“Every month, not just once or twice a year, [the moon] retreats into darkness before returning to the her fullest brilliance. As a woman, I need a similar reprieve every month to access the most brilliant parts of myself, spiritually, physically and mentally.” -Monna (Organic Mama Cafe)
For several decades of a woman’s life, a magnificent monthly hormonal symphony occurs within her body. Each cycle demonstrates her body’s deep investment in the continuation of life. Sometimes that investment continues for nine months. Sometimes that potential for life passes away, and her body cradles that fallen egg in a brief embrace before letting it go to make way for new life again.
The aches and pains associated with menstrual cycles vary from woman to woman and over time. For me, the hardest part of my cycle is typically the few days before my period begins. If I’m going to have PMS, this is when it strikes. And there have been times in my life when it has struck with a vengeance. Over the years, I’ve found some natural remedies that seem to help. Based on my experience and research (this is not medical advice), here are my PMS tips:
1) Early to bed. Sleep loss can wreak havoc on your hormone levels. It’s my understanding that our bodies are designed to sleep from about 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. Varying from that can cause big problems. Interestingly enough, there was one week-ish when I was consistently going to bed by 10:00 and getting up around 6:00, and I was amazed how great I felt. I’m doing better, but still working on this one. You can read more about sleep and hormone levels HERE.
2) Mushrooms. In my research, I discovered that mushrooms may reduce estrogen levels and decrease breast cancer risk. “Abnormally high levels of estrogen in the luteal phase may cause emotional symptoms such as irritability and aggression in addition to many physical PMS symptoms” (Source). A few years ago I started eating mushrooms every month during my luteal phase, and I think it really helped to reduce the angry-PMS symptoms that had been plaguing me. I had never seen or heard of using mushrooms to treat PMS, but I figured it was worth a shot.
3) Magnesium. So I’ve been obsessed with magnesium for over four years now. But it really is a miracle mineral for so many different ailments, including PMS. Studies indicate that many women who suffer from PMS have low magnesium levels. Magnesium supplementation has been shown to reduce both mood swings and physical PMS symptoms. One study found that “360 milligrams three times a day, taken from day 15 to the start of a period, helped diminish mood swings” (Food Cures, p. 241). Combining vitamin B6 with the magnesium increases the relief even further (Source). Some of the best dietary sources of magnesium include: spinach, pumpkin seeds, and legumes. Read more about magnesium HERE.
4) Yoga and Meditation. I’ve been meditating and doing yoga off and on for the past year+. Both are excellent for stress-relief and emotional balance. I’m most familiar with Kundalini Yoga/Meditation, thanks to my friend and teacher, Felice. Simrit Kaur recommends an easy yoga exercise (shoulder shrugs) for balancing hormones:
Kundalini Yoga teacher Giulia Guerrini recommends the meditation Kirtan Kriya for easing the female cycle of hormones. Kirtan Kriya is actually the first meditation I ever learned, and it is also one of the most widely-studied Kundalini Yoga meditations. For instance, in one Kirtan Kriya study, 65% of participants showed improvement on depression scales. You can read more about Kirtan Kriya research and benefits HERE. And you can learn how it is done at the bottom of this post HERE or in this video by Felice.
5) Other PMS prevention measures. Click on the links to learn more about how the following will help ease PMS symptoms: