give us more access to the results of decades of research, we are more aware of the effect the world we live in has on our health. We know that asbestos is an environmental hazard, that UV rays from the sun can cause skin cancer, and that smoking can damage health in various ways.
We are also learning more about how nutrition and the ways in which food is grown and prepared affect our general health and life expectancy.
Today, most of us understand that eating is not just about putting fuel in the tank to keep going, as if we were a machine. We wouldn’t dream of filling up our car with the wrong fuel, so how can we learn more about what happens to our body when we feed it the wrong food?
There’s a very subtle relationship between food and the human body. Minor changes in eating habits can lead to major changes in health.
Nutrition is still a young science but it is clear that there are few illnesses that diet can’t help to prevent, cure or at least make more bearable. As well as having a role in the struggle against heart disease, cancer and arthritis, food and the way we eat it can also help to conquer stress, insomnia, infertility and low energy levels.
In the last few years, I have learnt more specifically about using food for
- strengthen the immune system for all ages,
- help children with behaviour and/or learning difficulties,
- type 2 diabetes,
- thyroid problems,
- respiratory conditions (colds, chest infections, catarrh, asthma),
- weight control,
- aches and pains (headaches and migraines, sciatica, neuralgia, growing pains,… arthritis),
- coping with allergies and intolerances.
What is herbalism?
In a time of drugs and chemicals, herbalism is a path to safe treatment which respects the oneness of life. It reveals and uses the gifts of nature for holistic healing, based on the relationship between plant and human, plant and planet, human and planet.
Holistic medicine can only be truly holistic if the perspectives it embraces acknowledge the social and cultural context in which the illness and the desired healing take place. The patterns of thought, behaviour, work and culture that are the sources of the disease and better known as lifestyle, must be taken into account. Herbal medicine can help retune the body in a positive environment where healing is being promoted as a whole for lasting effect.
Dr A Vogel said, “To live according to the principles of nature is much more than a technique. It requires respect and sympathy for Creation.” I like the idea that my garden is a living pharmacy and I have often found that combined with good food, plants are amazingly powerful remedies and yet very soft in their effects.
Feedback from patients :
“I am the father of an 11 year old son who has suffered Migraine headaches over the past few years and have been told by local GPs that using Paracetamol and Ibuprofen tablets would help the problem and slow it down to hopefully disappear in time. Very little success!
However, I have spoken recently to Mrs Corinne Cole and she has advised me that the use of specific tissue salts could help sooner and in a better way.
We tried immediately and the problem has all but disappeared over a period of around 6 months. My son and I are both very grateful to Mrs Cole and wish to thank her for her useful information.”
From Chris Bowden, Caretaker at Wincanton Primary School
“As a mother of a young daughter, I have found Corinne’s knowledge and advice invaluable at times. From help with teething supplements through to suggestions regarding nutrition and diet. She is immensely helpful and has been spot on solving all our niggling health concerns. From Suzi Davenport-Hill ”
“What a relief. What a relief somebody can treat the whole person and not just the symptoms. I have two daughters. My eldest daughter has very bad hay fever, her eyes swell up, irritation in the back of the throat, runny nose, because of this she suffered with nose bleeds. My youngest suffered from nose bleeds. The nose bleeds were at times never ending, you were amazed at how must blood could come out of such a small nose. Corinne treats the whole body, because if one thing is out of kilter then all of the body is running under strain. My eldest daughter now takes minerals for her hay fever and nose bleeds. The hay fever is not cured but she has noticed the symptoms are not as bad as they were, the nose bleeds are non existent now. If we do get one it is over in a minute and one tissue is enough. Over all we have found a great improvement. From Mandy ”