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Nutrition & Healing - PMS

By Dr. Jonathan V. Wright

If you have premenstrual syndrome., there's no need to keep it. There are very many ways possible to control or eliminate PMS, either singly or in combination. These include diet change, supplemental vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, natural hormone treatment and candida treatment.

"Mainstream" medical treatment of PMS sometimes involves prescription of diuretics for fluid retention and if symptoms are severe, tranquilizers and antidepressants. An increasing number of "mainstream" medical practitioners prescribe progesterone for PMS symptoms.

Sugar and refined carbohydrate elimination are necessary for the best results in controlling PMS. This maybe difficult if you have a "sweet tooth", but do the best you can and improve to zero over time. Check your natural food store for alternatives to refined sugar. As alcohol can aggravate the same problems as sugar and refined carbohydrates, it should also be eliminated.

Caffeine needs to go, too. This includes not only coffee, but also black and green tea, "cola" drinks and chocolate. Yes, Chocolate!

For some women with PMS, food allergy elimination is a major part of PMS symptom elimination. It's not clear why food allergies should cause symptoms at only one time of the month and not others, but so many of the women I've worked with have confirmed this to be so that I've learned to be alert for the possibility of food allergy. If you have allergy symptoms now, have had them in the past, or if members of your family have allergies, consider identifying and eliminating food allergies as part of your overall PMS elimination program. For more information about allergy testing, you may want to read the brief regarding Allergy Testing, or you might call The American Academy of Environmental Medicine at 913-642-6062 or the International Federation of Electrodermal Screeners at 800-258-2172 for a referral to a doctor knowledgeable and skilled in food allergy testing near you.

Even for women without food allergies, elimination of milk and dairy products is still helpful in reducing symptoms of PMS.

Summarizing to this point: if you're going "all-out" to eliminate your PMS, necessary diet changes include elimination of sugar and refined carbohydrate, caffeine, alcohol, milk and dairy products and in may cases food allergies. Since this is a lengthy list, once you've done it and your PMS is under control, you might "challenge" these eliminations by re-introducing them one at a time and observe which ones are important in your case.

Several nutrients can reduce PMS symptoms. If used together, they can sometimes completely control it. These nutrients include vitamin E, vitamin B6 and the rest of the B-complex, magnesium and essential fatty acids.

Vitamin E reduces a number of PMS symptoms, including anxiety, depression, insomnia, irritability, sugar craving, headache and fatigue. I usually recommend 800 units daily in the initial stages of PMS treatment.

Vitamin B6 is far and away the most useful of the B-vitamins for reducing PMS symptoms. It particularly reduces fluid retention, breast swelling and tenderness, bloating and edema in general, as well as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, sugar craving and symptoms caused by refined sugar. I usually recommend 100 to 200 milligrams of vitamin B6, three times daily. Many women have told me that adequate reduction in bloating and fluid retention is actually the best indication of how much vitamin B6 to use. The entire B-complex should always be used along with individual B-vitamins such as B6.

Magnesium should always be used along with vitamin B6 as the two work closely together in many of our bodies' system. Magnesium also reduces PMS symptoms on its' own. I usually recommend 200 milligrams of magnesium three times daily.

A particular type of essential fatty acids, called 'gamma linoleic acid' [gamma lin-oh-lay-ik acid] or GLA [g-l-a], can be very helpful in reducing PMS symptoms. GLA is found in primrose oil, black currant oil and borage oil. I usually recommend 80 to 240 milligrams of GLA as found in one of these oils daily. Extra vitamin E should be taken with essential fatty acid supplements but of course vitamin E is already on any PMS supplement list.

Many natural food stores sell ''combination'' PMS supplements that include vitamin E, vitamin B6, B-complex, magnesium and a source of GLA. If your PMS symptoms are mild to moderate, such a combination is often sufficient, but if you have a severe problem, you'll likely want to use them individually at first.

Whenever I recommend individual nutrient supplements, I also recommend a general multiple vitamin-mineral supplement as a "back-up".

Natural progesterone is used for PMS in quantities ranging from 25 to 400 milligrams daily during the second part of the menstrual cycle. I've rarely found supplemental progesterone in milligram quantities necessary. Instead, I frequently recommend progesterone and other menstrual cycle hormones in homeopathic dilutions and have found them to be very effective at relieving PMS symptoms. To find a doctor who can help you with this approach, you might call the International Federation of Electrodermal Screeners at 800-258-2172.

Candida infections, whether obvious or not, can also contribute to PMS symptoms. To be checked for hidden candida problems, you might want to contact the American College of Advancement in Medicine, at the number given below, for referral to a doctor knowledgeable and skilled in detection and treatment of candida near you. You also might want to read the brief regarding Yeast infections (Candida) for further information on candida treatment.

Because of differences in age, sex, metabolism, or potential allergy, these diet and supplement therapies may not be suitable for you. Consult a health care professional skilled in nutritional and natural therapies. To locate one near you, you might call the American College of Advancement in Medicine at 800-532-3688 or the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians at 206-323-7610.


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