27 February 2008

Regulated Menstrual Cycle

One more thing I forgot to mention in the previous post was that this month, my cycle was exactly 29 days, to the hour!

Last month my periods started at 7pm, this month, they started at 7pm 29 days later. That has never happened before!

Normally my periods are so irregular that I have no clue when my next menstrual cycle will start. Always in the past, my periods would start at any time and I wouldn't know when. I would always know when it's 28 days after my last cycle, but my menstrual cycle could occur anywhere from about 29 days to 35 days and I wouldn't know when. I just had to keep a pad or panty liner in my bag from day 28, just in case. Sometimes I got caught, when I took the pad/panty liner with me for a whole week and they didn't start, then I decided not to take anything with me to school/uni/work one day and that's the day that my menstrual cycle would start.

So to have my periods become this regular is amazing!

Hopefully this means that my cycle will be more regular from now on and pain free! Yipee!!

26 February 2008

Wonderful PMS and Menstruation This Month

What a surprise this month's PMS has been.

Let me just recap on the symptoms I normally experience for about 2 weeks each month. with symptoms the worst in the last few days before menstruation and the absolute and utter worst the day to two days before menstruation (yes, I am not kidding here)!!
  • Severe bloating of the whole body (about 1-2kg)
  • Sore, painful breasts (cant hug anyone as they are too sore)
  • Very tired and lethargic
  • Seriously cranky with major mood fluctuations
  • Feeling emotional and crying for no reason
  • Very irritable
  • Headache
  • Blood sugar level fluctuations and craving sweet foods
  • Insomnia
  • Severe confusion and forgetfulness
This is basically all of the symptoms a woman can have prior to menstruation.

Some months when my menstrual cycle has been very erratic and long (6 weeks or so between menstrual cycles), PMS was then extended to 4 weeks - this was basically hell because all my symptoms were completely exaggerated and severe for 4 whole weeks! Imagine how horrible that would be?

Now this month, because I have been eating so well, exercising and doing the detoxification, my symptoms were unbelievably minimal in PMS. This is a list of the symptoms I experienced this month at PMS:
  • Some bloating (but nowhere near as much as normal)
  • Bloated breasts, but not painful at all
  • Slightly irritable only the day before menstruation started

Yes, that is it! That was the extent of my PMS! Now for someone who normally experiences really severe PMS, to have such a normal mental and physical time prior to menstruation is wonderful, absolutely wonderful!

This has been the best PMS of my life - because it basically was not PMS. But not only that, my periods this month were absolute bliss! I had no pain this month.

Now that in itself is pretty amazing, as I am normally in excruciating pain that all I can do is just lie down and try to relieve it in whatever way I can. Drugs normally just take the edge off the pain for maybe 1 hour or so and that is no relief when you can only take medication every 4-6 hours! I had given up on the medication (Naprogesic, Ponstan) for period pain, as it does nothing for me and my pain.

To have a month where I felt absolutely no pain or discomfort whatsoever, without any medication, is truly amazing! I used to be in awe of those friends/acquaintance who would tell me that they hardly noticed they were menstruating. I always knew I was menstruating, the pain I was in for about 3-4 days of my periods always made sure of that! But this month, I was only of those women who hardly noticed they were menstruating! Pure bliss!!

Now, I shall continue to eat the same way I have been eating (healthy food, but not denying myself things like organic dark chocolate or some ice cream a few times a week), exercising, detoxifying with the massaging and meditating. I will continue with all these techniques and see how my PMS and period pain is next month - hopefully it will continue to be bliss.

The other exciting thing I need to mention is that my cycle was exactly 29 days, to the hour this month! Last month my periods started at 7pm, this month, they started at 7pm 29 days later. That has never happened before! Normally my menstrual cycle ranges anywhere from 29 - 45 days, with an average of about 31-32 days between my periods. So to have my periods be this regular, is truly an amazing gift!! Wonderful!! Hopefully this means that my cycle will be more regular from now on and pain free! Yipee!!

Thank goodness for the lovely relief this month!! I really hope it will continue next month and beyond!

