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!

Nourishing Beef Bone Broth

You can roll your eyes at the bone broth trend all you want, but the truth is, there’s a reason bone broth restaurants are popping up in major cities and making headlines. While I enjoy bone broth, it feels silly paying $5 for a cup of straight broth, and truth told, with this recipe I can make it better myself at home (and it’s not hard!).

Why drink bone broth?

Bone broth is essentially an anti-aging tonic.  It’s full of pure nutrients and minerals straight from the bones of animals, like chickens, beef, pork, turkey, or lamb, simmered for hours with water and roasted vegetables.  Unlike regular broth which is made with just the bones of animals, bone broth usually calls for some meat on the bones during the cooking process. Grandmothers have been making it for ages, swearing that its healing properties aid the body’s immune system and gut, alleviate inflammation and joint pain, and make skin soft and hair shiny. It makes perfect sense considering bone broth is rich in many important nutrients including phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, protein, collagen, gelatin and glycine.  Drink it regularly to aid your body in good health!

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Making bone broth is easy enough. It’s recommended to use a mix of bones with and without meat, and choose bones from organically-raised animals only.  You don’t want to extract any potentially harmful additives that could’ve been given to the animals. Same goes for the rest of the ingredients in the broth.  This recipe is for beef bone broth, but you’d essentially do the same thing with this recipe as you’d do if you were using bones from a different animal.  If you so desire, which I highly recommend, you can add your favorite herbs or spices to the broth too to make it more flavorful.

Ingredients

-4 bones beef bones (aim for a mix of bones, some with a little meat and some without)

-1 yellow onion, quartered

-1 leek, chopped

-2 medium carrots, chopped

-2 celery stocks, chopped

-4 cloves garlic, halved lengthwise

-2 bay leaves

-2 tablespoons peppercorns

-1 tablespoon pink Himalayan sea salt or regular sea salt

-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

 

Instructions

1- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Place chopped onion, leek, carrots, celery and garlic into a roasting pan along with the beef bones.  Roast for 15 minutes, take out and toss the veggies, then roast for another 15 minutes. Turn oven off.

2- Fill a large stockpot with about 12 cups of water (preferably filtered) and add the bay leaves, peppercorns, salt, apple cider vinegar, and roasted vegetables and bones with any juices and scrapings from the roasting pan.  Add more water to the pot if the water doesn’t cover the bones all the way. Optional- add herbs or spices.  I added a mix of Italian herbs.

3- Cover the pot and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat to simmer, and cook with the lid ajar slightly. Simmer for at least eight hours and up to 24 hours, occasionally skimming the foam and excess fat from the top with a spoon or lettuce leaf, if you have one. The longer you let the broth sit, the more flavorful it will be.

*Note- do not leave the house with the stove on or leave it on overnight while you sleep. You can always continue to simmer it the next day.

4- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool slightly.  Discard the bones and vegetables by straining the broth with a fine-mesh sieve into a large container. I then transferred the broth to a glass mason jar and made sure to skim the rest of the fat off the top.

Store the broth in the fridge for up to five days and up to six months in the freezer.

Cheers to good health!

 

 

 

 

 

Look to Your Farmacy

It’s true, the majority of my money goes toward food.  Delicious, organic, local food.  And you know what?  I’m totally ok with it. Understandably, not everyone wants to spend the money, because organic can be expensive.  Just remember, the more processed crap, toxins, and sugar we consume today, the more doctor visits and money spent on pharmaceutical drugs in the future.  That’s why I look at eating well as an long-term investment in my health, because food is medicine.Let your food be your medicine(1)

Currently, the average American eats too much and spends too little on food.  It can cost a lot to eat organic, but I have some tips on how to best spend your money when buying organic.  Organic food is more expensive because it’s a more time and labor-intensive form of farming. If you’re someone who doesn’t eat organic currently, start by switching at least one thing in your diet to organic, because baby steps are better that no steps. If you’re someone who currently doesn’t eat vegetables or fruits, then maybe starting with canned or frozen vegetables or fruit is the place for you to start.  You don’t need to eat organic all the time to reduce chemical exposure.  Starting a garden, if you have the space, is also a cost-effective way to eat right.

What does it mean to eat organic anyway?  Organic refers to the procedure in which foods are grown, raised, or produced based on government-defined standards.  Originally, all our food was “organic.”  There were no herbicides, pesticides, irradiation, or chemical fertilizers. Rather, all our food was naturally raised, unrefined, unprocessed, and whole. Processing food and chemical farming has only been around since World War II, and since then, our soil has been depleted of important minerals and nutrients that we need.
Because not all of us can or want to buy everything organic, I’ve supplied a list prioritizing which fruits and vegetables to buy organic.  Please refer to the list below for most and least contaminated foods, provided by The Environmental Working Group.image

12 Most Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables:

Apples

Celery

Cherry tomatoes

Cucumbers

Grapes

Hot peppers

Nectarines (Imported)

Peaches

Potatoes

Spinach

Strawberries

Sweet bell peppers

Kale / Collard Greens

Snap peas

15 Least Contaminated Fruits and Vegetables

Asparagus

Avocados

Cabbage

Cantaloupe

Sweet corn

Eggplant

Grapefruit

Kiwi

Mangos

Cauliflower

Onions

Papayas

Pineapples

Sweet peas (frozen)

Sweet potatoes

The two foods that I highly recommend buying organic are strawberries and chicken.  The U.S. uses 1.2 billion pounds of pesticides a year, and only .01% of those pesticides actually reach bugs.  Strawberries, even after washing, retain the most of amount of pesticides.  Pesticides cause issues like skin, eye, and lung irritation, hormone disruption, cancer, brain and nervous system toxicity, blood disorders, nerve disorders, birth defects, and reproduction effects.  If you have children, just remember that kids are four times more sensitive to cancer-causing pesticides in foods than adults (Source: US Environmental Protection Agency).

Vintage arsenic poison bottle on antique shelfThe reason I disapprove so strongly of commercial chicken is that commercial chickens contain arsenic, which is actually approved and regulated by the government.  Arsenic is known to cause cancer, as well as a number of other health issues.

Trust me, you’ll be able to tell the difference in color and taste between organic and commercially-grown produce. Washington State University actually proved through lab taste tests that organic tastes better.  There are more reasons to shop organic though.  By purchasing organic foods, you’re reducing your carbon footprint and helping out local farmers. Our health starts not with food but with our soil and water. Organic farming respects our ecosystem, while conventional farming leaks pesticides into our soil and our water, which in turn makes people sick. Additionally, organic farms are often smaller and independently owned and operated, so it’s great to help out the little guys.  Buying organic saves energy too, since more energy is used to produce synthetic fertilizers for commercially-grown crops.

organic_food

If you’re interested in going organic, but don’t know how or where to start, find your nearest Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) so your can get your food straight from your local farmer.  If you have questions, feel free to ask.  Drop me a line.