Until recently, PMS was regarded by the medical community primarily as an imaginary dis-ease. I wonder if men were to suffer monthly from severe debilitating cramps, joint pain, bloating, headaches, and excess bleeding if PMS would be so easily dismissed as imaginary or all in the head. It is estimated that over half the women in the United States suffer PMS every month. Symptoms are varied but generally include water retention, nervousness, depression, tension, swollen and tender breasts, cramps, menstrual pain, join pain, acne, back aches, intense craving for sweets, and a range of other symptoms that all stem from an oversensitization to the sex hormones produces by our bodies.
The physical manifestations of PMS and PMDD indicate in imbalance of estrogen, prolactic, adrenal, and thyroid hormones. The liver is responsible for breaking down hormones and for cleansing the system of metabolic and environmental toxins. If the liver is not in good working order, it becomes overburdened and inefficient and is not able to handle the peak level of sex hormones released during menstruaion and ovulation. The system, in effect, becomes self-poisoned, congested with too many of its own hormones. These hormones, most notably estrogen components, can wreak havoc within the system, causing symptoms of PMS and other potential reproductive problems.
PMDD is a severe form of PMS where a woman has intense depression, anxiety, irritability, and tension before menstruation. Women with PMDD also tend to experience extreme mood swings, panic attacks, trouble sleeping and concentrating, and fatigue. The physical symptoms are similar to that of PMS, but are much more painful.
Not surprisingly, PMS and PMDD are greatly helped by diet, exercise, and healthy living. Follow these dietary suggestions:
- Increase your intake of complex carbohydrates, which are found in vegetables, whole grains, beans, and fruit.
- Increase your intake of eggs, garlic, onions, and beans, all of which are rich in sulfur-containing amino acids.
- Increase your intake of foods rich in vitamins C and E to increase the detoxification of estrogen.
- Decrease intake of fats, especially saturated animal fats, and use unsaturated fatty acids, such as those in cold-pressed vegetable oils.
- Decrease intake of milk and dairy products, although yogurt is acceptable.
- Eliminate sugar, white flour, refined foods, red meat, coffee, and soda.
Since PMS and PMDD are caused by a hormonal imbalance, let’s focus on the endocrine system and nervous system. Drink one or more of the following teas daily for 2-3 months; you may alternate the teas to suit your taste and moods.
- 1 part yellow dock root
- 1 part dandelion root
- 2 parts burdock root
- 1 part wild yam root
- 1 part astralagus
- 3 parts licorice roots
- 1 part ginger
- 2 parts pau d’arco
- 1 part fo-ti
- 1/2 vitex berries
- 1/2 part dong quai
- Optional: cinnamon, orange peel, stevia, more licorice root, roasted dandelion root to taste.
To make: Use 4-6 tablespoons of herb mixture per quart of water. Add herbs to cold water and bring to a slow simmer over low heat. Keep pot covered. Simmer gently for 20 minutes. Strain.
Nervous System Tea
- 1 part oatstraw
- 3 parts chamomile flowers
- 3 parts raspberry leaf
- 1 part squaw vine
- 1 part motherwort leaf
- 3 parts lemon balm leaf
- 3 parts peppermint leaf
- 2 parts nettle leaf
- 2 parts red clover flowers
- 1 part horsetail leaf
To make: Use 4-6 tablespoons of herb mixture per quart of water. Add herbs to cold water and over low heat, slowly bring to a simmer. Keep pot covered. Immediately remove from heat and let infuse 20 minutes. Strain.
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