11 February 2008

Breakfast Helps to Reduce PMS/PMDD Symptoms

This morning, I had the most delicious breakfast ever:
  • Organic brown olive bread with a little bit of virgin olive oil on top
  • 2 boiled organic and free range eggs
  • Organic banana and peach salad with (non-organic) yoghurt and crushed pecans
The bread with olive oil was an essential item for this morning, because when a woman has PMS, she needs to have more essential fatty acids in her diet and I think I need a lot more, as I do not eat butter, margarine or much fats other than olive oil (or sometimes the bad fats from junk food, but I try to avoid those for the most part, now). The yoghurt was also a fantastic item because it is a given that calcium levels in women seem to drop just before menstruation. Plus calcium is great for women due to its protective activity against osteoporosis.

The essential fatty acids are great for the brain cells, which in essence, controls everything that happens in the body. If your brain is functioning properly, it could be that there is less likelihood that PMS can happen. You see, inside the brain is the master gland of the endocrine system, that controls all the hormone secretions in the body - the pituitary gland.

The pituitary gland is responsible for releasing a hormone that stimulates the hormone synthesis in the reproductive system - follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH), which in turn cause ovulation and then stimulate the synthesis and secretion of oestrogen (oestradiol) and progesterone.

The synthesis and secretion of the different types of hormones from the pituitary gland to the ovaries occurs in a complicated process, which if any part of it does not function correctly, could cause an imbalance of hormones and in some women, even if it is slightly imbalanced, could be the reason for PMS (and PMDD).

Scientists have many theories about what causes PMS, but they do not have a definitive answer yet. While they propose their various theories, women should just know that the following will definitely have an effect on them regarding PMS (and PMDD):

Diet plays a direct role in not just PMS (and PMDD), but in overall health. If you are not getting enough of the right nutrients, then your health will suffer. It really is just that simple.

You need to exercise to enable correct circulation in the body - this may have some definite impacts on the way that the hormones are circulated in the body. After all, the pituitary gland is in the head and the blood needs to transport the follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and the luteinising hormone (LH) to the ovaries, which is quite a long distance away. If the circulatory system is not working correctly, this could impact the amount of hormones that are sent to the ovaries.

In addition to this, exercise reduces fat, increase muscle tone, increases metabolism and release endorphins, which are "feel-good" hormones - what better way to counteract the "feel-bad" times of PMS?

Reducing exposure to chemical xenoeostrogen toxins
Reducing your exposure to these chemicals (phthalates and Bisphenol A), which mimic oestrogen and disrupt hormone function in the body, means that there is less likelihood for PMS. These chemicals are toxic to the body as they are stored (when ingested or breathed in) in the fat cells and women have fat cells in the breasts, which due to the oestrogen-like activity of these chemicals increases the risk of breast cancer!

So not only do these chemicals (phthalates and Bisphenol A) interfere with the body's natural hormone production, but they are implicated in female cancers too.

How do you reduce your risk of these chemicals? Stay away from using plastics in your kitchen. Do not heat anything in the microwave with plastics - that means no plastic containers, no plastic cling (or saran) wrap, do not warm baby plastic bottles. Try to drink from ceramic or glass, warm up food in glass, ceramic, iron or stainless steel containers (but do not use the metals in the microwave - only glass or ceramic, but ensure they are microwave-safe).

Reduce stress
Stress at any time is bad for the body, but if you have an illness or health condition, it just makes it feel so much worse.

Ways to reduce stress - meditation, yoga, tai chi, visualisation - just take at least 15 minutes each day to feel better, wind down and relax.

09 February 2008

Healthy Foods to Help Reduce PMS/PMDD Symptoms

This evening I made quite a gourmet meal for myself and the family. The food was extremely filling and totally sumptuous (if I do say so myself).

I am following the diet strategies I have laid out on this site.

I made the following:
  • Baked organic chicken with herbs
  • Organic brown rice - boiled
  • Chickpea, kidney bean, tomato and red onion salad (all organic) - with some olive oil, tiny bit of balsamic vinegar and sweet paprika as the dressing
  • Organic garden salad - with cos lettuce, mignonette lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes (from our garden)
  • Onion, okra and gourmet mushroom sauce - made with wholemeal spelt flour, water, oil, herbs and salt
Sounds like a lot of food, but when you eat just a little of each food, the meal is just perfect. I had a few pecans and a few small pieces of pineapple (both organic) about an hour later.

