SURVIVE PMS NATURALLY
With Eastern Medicine
It’s coming. That time of the month. It’s almost time for your period and the PMS is setting in. The super fun surge of estrogen and progesterone is about to throw your body for a loop. While every woman’s experience can look different, the general consensus is that it sucks.
From the perspective of Eastern Medicine, however, PMS is more than just the worst time of the month, it’s an example of “disharmony within the body”. Basically, the levels of yin and yang are totally out of whack. While usually, your amounts of yin and yang are equal, this special time of the month can make one or the other stronger. This can mess up the flow (no pun intended) of your body’s blood production or create random surges that make you feel like lashing out. Luckily, TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) offers up these eight ways to find relief.
Herbs for PMS
Hope you like to drink tea, because medicinal herbs are one of the top ways of treating PMS. Depending on the stage of your cycle, your TCM practitioner will prescribe different herbal mixtures. For example, if you only break out during the week of your period, your herbs can be adjusted for that specific symptom. Or maybe you get really stressed out and are ready to snap if someone looks at you the wrong way the week before your period? There are herbs for that too.
One popular combination called Xiao Yao Wan contains eight different medicinal herbs and is used for Liver qi stagnation-specific PMS symptoms. These herbs include; bupleurum, dong qua, white atractylodes rhizome, ginger root, poria, white peony root, peppermint, and licorice root. Other herbs you might see in your prescription include jujube and biota seeds. You should always consult with your medical professionals before adding new supplements to your diet.
Eat Less Sweet & Spicy Foods
What’s your PMS guilty pleasure food? A slab of butter on bread on pasta on cake maybe? Carb city is the destination for a lot of us, but if you happen to have cravings for super sweet or spicy food, you’re out of luck. Say goodbye to your favorite jalapeno-packed burritos and red curry during the week leading up to your period. According to TCM, it might be best to save your favorite Mexican, and Asian dishes for another week, though TCM recommends warming spices like cinnamon and ginger. You’re also going to want to steer clear of too many processed or junk foods, and salt. While this might be the last news your cravings want to hear, keeping your diet clean can help your body get back on track.
Relieve Pain with Acupuncture
We know the idea of relieving pain by using needles seems a little contradictory, but the success rates speak for themselves! Many women find acupuncture to be a better way to get rid of period pain than traditional methods like painkillers. Remember that energy imbalance we mentioned earlier? By inserting very thin needles at strategic points, the energy issue can be fixed.
Everyone’s acupuncture treatment can look a little different depending on the specific issues and how intense they are. A TCM practitioner or acupuncturist will make their diagnosis and create a plan that works best for you. There are a few common points used for PMS symptoms that you might hear your acupuncturist mention. One point that might be used is called Liver 3. This acupuncture point is located about two finger-widths above the gap between your big toe and the second toe. Other points are Ren 4-6 on the midline between your belly button and your pubic bone. If you’re nervous about acupuncture, you can gently massage these points for 4-5 seconds for some acupressure massage.
Get Some Extra Shut-Eye
On top of all the other crap you have to deal with, it can also feel impossible to get a good night’s sleep when you’re PMS-ing. Tossing and turning, multiple trips to the restroom, or insomnia can put a serious damper on your nights, and doesn’t help your already shady mood the next day either. Specifically, stage 2 and REM sleep is most commonly affected. At the same time, however, it’s well-known that adequate sleep is required for the body to heal, rest, and fight threats to the immune system. So how the heck are we supposed to do it all?
The influx and imbalance of hormones during this time might cause you to toss and turn more than usual, so it’s important to plan ahead for extra sleep if you can. Try to get to bed an hour earlier than usual. You can also try avoiding screens and sipping on some calming, decaffeinated tea to help your body get ready for rest.
Add More Fiber & Greens to Your Plate
While you might be passing on the spicy salsa this week, there are plenty of other delicious options to add to your diet that can help alleviate your PMS. Many TCM practitioners suggest loading up on green vegetables like kale, peas, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage, all containing chemicals that help speed up the processing time of estrogen in the liver.
For protein, chicken, fish, and turkey are all still on the table. Other options include whole-grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds. If you can, try to eat foods with ginger and cinnamon, and anything with high levels of zinc, magnesium, and iron. Keeping your body fueled with nutrient-rich foods that help restore balance can help you speed through PMS with fewer symptoms.
Skip the Alcohol
Next time you’re soaking in that bubble bath and catching up on your reading you might want to skip the glass of wine. You know the drill ladies, alcohol isn’t typically part of any wellness plan these days. As frustrating as it is, there’s a good reason for it in this case! In TCM, alcohol is believed to actually make the symptoms of PMS worse.
Researchers found that drinking alcohol was linked with a 45 percent increase in PMS symptoms and having more than one drink per day is linked to a 79 percent increase. Alcohol basically cancels out all the good nourishment in the body, which makes feeling better take much longer. Try swapping out your wine for herbal teas, kombucha, fresh fruit-flavored water, or mocktails during this week.
Make Time for Stress-Relief
When every little thing is pissing you off, focusing on stress relief can feel pretty impossible. Doing what you can to let go of negativity and stress is actually one of the best ways to help your body get through PMS. In TCM, your Liver is really put through the ringer when you’re stressed, so if it’s overwhelmed you can expect your PMS symptoms to get even worse.
Really take the time to figure out a stress-busting plan that’s right for you. Long walks, journaling, practicing breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga are all healthy ways to let go of stress. For a big release, make sure to get in your daily exercise. While you can’t always put a pin in that argument with your boyfriend until the end of your period, it is a good idea to avoid putting yourself in stressful or emotional situations.
Give Reflexology a Try
Take a little bit of acupuncture combined with a little bit of acupressure and you’ve got reflexology. It’s said that reflexology can help reduce pain, and stress, and provide relaxation and overall wellness. Basically, reflexology is similar to acupuncture in that it’s believed that each part of our body is connected to others. So while the therapist might be focusing on pressure points in your hands, feet, and ears, they are actually treating issues with your internal organs. Several studies have shown that reflexology can have positive results for decreasing PMS symptoms including pain, intense emotions, and anxiety. To get the best results you’ll want to shoot for sessions of 40 minutes or more. Check with your TCM practitioner or local spas to see if their massage therapists are certified in reflexology.