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How to Eliminate PMS in 5 Simple Steps

How to Eliminate PMS in 5 Simple Steps

SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF WOMEN SUFFER from headaches, mood swings, bloating, and other problems that threaten their relationships, work life, and well-being.

It’s a statement that most of us unconsciously accept without a second thought. But it doesn’t have to be this way …

It’s true that the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), like mood swings, irritability, depression, anxiety, fluid retention, bloating, breast tenderness, sugar cravings, headaches, and sleep disturbances, affect 75 percent of women. And in 20 percent of those women, the symptoms are so severe that they need medical treatment. About 8 percent have such extreme symptoms that the problem has been given a new name: premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

But just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you have to live with these symptoms. The real fact is that suffering related to menstrual cycles is unnecessary — and not caused by bad luck, but by bad habits, environmental toxins, and stress.

Of course, the drug companies don’t want you to know that! So the conventional treatments for PMS range from anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil or Aleve to birth control pills. And then there are the big guns …

These include prescription medications such as danazol, a drug that suppresses ovulation and causes increased facial hair, acne, and a deep voice. Newer, very expensive drugs called gonadatropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) analogs actually change brain chemistry to turn off the ovaries’ production of estrogen and progesterone — but they also lead to osteoporosis.

Sometimes, diuretics like spironolactone are used to treat fluid retention. A drug called bromocriptine can be used to stop prolactin production and is used to treat breast tenderness.

No wonder the drug companies want you to believe that PMS is inevitable. Recently, they even helped create a new disease — PMDD — and a new indication for a drug whose patent was running out: Prozac (now called Sarafem). What’s wrong with this picture?

It’s based on the assumption that the symptoms of PMS are an inevitable part of being a woman and require “medical intervention” with serious medication to correct them. Nothing could be further from the truth!

To think that 75 percent of women have a design flaw that requires medical treatment to live a normal life is just absurd.

If you are one of the many women that suffer from PMS, you an end your suffering using five simple dietary and lifestyle interventions. I will explain how to do that. But first, I want to tell you a story.

Curing PMDD Without Medications

This is the story of a patient of mine with PMDD who was barely able to work or function in her family — suffering three weeks out of the month. She was 37 years old (many women feel worsening PMS symptoms as they get into their later reproductive years).She was severely depressed, fatigued, and anxious, and suffered severe food and sugar cravings, which led to overeating and weight gain.

The real cause for PMS is simply this: Your hormones become unbalanced, your estrogen levels increase and progesterone levels decrease, either relatively or absolutely.

She also had joint pain, breast tenderness, heavy bleeding, hot flashes, dry skin, acne, hair loss, memory problems, poor sleep, and no sex drive. She also complained of gas and bloating.

What about her diet?

Well, she didn’t drink alcohol, but was a big coffee drinker. And she started the day with a bagel and cheese, ate a cafeteria lunch, snacked on chocolates in the afternoon, and had a healthy dinner but binged later on ice cream, chips, and Cheerios. She also ate a lot of dairy.

Hers is a story that I hear all too often. But the good news is that I was able to give her a simple solution that didn’t involve taking medication.

We know that sugar, caffeine, alcohol, stress, and lack of exercise all contribute to worsening PMS. It is also true that dairy consumption can worsen hormonal imbalances because of all the hormones in milk.

So I had her change her diet, take a few supplements and herbs, and start exercising — and within just one cycle, her life changed. The results were dramatic. All of her symptoms resolved, she lost weight, and dramatically increased her energy. Her mood stabilized and her acne and dry skin cleared up.

The approach I used to treat this patient is part of an approach called systems, or functional medicine. That means that I define the imbalance (in this case, severe hormonal imbalances), address the causes (diet and lifestyle), and then help the body repair and regain balance. Once this is done, the body’s natural intelligence takes care of the rest.

So what is the REAL underlying cause of PMS?

The Real Causes of PMS

The real cause for PMS is simply this: Your hormones become unbalanced, your estrogen levels increase and progesterone levels decrease, either relatively or absolutely.

There are many things that promote these hormone imbalances, such as a high-sugar, refined carbohydrate diet, caffeine, stress, dairy, hormones in dairy products and meat, and estrogen-like toxins from pesticides and pollution. Alcohol also contributes to problems because it damages the liver and prevents it from excreting excess estrogen.

