When you’ve experienced PMS, you know how awful it can be to have pre-menstrual syndrome, and you’re probably here because you’re looking for a more natural way to manage your symptoms. Well, you’re in the right place, because today, we are talking about some of the symptoms and effects of PMS, along with the best natural supplements we can use to help alleviate our misery!
Firstly though, if you’re suffering, whether emotionally or physically, it’s ok to take some time for some self-nurture. This is so important, and I know you’re probably not wanting to give in and rest, but let yourself. We all need a little self-care sometimes, and it is okay to take what you need. Put your feet up, get a nice cup of your favourite, read our blog and get some handy hints on how to help yourself feel back to balance naturally. You’ll be starting to feel better in no time!
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF PMS?
We’ll start by sharing some of the key symptoms you might be experiencing on the lead up to menstruation – just so you can see that this is completely normal; it isn’t just you and you’re not alone! Symptoms vary from person to person, but one thing in common is that it can feel so debilitating. If it helps, try to remember that it is all temporary, it will pass, and that who you are underneath is still the same (even if you don’t feel like it!).
Here are some of the common things you might experience with PMS:
Irritability, Low mood, Insomnia, Fatigue, Headaches, Breast tenderness, Bloating, Body aches, Skin or hair changes
This is often due to hormonal imbalances in levels of oestrogen and progesterone. There are ways that you can naturally support yourself to a more balanced way through this time of your cycle though!
SUPPORTING SYMPTOMS NATURALLY
There are a few general things we would advise. Firstly, choose foods wisely and intuitively on the run up to your monthly cycle.
Try to make sure you eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, whole grains, oily fish (mackerel, sardines) and magnesium rich foods (like spinach, kale, avocado, green apples). It also helps to avoid salty foods (which can cause water retention), and those that may contribute to inflammation (like lots of dairy or red meat), and cut down on caffeine (which depletes your vitamin and mineral levels and increases sugar cravings).
It’s good to try and ‘graze’, so you stabilise your blood sugar levels, and are able to avoid too much sugar (even though we know you’ll probably crave it!).
Getting plenty of moderate exercise (a good walk/run, any kind of yoga, a gym session – whatever suits you best) to increase circulation and increase endorphins the week before can also really help.
As well as our lovely PMS support supplements, there are also no shortage of alternative therapies you could turn to - acupuncture, hypnotherapy, kinesiology, homeopathy can all help with alleviating the symptoms of PMS!. And, of course, you can’t forget your trusty old hot water bottle and a good snuggle with your favourite film!
WE LOVE A GOOD SUPPLEMENT
Here at Birch and Wilde HQ, we love a good supplement (of course!). There are some great vitamins and minerals out there for PMS, so we wanted to share our wisdom and make sure you can make use of some of these too.
Our absolute top 3 are Magnesium, Calcium and The B Vitamins. These all help your body to produce neurotransmitters that help keep your emotions more stable, and they are great for some of the physical side-effects, too. And there are other great options too – read on!
Magnesium is one of the most common deficiencies in the UK. In terms of PMS, it is a great supplement that can support tender breasts, water retention, and cramping - and some of the low mood and anxiety symptoms, too. It is also great for helping with insomnia and sleep issues.
You may be low on Magnesium anyway, and not realise, in which case you could take a regular supplement. Or, you could just boost your levels around the time of your PMS to help your body cope better (and you to feel better!).
Magnesium is found in certain foods, and so getting more almonds, peanuts, avocado and green, leafy veg into your food around this time can be helpful. However, if this is a struggle, you can also supplement it very easily. It is also found in dark chocolate – and we don’t need an excuse to top up on that, do we?! In fact, often, if you’re craving dark chocolate, it might be because you are actually craving magnesium.
