Tired of feeling irritable, weepy, achy, lethargic or blue during Week 4, the premenstrual week of your cycle? The problem is plunging estrogen, which depletes your brain of certain brain chemicals—such as serotonin and endorphins—that govern your mood, energy, pain and sleep. Luckily, researchers have found easy, study-proven PMS remedies that boost happiness, ease aches, re-energize you and make you feel all-over terrific. To make your Week 4 better than ever…
Take Calcium + Vitamin D
A report in the Archives of Internal Medicine that analyzed over 10 years of data shows that a daily intake of 1,200 mg. of calcium and 400 IU vitamin D (the equivalent of about four servings of skim or low-fat milk, fortified orange juice or low-fat yogurt) can reduce your risk of developing PMS symptoms by an impressive 40%. The researchers theorize that your body’s store of these two key nutrients vary during the menstrual cycle due to rising and falling estrogen and progesterone, so adding them to your diet helps keep them in balance.
Two recent analyses of 19 studies—one in the British Medical Journal and one if the journal Family Practice—reveal that women who popped up to 100 mg. daily of a B6 supplement were significantly more likely to enjoy upbeat moods during their premenstrual week than those who took a placebo. Turns out, vitamin B6 prompts the brain to produce serotonin, which can get low in the days leading up to your period. For best results, take a daily B-complex supplement, since other B vitamins have also been shown to raise levels of mood-lifting brain chemicals, including GABA and dopamine. (Note: Do not take more than 100 mg. of B6 daily since higher doses can cause nerve damage.)
Try Gingko Biloba
In a recent study, PMS sufferers who popped 40 mg. of this herb daily during the second half of their cycle had 20% less breast tenderness, bloating, irritability and other premenstrual woes, reports The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Credit goes to flavonoids in ginkgo biloba that reduce inflammation, improve blood flow and reduce the stress hormone cortisol.
Take a Nap
In recent University of Ottawa study, women bothered by premenstrual moodiness and anxiety felt cheerier, more relaxed, mentally sharper and more alert after taking a daily 30-minute afternoon nap every day during the week before their period than women who simply rested for the same amount of time. As the researchers explain it, nighttime premenstrual sleep is less restful, which makes you groggy and irritable during the day. So, a quick nap instantly refreshes you!
A recent study in the Journal of Women’s Health reveals that high levels of tension during the two weeks prior to your period makes you two to three times more likely to experience premenstrual syndrome than women who aren’t as stressed-out. The news is even worse if you suffer from chronic stress; women in the study who felt tension during the second half of their cycle for two months in a row were an astounding 25 times more likely to suffer from intense premenstrual symptoms. Need ways to cut your stress? Try snuggling with your pet, splurging on an occasional sundae, going to a sports game, treating yourself to new shoes, taking a walk, dancing or doing anything else that distracts you from problems and/or feels like a wonderful indulgence.
Are you a smoker who’s bothered by premenstrual backaches, bloating, breast tenderness or acne? Believe it or not, your plunging hormones may be less to blame than your cigarettes. A recent analysis of the large-scale Nurses’ Health Study reveals that smoking makes women more than twice as likely to develop moderate to severe premenstrual syndrome. The link? Smoking affects hormone levels and depletes the body of vitamin D—both of which worsen PMS. Want another reason to quit? Resesarch shows that female smokers go through menopause years earlier than non-smokers!
Do you have really bad PMS?
Do you feel that your premenstrual syndrome is severe? Does it impact your job, school of family life? If so, you could have premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, which affects up to 8% of menstruating women. Your doctor can offer you certain prescription medications to treat it. To learn more, visit MayoClinic.com.
Note: Consult with your doctor before trying any new supplement or herb.
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[photos: burstingwithcolors, D Sharon Pruitt, Sanja Gjenero, jam343, Orin Zebest, anura_saliya, Never Cool in School / Leslie Kalohi, Valentin.Ottone]