Looking for relief from PMS? You're not alone. Luckily, there are several home remedies to relieve PMS. What follows are some lifestyle changes to try.
Maintain a well-balanced diet. Include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, starches, raw seeds and nuts, fish, poultry, and whole grains -- all foods that should be part of a healthy daily menu anyway.
Go easy on sugar. You may find yourself yearning for chocolate and other sweets, but giving in to sugar cravings can cause reactive hypoglycemia (an abnormal decrease of sugar in the blood), which will make you feel even worse and intensify feelings of irritability and anxiety. If you can't give up the sweets completely, try eating only small amounts at a time, and opt for treats such as fruits or apple juice that can help satisfy your sugar craving and provide nutrients.
Eat small, frequent meals. Waiting too long between meals could cause blood sugar to drop, triggering reactive hypoglycemia. Plus, sometimes hunger pangs alone are enough to make a person grumpy.
Avoid alcohol. You may think a glass of wine or two will help get you through a bout of PMS blues, but alcohol is a depressant that will only make you feel more down and fatigued. Booze also depletes the body's stores of B vitamins and minerals and disrupts carbohydrate metabolism. What's more, it disrupts the liver's ability to metabolize hormones, which can lead to higher-than-normal estrogen levels. So if you need to be holding a beverage at that dinner party, try a nonalcoholic cocktail, such as mineral water with a twist of lime or lemon or a dash of bitters.
Cut down on caffeinated beverages. You may be tempted to up your intake of caffeinated coffee, tea, or soda to battle PMS-related fatigue, but all that caffeine can intensify anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. It may also increase breast tenderness. Try substituting water-processed decaffeinated coffee; grain-based coffee substitutes such as Pero, Postum, and Caffix; or ginger tea. Watch your chocolate intake, too. And make time in your schedule for enough rest and sleep.
Crunch on carbs. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals and breads can reduce the cravings that come with PMS. They also help elevate mood. Eat smaller meals, then snack on these carbohydrates every three hours: popcorn (skip the butter), pretzels, rice cakes. Consume about 100 calories per snack.
Cut the fat. Eating too much dietary fat can interfere with liver efficiency. And some beef contains small amounts of synthetic estrogens. Too much protein can also increase the body's demand for minerals. So opt for smaller servings of lean meats, fish or seafood, beans, peas, seeds, and nuts. Use more whole grains, rice, vegetables, and fruits to fill out your meals. Limit fat to less than 20 percent of your daily calories. Here's how to do the math:
1. Divide your average daily calories by 5: If you eat 2,000 calories a day,
2. Divide that by 9. There are 9 calories per gram of fat. That comes to about
44 grams of fat allowed each day.
Put down the saltshaker. Table salt and high-sodium foods such as bouillon, commercial salad dressings, catsup, hot dogs, and a host of other processed foods can increase fluid retention, bloating, and breast tenderness.
Practice stress management. PMS symptoms feel worse when life's daily frustrations rattle your nerves and try your patience. Keep anxiety and tension under control by joining a stress-management or stress-reduction program at your local hospital or community college, learning biofeedback techniques, meditating, exercising, or doing anything that helps you to relax and cope more effectively with stress.
Exercise aerobically. Working up a sweat not only eases stress, but it causes your body to release feel-good hormones called endorphins that act like natural opiates. Furthermore, increasing blood circulation in the pelvic region can help the body flush out some of the extra fluid often retained during PMS. Choose an activity that will get you huffing and puffing, such as jogging, stair-stepping, or bicycling. Better yet, sign up for an aerobics class -- a little socializing with friends at the health club is an added bonus that may help improve your mood. Try to exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week. Increase your exercise regime to once a day starting the week before your period to help relieve or prevent PMS symptoms. If you are just too fatigued to exercise when your PMS is at its worst, don't. Being active the rest of the month should help in itself.
Try not to plan big events during PMS time. Throwing a house party? If possible, schedule the event for a date when PMS won't be a problem. The added stress that comes with planning and playing host can make your moodiness and physical symptoms seem worse.
Sleep tight. Interruption in regular sleep rhythms can interfere with your regular cycle and cause irritability and fatigue.
Talk it over. Dealing with members of your family can be one of the biggest sources of stress for a woman coping with PMS. Feeling guilty about snapping at a spouse or child, then finding the strength to apologize for your outburst, can be emotionally draining. Try to limit the fallout by explaining to your loved ones and close friends the reason for your erratic behavior. Ask them to understand the problem and realize that when you lash out at them during such times, you are not as in control as you would like to be. This openness about your condition could help not only lower your stress level, but avoid hurt feelings. For example, if a rambunctious child has you climbing the walls, explaining that it's a bad time for him or her to make you upset may serve as a cue for the child to give you some peace and quiet by playing outdoors. Keep in mind, however, that PMS is a medical condition, not an emotional crutch. In other words, don't use your menstrual cycle as a defense for being nasty.
If the emotional symptoms are causing problems in your relationships, consider getting some counseling from a mental-health professional. Ask your physician to refer you to someone.
If preventative measures alone don't significantly reduce your PMS symptoms, try one or more of the natural home remedies suggested in the next section. As PMS affects women differently, its natural treatments work better for some, less for others -- but it doesn't hurt to try!
To learn more about the female reproductive system and potential issues associated with it, visit the following links:
- To see all of our home remedies and the conditions they treat, go to our main Home Remedies page.
- For general information on women's bodies, check out How Women Work.
- To read about sexual intercourse issues, visit How Sexual Dysfunction in Women Works.
- For background on treating UTIs with household items, read Home Remedies for Urinary Tract Infection.
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