Constipation and imbalances in the gut bacteria can worsen the situation, because they lead to the reabsorption of estrogen from the gut back into your blood, even after your liver has tried to get rid of it.

Your body also needs exercise to help balance hormones. So if you aren’t moving your body enough, it’s likely this is part of the problem as well.

Fortunately, good research shows that there many ways to get hormones back in balance — without drugs. Here’s my plan for preventing PMS and PMDD. Even though some of my suggestions may seem severe, science shows that they work. Give them a try and you will see in just one or two cycles how much better you feel.

5 Simple Steps to Eliminate PMS

1. Clean up your diet.

This means:

  • Stop eating refined flour, sugar, and processed foods.
  • Cut out caffeine.
  • Stop drinking alcohol.
  • Balance your blood sugar by eating protein, such as a protein shake, eggs, and nut butters, for breakfast.
  • Eat evenly throughout the day and don’t skip meals.
  • Don’t eat within three hours of bedtime.
  • Cut out all dairy and consider eliminating other common allergens for a few months, especially gluten.
  • Increase fiber in your diet from vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains. Two tablespoons of ground flax seeds a day are especially helpful in correcting constipation and balancing hormones. Put them in a shake or sprinkle them on salads or food.
  • Increase omega-3 fats by eating more wild fish like sardines, herring, and wild salmon, as well as omega-3 eggs and walnuts.
  • Eat organic food, especially animal products, to avoid environmental estrogens from pesticides.

2. Take supplements.

A number of supplements have been shown to help ease PMS symptoms by improving metabolic function and hormone metabolism. Here are the superstars:

  • Magnesium citrate or glycinate — Take 400 to 600 mg a day.
  • Calcium citrate — Take 600 mg a day.
  • Vitamin B6 — Take 50 to 100 mg a day along with 800 mcg of folate and 1,000 mcg of vitamin B12.
  • Evening primrose oil — Take two 500mg capsules twice a day.
  • EPA/DHA (omega 3 fats) — Take 1,000 mg once or twice a day.
  • Taurine — Take 500 mg a day to help liver detoxification.
  • A good daily multivitamin (all the nutrients work together)

Herbs and phytonutrients can also be very helpful. Here are the best studied and most effective:

  • Chasteberry fruit extract (Vitex Agnus-astus) can help balance the hormones released by the pituitary gland that control your overall hormone function. Studies of over 5,000 women have found it effective. Take 100 mg twice a day of a 10:1 extract.
  • Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa) and cramp bark (Viburum opulus) can help regulate cycles and relieve menstrual cramps.
  • Dandelion root can help with liver detoxification and works as a diuretic.
  • Isoflavones from soy, red clover, or kudzu root improve estrogen detoxification by boosting the activity of specific detox enzymes. They can be taken as supplements or consumed in the diet.
  • Flax seeds contain lignans that help balance hormone metabolism and block the negative effects of excess estrogens.
  • Chinese herbal formulas may also help. One of the most effective is Xiao Yao San, or Rambling Powder. It contains: Bupleurum Root (Bupleurum chinense), Chinese Peony Root (Paeonia lactiflora), Dong Quai Root (Angelica sinensis), Bai-Zhu Atractylodes Root (Atractylodes macrocephala), Poria Sclerotium (Poria cocos), Ginger Rhizome (Zingiber officinale), Chinese Licorice Root (Glycyrrhiza uralensis),and Chinese Mint Leaf (Mentha haplocalyx)
  • Replacing healthy bacteria in the gut also helps normalize estrogen and hormone metabolism. Take 5 to 10 billion live organisms in a daily probiotic supplement.
  • For intractable cases, I will occasionally use topical, natural bioidentical progesterone in the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle. The usual dose is 1/2 tsp (20 to 40 mg) applied at night to thin skin areas for the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle.

3. Get moving.

Exercise is very important for balancing hormones. Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, 4 to 5 times a week.

4. Address stress.

Dealing with stress is also critical. Take a hot bath at night, get a massage, try yoga, learn deep breathing or meditation. These techniques and others can help balance hormones.

