TREATING PMS AND PERIOD PAIN DURING SOCIAL ISOLATION
Quite a few of my patients have emailed me the past month updating me on their cycles since lock down. Thankfully for many of them, the consistency of their past treatments have awarded them the lasting benefits of continued menstrual relief. But for a handful of them, the lack of consistent treatment along with the added pandemic stress resulted in an increase in symptoms. There’s a lot you can do to treat PMS and menstrual pain without the physical needle part of acupuncture. So this is what I told them:
SUPPLEMENTS: Some basic supplementation can be extremely beneficial in treating PMS and other gynecological conditions. Magnesium (a mineral many people are deficient in), has been shown to reduce menstrual cramps and water retention. Vitamin B6 along with magnesium has also been shown to be beneficial in preventing cramps and improving premenstrual mood. Magnesium can also help reduce anxiety and stress (and we could all use a bit of that right now!). If you suffer from symptoms of estrogen dominance (heavy clotty periods, breast tenderness, fibroids, endometriosis, bloating, moodswings, and insomnia before your cycle), I’d recommend adding NAC and a DIM with calcium D glucarate supplement to aid in liver detoxification. But also check with a health care practitioner (or your Acubalance acupuncturist or Naturopath) if those supplements can be helpful for you.
CHINESE HERBS: Chinese herbs are my favorite tools for treating gynecological concerns. An individualized prescription can be incredibly helpful in reducing PMS symptoms, helping with menstrual and ovulation regularity, reduce clotting and cramping, and so much more. Within a cycle or two I almost always see patients notice improvements in their cycle, hormone balance, and overall health. Book in a virtual consultation with one of our Chinese medicine practitioners who can prescribe you a formula and have it shipped directly to your house.
DIET: Diet is huge when it comes to hormone balance and menstrual pain. I advise all of my patients to try their best to avoid their known food triggers - whatever they may be. If a type of food causes gassiness, constipation, diarrhea, or even just slight abdominal upset, we know that this food is going to cause inflammation in the gut. When there is inflammation in the gut there is going to be systemic inflammation in the entire body which can then interfere with ovulation and hormone balance. It can also prevent the digestive system from being able to effectively detox excess levels of estrogen when can then build up in the bloodstream and create more hormone problems. If you don’t know what foods trigger you, it’s best to eliminate or reduce foods that are generally inflammatory for most people - dairy, gluten, sugar, and alcohol. You don’t necessarily have to remove all of these from your diet, but experiment with one at a time and notice how your period changes. Take one cycle to remove sugar and see what happens, then gluten, then alcohol. Different things trigger people in different ways.
STRESS RELIEF: Stress has an enormous impact on hormone balance. High stress hormones (cortisol, epinephrine, adrenaline) negatively impact progesterone levels which can cause short luteal phase (12 days or shorter), premenstrual spotting, and more PMS symptoms because the lower levels of progesterone can’t balance out estrogen levels resulting in estrogen dominance. Of course it’s easier said than done, but just 10 minutes of meditation per day can be hugely beneficial. Try doing one thing per day that feels relaxing (breathing techniques, going for a walk, reading, journaling, etc.). Getting enough sleep is also important for hormone balance (as adequate and regulated levels of cortisol and melatonin are crucial for regulating the circadian rhythm)
HOME REMEDIES: There are also a bunch of home remedies that can be really helpful for menstrual cramps. Firstly, never underestimate the power of a good heating pad or hot water bottle. Heat relaxes the muscles and dilates the blood vessels which can help period pain. I also like to recommend ginger and cinnamon tea as well as consuming warm, nourishing food and drink in general. Rose tea has also been shown to reduce period pain and PMS.
VIRTUAL CONSULTATIONS: If you’re wanting to dive deeper into the root cause of your PMS or menstrual cramps, I recommend booking a telehealth consultation with one of our Acupuncturists or Naturopaths. We can then tailor the treatment protocol to your specific health concerns for fast, effective, and lasting results. Book online here.