Once again it’s that time of the month and for millions of women around the country, the depression, the irritability, the Insomnia, the Back pain, the breast tenderness, cramping , brain fog, sugar cravings and fill in the blank are all just part of being a woman and having a cycle. Many women don’t take PMS seriously, even though the effect on their lives is serious indeed.
For women who also have hypothyroidism, symptoms can overlap with many if not all of the symptoms of a hormone imbalance. It also should be noted that in my experience it is extremely rare to not have problems in both areas, considering how these two systems are so intimately connected and dependent on one another.
Common or not, PMS, especially the extreme variety, is not normal or healthy. It is a sign that the delicate balance of female hormones is out of balance. Given what we now know about the cause of endometriosis, fibroids, breast, uterine, cervical cancer, PMS symptoms may be a signal that the body is experiencing a progesterone deficiency or other hormonal imbalances due to chronic stress. The cause of this hormonal imbalance if left uncorrected can have dire consequences down the road on a woman’s health.
- Mood swings
- Changes in weight or appetite
- Crying easily
- Lack of concentration
- Frequent or irregular menstruation
- Low sex drive
As you may have noticed, many of these are also symptoms of Hypothyroidism and Adrenal Fatigue. Chronic stress will lower progesterone and will also suppress thyroid function.
Instead of reaching for the progesterone cream at your local supplement store, it’s safer to first address the underlying causes of low progesterone. For many women, progesterone levels take a beating because of chronic stress and adrenal fatigue. Every time you experience stress, your body responds with cortisol, an adrenal stress hormone that works to keep the body in balance. symptoms of adrenal fatigue are also very similar to low progesterone, and hypothyroidism.
But in these fast-paced times, we experience stress so frequently that the body’s demand for cortisol is constantly high. To keep up with demand, the body borrows the materials needed to make reproductive hormones, including progesterone, and makes cortisol instead. This is called “pregnenolone steal,” when the body steals pregnenolone needed for other hormones to keep pace with the demands of stress.
Not only can chronic stress rob the body of progesterone, but it can also hinder function of the brain’s pituitary gland. The pituitary gland directs function for the thyroid and other hormone glands. When chronic stress suppresses pituitary function, this can suppress thyroid function and hormone balance.
- Sugar and sweeteners, too many starchy foods (rice, pasta, bread, etc.), and excess caffeine
- Food intolerances (gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, nuts, grains, etc.)
- Gut problems (gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, stomach pain, etc.)
- Lack of sleep
- Spinal misalignments leading to Chronic inflammation and osteoarthritis.
- Chronic inflammation (joint pain, muscle pain, skin rashes and disorders, brain fog, fatigue, etc.)
- Autoimmune disease (such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism)
- Overdoing it; pushing yourself without breaks or enough rest
- Poor nutrition
- Toxins such as medications, vaccines, Genetically modified foods, growth hormones in our foods.
Many times, the best way to reduce symptoms of PMS is to stop the pregnenolone steal, thereby allowing the body to make enough of its own progesterone. Strategies for stopping pregnenolone steal include an anti-inflammatory diet, which eases the body’s burden of stress. You may also need to work on restoring gut health, taming chronic inflammation, supporting the adrenal glands, correcting thyroid imbalances, identifying food sensitivities or managing your autoimmune disease appropriately, approaches that benefit from the guidance of an experienced practitioner.
These strategies can also help boost thyroid function.
Basic nutritional support can sometimes ease the symptoms of PMS. For instance, are you getting enough omega 3 fatty acids and gamma-linoleic acid (GLA)? You may find that supplementing with a high-quality emulsified fish oil is helpful, especially if you add one of the GLAs—evening primrose oil, borage oil, or black currant oil—as well.
Supporting serotonin, your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter, may also alleviate symptoms when you’re premenstrual. Compounds that support serotonin activity include tryptophan, 5-HTP, St. John’s Wort, and SAMe, progesterone, B6, B12. Other nutrients that may offer additional support include magnesium, selenium, glutathione, iron and vitamin D3.
Important note: If you are taking an antidepressant, do NOT embark upon a serotonin support regimen without the guidance of your physician. DO not take iron supplements unless you have had your Ferritin levels evaluated.