PMS Got You Craving Chocolate?
Clinical Herbalist Reviewed on January 6, 2011 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Some women brave the elements to get their hands on it. Others keep a stash of it tucked away, ready to ward of those clockwork-like PMS cravings. What is “it”? Chocolate!
So what’s causing those cravings for chocolate, anyway?
It’s actually your brain’s way of telling you that your body needs more serotonin. Serotonin is one of our ‘feel good’ neurotransmitters; when it’s too low, we get depressed, cranky, impatient, irritable…
Chocolate lifts our mood because it increases serotonin. Its carbohydrate content (sugar, in this case) gets insulin pumping into your bloodstream. Insulin increases tryptophan uptake in the brain, which rapidly gets converted to serotonin. Once the serotonin increases, you feel satiated, calmed, in control again… at least for awhile. But then the insulin nose-dives and you’re back at square one (plus, this can wreak havoc on your blood sugar levels, over time).
When those cravings hit, try a complex carbohydrate like whole-grain crackers, or a slice of dense bread. These will sustain your insulin– and thus, serotonin—levels for longer.
This all really begs the question: why does serotonin get too low in the first place? We’ll be looking at that in a followup post!
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