Natural ways to manage PMS
It doesn’t’ feel like “that time of the month” unless it doesn’t come with a ‘yours’ truly’ precursor — Premenstrual Syndrome, commonly called ‘PMS’. And it is no simple & shy chick!
It arrives with full pomp and show — making its entry loud and clear with an entourage of sidekicks — mood swings, bloating, food cravings, ballooning breasts, uncontrollable irritability, and of course, tears. PMS is no easy babe — you can’t avoid, escape or ignore it.
A collection of physical and emotional symptoms that start a week or so before your period is called PMS. While it makes some women feel moodier than usual, others feel bloated and achy.
Most women share a hate-hate relationship with PMS. The number of years and experience do not count here. Every month when PMS strikes, it drives you out of your wits.
An imbalance of estrogen and progesterone levels combined with factors such as stress, insufficient sleep, and junk food, the hormonal plunge wreak havoc on your emotional health. Raiding the medicine cabinet, however, is not the only way to deal with the PMS problem.
Lifestyle habits to ease PMS
Identify your symptoms
Keep a track of your menstrual cycle and how you feel throughout its different stages. This will help you understand your mood swings that are linked to your cycle. There is a reason your body feels extra moody and it puts things in perspective.
Initiate lifestyle changes
Do you know that regular aerobic exercise lessens PMS symptoms? Exercises such as cycling, brisk walking, running, and swimming increase the heart rate and improve lung function. You need to exercise regularly and not just during the days that you have symptoms. You can aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise per day.
Make sleep a priority
Sleep deprivation can be detrimental to your mood if you are weeks away from your period. Ensure that you clock in at least seven to eight hours of sleep at night, especially in the week or two leading up to your period.
Manage your stress levels
Mood swings can worsen when you are under stress. Deep breathing exercises are quite helpful in calming your nerves and preparing you for deep sleep. Massaging your feet and hands is another easy relaxation hack that you can try for good sleep.
5 Natural Remedies for PMS
1. SWEAT it out
If you are looking for more reasons to commit to an exercise routine, here’s the most compelling one. Research has shown that exercise can help alleviate your PMS symptoms. When you work out, your body releases pain-busting endorphins, pleasure-inducing dopamine, and depression-fighting serotonin. Also, when you sweat and stretch the blood flows to the uterine, abdominal, and lower-back muscles increase, which then help ease the tension that leads to cramps.
2. Fix your SLEEP timings
Fatigue is one of the significant reasons for PMS-related irritability and mood swings. And there is a reason behind it. You feel more fatigued before periods due to a lack of serotonin in the brain. It is the chemical that regulates mood and social behaviour. In addition, the PMS symptoms such as flatulence, bloating, constipation, acidity, body cramps, and headaches make the body more lethargic. So don’t miss your 8 hours of sleep to beat the PMS Fatigue and moodiness.
3. Get on the MAT to DE-STRESS
Ever wondered why do you feel angrier, weepier, and more anxious or irritable before your periods? Right before your period, your progesterone levels are at an all-time high, leading your hormonal balance to a tailspin. Along with this your stress level also increases because your body starts producing more cortisol — the stress hormone. And this all leads to a volcanic eruption of emotions. Yoga and Meditation or any other stress reliever for that matter is good to keep your cortisol levels in check. Yoga and meditation also help the body produce more serotonin (anxiety fighting hormone) and dopamine (the happy hormone) — and both these help you combat PMS the natural way.
3. Cut the SUGAR & lay off CAFFEINE
Some things can never be good for your body and health. Sugar and Caffeine are one of those things. Your body craves sugar during that time of the month but it is a vicious cycle. When you give in to the sugar craving, your blood glucose levels rapidly shoot up and make PMS worse. You can switch to natural sweeteners such as soaked fig, pind khajur, munakka, raisins, or fruit to beat your sugar cravings without throwing your glucose levels out of balance.
Looking for comfort in a coffee mug? There is none in it! Caffeine is not good in particular because it is dehydrating in nature, and this could severe the PMS symptoms such as anxiety and lead to sleep deprivation. During this time you should have more water. So, sip on some herbal teas. And if you really can’t give up then you can have Caffe Latte — one cup is fine.
4. Stay HYDRATED
Is there a problem that water cannot solve? It is called the source of life for a reason. Water helps to reduce bloating, constipation, lethargy and maintain energy. At the same time, it also helps flush your system so your body holds onto less liquid.
5. Take the help of HERBS
Some herbs are the best-kept secret to good health. For PMS you can try the following herbs:
- Ajwaine Gur Khadha in the mid-morning. Having it a few days before your periods helps in controlling indigestion, which is due to PMS. During periods, it helps reduce menstrual cramps. It also aids in the easy flow of blood without much pain.
- Ashwagandha tea before bedtime, as it beats adrenal fatigue.
- Cinnamon Milk is also a good option as it contains anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties, meaning it helps relieve the muscle spasms during this time).
- Mulethi roots can moderate spasms and alleviate pain because of these are antispasmodic in nature, and relieve muscle spasms in the abdomen and legs during PMS. Mulethi also contains Flavonoids, which are antioxidants known to improve circulation and relieve tissue damage and help in reducing inflammation.
- Chamomile Tea also works, since it is antispasmodic as well as anti-anxiety in nature. It helps in relieving pains and regulating emotions.
