These anti-PMS strategies will send your symptoms packing, writes Victoria O'Sullivan.

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If that time of month turns you into Cruella de Vil, complete with chocolate aisle cravings and a first trimester tummy, put your hormones back in their place with anti-PMS strategies from naturopath Victoria O’Sullivan.

1. Ban the beans

“Processed sugar can create a yeast overgrowth in the stomach, causing bloating and stomach cramps. Limit sugar intake to natural sugar, and have no more than two pieces of fruit a day. Caffeine contains a compound called xanthine, which aggravates inflammation in the body, causing the muscles to spasm. This is often what happens when we experience stomach cramps. If you can’t go without caffeine, have one to two cups of green tea a day instead of coffee or regular tea.”

 

2. Kick it to the herb

“Ginger and turmeric both boast anti-inflammatory properties and can work as natural pain killers. They are also a lot less hard on the stomach than regular pain killers, which can eliminate good bacteria. Another important herb when dealing with period pains is chaste berry, also known as vitex agnus castus. This works well with balancing out the hormones oestrogen and progesterone.”

 

3. Go green

“Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts are high in indoles, which makes them excellent for maintaining a hormonal balance. Ideally, women should have six to seven cups of vegies a day.”

 

4. Stick it to stress

“Stress is very much linked with period pain. When stressed, our body produces increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol and lower-than-healthy levels of progesterone. This causes a hormonal imbalance between our oestrogen and progesterone levels. A great reliever of stress is exercise, which releases the feel-good hormone endorphins… Endorphins reduce pain and that affects emotions.”

 

5. Ease up on salt

Salt will draw fluids, causing you to retain water and bloat. Water retention in the body is also often the cause of breast pain, which O’Sullivan says is common among pre-menstrual women. “The limit for women is three to five grams of salt a day.”

 

6. Get fatty

“Period pain is a sign that the body is inflamed, and fish oil is high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are an excellent anti-inflammatory. Other foods high in essential fatty acids are primrose oil, nuts, seeds and chia. We do not produce essential fatty acids internally, which makes it quite important that we eat foods that contain them, if we are trying to reduce the inflammation.”

If pain or other symptoms persist, O’Sullivan recommends seeing your doctor or other qualified health specialist. “Noone needs to ‘put up with’ symptoms.” For more tips visit victoriaosullivan.com.au

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