5. Try alternative therapies.

Therapies such as acupuncture and homeopathy may help. One clinical trial showed that individualized homeopathy is effective in treating PMS. Five homeopathic medicines were used: Lachesis, Natrum muriaticum, Nux vomica, Pulsatilla, and Sepia.

If my patients are any indication, a plan such as this can have impressive effects on premenstrual symptoms.

Remember, women are not defective. You can thrive and be healthy by paying attention to a few natural laws of biology. You don’t need drugs to survive!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, M.D.

Mark Hyman MD is the Medical Director at Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine, the Founder of The UltraWellness Center, and a ten-time #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

Comments (54)

  • Help! For two weeks prior to my period, I am too fatigued to do anything. The only time my PMS went away was when I did a low-carb, vegan diet. But it was too difficult for me to sustain.

    My PCP also caught a severe vitamin D deficiency (11.8), and I’ve been taking megadoses of D2 and D3. It’s been a week and a half, and I haven’t noticed any improvement in energy.

    It’s so hard to eat well when, especially during PMS, all you crave is sugar, and everything else tastes like cork.

    • Dear Alexa,

      You might find that balancing your blood sugar throughout the month by eating a meal plan described in Dr. Hyman’s The Blood Sugar Solution, works really well for your PMS symptoms. Making sure you have ample amounts of B vitamins, namely B6 as well as magnesium might help. Check it out! http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com

      For more personalized nutrition advice, Dr Hyman’s nutrition coaching team would be happy to work with you on an individual level to help you reach your goals. To work with the nutrition coaching team please go to:http://www.bloodsugarsolution.com/nutrition-coaching/ OR call (800) 892-1443 to get started.

    • Omega 3 supplements have been shown more and more to work for these symptoms – I added 1g/day of molecularly distilled oil (all chemicals removed) with a 2:1 ratio of EPA;dha and my symptoms literally disappeared in 1 cycle, after 2 years of hell and a px of Prozac.

    • Also if you have a vitamin D deficiency the only way to increase your vitamin D is by going outside everyday even if its overcast. You cannot get enough vitamin D from vitamins you have to go outside to get ample supplies!

      • That’s not true for people with true deficiency. For someone who is truly deficient, our bodies are not equipped to convert sunlight absorption into vitamin D. I am deficient as are my siblings and my father. We take a daily supplement and I noticed I do feel better when I take it regularly.

  • I totally agree with this article! Thank you. I have very “nice” periods compared to others (about 32 days apart, not very heavy, no cramping or mood swings). I attribute all this to healthy eating (by healthy I mean NO sugar-free fake, low cal stuff but instead natural, unprocessed foods, lots of fruits/veggies, plain yogurt which balance pH and fight candida, lots of minerals and vitamin water, no splenda, but stevia is fine, only occasional intake of lean/clean meats, very very rarely red meat and no pig). I also workout regularly and try to maintain muscle mass.

    However, I do get bloated and my skin often gets acne a few days before my period. I can’t seem to shake it but I try to drink LOTS of water and chamomile tea to flush out any toxins and to keep from water retention. To some degree, I think the hormones cannot be controlled 100% but I wonder if I should try something else (I’ve done evening primrose oil, blackstrap molasses, diuretics). I never take medication (no BC, no advil, no tylenols). I do have to take allergy meds though (claritin) every so often b/c my allergies give me hives if not treated.

    It’s sad that a lot of women think that it’s “normal” to medicate themselves just to function regularly in the world… as if being female is a disease that needs treating. On the contrary, women are very unique creatures that require special attention. The fast-food culture we live in disproportionately affects women unfortunately (i.e. more susceptible to yeast infections, imbalances down there etc). When will women wake up and realize that their lifestyle habits are responsible for most issues “down there” (including odors, infections, pain, cramps, heavy bleeding etc?)?

    • Just because you have a normal cycle don’t judge other people .Thank god for your blessings.Dont give yourself and your habits all the credit.Other women might be on a better diet and exercise plan than you and still be suffering.I know i am.

    • Sorry Shay, but your comment,

      “When will women wake up and realize that their lifestyle habits are responsible for most issues “down there” (including odors, infections, pain, cramps, heavy bleeding etc?)”

      is rude and insensitive. My lifestyle habits are the same as yours, and despite of that, I do suffer from heavy bleeding. It’s not fair of you to say women’s lifestyle choices are the culprit. This can be caused by many things including perimenopause. Stop being so judgmental please.

