“So today we are under a PMS watch, but I fully expect it to be upgraded to a PMS warning by later today. You should take cover and have plenty of chocolate on hand.” -unknown


Women typically suffer from premenstrual syndrome or PMS 1-2 weeks before their cycle starts. These symptoms include cramping, irritability, sugar cravings, bloating, headaches, weight gain, and lower back pain. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, this is a blog you do not want to miss.

Hormone Shifts

Day 1 (or the first day of menstruation) is when a women’s estrogen levels begin to climb and they gradually drop off by day 14 (which is typically ovulation). At ovulation, progesterone levels begin to climb. If you get pregnant during this period, progesterone levels continue to stay elevated to support the pregnancy. If you do not get pregnant, progesterone levels begin to drop off causing menstruation. Typically, low progesterone levels cause PMS symptoms to be worse. Think of estrogen and progesterone being balanced on a seesaw, if estrogen becomes dominant progesterone levels are low. Therefore, it is important to help metabolize estrogen and naturally increase progesterone to minimize the unwanted PMS symptoms.

How to Naturally Manage PMS

Do you have breast tenderness, weight gain, heavy cycles, and menstrual migraines? Chances are you have high estrogen.

Here are 3 ways to naturally metabolize estrogen:

  1. Eat cruciferous vegetables: These vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussel sprouts) have an antioxidant in them called diindolylmethane or DIM. This antioxidant helps your body naturally metabolize estrogen. You can increase your DIM consumption by naturally eating more of these vegetables or you can supplement DIM 200 mg day 1-14 of your cycle where estrogen is typically higher.
  2. Exercise: Estrogen gets stored in fat tissue. Therefore, maintaining a healthy body mass index will naturally help balance your estrogen levels. Get in a regular exercise routine including both strength training and cardio to help balance your estrogen levels today.
  3. Support Methylation: I often feel like I am a broken record when I tell my patients they need to support methylation. However, understanding your methylation genes is crucial when trying to balance your hormone levels naturally. There is a specific methylation SNP (Single nucleotide polymorphisms) called Catechol-O-methyltransferase or COMT that helps metabolize estrogen, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. People that are homozygous (or carry a positive gene mutation from both parents +/+) may have a harder time metabolizing estrogen depending on their lifestyle and nutritional status. Being a certified methylation specialist through Dr. Ben Lynch’s program, I value the importance of methylation. However, these nutritional SNPs can easily be altered through the right nutrients. Without knowing your genetic make-up, I recommend taking a basic methylated b complex. If you would like to know your methylation pathway you can always test your genetics through companies like 23 and me. If this is all over your head and you would like to learn more, I am always available to answer your questions.

Do you have irritability, anxiety, interrupted sleep, and cramping prior to your cycle starting? Chances are you have low progesterone.

Here are 3 recommendations to help balance low progesterone symptoms:

  1. Take chasteberry or vitex prior to your cycle. I recommend starting at 250-500 mg at night day 14-28 of your cycle. There are great brands such as Gaia or Pure Mountain. Chasteberry is derived from a shrub native to the Mediterranean that tends to mimic the effects of progesterone in the body.
  2. Control your stress levels. High cortisol levels (stress hormone) cause progesterone levels to become deficient over time. Therefore, finding ways to efficiently manage stress is crucial to hormone balance. Try starting a yoga routine, weekly massage, or morning prayer/meditation to help reduce cortisol levels today.
  3. Start bioidentical progesterone. If none of these recommendations work and you are still suffering from PMS symptoms, it may be time to start bioidentical or plant based progesterone.

Cheers to hormone balance!

Want more one-on-one help with your hormones? Book a visit with one of our amazing Functional Medicine providers! 

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