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!

5 Tips to Reduce Stress Instantly

75%-90% of all doctor visits are stress related.  When stress goes untreated it suppresses the body’s immune system and ultimately manifests as illness. Poor nutrition, environment, career, unhealthy relationships, and lifestyle can all impact your body by releasing cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. While it’s normal to release cortisol, it’s important for your body to return to its normal cortisol levels following a stressful event.  In our high-stress culture though, your body doesn’t always have the chance to return to its normal cortisol levels, so your body is constantly in fight or flight mode which makes you more prone to several negative effects.

Here are five tips to help you reduce your stress instantly:

1. Make lists

You’re busy and have tons to juggle.  Writing things down, creating lists, and prioritizing tasks is one of the quickest fixes for reducing daily stress.  I recommend keeping a list of everything you need to get done for the day, then reorganizing these tasks in order of importance.  I also suggest completing the least exciting or hardest task before 11:00am.  Our willpower and focus is only good for so long, so put your energy towards finishing the most stressful work for the day earlier on.  That way by 11am you can take a big sigh of relief, because the rest of the day just got easier.

2. Move your body 

Early morning surfset with my girls!

Early morning surfset with my girls!

Our bodies crave movement.  Find something you have fun doing and make it part of your daily routine. Exercise is a way of releasing built up tension, so instead of reaching for the sugar and booze, get your body moving if you’re stressed.  It doesn’t have to be an intense workout.  Get off the subway a little early and walk the rest of the way to work, or take a work break to stand up and stretch at your desk.  You’ll feel much better!  Find a type of exercise that works for your body’s needs.  What did you like to do as a kid?  What makes you feel good?

3. Breathe 

Do you ever experience moments where you realize that you haven’t been breathing?  I mean, really breathing, like from the belly.  Start breathing consciously.  Slow your breath down and allow your body to relax for a moment.  Can you see your belly moving in and out or are you just breathing through your nose?  Breathe in for four counts and out for four counts, breathing through the belly.

4. Self-massage

Loving touch is so important to our mental health.  We crave affection and not all of us get it on a regular basis.  Give yourself some love.  Try massaging yourself.  Do you have tension in your shoulders?  Your temples?  Your neck? Breathe consciously and use your hands to make yourself feel good!

5. Lavender essential oils

Essential oils have been used for centuries for healing. Lavender oil has many therapeutic effects, and it’s a personal Lavender_lgfavorite for relaxing the mind and body and reducing stress. Poor sleep is often a result of stress, so lavender oil is especially useful at night before bed.  I like to put a couple drops on my hands to rub over my pillows. I’ll also put a couple drops on the back of my neck to relieve tension, and there are tons of other uses and methods for applying lavender oil.

Want more tips like these? Subscribe to my newsletters or contact me for a complimentary health consultation.

Essential Oils for Dogs

Essential oils have amazing benefits not just for humans, but for animals too. Anxiety, relaxation, joint pain, breathing, digestion, insect repellant, antiseptic, healthy skin and tissue are just some of the issues essential oils can help animals with.  It’s amazing to see what happens when I let my puppy sniff lavender essential oil.  The crazy pup lays down and actually drifts off to sleep!smokey

Quality essential oils should be therapeutic grade and 100% pure.  I personally use doTerra essential oils, because they are the purest oils- Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade- and work really well for me and my family.  On my dogs I use lavender to relax them, OnGuard to keep away ticks and fleas (mixed with some coconut oil along their spines), and Serenity when we leave the dogs or take them in the car (one dog gets anxious in the car).

Below are my top picks for essential oils for dogs (and even for myself!):

AromaTouch: Circulatory Issues, Overworked Muscles

Balance: Promotes Relaxation and Supports Healthy Joints (Add in Deep Blue and Lemongrass)

Breathe: Supports Healthy Breathing, Reduces Inflammation

Deep Blue: Muscle Cramps and Pain Reducer, Wound Care

DigestZen: Supports a Healthy Digestive System

Frankincense: Promotes Relaxation, Helps Promote Healthy, New Cells in the Body, Insect/Snake Bites, Scarring, Supports Healthy Skin and Tissue