Now, first let me say that this meal was so unbelievably delicious. It's probably because I made it with organic ingredients, which always have more flavour and partly because I was absolutely starving by the time we ate. None of the above were from any recipe books - I came up with each item myself. Nothing was very difficult to make anyway.

The interesting thing to note, is that again my teeth felt whiter after the meal and I had a lot more energy after the meal. Even though it felt like a lot of food, I don't feel bloated and full after the meal. I shall try to incorporate more legumes into my meals, more times in the week and also mushrooms too, as they have a lot of essential nutrients and antioxidant properties. Very good to eat at any time.

In regards to PMS
I am officially in PMS mode at the moment, as my ability to not get so easily irritated is just a tiny bit compromised.

But, because I am eating much better (very little processed food, mostly natural food), exercising, massaging my legs and meditating, I have found that I feel okay. So this is quite nice.

On a side note, I am not even taking any herbs, vitamins or other supplements at the moment, so to feel okay without taking anything is pretty good. It's very indicative of what a good diet, exercise, fresh air and less stress can do for a person - makes PMS better.

Since this is working so well for me, I shall continue doing it for the foreseeable future.

Some detoxification

I have decided to start detoxifying the fat around my thighs and behind (where most women have some fat deposits) by using a hand-held massage unit. Basically I use it for about 10 minutes on each leg (front and back), massaging every bit of my upper and lower legs:
  • from the top of my foot to the point where my leg joins my torso and
  • at the back, from the ankle to the start of the lower back
I make sure I massage every part of my legs really well and always massage upwards, towards the heart.

This has the effect of stimulating the lymphatic system to remove any toxins that have built up in the fat cells (as that is where they are stored) and detoxify them through the liver and excrete all toxins through the urine.

If there is too much oestrogen stored in the liver (which is also a problem for many women with PMS and PMDD), this massage stimulation should help to get rid of that in a safe and effective manner too.

The great thing about this massage I am giving myself, is that it not only stimulates the lymphatic system, it also stimulates the circulatory system and ensures that my circulation is working properly in my legs. By increasing circulation (especially since mine is not exactly great in my legs - they are always cold) and increasing lymphatic draining, it means I am increasing the the rate of toxin removal from my system and ensuring that my veins and arteries (and capillaries) are working properly. It also means that I will be at less risk for varicose veins, which are a problem for a lot of women, older women especially, but also for younger women too.

I know this massage therapy I have embarked upon is working, because a little time after I have completed the massage, I need to pass some urine, even though I have not had any liquids to drink in the intervening time after the massage. This is a really good sign. It means that the massage therapy is working exactly as I have described above.

I will gradually increase the amount I massage my legs each day - I started with 5 minutes each leg and now I am at 10 minutes each leg.

I aim to make it about 30 minutes each leg, which I shall continue for about 30 days at that length of time (each day).

After this, I will reduce it to 30 minutes every two days.

I will gradually taper it off to about 15 minutes each leg about once a week or once every two weeks.

I hope this is another item of assistance not just for PMS, but also for my good health!

08 February 2008

Interesting effects of some foods

The day before yesterday I made a vegetarian meal for dinner, as I didn't feel like eating meat (and besides, I don't think there was any in the fridge). This is all part of the healthy eating plan I have devised, for my return to health and alleviation of all things relating to PMS.

I made a meal that was a complete protein, so it contained all the 9 essential amino acids, which means it is basically the same as eating meat in terms of amino acid components.

The meal I made had brown rice, red lentils, chickpeas and some vegetables. Not only was it delicious, but it was so good for me. It had wholegrains (the brown rice), legumes (chickpeas and lentils) and lots of vegetables which have proven antioxidant properties. I felt very sated after I finished eating a bowl of this natural food goodness!

Now the really interesting thing is, after eating a bowl of this food, my teeth become much white, as if I have just brushed them! Either there is a lot of calcium in those foods that my teeth are just loving or the fact that the grains/legumes are almost nutty in texture (that is, still whole and not mushy) maybe the very act of eating them caused an almost brushing like effect on my teeth.

I know this was not a weird one-off quirk, because every time I had a bowl of this vegetarian food my teeth would glisten afterwards! How amazing is that? Not only does this food do me much good health-wise, but it also is fantastic for my teeth.

I just had to post this, because it may help other women.

05 February 2008

PMS and PMDD Causes - Part 5: PMDD is Not a Mental Disorder

Researchers state that there is no real known reason why PMS (or PMDD) occurs in some women and not in others. Let me tell you what I think why PMS (and PMDD) occurs (part 5):

5. PMDD is not a mental disorder
While the drug companies would love you to believe this and they package their products (antidepressant drugs) in lovely pink, to appeal to women, making sweet commercials with strong women frolicking, being happy - let me tell you the truth.

Young girls are being prescribed these antidepressant drugs for PMDD. But, medical professional know that antidepressants cause a higher risk of suicide for adolescents. There is a warning on all antidepressants basically stating this fact.

We want a quick fix for our health problems and the drug companies are well aware of this, so they market antidepressants to be taken for 2 weeks prior to menstruation (after ovulation) and in some cases, all month long. Research has shown that PMDD symptoms decrease when women take the antidepressants, but the results usually don't happen until a few months after taking the antidepressants. The best results seen so far for reducing PMDD are the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which enable more serotonin, a neurotransmitter, to remain in the brain, thereby reducing negative emotional symptoms of PMDD (or even PMS). The most common antidepressant drugs used for PMDD are - paxil, prozac, zoloft.

PMDD is a condition of sorts, but it does not need the medication some medical experts tell us it needs. PMDD is basically the worse type of PMS - extreme form of symptoms of PMS, especially the emotional and mental symptoms.

The symptoms of PMDD can include any of the following:
  • Mood swings
  • Depressed mood or feelings of hopelessness
  • Marked anger, increased interpersonal conflicts
  • Tension and anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Decreased interest in usual activities
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Change in appetite
  • Feeling out of control or overwhelmed
  • Sleep problems
  • Physical problems, such as bloating, swollen breasts, headache, joint/muscle pain
To manage PMDD (and even PMS) you need to manage the following areas - diet modification, engaging in regular exercise, reducing stress levels and eliminating toxic chemicals from your life.

In order to make changes in all these area, you will need to be extremely diligent and focused. You have to continue to make these changes for several months before you start to notice a difference. This is not a magic pill cure for PMS/PMDD - this is a way to manage your life so that you become healthier, fitter and less likely to suffer the effects of PMS/PMDD.

Once you embark on this way of life, expect all areas of your health to improve, energy and concentration levels to increase and your mental disposition to become more positive.

Remember, PMS and PMDD are not a life sentence to mental instability for your life - you can break free, but only if you want to make some healthy changes to help yourself!

Be well with good health.

PMS and PMDD Causes - Part 4: Toxic Chemicals

Researchers state that there is no real known reason why PMS (or PMDD) occurs in some women and not in others. Let me tell you what I think why PMS (and PMDD) occurs (part 4):

4. Toxic chemicals
There are many chemicals produced today which have a very negative effect on women's hormones. Certain chemicals in plastics have an oestrogenic effect on women and especially affect areas such as the breasts, because these chemicals are stored in fat deposits. The chemical in questions are basically xenoestrogens - named this way because of their oestrogen-like activity. The main culprits are phthalates and Bisphenol A.

These two chemicals are used in the following:

  • adhesives
  • computers
  • electronics (such as the iPhone)
  • nail polish
  • paint pigments
  • plastic of all types - plastic drink bottles, baby teats, baby bottles, plastic take-away containers, plastic cookware for microwaves, plastic cling wrap
  • soft plastic fishing lures
The list of products that contain these chemicals is quite long and that means exposure to these chemicals on a daily basis can be really high for some women.

The other important thing to note is that these chemicals are implicated in breast cancer, due to their hormone-like oestrogenic activity and that they stored in fat deposits in the body. Another reason to keep away from these chemicals.

Many studies have shown that phthalates and Bisphenol A have a variety of detrimental health effects to the body, especially to women and young children. These detrimental effect of these chemicals is even more potent when they are heated.

Consider ways you can reduce your exposure to some of these products to reduce their effect on you and your PMS or PMDD may decrease in like.

Bottom line - stay away from plastics as much as possible and don't use any type of plastic to heat up food.