When it comes to a good Magnesium supplement, quality and ‘type’ of Magnesium are absolutely key! The two most absorbable forms of Magnesium that will likely help with PMS are Magnesium Glycinate and Magnesium Citrate. You are likely to see the best results with these. Often less expensive supplement brands will use Magnesium Carbonate, Sulfate, Gluconate or Oxide – these are generally poorly absorbed (as little as 4% compared to the 65%+ of Magnesium Citrate).
Calcium is another mineral that it is easy to be deficient in and not realise. One of the most common deficiencies in the northern hemisphere is Vitamin D, which is essential for your body to be able to absorb Calcium properly. So if you may be low on Vitamin D (especially over the winter months), then your Calcium levels may also be low.
Calcium has been proven to really help with PMS symptoms like fatigue, and headaches, pains, low mood and irritability. Many studies have been done on this, and Shobeiri et al (2017) argued that Calcium is particularly useful for helping balance out the mood during PMT.
So, boosting your system with either Calcium rich foods (eg, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, almonds, beans and lentils, cheese and yogurts or salmon or sardines), or a great quality supplement, especially if you eat a restricted diet, will be of great benefit for you around the time of your PMS.
THE B VITAMINS (1, 2, 6, 9 & 12)
Oh, the B Vitamins! We love them! Vitamin B6 is great for helping your body to regulate hormones and Vitamin B12 is also great for regulating mood. These vitamins really support your body in balancing the mood and emotional symptoms that can keep you feeling horrible during this time.
These are found in many foods like chickpeas, tuna, salmon and potatoes, or you can look to a high quality supplement simply to boost you during your PMS times (* Please check with your GP for interactions if you are on any medication).
ST JOHN'S WORT
St John’s Wort is often viewed as an alternative to anti-depressants, because of its effect on your neurotransmitters. This powerful, natural herb is actually a really well-studied natural remedy. There are many studies that support its use for helping with the symptoms PMS. Why not give it a go? The science supports it, and anecdotally it is said to be wonderful!
In fact, Canning et al (2010) studied its efficacy and argued that this widely available herb deserves attention for PMS – so take note!
If you do decide that this is the one for you to try, please check that you aren’t taking anything that it interferes with – it can interact with medications like birth control pills, heart, blood pressure and thyroid medication (among others). Always seek the advice of your GP for safe use.
EVENING PRIMROSE OIL
Evening Primrose Oil is great for evening out hormone imbalances. These hormone imbalances during PMS have an impact on many symptoms, both emotional (eg, mood) or physical (eg, pain). It is an important natural remedy that has been known about for many years for this very purpose.
It is jam packed full of essential fatty acids, such as Omega 6, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and it is anti-inflammatory. It is therefore wonderful for helping with breast pains. If you suffer with breast tenderness during your cycle, this is the one for you!
Starflower Oil is also known as Borage Oil, and it is pressed from the leaves of the Starflower plant. It is another oil that is rich in the essential fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). It is beneficial when it comes to helping regulate hormones – and it may even be better than Evening Primrose as it has higher GLA content!
Alleviating all hormonally-led symptoms, Starflower Oil can particularly help with mood swings, tender breasts and inflammation, and skin changes. Why not give it a go?
WHICH ONE WILL YOU BE TRYING FIRST?
So, that’s our run down on the top 6 supplements to support your through the symptoms of PMS. We know these symptoms can be really frustrating, de-stabilising and upsetting, but we want you to take away that there is definitely hope!
We definitely recommend giving some of these a try, and perhaps trialling them one at a time for a while before you decide which (or which combination) is best for you. Results for each will depend on the individual, their own body, diet and routine. Although if you hit on a great improvement on your first trial, you may just want to stick with that!
As with all supplements, if you are on medication or suffering from a medical condition, check with your GP before using them, but they are all worth investigating!
And – watch this space – supporting you through hormonal issues (an area that everyone at Birch & Wilde HQ have battled in one way or another) is an area we are extremely interested in. So, you might just see us offering something wonderful of this kind in the not too distant future – exciting time!
Lots of love as always xx