I’ve received several requests now for a post on PMS and how to naturally deal with unwelcomed period bullshit. You know, the bloating, the unhealthy cravings, the cramps, the mood swings… It can be a total downer, although I’ve learned to view my period as a cleansing process for the body to make the whole situation a more pleasant experience. A positive attitude is everything in life, but sometimes you also need a little help to minimize symptoms. Here are some of my top recommendations for reducing PMS discomfort:
When I was younger, a friend and I used to have a “fuck you, period!” ritual every month where we’d pig out on burgers, chili cheese fries and milkshakes at a local diner. Why is it that when we get our periods we often crave the foods that feel good in the moment, but actually make our symptoms worse?
It wasn’t until I replaced the crap for nutritious, wholesome, REAL food that I really noticed a big reduction in my PMS symptoms. Eating nutritious foods rich in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants is what the body thrives on, especially during that time of the month. Fill up on alkalizing foods like leafy green vegetables and fruit, healthy fats high in omega-3s like salmon, nuts or chia seeds, and unprocessed whole grains, like quinoa or rice. Eating foods rich in potassium, calcium, and magnesium will help reduce cramps, so eat bananas, dark chocolate (the darker the better), and spinach. If you’re craving meat, eat some red meat (preferably grass-fed organic). It’ll help restore depleted iron levels. Feeling bloated? Drink plenty of water, but also eat foods that are natural diuretics (aka, foods that make you pee more). Parsley, pineapple, lemon, celery, ginger, cabbage, and apple cider vinegar are all examples. I like to start the morning off with my Daily Green Smoothie which is packed full of nutrients and will typically drink warm lemon water with ginger throughout the day.
While some people feel like being sedentary during their periods, I’ve found that light exercise can be quite beneficial. Exercise helps reduce stress and when I’m feeling depressed and irritable, exercise makes me feel relaxed. Try exercises like walking, running, swimming, biking, or some gentle yoga poses like these ones here:
Wide Child’s Pose
Wide-Legged Seated Forward Fold
Aromatherapy has been used for many thousands of years as a way to lower stress levels, relieve pain, improve mood, and suppress cravings and nausea. Essential oils have even been demonstrated in lab studies to kill flu, E. coli, and cancer cells (source: Women’s Health Magazine, Cancer Tutor). Different oils initiate different responses in the brain, which in turn, directs your nervous system to say, “relax” or “spring into action.” During or before menstruation, I recommend clary sage, lavender, chamomile, ylang-ylang, grapefruit, jasmine, or cedarwood to ease symptoms and lift your mood. I personally like to mix a couple drops of oil with some coconut oil and rub it on my stomach if I’m experiencing discomfort.
Finally, more people are publicly acknowledging the wide-ranging medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant. For period-related struggles, cannabis can be amazing, and a great alternative to pharmaceutical pain medications that may be harsher on the body. Cannabis rich in the compound CBD is gaining popularity due to its ability to greatly (and in most cases relatively instantly) reduce pain and inflammation while lifting your mood. In fact, Queen Victoria, as well as many other recognizable, historical women, used CBD-rich cannabis in the 19th century to reduce her menstrual cramps (source: Project CBD). CBD differs from THC-rich cannabis in that CBD-rich cannabis has little to no psychoactive effects or the “high” most people associate with cannabis. It’s for this reason that strains high in CBD make it a premier choice for many users.
Remember to Breathe
This tip is for everyone, but especially for those women who get anxious, crampy, depressed, or tired during their periods. So much can be controlled not only by the brain but by the breath. Start by taking deep, even breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. If you can, incorporate some of the yoga poses from above. Focus on your breath and remind yourself that everything will be ok!
Have comments, questions or suggestions? Have additional methods for relieving cramps or PMS symptoms? Leave a message below, or reach me through my website.
Thanks for reading!