According to Henry Osiecki [i] up to 85% of women between the commencement of menstruation and menopause report some symptoms of premenstrual syndrome with 20% to 40% believing that their symptoms are a problem. Between 5% and 10% of women are severely impacted by PMS.

PMS is characterized by a variety of symptoms that occur in the 2 weeks prior to menstruation and subside after menstruation. These symptoms include:

Crampy pain;
Nervous tension, anxiety, mood swings and irritability;
Increased appetite, craving sweet things;
Headaches, dizziness, fainting and pounding heart;
Breast tenderness and abdominal bloating;
Fluid retention.
Depression, crying, forgetfulness, confusion and insomnia.

Things That Will Help Prevent the Symptoms

Crampy pain can be reduced and sometimes eliminated by taking evening primrose oil and magnesium. Magnesium is a muscle relaxant. Vitamin B6 is necessary for proper magnesium utilization.

Estrogen/Progesterone Ratio

When progesterone levels start to fall at the end of the menstrual cycle but estrogen levels remain high this can supress the secretion of serotonin, the “happy” neurotransmitter which stabilizes your mood. Other substances that affect the brain can also be disrupted by this hormonal imbalance. The estrogen/progesterone balance needs to be normalized. Vitamin B6 and an amino acid methionine help normalize the estrogen/progesterone balance. Methionine is found in beans, beef, dairy products, eggs, fish, garlic, onions, sardines, yoghurt and whey or pea protein powders.

Depression and PMS

Osiecki says that people who experience symptoms of depression with their periods have a low estrogen to progesterone ratio. Again this could be caused by excessive zinc levels. These people according to Osiecki may also have a higher body lead burden. Lead blocks the action of melatonin (sleep hormone) as well as iron, calcium, vitamin B12, chromium, molybdenum and manganese. Iron is required to make serotonin.

The Copper/Zinc ratio

Dr David Watts[ii]states that it is not uncommon for suffers of PMS to have elevated copper tissue levels with relatively lower zinc levels. He says that PMS symptoms echo the aches and pains of copper toxicity: frontal headaches, depression, fatigue, constipation, emotional volatility, weight gain and food cravings. Insomnia could be added to this list. The reason is that estrogen is associated with copper and when levels of either rise so does the other. Progesterone is associated with zinc and works the same as estrogen and copper, that is, zinc rises with progesterone levels. “An imbalance between the hormones estrogen and progesterone, as well as zinc, copper and other nutritional factors, is likely to be the chief culprit contributing to menstrual abnormalities” says Dr Watts.[iii]

Many women using the oral contraceptive or a copper intrauterine device have elevated copper levels because they both effect the level of estrogen. Women also tend to accumulate more copper during pregnancy and this does not always return to normal levels after birth thereby contributing to the zinc/copper imbalance and symptoms associated with post natal depression. Copper also blocks the action in the body of, among other things, magnesium, iron, zinc, vitamin C and folate. These are nutrients required to make serotonin. It also blocks melatonin and SAMe which along with magnesium are needed for good sleep.

Longer Heavier Period or Shorter Lighter Period/Breast Tenderness

If a woman has high copper levels then her period may be longer and heavier than a woman with higher zinc levels who may experience a light and short period. The latter situation (higher zinc levels) may be accompanied by breast tenderness, often extreme. Breast tenderness may also be associated with increased sodium retention. Again vitamin B6 helps regulate fluid levels because it regulates a hormone called aldosterone. Vitamin E will help with breast tenderness as well. Coffee and salt are to be avoided.

Teenagers and PMS

When menstruation commences it is associated with a change in hormonal status. Estrogen levels rise and as a consequence copper levels rise. The answer is often to put the teenage on the contraceptive pill to eliminate the symptoms. The effect will be to increase tissue copper levels unless the balance with zinc is corrected. Mothers can also pass on their mineral profiles to their children. I recently saw a 50 year of woman suffering fatigue and a number of other problems and she had a hair tissue mineral analysis performed. She then sent her 19 year old daughter to have a hair tissue mineral analysis performed. The results for both were almost identical. So if mum suffers from PMS and daughter the same the answer is likely to be found in an imbalance between copper and zinc and a deficiency of some other nutrients as highlighted earlier. Having a hair tissue mineral analysis performed might shine some light on why you or your daughter have PMS.

The Effects of Stress

Reduce your stress levels especially those related to your intimate relationships. These are the relationships that tend to take the brunt of PMS symptoms but they can also be adding to them. I have observed that difficulties in an intimate relationship (husband/wife, daughter/mother/father, or with one’s partner) exacerbates any underlying nutritional imbalances. Arguments affect the liver energetically and this organ must break down hormones such as estrogen when it is no longer required. This situation is exacerbated if the diet is high in sugars as this makes the liver sluggish. Eating a diet higher in proteins and unrefined carbohydrates and lower in sugars and fats helps maintain good liver function. In addition relationship stress affects the ovaries which produce estrogen and progesterone.

You may not appreciate that stress accumulates in the body whether it be physical, emotional, mental or spiritual. If we continue to react in the same way to stressors then we will be adding to the store of stress in our body. Our body or more likely our energy system responds to our environment by storing information about our experiences. This is why seemingly small stresses can sometimes illicit a big physical response as the body does not distinguish easily between a big stress and a little stress. This is where kinesiology can help identify the stressful situations that trigger physical responses and release accumulated stress caused by those situations. Kinesiology can also help you identify ways of dealing with the stressors in your life more effectively.

[i] Henry Osiecki; The Physician’s Handbook of Clinical Nutrition Seventh Ed. at page 393
[ii] Dr David Watts: Trace Elements and Other Essential Nutrients – Clinical Application of Tissue Mineral Analysis at page 84.
[iii] Ibid at page 84

Sources for this article: Henry Osiecki; The Physician’s Handbook of Clinical Nutrition Seventh Ed; Dr David Watts: Trace Elements and Other Essential Nutrients – Clinical Application of Tissue Mineral Analysis, Henry Osiecki, The Nutrient Bible, Seventh Ed. ; Dr Igor Tabrizian, The Visual Textbook of Nutritional Medicine.