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Nature's Sunshine Products:
Specific nutrients can help PMS

The Premenstrual Cycle

by Dr. James Scala
Health Issues for Today's Woman Page 3

No two women experience the same symptoms of PMS; for instance, one will feel a little tired before her period, another will become a complete basket case. The most common symptoms include bloating, paranoia, depression, irritability, fatigue, lower back pain, cramps, bad complexion and compulsive eating.

Nearly 70% of all women will experience at least one of these symptoms between the time of actual ovulation and the onset of menses, which takes place during the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle. You don't need a medical degree to deduce that the onset of PMS at this particular time suggests that it's hormone-related.

Of the many women who regularly suffer from PMS, about 4% become so depressed they can't function properly. They often miss work and become irritable.

PMS isn't brought on by stress or environmental conditions. However, careful studies prove that a stressful event will be perceived as three times worse during PMS; in other words, it's blown out of proportion.

Monthly changes in the levels of two hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are the basis of PMS. Both decline after ovulation, which triggers the symptoms of PMS in some women.

  • A drop in estrogen reduces blood flow to the skin, making you look drawn, dry, pale and tired. Hence, self-esteem receives a blow.
  • A drop in progesterone inhibits the release and absorption of hormones that control fluids and cause fluid retention.
  • A drop in progesterone also triggers the release of one of three prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance, that causes backache and cramping.
    Estrogen decline causes a drop in serotonin, one of several "feel good" brain chemicals. Women who experience PMS show above average changes in serotonin in response to estrogen changes-they feel lousy, lok more distressed and are somewhat depressed.

What does this all mean? PMS is the body's response to normal changes in female hormones. The reason that some women get it and some don't lies in the magnitude of the changes and individual response to them.

Women who exercise (aerobics like cycling, stair climbing, jogging, swimming, etc.) regularly and keep normal to slightly below normal body fat have a lower incidence of PMS. Exercise and lower body fat have two well-understood factors in their favor. First, lower body fat means lower levels of estrogen/progesterone to begin with, so the hormonal changes are smaller. Second, exercise increases serotonin and the endorphins, which make a person feel better and elevate her outlook.

Specific nutrients can help, too. PMS victims definitely need more magnesium. In fact, several research papers have PMS sufferers taking about 350-500 mg of magnesium daily. Don't exceed 600 mg per day; too much magnesium can be toxic. An excellent approach is to use a calcium-magnesium supplement so you get calcium and magnesium at a safe level. You can always take a little extra magnesium to push your level a little higher.  Have a Healthy day...........:)

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Ref: Sunshine Horizons - Vol. 21 No. 4 - May 1996