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Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on January 12, 2010 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Blog

I think my man is PMS-ing. Poor guy, I know how he feels!

For the last few months I’ve noticed that periodically (like, every 4 weeks or so), my guy’s normally calm, gentle demeanor turns ugly. He becomes crabby and sensitive. I catch him gorging on carbohydrates and sugar, (read: chips for breakfast, oodles-of-noodles for lunch, and cake for dinner) all the while complaining of feeling broken-out, crampy and bloated.

And sometimes, for no reason at all, he cries.

In general, PMS (or Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) is a very complicated issue. Even though it is estimated that over 80% of all women suffer from one form or another, researchers aren’t 100% sure about every contributing factor. That said, one definitive cause is a monthly drop in estrogen, with other contributing factors including dietary deficiencies and diets high in sugar and caffeine, lack of sleep, and stress.

Women and men each have monthly hormone cycles, with estrogen and testosterone levels fluctuating. A woman’s hormonal cycle is clearly marked in red by the arrival of our periods every month, punctuated sharply by multiple precursor symptoms.

Interestingly, a study published a few years ago shows that the majority of men claim to suffer from a range of symptoms most usually associated with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS). The cause? Most often a sudden fall in testosterone – the hormone responsible for sex drive, sperm production and muscle tone. A man’s cycle isn’t marked with such obvious red checks as a woman’s, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have his period! In my opinion, it’s just invisible. Or not, if you count my man’s example of irritable outbreaks, pimples and loaf-inhaling.

PMS affects everyone differently, and varies in its severity. Of the over 200 symptoms of PMS (basically every symptom known to man – and woman), most women experience only a few, and regularly. Common symptoms include:

– irritability
– tension
– dysphoria (unhappiness)
– stress
– anxiety
– headache
– fatigue
– mood swings
– increased emotional sensitivity
– changes in libido

For around 5 – 10 days per month, the above illustrates perfectly my gorgeous guy. He definitely has his period, PERIOD.

Scientists can’t agree completely on treatment for PMS, as much as they can’t agree on it’s causes. However, there are some obvious lifestyle changes that can minimize and even eliminate the symptoms. For example, since switching to an alkaline diet and practicing happiness, my PMS has gone from wanting to kill people to a rushed trip to the drugstore for organic tampons – in other words, practically forgetting that it’s that time of the month.

Men and women can both benefit from the following:

Calcium and Magnesium: Research has shown that individuals with minimal symptoms have higher levels of calcium and magnesium.

Essential Fatty Acids: Essential fats from the diet provide our bodies with necessary nutrients to function. Optimal function balances out our hormones, naturally – easing symptoms like depression, mood disorders and concentration levels.

Acupuncture: In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is the organ most affected by stress, anger, and frustration. Stagnation of liver energy, or “qi”, by emotions, alcohol, and spicy and fatty foods can lead to PMS symptoms such as breast tenderness and abdominal bloating and cramping.

Diet: Reducing sugar and salt can help relieve symptoms of bloating and cramps. Instead, opt for dark green leafy greens rich in iron and calcium, as well as fruits in their natural state. Eliminate caffeine, which can aggravate anxiety, depression, and breast tenderness.And avoid alcohol, it’s dehydrating and full of sugar – not to mention a depressant And PMS turns most of us into blubbering messes anyhow, right? Forgo!

Deep Breathing: Breathing exercises, meditation, aromatherapy, and yoga are some natural ways to reduce stress and promote relaxation. Pure air in, toxic air out. Relax. Enough said?

Exercise: Regular aerobic exercise such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling may help relieve PMS symptoms. In one study, the frequency but not the intensity of exercise was associated with a decreased PMS symptoms.

So the next time your man turns into a blubbering, bloated mess right before his eyes, know that it’s probably PMS. Show him a little empathy, in the form of a massage, some tea, maybe a hot water bottle. You know, the kind of thing we wish they’d do for us.

And if that doesn’t work, give him a cookie. It works for me.

Love, Sage

Photo Credit: somegeekintn

Read also: Saffron Revisited – PMS & Depression

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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