Soothe Away Debilitating Cramps and Irritability

It happens to every woman, once every month. You are irritated by little things and constantly complaining about cramps, back pain and headaches. And let’s not mention the excessive cravings. This happens to you like clockwork every month without fail. It is your body telling you to get ready; it’s about time for your menstrual cycle to begin (the dreaded period)!

Now, some ladies barely have any symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) – good for them – but most ladies experience PMS about 5-11 days before they start their monthly menstrual cycle. A small percentage do experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). I want to help these ladies find a natural way to relieve these discomforts that can severely affect their day-to-day lives and the people around them.

First, a little background on what PMS is and why it happens. PMS occurs 5-11 days before the start of a woman’s period. This is caused by the fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone, which are two types of hormones that drastically spike during the menstrual cycle.

About 85 percent of women experience PMS, but about 8-10 percent take it to another level (PMDD). This is a condition in which women have severe symptoms of PMS, specifically: heightened depression, irritability and tension before menstruation. Many doctors recommend painkillers and anti-depression medicine to relieve most of these symptoms, but there are natural ways to say goodbye to PMS and PMDD.

At TKI I have learned from our knowledgeable Wellness staff how to manage the changes occurring in my body holistically without drug intervention. There are many methods, including acupuncture, Chinese herbs and nutritional recommendations, that they have shared with me over the years.

It is important to educate yourself on the monthly patterns that occur during your menstrual cycle. Most doctors recommend keeping a monthly journal where you can log information like when you have a headache, back pain, or any change of mood. Be proactive and ready to deal with the PMS symptoms. You should write down what the symptoms are, the severity and how long it lasts to learn more about how your menstrual cycle functions. Some months might not be as bad as others, but it is important to log this information for future references.

Exercise can do wonders for your overall health, but also it reduces the severity of PMS symptoms. If you exercise for 20 to 30 minutes a day you will help stabilize the body’s spiked hormone levels with the help of endorphins. Endorphins are another hormone, which is secreted within the brain and nervous system during exercise, excitement, pain, the feeling of love and orgasm. When you work out, your body releases endorphins that act as natural painkillers for your aches and pains, but also is a great mood elevator. Even if you were to walk 30 minutes a day it could subdue symptoms like depression, irritability, fatigue, and muscle tension.

Nutrition is a big factor for how the body acts the way it does. Most people have unhealthy diets, which will influence the chemistry in the body causing negative results. It is wise to eliminate or cut back on these five categories: caffeine, alcohol, simple sugars, sodium and fat.

  1. Caffeine. It is proven to elevate the estrogen levels in women, which increases the chances of experiencing PMS. This means cut out caffeine found in certain teas, coffee, soft drinks and sweets like chocolate. This will help subdue or eliminate mood swings, breast tenderness, and cramping.
  2. Alcohol. Of course everyone knows high alcohol consumption is no good, but did you know it increases premenstrual depression? Also, it provokes headaches. Best to avoid it all together or have one cocktail with your girlfriends, but don’t push it.
  3. Simple sugars. It is pretty apparent that simple sugars are no good for you, right? Any processed sweets like candy messes with your blood sugar levels, which can then trigger severe or mild mood swings. It is better to eat complex carbohydrates like rice, beans, or whole grains during signs of PMS. Doing this will help with the sweets cravings.
  4. Sodium. We all love salty foods, even though we know it is not good for us. With the spiked estrogen levels our body retains more water than normal, which causes bloating, headaches, and breast tenderness. With the aid of salt the water retention increases. This of course upsets every woman during her menstrual cycle. Cut out any fast food or processed food and watch your sodium intake.
  5. Fats. Stay away from any greasy foods such as beef, lamb and pork. It is wiser to eat a delicious fish or poultry. Also, don’t forget how yummy some fresh green vegetables from your local market can be.

There are also vitamins and minerals that will help manage the symptoms. It is wise to eat foods high in vitamin A, vitamin D, Vitamin B-6 Vitamin E, calcium, magnesium and fatty acids. There is also PMS relief with the intake of herbal remedies such as black cohosh, ginger, raspberry leaf and primrose oil. Herbal supplements with calming factors, lavender and chamomile, can help decrease mood swings, irritability and sadness.

I hope these suggestions can help ease the pain away. For more information visit the Tiffani Kim Institute web site or call the institute at 312.260.9000.

Tiffani Kim

About Tiffani Kim

Tiffani Kim is an entrepreneur, fashion designer, artist and founder of the Tiffani Kim Institute Medical Wellness Spa in Chicago’s River North. Ms. Kim helps you stay youthful and healthy from the inside out in her blog, “Living Well and Beautifully” with advice, recommendations, trends and more.