In a constant battle with your hormones every month? We ask the experts for their holistic advice…
Emma Cannon, fertility and Chinese medicine expert, says the key is to balance your qi:
“From a Chinese medicine perspective, PMS arises where there is stagnation of energy in the body. This could be due to stress which easily disrupts the flow of qi (energy) in the channels, particularly the liver channel, but may also include the heart qi.
“Emotions such as frustration and pent up anger are said to be the primary cause of stagnation, so it is important to address these in order to alleviate PMS. Where there is more anger and frustration it is predominantly stagnation in the liver, whereas sadness and crying would indicate it’s in the heart. Acupuncture is excellent at treating PMS as it moves stagnation very effectively, however it is often also necessary for the woman to address the underlying issues in order for a permanent solution.
“Some women suffer from PMS from ovulation onwards - this is normally because their hormones (under the influence of liver qi) adapt less well than others. These individuals are likely to suffer emotionally and physically. Exercise benefits the body by moving the qi around, as does walking, talking therapy and dancing.
“The liver qi tends to get stuck in the throat. People who sigh often have a lot of qi stuck in their throat because they are not good at expressing themselves or they do not feel safe to. They tend to bottle things up and have an outburst around the pre-menstrual phase, like a pressure cooker where the tension eventually has to let off steam. Prolonged liver qi stagnation can lead to liver fire where the eyes are bloodshot and you have uncontrollable anger.”
Jillian Lavender, founder of the London Meditation Centre, says meditation can beat PMS:
“Although most doctors recognise that stress, diet and other lifestyle factors all contribute to menstrual difficulties there is little agreement on how to provide relief for PMS. The symptoms are vast and often interrelated, and as a result treatments often fail to get to the root cause of what is going on.
“However the ancient science of natural health known as Ayurveda provides a clear understanding of PMS. Ayurveda proposes that a woman will experience problems with her menstrual cycle when 1. biological rhythms are off, 2. imbalances exist or 3. if there is a build-up of toxins during the month.
“One of the most important biological rhythms for women is the cycle of rest and activity during the month. In particular, hormone levels are changing dramatically during this cycle and if a woman is not getting enough rest, imbalances will accumulate. For example, simple things like being off with your sleep (maybe due to travel) can disrupt the menstrual cycle. PMS indicates the monthly rhythm of menstruation and hormones is not aligned.
“The first step is to get the daily rhythm back into balance. This is why meditation is one of the most powerful tools for alleviating PMS in the midst of very demanding and hectic everyday lives. The deep rest of meditation (many times deeper than sleep) gives women much-needed downtime so vital functions such as purification, hormone production and biochemical re-balancing can occur properly. Sleep cycles improve, the production of stress chemicals (such as cortisol) stops and your hormones move towards a more normal functioning.”
Egzona Makolli, technical and commercial nutritionist for Kinetic Enterprises, says you can eat to beat PMS:
“Cut out processed and refined foods including foods high in sugar, salt, saturated fat and starchy carbohydrates as these are known to contribute to PMS. Try to include more oily fish in the diet as these provide essential omega 3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory and can help ease symptoms.
“Include more whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables in your diet, which provide a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Avoid caffeine and xanthine-containing foods and beverages such as tea, coffee, soft drinks and chocolate as this stimulant can make you anxious and jittery but also acts a diuretic which can deplete many essential nutrients. Try to reduce salt intake as this can prevent bloating and water retention and include foods high in phytoestrogens such as flaxseeds, nuts, whole grains, apples, celery and alfalfa. Don’t forget also drink plenty of water daily to prevent dehydration.”
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