  • Hello, I recently changed my diet to eliminate sugar, carbs, grains, dairy, you name it, due to chronic UTIs and yeast problems. I take cellulase enzymes to help eliminate yeast and various herbs to support my urinary tract. I drink vast quantities of water. After several months I have had great success healing and preventing the UTIs. I lost 30 pounds, and I feel pretty good. I was a vegetarian, more or less, before this change, and I started eating meat again a couple weeks ago, because I just can’t put together a decent diet without it. I eat local grass fed beef and bison. I may have eaten quite a bit more than I should have initially, because I felt like I was starving and it was incredibly satisfying. (two rib eyes and a 10 oz sirloin in a week)My problem is my periods became almost unnoticeable until I started eating meat. I had several months of almost no symptoms of PMS and perfect moods- I felt so calm and my moods were stable. My blood pressure became normal after years of medicating. This month, starting a week ago, I am bloated, in pain, and viciously irritable. My digestion has slowed. My boobs are going to explode. I am so angry. This is taking forever, my period won’t start, and I want to smash things. I have had some stress- I just got a new job, and I was very excited and worried until it was finalized; I drove ten hours a couple of days ago. All I can see that has changed is I eat meat and I have a new job starting later this month. Can eating meat cause such a dramatic change?

  • thank you, i will follow the instructions for next month … coz right now it has too late (having acne during pms) after taking sweet n salty foods few days ago…

  • I suffer from PMDD but am also a type 1 diabetic. I find it exceptionally hard to control my blood sugar levels and my requirements for insulin go up more than 60% in the last two weeks of my cycle and even with these raises the same amount of carbohydrate will spike my sugars far more than it does in the follicular phase. Despite testing 10 times a day and making numerous adjustments all month, I am unable to get the control I am working for. The day my period starts I deal with severe hypoglycaemia even if I manage to drop the basal insulin levels in time and the hypoglycaemia gets worse during the first week of my period and then stabilizes before rising again after ovulation. I am in the process of applying for a pump in the hopes of being able to make smaller necessary changes to get this more under control, but I know it will never be perfect.

    I have also changed my diet to a gluten free, dairy free diet with no artificial sweetners, flavourants and colourants and have added in the supplements mentioned above.

    I would like to know why soy is recommended since it is supposed to have an estrogen effect. I am on soy products now, but want to know WHY this is supposed to help.

    Also I do exercise, but find my exercise automatically needs to be limited in my PMDD periods – I have no energy and seem to need far more sleep than normal – wearing a pedometer my natural amounts of exercise automatically go down in that period even if I actually try to exercise – should my exercise be the same in the luteal than follicular phase or is it ok to go a bit more easy then?

  • This is really all good advice. I don’t understand why people are even writing and commenting. Just follow all the advice to the “T” and you will see results. If you can’t do a certain diet, then find something that does work for you. Healthy food doesn’t all taste like ‘cork’ as one reader said. Stop trying to find people to ‘help’ you and try taking things into your own hands and ‘help’ yourself. You have the world literally at your fingertips.. google everything and find what works for you. This advice may not work for everyone but it can and will at the very least ‘help’ everyone and from there you can tweak it.. just do it.

  • These are great tips. I haven’t been able to cut out caffeine and sugar, but working on it. Also, I take New Chapter Estrotone(made up of herbs, many listed in the article), and alternate that with Dr. Venessa’s PMS supplement (herbs plus vitamins). Feel so much better since I started the supplements. I also take oceans’s 3 fish oil. Always striving to eat well ( I eat mostly organic plant based diet). Still have pms, but it is much better. Im sure if I cut out sugar (my weakness), I’d feel so much better!

    • Hi Anne,

      Great to hear you are taking steps to improve your health with supplements. You may want to check out on cutting your caffeine intake.

      Thanks for contributing!

