Beat PMS Symptoms Naturally

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:

Diet

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.

Light Exercise

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:

Essential Oils

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.

Cannabis

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!

4 Tips For More Restful Sleep

If you feel that a full night of rest isn’t really important, think again.  Without restful sleep and enough of it, your entire health suffers.  Sleep is important for youthful skin, mental clarity, a strong immune system and for maintaining a healthy weight.  Not to mention you’ll make healthier food and lifestyle choices then if you’re tired and lacking motivation.  Even if you eat well and exercise enough, but just aren’t seeing the results you desire, it could be your sleep to blame.

 

Minimize Media Time

It seems most people are on their phones all day.  I am like most people, except that once I realized that the light emitted from my phone (along will all my other devices) impacts sleep quality, I replaced checking my phone or computer before bed with better habits. What happens is that our electronics and energy-efficient lightbulbs all produce artificial light. When exposed to this light in the evenings, our bodies circadian rhythm is thrown off.  During the day, these blue lights are actually meant to keep us alert, but at night they are harmful to our health.  These artificial lights will disrupt the secretion of melatonin, the sleepy-time hormone that influences our circadian rhythm.  A lack of melatonin and working the night shift has been linked to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity (source: Harvard Health Publications).

So, what to do?  Minimize exposure to blue light at least an hour before bed.  You can also install dim red lights which have the least impact on melatonin and circadian rhythm. You can also purchase a pair of ultra-sexy, blue-blocking glasses.  They actually aren’t cute at all, but if you’re someone who has to be on your computer or up working late, I’d definitely consider buying a pair.

1. Create Calming Nighttime Habits

So now that you won’t be using your electronics before bed, you’ll need a replacement nighttime routine.  Instead of browsing Facebook in the evenings for probably the 100th time that day, I have some tips of other things to do.  Remember those things called books?  Try reading one.  Had a stressful day and have a ton of things on your mind? Journal or try coloring in a coloring book.  Feeling achy?  Take a warm shower or bath.  Have a significant other?  Talk to them.  Or try some of these other recommendations below.

2. Use Essential Oils

I have an essential oil for nearly every situation or ailment, but nighttime is when I use my oils the most.  Lavander, chamomille, ylang ylang, cedarwood, bergamot, and sandalwood are some of my personal favorites for calming my body.  There are a few ways to use essential oils, although my preferred methods are to diffuse them into the air using a diffuser, or use them topically on the soles of my feet, on my wrists, or behind my ears (the oils can be used topically on other parts of the body too).  Sometimes I will sprinkle a couple drops of oil on the bottom of my steamy shower so that the scent can rise all around me. Other times I will put a couple drops on a tissue, then rub it over my pillow. Just make sure you get quality oils, like the ones from doTerra, which are certified therapeutic grade.

3. Use Magnesium

Even if you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet, the body can actually only absorb about 50% of it.  Magnesium is beneficial for sleep in that it moves calcium for your bones to your bloodstream, thus acting as a natural muscle relaxant.  If you are someone who really struggles with sleep, I absolutely recommend taking magnesium supplements, bathing in a magnesium bath, or using magnesium oil.  To see what else magnesium can help with, check out its 101 uses.

4. Meditate

There are different ways to go about meditating, so figure out what works best for you.  To calm my mind and body before bed, I like to drape my lavender-filled eye mask over my eyes while I focus on breathing.  I start with even breathing by inhaling through my nose for about four seconds, then exhaling through my mouth for four seconds.  After breathing like this for a few breaths, I then switch it up to the 4-7-8 method so that I’m breathing in through my nose for four seconds, holding it for seven seconds, then exhaling through my mouth for eight seconds.  Try this at least three times in a row.  If I don’t do this, I also like to use the meditation app called Headspace.  It takes ten minutes of your time a day and is particularly great for those new to meditating.

 

Try out all these tips for quality sleep.  If you are still having trouble sleeping or are continuing to wake up feeling exhausted, then let’s talk.  Schedule a complimentary 50-minute consultation with me and we will get to the root of your health concerns!

Three Health Myths Busted!

Myth #1: The Less You Salt Your Food The Better

209785620_2515_detail-300x225For years we’ve heard about Americans’ high salt intake and the American Heart Association‘s instructions to reduce salt consumption.  The truth is that salt is essential to our diet and offers many health benefits, but many Americans consume too much regular old table salt which is processed and stripped of its minerals, not quality sea salt which retains potassium, magnesium, calcium, and other minerals. These mineral properties found in sea salt lower the stress hormone, cortisol, which leads to a healthy weight and fast metabolism.  Too little salt in the diet, under 2300mg of salt a day, can actually lead to heart disease and early mortality. Salt contributes to improved sleep, because it balances our hormones, supports thyroid function, reduces stress hormones, and increases metabolic rate. If you’re experiencing low energy, try sucking a few sea salt crystals and see how you feel.

For more information on the health benefits of salt, click here.

Myth 2: You Can Eat Whatever You Want As Long As You Exercise

My dad was an athlete. He always used to tell me that as long as I exercised I could eat whatever I wanted. I was an active kid too, so I always ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and as much as I wanted.  Turns out, this is a myth!  Just because you exercise does not mean you should live off of table sugar and processed junk and eat as much of it as you want.  These foods are never good for us, they just aren’t natural.  There are many foods that are healthier and will better fuel the body for exercise anyway. Exercise also isn’t the most effective way to lose weight, researchers say. Exercise has many health benefits and is good for maintaining weight and curbing hunger, but proper nutrition is the quickest way to lose pounds.

Myth #3: Diet Drinks Aid in Weight Loss

diet-soda-weight-loss1-300x300Soda might as well be renamed “death in a can.” The high sugar content and unnatural ingredients have many known health risks, but what about the diet versions?  “Diet” sodas swap out sugar for artificial sweeteners that contain chemicals that cause cancer. These diet products also contribute to weight gain, since the artificial sweeteners cause cravings for calorie-dense foods.  Historically we aren’t used to getting our calories from our beverages, so our bodies aren’t satisfied after drinking sugary drinks and want more.  Stick to water as often as possible, or if you’re looking to ween yourself off soda, try switching to flavored seltzer.