To Your Health
April, 2013 (Vol. 07, Issue 04)
Natural Ways to Beat PMS
By Julie T. Chen, MD
PMS is something we as women have had to deal with every month for most of our young adult and adult years. While we become concerned if we miss a period for obvious reasons, we are also not very happy to see our monthly friend as well which usually comes with some bloating, pain, and mood changes.
So, how can we manage our PMS symptoms just a little bit easier? Let's give these tips a try...
- Watch your diet a week before your usual PMS time. Food has a huge impact on PMS symptoms, so aim to eat a low salt and low sugar diet about a week before your PMS week. This will help her PMS cravings and symptoms to be a little less severe. The reason I suggest making the diet change a week before your usual PMS week is because once you hit your PMS week, you may not be able to control the cravings for salt or sugar. By pre-emptively addressing the symptoms and eating cleaner, you should ensure that your PMS week is a little less difficult.
- Drink green tea. This is important because it is a natural diuretic which means that it will help you feel and look less bloated. It also helps with your metabolism so that you feel a bit more energy during your PMS time and can potentially help you keep some of your PMS weight gain down.
Get plenty of sleep. When you don't get enough rest, your body likes to crave carbohydrates and tends to bloat more. It worsens the fatigue that you may already feel with PMS and it definitely worsens mood. So, not getting enough sleep means that your PMS symptoms will likely appear like it's double the strength of not feeling good...and let's face it, the normal strength of PMS symptoms is already more than enough.
- Exercise. When you exercise the week before and during the week of your PMS, your symptoms tend to be less than usual. Exercise helps to release happy hormones and helps your body to get rid of bloating and cramps. When you work out, you are also less likely to have monstrous sugar or salt cravings...basically, it is a winner all around.
- Spend time with people who bring you joy. This time of the month is probably not the best time to meet up with people who are draining or irritating to you. However, meeting up with people who usually bring you joy and make you feel loved is a good idea because being around them will trigger happy hormones that will help your body hold onto that happy and loved feeling long after your rendezvous with them.
So, while this is a time of the month that is traditionally not your favorite, there are ways to ensure that you get through the PMS a bit better rather than sink into the misery. As I always tell my patients at my clinic of integrative medicine in San Jose CA, when you tackle your symptoms head on and plan ahead for them, you have a choice in helping your body manage its hormones. By living a healthy and balanced lifestyle and addressing your health issues, you can optimally and favorably control your symptoms instead of having those symptoms control you.
Dr. Julie T. Chen is board-certified in internal medicine and fellowship-trained and board-certified in integrative medicine. She has her own medical practice in San Jose, Calif. She is the medical director of corporation wellness at several Silicon Valley-based corporations, is on several medical expert panels of Web sites and nonprofit organizations, is a recurring monthly columnist for several national magazines, and has been featured in radio, newspaper, and magazine interviews. She incorporates various healing modalities into her practice including, but is not limited to, medical acupuncture, Chinese scalp acupuncture, clinical hypnotherapy, strain-counterstrain osteopathic manipulations, and biofeedback. To learn more, visit www.makinghealthyez.com.