  • How do you know which mixture of supplements to take or are you suppose to try all of them together…choose one or what…I’m just a little unclear on this part

  • Hi – I think this may be an impossible combination, but I have a 12 year old daughter who is about 6 months into menstruation – after about her 3rd or 4th it would seem she’s headed down the same path i took…P(and D – during!)MSymptoms (exhaustion, mood swings, muscle aches, etc. She is too old and independent for me to tell her what to eat – she knows what she “should” eat but it doesn’t matter, she doesn’t like it or want to!

    We do use homeopathics for some symptoms successfully, thank Gd for that.

    I would really like to be able to provide her some kind of nutritional support in the form of a liquid supplement….she can’t swallow pills!…

    Can anyone suggest any kind of good quality, good (or at least decent!!) tasting, kosher and/or vegetarian (again, liquid) supplement(s) that could provide omega 3’s, iron (she was low in iron well before she started menstruating, that can only make matters worse), other important nutrients/vitamins/minerals and maybe some herbs, etc?

    Thanks in advance…

    • Hi Lisa,

      Melaleuca makes a fish oil supplement that’s liquid. Also flax oil is good and can be mixed in a smoothie along with dark leafy greens without changing the flavor too drastically. I make a strawberry banana smoothie and add in some flax oil and kale and it still tastes good!

  • Barleans makes a great tasting vegan Omega DHA supplement that is blueberry pomegranate flavored. My kids all like it. Not sure what to recommend on the others.

  • I can attest to having much better and easier periods with fewer cramps, less bleeding, and shorter days when I have eliminated processed foods and sugars and have increased fruits and vegetable intake (going for a rainbow of color every day) during the month. I am 50 and have suffered for years with major cramps. Now that most women are having more difficulties I am having fewer.

  • I have changed my diet to absolutely no dairy, no alcohol (I follow the Engine 2 Diet/Whole foods, plant-based diet).; I exercise regularly; I try to maintain regular sleep patterns…but after keeping a symptom diary for eight months, I still suffer from SEVERE hypersomnia during my follicular phase, which is followed by SEVERE mastalgia (nipple pain) in the early luteal phase, and then those symptoms give way to insonmnia, anxiety, depression. Basically, days 1-4 in my cycle are the only ones where I feel somewhat normal and can function despite my menses.

    I have taken magnesium supplements and the B vitamins…those seem to help a little with regularity, but my OB/GYN has prescribed Lo Loestrin Fe to help with my horrible symptoms. I feel like they are limiting my life to a few days of function a month…but I’m trying to avoid taking birth control pills at all costs. Is there anything Dr. Hyman would recommend I focus on most that I’m NOT doing? I had been on natural progesterone cream for two years, but weaned off of it a year ago when my symptoms were getting worse (the hypersomnia and mastalgia).

    • Hi Lisa,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117 and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.

      You can also make an appointment to be a patient at Dr.Hyman’s UltraWellness Center in Lenox, MA. Please go to: http://www.ultrawellnesscenter.com/becoming-a-patient.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Great article. Thanks. I have 2 questions though. I read that flax seeds are very estrogenic so I have been staying away from them recently. According to this article that is not needed. Secondly I thought the recommended dosage for chaste berry was 1,000 mg/day not 2×100 mg/day. Any thoughts?

  • There has to be more to it than this. I work out almost every day, minimum 5 days/week. I eat a high protein, low carb diet with plenty of fruit and veg, have for years, and yet I am completely out of commission every month! I get terrible PMS headaches a couple days before my period and horrible pain and fatigue once it starts – so much so that I literally can do nothing but stay in bed one day each month.

  • I’m sorry but a dairy free diet isn’t good for anyone unless you plan on getting osteoporosis and breaking bones later in life! Even when you are doing healthy things like exercise and eating right you can still have symptoms and a non-dairy diet isn’t eating right. Dairy gives you vitamin D , calcium and a multitude of other nutrients your body especially your bones and brain need to function. So before taking a drastic change because someone said it worked for them talk to your doctor who knows your body and family health history to insure that you’re not hurting yourself in the end.

  • I had a blood test w last month and when my doctor reviewed the results he said I probably had pernicious anemia and had b12 absorption problems. He suggested a b12 lozenge. The first day I took it was during my me strual flow and my pain STOPPED THAT day! I am now on my next mentrual flow and my pain has been little to none. I normally take ar least 12 ibuprofens a day and even prescription pain pills and was still miserable. The supplement is a lozenge and contains 2mg b6, 800mcg folate, 2000 (yes 2000) mcg b12 and also has magnesium stearate. I was at a movie with my son today and I started cramping and panicked because I had no ibuprofen to take. I had my b12 in my purse, took 1 and the cramps Stopped:) hope this helps someone else. Peace!

