As a collective, we do not talk about our periods enough. In practice, I screen every woman for hormonal irregularities. What I discovered is shocking: more than half of my female patient population accepted their PMS symptoms as a normal part of their lives. There are many types of PMS a woman can experience. The type of PMS will determine our treatment method. Take the short quiz below to find out which type of PMS you are experiencing.
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) Type QUIZ:
Instructions: Answer the following multiple-choice questions. You may put more than one answer per question if you think it fits your symptom picture better. All questions pertaining to the two weeks prior to the first day of menses.
What do you find yourself doing that is out of character prior to your period?
Feeling extremely irritated that your choice of lunch is not available when it normally does not bother you.
Finding grocery shopping has never taken this long because you seem to be craving all the chocolate bars and chips in Aisle 1.
Crying just for no reason, or you discovered that you wore the wrong pair of shoes to work.
Hugging anyone is not possible until your period gets here.
How does your brain feel prior to your period?
Anxious or irritable… or both at the same time.
Headache or dizziness
Low mood and difficulty focusing
Sluggish and heavy – like it is soaked in water.
Physically, what symptoms do you have?
Mood swings that can launch you across Canada
You cannot seem to control your eating habits – when you are usually so good at it.
Sleep has not been a friend lately
Gained 5 watery pounds.
What do you usually see with the start of your period?
Full of clots, dark in color
Light cycle, hardly had any bleeding
Losing blood, water (from the bladder), and weight.
CHECK YOUR ANSWERS HERE:
If you find yourself answering ‘A’ a lot, you might have PMS-A (anxiety)
Key symptoms: Feeling overwhelmed, sensitive to perceived rejection or criticism more so than usual, feeling on edge, irritable, mood swings, and very quick to bite people’s head off.
Imbalance: Relative excess estrogen to progesterone ration + irregular cortisol control (adrenal fatigue).
Tips: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts can help metabolize estrogen. Manage your stress levels and remember to take deep breaths throughout the day.
If you find yourself answering ‘B’ a lot, you might have PMS – C (craving)
Key symptoms: craving sweets and carbohydrates along with any foods that are unhealthy. Gets headaches and dizzy on occasions due to poor sugar/insulin control.
Imbalance: relatively low serotonin levels that cause carbohydrate cravings which temporarily will increase your dopamine level for you to feel ‘good’.
Tips: Balance your blood sugar level with splashes of cinnamon. Increase your protein level to make yourself more ‘full’ while decreasing the time that you can be tempted to search up the nearest carbohydrate fix.
If you find yourself answer ‘C’ a lot, you might have PMS D (depression)
Key symptoms: low motivation and lower mood that can sometimes lead to forgetfulness, lack of energy and confusion.
Imbalance: Relative low thyroid functioning and low serotonin levels. Progesterone levels are higher than estrogen levels (relative).
Tips: Exercise can improve serotonin levels and eating phytoestrogen containing foods such as ground-up flaxseed is important to bring up estrogen levels.
If you find yourself answering ‘D’ a lot, you might have PMS H (hydration or water retention)
Key symptoms: Everything just balloons up – bloating, breast tenderness, water retention, swelling, weight gain without changing diet.
Imbalance: Estrogen excess and stimulated adrenal glands that secrete aldosterone to cause salt and water retention prior to your period.
Tips: lower salt intake levels in the diet, lower your coffee intake and eat more vegetables.
On the Pill
Take a hard look at why you are on your oral contraceptive pills. I call them ‘the band-aid’ of all hormonal problems – because that is what your medical doctor knows best. We have a lot more ways to help regulate hormones than just giving you the pill to mask all your symptoms. In that regard, we are better at managing and correcting hormonal imbalances than medical doctors. Also, did you know that the World Health Organization has published multiple articles on how OCP depletes nutrients such as vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, C, folic acid, magnesium, selenium, zinc, CoQ10, and tyrosine? Book an assessment with me to see how Naturopathic medicine can help.