Helichrysum: Supports a Healthy Liver and Nervous System, Wound Care

Immortelle: Supports Skin and Tissue Health, Calms the Nervous System, Wound Care, Reduces Scarring

Lavender: Calms the Nervous System, Helpful for Skin Conditions and Wound Care

Lemon:  Promotes Relaxation, Electrolyte Balance, Maintains a Healthy Immune Response in the Body, Supports the Lymphatic System, Claw Strength

Melissa: Stress Reducer, Immune Support

OnGuard:  Immune Support, Improves Oral Health, Spider Bites

Oregano: Supports Respiratory Health and Maintains a Healthy Immune Response in the Body

Peppermint: Supports Healthy Breathing, Maintains The Health of the Digestive System, Inflammation, Muscle Pain

Serenity: Stress reducer, Burns, Inflammation, Nerve Pain, Scarring, Wound Care

Zendocrine: Kidney and Bladder Support, Liver Support

Essential oils can be pretty potent for animals, so you can mix a few drops of oil with about a tablespoon of coconut oil to put on topically, sprinkle some drops of oil in your hands and let the dog sniff, or use a diffuser.  Use caution with puppies under 10 weeks of age, very old dogs, or pregnant dogs.  Talk to you vet about essential oils and please make sure you are using top quality oils!  If you have questions about how to use the products, which oils to use, or specific questions about doTerra, please email me at jessicakhealth@gmail.com.

To learn more about what I do as an integrative nutrition health coach, please visit me at jkhealthcoach.com.

The James Bond Shower

James Bond always ended his showers by turning the temperature down to freezing cold.  It may not sound super enticing at first, but cold showers have several health benefits.  Next time you’re showering try even turning the water to freezing cold for the last few seconds of your shower.  I know, you’re probably shivering just thinking about it (especially those of you on the East Coast right now), but cold showers actually have several health benefits.  Personally, I find the cold water to be extremely refreshing, even if it’s cold outside.  Don’t believe me?  Try it for yourselves!  Here are some reasons why you should try this:

1. Wake yourself up-   Cold showers increase alertness.  When that cold water hits us, we begin to increase our oxygen intake, which speeds up our heart rate and releases a rush of blood throughout our bodies.  As a result, we gain more energy to help get us through our days.

2.  Beautify your hair and skin- I love natural beauty secrets, so I’m going to share this one with you: Cold water is excellent for maintaining healthy skin and beautiful hair.  Hot water dries our skin out and strips our skin of its healthy natural oils.  Cold water will firm your cuticles and pores and will close up your pores so that dirt cannot get in.  Never shower with hot water.  Keep the water warm or preferably cold, which will keep hair looking smooth, shiny, and healthy.  The cold water will flatten follicles and increase their ability to grip the scalp.

3. Boost your immunity-  A cold shower is a remedy for problems of the skin and heart.  The cold water will improve circulation and help the arteries pump blood, which helps our heart health.  There are other reported health benefits, like lowering blood pressure, clearing up clogged arteries, and improving the immune system.

4.  Lose some weight- Cold showers burn fat, the bad kind.  There are two types of fat: white fat and brown fat. White fat is what I’m referring to as the “bad kind.”  It’s fat that so many of carry around on our waist, thighs, neck, and lower back and that’s usually a struggle to lose.  We accumulate white fat when we consume unnecessary calories that our bodies don’t need to function and don’t burn enough of these calories off for energy.  Brown fat is the “good fat” and generates heat to keep us warm.  When taking a cold shower, the brown fat will burn calories to keep us warm.  According to Scandinavian research, exposing our bodies to cold temperatures increases our metabolic rate of brown fat by fifteen fold, thus aiding us with weight loss.Image result for benefits of cold showers

5.  Boost your post-workout recovery time- Perhaps you’ve seen athletes taking ice water baths before.  It looks god awful, but there’s a reason these athletes are enduring the cold water.  There’s no need to be as extreme as to take an ice water bath, but the cold water will reduce soreness after a workout.

6.  Get happy-  Cold showers create an anti-depression effect when the impact of the cold receptors of the skin send electrical impulses from the nerve endings to the brain. The cold water not only improved mood, but also helps us relax and hardens us to stress.

Sources: Medical Daily, Life Hack