PMS is not only a physical and biological monthly occurence, it also happens on many other levels: emotional, spiritual and mental. Vanessa Ascencao believes that it’s important to apporach it from a metaphysical point of view, as we are not only a physical body – we encompass and embody so much more.
Why is it that women often experience depression, irritability, weight gain, and even rage during the premenstrual period?
The term PMS is given to imbalances on an emotional and physical level, often unpleasant and uncomfortable and even unexplainable. This happens from ovulation until the onset of (and even during) menstruation. We all know the common effects, such as skin outbreaks, painful breasts, mood swings, cramps, bloating and emotional outbursts.
According to WebMD, 75% of women experience symptoms related to menstruation. This number is on the rise, and the symptoms are getting worse because of the oestrogens in our environment, also known as xenoestrogens, and hormones in our food.
WHAT CAUSES THESE MONTHLY HORMONAL CHANGES?
These changes are often due to hormones — a myriad of these chemical messengers interact to produce menstruation cycles, and the balance between them is key.
This is where what we eat plays a significant role. I like to view the monthly menstrual cycle in another way too. It is part of a creative and beautiful process; every month the body releases an egg or ovum, in preparation for carrying and looking after a new life. Maybe this is why women are often at their most intuitive during the premenstrual period, a fact which our modern world often overlooks. In my view, a women’s reproductive system is the centre of all creation!
HOW TO DEAL WITH PMS AND EMBRACE YOUR FEMALE EXPRESSION
Eating a healthy natural diet is vital. It’s a good idea to avoid foods like coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar, anything with wheat, artificial flavourings and colourings, processed foods, cigarettes, meat that isn’t organic (chicken and meat are loaded with hormones that in turn interfere with our own hormonal system in a negative way), and dairy products. Many studies have shown that excess dairy consumption makes PMS symptoms worse, and the same goes for sugar. Basically, we need to eat food as The monthly is part of a creative and beautiful process; and looking after a new life
NURTURING AND REFLECTING
Native American women used to set up the equivalent of a Moon Lodge, where women would gather together during their menses and be nurtured. They would pray and heal together, have cleansing baths and honour themselves as women. We no longer have these rituals, but learning about them can remind us what a special and reflective time this is. In today’s fast-paced world, we need to look at ways of nurturing and embracing ourselves as women. We need to take special care of our bodies and minds, and come to an understanding of what is happening during our monthly cycle, without that feeling of ‘Oh no. I’m ratty, fat and emotionally drained …’ close as possible to how nature intended it to be. Keep it simple, with fruits, veggies, some fish, whole grains and the good-quality fats in seeds and nuts, olive oil and avocado. These good fats really do keep your endocrine system happy!
Eating less salt will help with water retention, which also causes swollen ankles, sore breasts, bloating, and puffy eyes and fingers.
Vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower are especially beneficial for PMS sufferers because they contain a substance called DIM (di-indolylmethane). DIM has been shown to clean up excess oestrogen, which causes problems such as weight gain.
There are also certain minerals and vitamins that help to bring the hormonal system into balance. A good-quality multivitamin for women is essential, as is evening primrose oil. Maca powder is an excellent addition to the diet. It is a Peruvian whole food that helps your body balance its hormonal system, making it an excellent menstrual cycle regulator.
Exercise is also very important. It helps release tension and stagnated energy, gets things moving generally, and is excellent for the circulation. The boost in serotonin levels that exercise gives you is great for alleviating depression and mood swings.
Having an orgasm is a great way to release premenstrual tension from the pelvic area. A study published in the 1993 December issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that women who received ear, hand and foot reflexology (pressure applied to points that correspond to specific body areas or functions) experienced a significant decrease in PMS symptoms. Touch and the movement of energy are very powerful.
My experience with people I have worked with has shown that keeping the bowels regular is also very important. People who suffer from constipation often experience more severe PMS symptoms. A poor diet is often lacking in fibre, certain minerals and roughage. Having a few soaked prunes in the morning works wonders, as does magnesium — known as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’, it’s a valuable mineral for treating PMS. A study published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that 200 mg magnesium a day reduced physical symptoms of PMS fluid retention and breast tenderness by 40%. If your magnesium levels are low, you may experience poor appetite, nausea, tiredness, mood swings and muscle cramps.
Vitamin B, is essential too. A study published in the British Medical Journal found a significant decrease in severe PMS symptoms when women took 50 – 100 mg of B6 a day.
If you take an oral contraceptive, it will deplete the B vitamins that play an important role in controlling mood and clearing oestrogens from the liver. I recommend that women on the Pill take 10 mg of zinc a day, as zinc helps the body to use vitamin B6.
Finally, make sure you get enough rest and sleep. The body and mind need rest and time to rejuvenate, and lack of sleep plays havoc with your hormones.
Returning to the Mind, Body, Spirit connection, balancing ourselves on all these levels is important. By giving our body what it requires on a nutritional level, we support and nurture our endocrine system and help it to perform optimally. In turn, the body is able to support us on an emotional, mental and physical level.
We should honour our femininity, embrace and step into our power, and not be ashamed. Our relationship with our bodies, and especially our female aspects, reflects our own ease or discomfort/disease with ourfemale expression in the world and in our relationships.