Your PMS is not around just to make your life miserable every month, it is also signaling you on how ready your body is to get pregnant. Your chances of naturally conceiving decreases as your hormones get disrupted by every-day stressors such as work, caffeine intake, late nights, alcohol, poor food choices, and lack of exercise. If you have been trying to get pregnant for six consecutive months or more, come in for a consultation to see how we can optimize your female hormones by optimizing your health. Furthermore, remember that it takes two to make a baby. Your partner’s hormone health is just as important as yours.
Hormone Testing (D.U.T.C.H Test)
Let me tell you a secret – YOU DO NOT HAVE TO live with all those symptoms. We have an accurate test that can find out your hormonal imbalances. It is called the D.U.T.C.H test (Dried Urine Test for Comprehensive Hormones), and we offer it right here at Pacific Wellness Institute. With this test, we can accurately pinpoint which of your hormones (including your stress hormones) is giving you all those nasty mood swings, breast tenderness, cramps, spotting issues, infertility, etc. Why is it necessary for you to get tested? Because there are so many possibilities for your hormones to be out of whack. With a simple symptom-based intake, it is not enough for any doctor to accurately tell you which of your hormones (estrogen, progesterone, FSH, LH, cortisol, androgen, testosterone, DHEA… you get the idea) is giving you a hard time. To make this science exact, we need extensive testing to save you the pain, inconvenience, supplements, or even worse sequelae of not treating your hormonal imbalances (fibroids, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome are included on that list).
The ingredients support Lung and Kidney (Chinese medicine organ systems that relate to the fall and winter seasons respectively) health to help us get through these shorter, colder, windier days.
If you haven’t tried black rice yet, this recipe is an easy way to do so.
Black rice is touted as a very healthy type of rice. Unlike polished white rice, it retains its hull and, therefore, has a high fibre content. The dark purple to black colour of the grains is due to the presence of potent and protective antioxidants called anthocyanins.
Most grocery stores carry black rice – you don’t have to go to a specialty shop to find it. However, easy access to black rice hasn’t always been the case. In ancient times, it was strictly reserved for China’s Emperor and family. Hence its other common names ‘Emperor’s Rice’ or ‘Forbidden Rice’.
¾ cup of black rice
2+ cups of water
¼ cup dates, chopped
¼ cup of almonds, chopped
1 tart apple (Granny Smith, Winesap, Honeycrisp, etc.), peeled, cored and chopped
2 ripe pears, peeled, cored and chopped
1 tsp grated or minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp. grated orange zest
1 tbsp. almonds, finely chopped
Rinse rice with plenty of cold water.
Place rice in a cooking pot along with 2 cups of water. Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Boil for about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Keep the pot covered.
Add chopped dates and almonds. Continue to stir occasionally until the dates are very soft (at least 15 minutes). If the mixture is sticking or starting to look dry, add more water to keep a moist texture.
Add the chopped apple and stir to mix. Cook until the apple pieces and rice are soft. Again, if the mixture starts to dry out, add more water.
Add the pears and fresh ginger, mixing well. Cook until pears are soft.
Spoon pudding into serving dishes. If desired, garnish with a little orange zest and chopped almond. Serve warm.
Black rice is quite hard and takes a while to cook to a pudding texture. To reduce cooking time, soak rice in 1 ½ cups of water for at least an hour. Soaking overnight is ideal. Discard the soaking water before cooking.
With cooking, black rice will change to a beautiful purple colour.
Pears, apples, almonds and ginger all help to fortify the Lung organ system. This is exactly what we should be doing at this time of year. The Lung system is associated with the fall season and the colour white. Note that, while the peels of pears and apples may be a variety of colours, the flesh is white!
Black rice, like other types of rice, strengthens our digestive function. What is different about this rice is its striking deep colour. Black, purple and dark blue foods assist the Kidney organ system which helps sustain us through the upcoming winter. In addition, it is said to promote healthy Blood.
Dates, the main source of sweetness in this recipe, warm us, give us energy and also strengthen Blood.
Orange zest can help optimize digestion.
This pudding is well cooked and served warm. Both of these factors ease the burden on the Stomach and Spleen (TCM organs of digestion).