PMS And PMDD Folk Cures: Flaxseed, Phytoestrogens & Whole Grains

by Dr. Daniel J. Heller September 13, 2011

My last post discussed an article called “Natural Remedies For Hormonal Health Problems.” Well, this whole brand is about natural remedies for hormonal health problems, but since we didn’t have any articles discussing the effect of banana bread on pelvic blood flow, I thought I should blog about this. And, there were certainly parts of the article that deserve some consideration related to PMS and PMDD and their associated symptoms.

The article continued with “Cool Hot Flashes With Flax.” Hurray! Finally some real advice that can be really effective. What are the benefits of flaxseed with hot flashes? For the same reason that soy, red clover extract, and black cohosh extract work: they contain phytoestrogens, plant molecules that weakly mimic natural human estrogen. I say weakly because they are not nearly as strong as human estrogen, but they are strong enough to be helpful when, as in menopause, there is not enough estrogen in circulation. Most women don’t realize that hot flashes can be a PMS and PMDD symptom as well—but these conditions and their symptoms are more likely to be a result of “estrogen dominance.”

Interestingly, because phytoestrogens are weak, if they occupy a hormone receptor and in so doing block estrogen, they will “turn down” the effect of estrogen. This is one of the remarkable properties of whole plant medicines in particular, and natural medicines in general: if there’s not enough of something, they can boost its effect, and if there’s too much they can dampen it. This is one of the reasons I think the concerns about soy and breast cancer and phytoestrogen side effects are the result of a misunderstanding, or perhaps non-understanding. They eat a lot of soy in Japan and get less breast cancer than we do here in the U.S.

But back to flax and flaxseed benefits. First of all, flax doesn’t work unless it’s ground up, and you’re never going to chew it enough to get the same result. Second, if you grind it yourself, you’ll generate heat that spoils the highly sensitive flaxseed oil. For that reason, I recommend you purchase pre-ground flaxseed, because industrial flaxseed grinding in the health food industry is done at very low temperatures. I also recommend you purchase organic, since fats are the most important food type to purchase organically (including butter, beef, eggs, and the like). Finally, try to get organic ground flaxseed that is in vacuum-sealed packaging, and not exposed to light. Some packagers put the ground flaxseed in a plastic bag with a clear window so you can see what you’re buying, but light, like heat, damages the valuable flaxseed oil.

What is flaxseed good for? It is also an excellent source of fiber, and I frequently recommend it in my practice. But be careful about introducing too much fiber to your diet all at once. Start with one tablespoon twice a  day, and if that doesn’t bother your digestion you can gradually increase up to two tablespoons twice a day. Ground flaxseed can be sprinkled on cooked vegetables, oatmeal, rice, cereal, salads, or mixed into smoothies, juice, or even water. As with all sources of fiber, make sure you drink enough water and fluids so that the fiber can swell with water and help keep you regular.

OK, now onto more of the hormonal remedies: “Beat Blue Moods With Whole Grains.” This is a variation on the potato idea, with the addition of the B vitamins and other nutrients in whole wheat. Whole grains are a great food, and have been dietary staples for thousands of years for a reason. So we’re big fans of whole grain, and switching from white flour to whole grain flour, and from white rice to brown rice is one of the simplest and easiest positive health changes you can make. It’s just that, by itself, a switch to whole grains is unlikely to relieve depression. Now, if you also changed your whole diet, cut out junk food and refined sugars, and started exercising regularly and breaking old destructive emotional patterns, you’d be well on your way to overcoming PMS, PMDD, and a host of other hormonal and mood type of problems.

However, we’ve seen a lot more people “beat blue moods” when they discovered that they were wheat intolerant, or, much less frequently, gluten intolerant. In fact, wheat sensitivity is the most common undiagnosed cause of fatigue and depression—far more common, certainly, than a lack of whole grains.

We’re not done! My next blog post will finish out the review of the natural remedies for hormonal problems article.

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About The PMS Comfort Blog

The PMS Comfort Blog is our informal way of keeping you up to date on women’s health issues that we think are important; timely; underappreciated; useful; or just interesting. And, we’ll admit, sometimes we can’t resist poking some good-natured fun at the way the mainstream media portrays health, natural health, and women’s health issues. As always, we’d love to hear from you and are interested in knowing what you think and feel about these or other topics. Leave a comment for us, we’ll always respond. And, if there’s a women’s health topic that’s of interest to you, or that you find confusing, let us know! We want this blog to be helpful to you.


Dr. Daniel Heller is the primary author of this blog, the developer of our PMS Natural Relief Programs, and the founder of He is a holistic naturopathic doctor in Northern California with over 16 years experience helping thousands of women recover from PMS, PMDD, as well as helping women, children, and families find natural answers to all manner of health challenges.


PMS Comfort is here to support you with detailed, practical knowledge presented in a balanced manner you can trust. We are committed to educating, informing, and empowering womenregarding PMS, PMDD, and women’s health, and to providing natural relief for premenstrual symptoms.



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