Update: A recent study by the University of Cincinnati have advised that when plastic (polycarbonate) bottles are heated up, they release more Bisphenol A into the liquid inside the bottles.

This means that if you leave bottles in cars on hot days and drink the liquid, you are drinking more of the Bisphenol A chemical - which has proven oestrogen-like activity in the body, but in a very detrimental way. It is definitely a chemical that women who get PMS or PMDD should stay away from (there are even implications that these toxic chemicals play a part in female hormone cancers, so women should be extra careful).

PMS and PMDD Causes - Part 3: Lack of Exercise

Researchers state that there is no real known reason why PMS (or PMDD) occurs in some women and not in others. Let me tell you what I think why PMS (and PMDD) occurs (part 3):

3. Lack of Exercise
The body is made to move. All the muscles in the body need to be conditioned on a daily basis. If you do not move, the muscles do not work properly and the body becomes sluggish and unable to function effectively. This is fact.

In order to ensure circulation is working properly, the body needs to be conditioned by exercise each day. The lymphatic system and circulatory system are very dependent on movement. If there is no movement, there is stagnation. If there is stagnation in the body, certain areas are not working properly and this means the hormones are not circulated correctly, the nutrients are not absorbed properly and stress levels increase.

A few preliminary studies have found that regular exercise can ease some of the pain and stress due to PMS. In one trial, researchers at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver had eight previously sedentary women work up to running 12 miles per week over six months. At the end of the study, the runners reported less breast tenderness, bloating, and moodiness before their periods.

At this stage, no studies have been done to determine if exercise helps with PMDD, but I assert that if exercise is part of a whole change in diet, lifestyle and stress reduction, it will dramatically reduce PMDD. I hope to be proved right (and vindicated) by some clinical studies in this area.

Exercise is an excellent way to relieve stress. Exercise releases endorphins (feel good hormones) which lighten you mood and reduce levels of stress hormones.

PMS and PMDD Causes - Part 2: Stress

Researchers state that there is no real known reason why PMS (or PMDD) occurs in some women and not in others. Let me tell you what I think why PMS (and PMDD) occurs (part 2):

2. Stress

Stress, especially if it is unmitigated and occurs long-term, is devastating to the body's health equilibrium. When stress occurs, the body prepares itself by activating the "flight or fight" hormones, which is the way the body reacts when faced with danger, real or imagined.

Now if the body is in a constant state of stress, these stress hormones (produced by the adrenal glands which are located on top of the kidneys) produce various effects on the body such as the following:
  • Increase of sodium and chloride retention and water re-absorption (basically fluid retention)
  • Increased excretion of potassium, which causes blood pressure to rise
  • Increase in glucose levels, to fuel the muscles for "flight or fight"
  • Increased use of amino acids and fats
  • Decreased immunity
  • Formation of other steroid hormones, such as oestrogen (an increase is oestrogen is part of the reason why experts think women get PMS, as progesterone is reduced in comparison, so the levels of these two hormones become askew)
Basically if the body is in constant state of stress, there is a decreased level of many nutrients as the body uses them to prepare to either get away from the dangerous situation or stay and fight. But with stress, if it is continuing, there is no getting away from it and the health of the person suffers as a consequence.

It is much more preferable to reduce stress revels and reduce the negative effects on the body that this has, especially where PMS and PMDD is concerned.

PMS and PMDD Causes - Part 1: Nutritional Deficiencies

Researchers state that there is no real known reason why PMS (or PMDD) occurs in some women and not in others. Let me tell you what I think why PMS (and PMDD) occurs (part 1):

1. Nutritional deficiencies
Diet is fundamental to good health. That is the bottom line. If you do not get enough of natural, unprocessed foods, you are doing yourself a total disservice in terms of your health.

If your diet is basically composed of a great deal of processed foods (anything you buy from a store that you do no cook yourself) and you have a lack of fresh vegetables, fruits, wholegrains, seeds, nuts, oily fish such as salmon, trout, then your diet will be deficient in many vital nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids). No amount of supplements will correct this - on one hand you are effectively ensuring your body becomes inflamed and deficient from various nutrients and on the other hand, you try to balance this with supplements, when you need the whole foods for your health.

