Got PMS? Stress and nutritional deficiencies could be the culprits
Daniel Chong, ND - Investigation + Education = Disease Prevention
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Got PMS? Stress and nutritional deficiencies could be the culprits

It’s the time of the month that so many women dread, the PMS days. For some, premenstrual syndrome is simply an irritating inconvenience, but for others it is a cause of extreme suffering. Yet because it is so common, many women don’t take PMS seriously, even though the effect on their lives is serious indeed.

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 all out of whack. PMS symptoms may be a signal that the body is experiencing a progesterone deficiency due to chronic stress.

Symptoms of low progesterone include:

  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Changes in weight or appetite
  • Crying easily
  • Irritability
  • Lack of concentration
  • Anxiety
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent or irregular menstruation
  • Low sex drive
  • Migraines

Natural remedies for PMS

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. Every time you experience stress, your body responds with cortisol, an adrenal stress hormone that works to keep the body in balance.

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.

Factors that can cause chronic stress:

  • Sugar and sweeteners, too many starchy, grain-based 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
  • Chronic inflammation (joint pain, muscle pain, skin rashes and disorders, brain fog, fatigue, etc.)
  • Autoimmune disease (such as Hashimoto’s)
  • Overdoing it; pushing yourself without breaks or enough rest
  • Poor nutrition

Restoring hormonal balance naturally

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, or managing your autoimmune disease appropriately, to name just a few.

Nutrients to ease PMS

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)? There are a number of excellent dietary sources of omega 3, such as small, cold-water fish, grass fed beef, flax, hemp and chia seeds. There are fewer dietary options for GLA, but hemp seeds are one of them, making it potentially excellent source of essential fats for women with hormonal issues.
Vitamins B6, especially when combined with magnesium, can be close to miraculous for some women with PMS, and should be considered as first line therapy in these cases. In some cases, these nutrients may need to be intravenously administered initially, with oral supplementation in between treatments.

If you or someone you know has significant hormone related issues, contact my office right away, you don’t need to suffer any longer.

32 Comments to Got PMS? Stress and nutritional deficiencies could be the culprits :

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Jessica on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:02 AM
Thank you for your valuable thoughts on this! After nine years of marriage, my husband has finally figured out that he needs to just keep his mouth shut during this time of the month for me! But this in not what I want for me or him! So even though during PMS I crave Oreo cookies and homogenized milk, I will try to refrain! Thank you:)
Reply to comment
Dr. Chong on Thursday, July 19, 2012 9:02 AM
Hi Jessica, You both sound like wise people. Hope this helps!!

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It’s hard to find the good from the bad sometimes but I think you’ve nailed it! would you mind updating your blog with more information? A pretty much a great posts in here. Totally amazing page indeed.

Teresa on Thursday, July 19, 2012 8:28 AM
Quick question. I've been brewing my own Kombucha. Does this beverage have any effect on PMS, positive or negative? Thank you for this blog post. As someone who has suffered from severe PMS, I'm truly grateful for the information.
Reply to comment
Dr. Chong on Thursday, July 19, 2012 9:04 AM
Hi Teresa, There is some amount of controversy as to the benefits of kombucha, but there seems to be enough evidence out there that it can aid gut health and potentially liver health, both of which should at least indirectly aid PMS issues. That said, I think many people over do the kombucha. I stick with about 8 oz per day max.

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