Female health problems include pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), endometriosis, fibroids, osteoporosis, symptoms of the menopause and infertility. The aetiology of these health problems are multi layered and often complicated, however there are some common underlying causes to all of them including hormonal imbalances, stress, poor nutrition and lack of nutrients, environmental oestrogens and poor detoxification.
The symptoms of PMS are varied and effect up to 90% of all women. The cause is still unknown. Different hypotheses as to the cause of PMS include hormone imbalance, a lack of essential fatty acids, a lack of B vitamins, magnesium, chromium, zinc and poor blood sugar control. PMS has been classified into four categories described below. Unfortunately many women may not fit neatly into each category and may have a mixture of these symptoms.
1. PMS-A (anxiety) includes mood swings, irritability, tension and fits of rage. This is the most common type affecting 40-60% of women. This may be due to poor liver function, gallstones and poor gut health. Anxiety can be caused by low serotonin levels therefore eating more protein; specifically tryptophan is required (5HTP would be a good supplement). Supporting the liver and the clearance of oestrogens may also help.
2. PMS-C (cravings) including sugar cravings, headaches and fatigue. This may be due to magnesium deficiency, pancreas insufficiency or inflammation. Dark chocolate and green leafy vegetables help increase magnesium. Eating small regular meals, high in protein and healthy fats and using fenugeek, R alpha lipoic acid, B3, fish oil, cinnamon, zinc, B6 and chromium can support the pancreas and reduce inflammation.
3. PMS-D (depression) includes depression, confusion and poor coordination. This may be due to low levels of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine due to a lack of protein in the diet. It may also be due to an imbalance of fatty acids. Taking evening primrose oil that contains GLA and taking fish oil can help correct this.
4. PMS-H (hyperhydration) includes water retention, breast tenderness, breast enlargement, abdominal bloating, and weight gain. This may be due to poor mineral balance and increased aldosterone that causes the tubules of the kidneys to retain sodium and water. These women need to use Celtic Sea Salt and alkaline minerals such as potassium and magnesium orrotate. Diuretcis such as raspberry leaf tea, green tea and taurine may also help. Doubling the intake of a multivitamin and mineral for 5 days before your period starts may also be useful.
Many of the symptoms of PMS are also symptoms of poor blood sugar control and this may be the major contributing factor. First of all simply follow the blood sugar control advice in my book and then investigate and try some of things I suggests for water retention and bloating, headaches or depression. The supplements magnesium, B6 and evening primrose oil for GLA may be very useful to manage PMS.
To find out what foods and nutrients support your hormonal health Steve Hines Little book of nutrition tips now is available at