You need to eat the following foods to maintain good health and to help your body get back to optimal health:
  • Vegetables - 7 servings each day and at least 3 of these servings should be dark, green or dark red leafy vegetables (different types of lettuce, kale, spinach, sorrel, broccoli, watercress)
  • Fruit - 5 servings each day and try to make sure you eat lots of brightly coloured or dark coloured fruits, such as blueberries, raspberries, dark purple grapes, acai berries, cherries
  • Wholegrains - 3-5 servings each day and this means not just bread, but cereals, pasta and noodles too (just make sure they are not saturated with sugar)
  • Legumes - 1-2 servings each day, this means all types of beans, such as lentils, kidney beans, chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • Fish - 3-4 servings per week of the oily variety, such as salmon, trout, sardines, mackerel, but just make sure you buy the fish labelled as "wild" or "deep ocean" because these fish will have the most nutrients and are less likely to be tainted by heavy metals such as mercury and lead
  • Meat - 3 servings per week and only organic, because the non-organic varieties have various chemicals and hormones injected into them, which interfere with your own hormone production and can exacerbate PMS and PMDD
  • Nuts & seeds - 2-3 servings per day and try to use organic, raw nuts, unsalted as they provide the most nutrients
You need to eliminate the following foods (or at least severely restrict them):
  • Alcohol - too much alcohol has a detrimental effect on the body and is not useful when you have PMS or PMDD
  • Sugar - many women with PMS and PMDD experience variations in their blood glucose levels and an excess of sugar will make the blood sugar levels spike quickly and fall dramatically, which has a detrimental effect on insulin levels, which are pumped out at great levels to reduce blood glucose levels - eating less foods high in sugar and more natural foods will keep blood sugar levels on an even level and this means that there will be less of an issue prior to menstruation, including a curbing of sugar cravings, which many women also experience at PMS time
  • Processed foods - any type of food that comes in a packet (other than raw nuts and seeds)
  • Take-away foods - any type of meal you buy from a take-away store
  • Salt - try to decrease it in your meal, use herbs and spices instead and try to use organic sea salt, which has more minerals in it than normal processed salt
The essential fatty acids in oily fish as well as the nuts and seeds are vital for women suffering from PMS and PMDD. Studies have shown that this essential nutrients is necessary as they are precursors of prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances that affect women when they have PMS and PMDD. The B vitamins, which are abundant in good quality meat and wholegrains are necessary for women suffering this condition, as they help to reduce symptoms. The magnesium found in many whole foods is a natural muscle relaxant.

02 February 2008

Severe PMS Could Mean a Depressed Nervous System

New findings published by the BioPsychoSocial Medicine journal suggests that not only is PMS tied to decreased nerve activity each month, but also that those with extreme symptoms may have a permanently depressed nervous system.

A team of Japanese researchers investigated if the autonomic nervous system (which plays a vital role in equilibrium within the human body), changed during the menstrual cycle. The team measured variations in heart rate and hormone levels and used questionnaires to evaluate physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms of 62 women's menstrual cycles. A control group who experienced little or no PMS was used to compare the results.

The findings of the research discovered that the women with PMS had significantly decreased autonomic and parasympathetic nerve activity in the week before menstruation and the women with the most severe PMS (known as PMDD - premenstrual dysphoric disorder) has the most reduced rates of nerve activity than any women in the PMS or control groups.

The lead researcher, Dr Tamaki Matsumoto from the International Buddhist University in Osaka said, "Our findings indicate that the occurrence of premenstrual symptomatology could be attributable to an altered functioning of the autonomic nervous system in the symptomatic late luteal phase." For women with PMDD, findings indicate that sympathovagal activity was altered even in the follicular phase. Matsumoto asked: "Does this imply that women with lower autonomic function regardless of the menstrual cycle are vulnerable to more severe premenstrual disorders? At the moment, the underlying biomechanisms of PMS remain enigmatic."

PMS happens in the days before menstruation (but can last as much as two weeks or longer, from ovulation until menstruation) and basically most women will experience some form of PMS at some point in their reproductive life.

BioMed Central (2007, December 20). Bad PMS May Mean A Depressed Nervous System. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 2, 2008, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2007/12/071219202940.htm