  • GO HOLISTIC!!! It’s the only way in my book. I am continuously Amazed:)))

    • Hello Katovia,
      We recommend that you work with a healthcare practitioner trained in functional medicine to determine which nutritional supplements and herbs are most appropriate for you and to determine effective doses. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117 and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Hi,

    I am from India and PMS is dealt very differently in this country. I have been going through severe symptoms of PMS (almost all of them) from more than 8 years now.

    My extreme mood swings during PMS have a drastic impact on my relationships, work life and daily routines. I haven’t considered taking any medications, yet. And i would like nothing more than to avoid both the symptoms of PMS and medication.

    1. I have pretty much the clean diet you mentioned.
    2. I am working out on a regular basis from 2 months. And I have always been pretty active and sporty,
    3. I dont have any stress that could possibly need handling.

    After reading your blog, i am considering taking supplements. Also, the example that you mentioned, i feel i can so relate to her. I have cravings and i try to control it, but end up overeating sometimes.

    Your post is really nice. I hope this works out.

    Thank you. 🙂

  • I agree entirely that cleaning up one’s eating habits and establishing a fitness routine are life- and health-altering, but I find the title of this article to be quite patronizing. These 5 ‘steps’ are not simple. If they were then everyone would live this way because we do feel fabulous when we eat well and exercise. Alternative therapies and supplements cost money that many don’t have. This statement is particularly patronizing: “But just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you have to live with these symptoms. The real fact is that suffering related to menstrual cycles is unnecessary — and not caused by bad luck, but by bad habits, environmental toxins, and stress.” Sorry, but blaming women for a problem that is more complex than good nutrition and exercise smacks of lack of empathy and understanding.

  • And when you’ve done all that and it’s still so bad you can barely function… Then what?

    • Hi Sara,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117 and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Seriously, there should be more Doctors like you!! You get to the root of the problem, instead of just temporally fixing it with a band aid. MEDS MEDS MEDS.. That’s all Drs want to do is give you medications.. 🙂

  • Tip! You should buy your partner some ginseng. I gave a bottle of american ginseng as a gift for my girlfriend and we after she took it for few weeks and got her PMS, we both saw am improvement!
    Ginseng and PMS

  • While it’s nice that a physician focuses on alternatives to pharmaceuticals in treating PMS and menstrual cycle related issues, there is still a problem here. Women who suffer from regular, monthly pain must stick to a strict dietary and lifestyle regimen in which it is suggested that they consume absolutely no dairy, caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar and flour, and even gluten. That is a pretty extreme diet, and while we some might say it would be a very healthy diet, for most people this would be very difficult. The idea that natural solutions exist is hopeful, but to me, the extreme lifestyle changes deemed necessary for managing symptoms sends a different message: not enough money is being invested in women’s healthcare. The fact that for such a common ailment, physicians have nothing better to offer us than dietary acrobatics and extreme lifestyle changes (that often do not fix the problem) raises a red flag; would men put up with this? Or would large sums of money be invested in finding a cure? Menstrual-related issues are extremely painful and disruptive, nothing to joke about as pop culture has done in the past, and still does. Are women really celebrating the lack of solutions to this problem? I personally believe that the medical world is capable of more.

  • Hi. I’m 43. Since I can remember, I have PMS symptoms. I eat a healthy diet and keep an active lifeslyle. Two years ago I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I started an even healthier diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, salmon, turkey, olive oil, eggs, beans, almond milk, green tea, I take supplements like probiotics, magnesium, folic acid, vitamin d, st. John’s wort, echinacea, golden seal, chromium, collagen and sleeping
    aids and teas, lemon water. I walk whenever the
    fybro pain and fatigue permits. The last year
    pms is worse from 1to 2 weeks before my
    period. I get asthma, allergies, my ibs is worse,
    migraines, vertigo, severe pain in my legs,
    swollen lymph nodes, muscle pain and
    inflammation and have to stay home and in bed for at least 2 to 3 days. I also have to take neurontin, Advil, anti vert and buspar.There must be something else I can do besides diet,
    supplements and exercise. Any advice? My quality of life has decreased greatly …

  • Thank you for all the advice. However, what about the few of us that eat healthy, move a lot, meditate and try to reduce stress and take supplements but still have troubles sleeping every two weeks, sometimes not at all? Have all the physical symptoms despite best efforts and most importantly have the ‘ocassional’ depression and very, very, very low esteem every two weeks and therefore lose motivation?