Load up on these NUTRIENTS
- Calcium: Did you know Calcium deficiency could lead to severe PMS and hormonal disturbance in the body? In a research study, it is noticed that it can significantly reduce premenstrual depression, fatigue, edema, and PMS pain in women.
Healthy sources: sesame seeds, almonds, cashews, green leafy veggies, and lentils.
- Vitamin D: This can bring a big change to your overall health and not just PMS. Improving vitamin D status may improve the inflammatory factors and antioxidant capacity and, hence, significantly bring down the frequency and severity of PMS symptoms.
Healthy sources: Exposure to sunlight, Supplements as per existing levels
- Magnesium: Research studies have shown that magnesium supplementation can remarkably reduce PMS symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, bloating, fluid retention, breast tenderness, sugar cravings, headaches, and poor sleep, which affect 75 percent of women.
Healthy sources: Amaranth, Jowar, bajra, and ragi
- Zinc: You need Zinc to activate B6. It’s an essential mineral for 100 enzyme reactions, along with fertility, immune function, hormone synthesis, mood health, and stomach acid production.
Healthy sources: Almonds, Suji, Halim seeds, and Cashews
Foods that make PMS worse
Whopping fluctuations in your insulin level are a common cause of cravings and bad moods. Replace refined carbs with complex carbs, which are do not spike your insulin level immediately. Complex carbs enter your bloodstream slowly and help curb those cravings. Some good sources are whole grains, beans, oats, and barley.
It is a fact well known that sodium makes the body retain fluid. Reduce the amount of salt in your diet, especially if your PMS symptoms include bloating, tender breasts, or swollen hands and feet. Avoid processed, packaged foods as they are high in salt.
Caffeine and Alcohol
Need a caffeine rush or a glass of wine to feel recharged? But this unwinding tactic can actually make your PMs worse. Both caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep. In fact, caffeine can actually aggravate PMS symptoms.
How can I reduce my PMS symptoms?
Load up on Vitamin D and Calcium
Research suggests that an optimum intake of Vitamin D and Calcium may help reduce premenstrual syndrome. You can consult your physician or nutritionist for a vitamin D supplement. Focus on natural calcium-rich foods like cheese, milk, yogurt, etc.
(Also read: 11 Lesser Known Facts about Vitamin D)
Amp up Vitamin B-6
A water-soluble vitamin, vitamin B-6 is involved in the production of neurotransmitters, which play a crucial role in elevating your mood. The results of a recent research study suggest that doses of vitamin B-6 up to 100 mg/day are likely to help treat premenstrual symptoms as well as premenstrual depression. Some natural sources of vitamin B-6 are foods such as potatoes, starchy veggies, salmon, chickpeas, etc.
Some of the common PMS symptoms are bloating and breast tenderness. Taking magnesium supplements may help reduce water retention. You can go for healthy sources like jowar, bajra, ragi, amaranth, almonds, peanuts, and green leafy vegetables.
It is a fact commonly known that women lose a fair amount of iron during menstruation. So getting enough of this nutrient from food is important before and during periods.
How do you stop PMS symptoms naturally?
The answer lies in food and nutrition. Simple changes in your diet can actually help you relieve the PMS symptoms. Bring in more complex carbohydrates in your daily diet. It can help you reduce mood swings and food cravings. Throwing in calcium-rich foods such as yogurt and leafy green vegetables can also ease the symptoms.
Drinks to ease PMS symptoms
Ajwain Gur Kadha: PMS Solution
Serving Size: 1 glass
Preparation Time : 0 minute
Cooking Time: 10 minutes
1 tsp ajwain
1 tsp gur (jaggery)
11⁄2 cup water
1. In a pan, boil ajwain, gur, and water together.
2. Sieve it and serve hot.
Kahwa: Mood Elevator
Serving Size: 1 glass
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 minutes
4 tsp Kashmiri green tea leaves
4–5 strands Kesar
1 small piece of cinnamon
2 cardamoms, slightly crushed
1/4 cup finely chopped almonds (badam)
3 cups of water
4–5 rose petals
1. Soak the saffron strands with 1 tbsp warm water in a bowl and mix well.
2. Take 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil, then add cinnamon and cardamom.
3. Cook for approximately 3–4 minutes on a slow flame.
4. Now add the Kashmiri green tea leaves, keep stirring and cook for 2–3 minutes.
5. Strain the tea and add almonds to the saffron–water mixture, mix well, and cook on a slow flame for another minute.
What is PMS?
The full form of PMS is premenstrual syndrome, and it appears before the onset of a woman’s period. An imbalance of estrogen and progesterone levels combined with factors such as stress, insufficient sleep, and junk food, the hormonal plunge wreak havoc on your emotional health.
What are some of the effects of PMS?
Common PMS problems include mood swings, bloating, food cravings, ballooning breasts, uncontrollable irritability, and of course, tears.
What are some natural remedies for PMS?
Exercise, getting enough sleep, yoga and meditation, reduced intake of sugar and caffeine, and drinking plenty of water are some natural ways to deal with PMS.
What herbs and spices are good to deal with PMS?
Ajwain can help with indigestion and cramps that crop up around PMS time. Ashwagandha before bedtime can help combat adrenal fatigue. Cinnamon milk is a good remedy as it contains anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties. Mulethi root and chamomile tea also help to relieve pains.
What nutrients are important to combat PMS? What foods should you avoid?
A diet rich in calcium, vitamin D, magnesium and zinc helps fight PMS symptoms. You should avoid alcohol, refined carbs, excess salt and caffeine.