PMS Aches & Pains
PMS Aches & Pains
What is the most commonly used remedy for PMS? It's probably not a food, an exercise, a tea, or an herb or vitamin—and it's not a prescription drug, either. No, it's probably either a hot water bottle or an over-the-counter pain killer, because pain before the period is one of the most common, and uncomfortable, premenstrual symptoms.
PMS pain doesn't refer to menstrual cramps alone. There are many kinds of PMS aches and pains, from premenstrual back pain and aching joints to leg pains, headaches, and overall stiffness. All PMS pain has one thing in common, though—it's part of an overall hormone imbalance that gives rise to premenstrual syndrome in the first place. When you take a natural approach to achieve a pain-free cycle, you'll probably solve a lot of other PMS and menstrual problems at the same time.
Most of us have become accustomed to thinking in terms of what we can do after we notice pain in our bodies, so it may surprise you to discover how well simple measures to prevent it truly do work. Here are five helpful natural hints to help you resolve PMS pain without resorting to medication:
- Dump the junk food. Yes, your diet really does contribute to how much pain and inflammation you experience. Candy, soda, cookies, ice cream, fried foods, and junk snacks may taste good on the way down, but their negative effects build up over the month—long enough to cause PMS aches that can force you to depend on over-the-counter painkillers. It may take a couple of cycles before your body responds to dietary changes—though we've certainly seen plenty of women who noticed remarkable change for the better within the first month—so don't give up too soon. Think of it in terms of building up a savings account—you know your hard work will pay off eventually. Besides, you'll be doing more than just preventing pain—your waistline and complexion will thank you, too.
- A treat every once in a while is fine, so enjoy it. It's your everyday habits that count most.
- Those painkillers that are marketed for PMS are usually acetaminophen combined with another drug, such as caffeine. They don't do anything for your moods or the emotional symptoms of PMS (unless your pain is the only cause of the bad mood). And they don't do anything to address the hormone imbalance at the root of the problem: all they can do is mask symptoms.
- Eat a plant-based diet for healthy hormones. While cutting out junk food can give you a big dose of PMS pain relief, your PMS leg pain, back pain, and all the other premenstrual aches are no match for a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, seeds, and nuts. So when you create some space in your daily diet by cutting out the sweets and snacks, fill it with some of the healthiest foods available: the ones made from plants! We don't advocate a vegetarian diet as the answer to everyone's health problems, and it's probably easier for many women today to have a healthy diet by including healthy sources of animal protein and omega-3's. But plant foods are particularly rich in a wide range of natural anti-inflammatories and pain-preventers.
- One group of foods at the top of the list of hormone-balancing powerhouses is the cruciferous, or cabbage family of vegetables. Our favorite is broccoli, but cabbages of every variety, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, and cauliflower all quench excess estrogen metabolites in your body. Since estrogen dominance is the most common sex hormonal imbalance, these veggies help rebalance you, and probably protect you from cancer at the same time!
- A diet high in healthy plant foods is a heart-healthy, high-fiber diet. Plus, it will help you to be more regular all month long, and when your natural elimination is working at peak efficiency, you won't have to rely on those expensive "detox in a box" plans. Regular elimination is another bonus for your complexion!
- Tip the good-fat/bad-fat scale in your favor. Almost all doctors, researchers, and nutritionists now agree that the low-fat and no-fat diets of a decade or two ago were, quite simply, a big mistake. That's because fats themselves aren't bad; there are good and bad fats, and getting them right in your diet is the key. The first step in avoiding bad fats was step number one: cutting out the junk food. Then you can get those high-quality, healthy fats into your diet from olive oil, nuts, flax seed, and wild-caught, cold-water fatty fish. Those good fats rebalance your pain and inflammation profile and help keep PMS pains away.
- Not all olive oil is created equally; the best quality is the extra-virgin variety. Since all oil is subject to damage by light, look for dark green glass or opaque metal containers that keep damaging light rays out. The best olive oils are from Spain, Greece, and California.
- In moderation, nuts are an excellent source of healthy fat, protein, and heart-healthy phytonutrients. Walnuts are one of the best, and almonds, hazelnuts, and pecans are excellent as well. If there is oil listed in the ingredients of the nuts, it means they've been fried, so look for raw or dry-roasted nuts. We suggest you avoid salted nuts as well.
- Add some ginger to your life. Ginger is a wonderful herb to use in cooking or as a tea, thanks to its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, and its spicy but pleasant flavor. It adds a wonderful piquant accent to many dishes, and as a tea it's soothing and warming on cold winter nights, and cooling and refreshing on summer days. A pinch of ginger isn't enough to reap all of its healing benefits, so the more ways you can enjoy it, the better.
- To make ginger tea, finely chop an ounce, or about two tablespoons, of fresh ginger and then steep it in six ounces of very hot water. Don't boil the ginger, as this will evaporate the essential oils. A strong tea is best, so steep for at least three minutes and up to seven or eight.
- Add ginger slices or chopped ginger to stir fries. Adding garlic and onions as well will give you a strong but delightful dish, full of healthy phytonutrients.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise. Whether it's your low back or your joints that ache with PMS, or you just get overall pain and stiffness, you can't go wrong by incorporating moderate exercise into your life. Of course, overdoing it can cause more pain, especially if you're not used to exercising or you push yourself too hard. But there is more premenstrual pain due to a sedentary lifestyle than there is from exercise. Walking is one of our favorites, because it's relatively easy to fit into your day, and walking with a friend can help motivate you and make your exercise break more enjoyable. One tip for sticking with it: do it first thing in the morning, before other responsibilities get in the way.
We hope we've started to make a believer out of you: premenstrual pains can be avoided without resorting to over-the-counter drugs. With some time and effort, you can resolve menstrual pain, and make yourself healthier in the process.
Real, Natural Relief—So You Can Feel Great All Month Long
PMS and PMDD misery aren't always taken seriously enough by doctors, family, and
friends. At PMS Comfort, our whole purpose is to empower and educate you about premenstrual
symptoms, and to provide real, natural relief so that you can feel great all month
long. Our all-natural doctor-designed programs are based on decades of experience
helping thousands of women recover from what you've been going through. Our Herbal
Relief formula, when combined with our diet and lifestyle guidance, addresses more
than just your symptoms—it can help bring your body and mind back into balance,
and help you get and stay healthy. Plus, we're here to support you, every step of
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