    The date all this kicks in is more than clear, but I am very sorry to say it is not as easy to handle as you prescribe it. We do not live in an organic farm without stress, but in a the real world, often in a city, when you cannot control environmental factors such as pollution for example.

    We should not have to suffer this just because we are women you say. I think we should not have to become a robot and pretend it is EASY to handle and ELIMINATE when it has the power to ruin relationships, friendships and your selft esteem if not treated.

  • Uuuhhh…Most of that is untrue for me and would make my symptoms worse. Moving around makes my cramps worse (the more I move the worse they get), and the only way to lessen them at all is the highest dose I can safely take of the STRONGEST OTC pain meds I can get and putting either a heating pad or an ice pack over the area. I also couldn’t cut out sugar unless I wanted to go to the hospital. I need a good amount of it daily or I get weak and shaky and moody. And chocolate is the only thing that helps moodswings. Thankfully, the cramps are only for the first day I bleed, but dear lord the pain is dibilitating. It prevents me from being able to go to the bathroom as often as I need to and eating/drinking without getting seriously nauseous. If I’m lucky I can drink coffee (which seems to help the cramps a little) or hot tea with no problems. This is becoming a serious issue because I’m looking for work.

  • Help I know I’m a little late. The past few periods have gotten worse and worse. I got diagnosed with PCOS a couple of years ago and it only keeps going downhill. The past three periods have been unbearable. My boobs hurt severely and I get really bad depression, crying spells, and panic attacks. The day before my period started I had such a severe panic attack I had to go to the hospital. I can’t take SSRI’s because they make me crazy. What can I do this is so bad I don’t think I can make it through another period and I have yet to be able to find a doctor to help. I just started feeling ok today I’ve got over a week to try and come up with something. I really don’t think I can go through another cycle this bad again

    • Hi Tiffany,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117 and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • Hey,
    Dr. Hyman i am suffering from very similar symptoms to what was mentioned in the article, im a grad student so very stressed out and im a vegetarian so i need to ask what i can do help reduce if not completely get rid of thee symtomps, my cramps are especially bad. Also i suffer from acidity so i wasnt sure if i should stop diary procuta completely . Please help
    Thanks

    • Hello Natz,
      Thank you for your interest In Dr. Hyman’s work. Unfortunately he cannot provide you personalized medical advice in this forum. In order to provide you the proper care you need we hope you will seek the attention of a local qualified Functional Med practitioner soon. To locate a doctor near you who practices functional medicine like Dr. Hyman, go to http://www.functionalmedicine.org/practitioner_search.aspx?id=117 and scroll down to where it says “locate a practitioner” and enter your location. Progress accordingly from there.
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  • I think the 5 “simple” steps are all quite obvious and anyone who suffers from pms also knows that the precise things that are asked to be eliminated are the things that help me get through a day when I cannot get to the next hour. It’s so patronizing to hear “just exercise and eliminate all these foods and your pms will go way! In one cycle!” It’s not helpful, actually aggravates the issue.

  • Honestly, this has some truth to it. Healthy habits contribute to your cycle. I was a health nut and also a runner a few years ago. I ate mostly organic foods, I drank plenty of water and I juiced a lot too. My cycles were amazing. I lost weight and i felt so much better. There were times where I would forget that my cycle was on. I ended up getting pregnant and almost losing my life in an ectopic pregnancy and had to undergo surgery. So I wasn’t exercising for a while after surgery. So after 3 months of no exercise and not eating so heathy, I have terrible mood swings, acne, and bloating before my period. During my period I have heavy bleeding and clots as well.(tmi) anywho.. I think its worth trying if your PMS symptoms are that bad. I’m proof that it does work… I’ve tried it both ways.