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The Rhythm and Blues of PMS

Over 80% of women suffer some form of pre menstrual syndrome (PMS) in some form or another. However, carefully chosen food choices along with a selection of herbs, mineral, vitamin and food supplements can help the hormonal and chemical imbalances characteristic of this problem.

There are as many theories about PMS as there are treatments. Some see hormones such as progesterone, oestrogen and the milk producing hormone prolactin as the culprits. For others, vitamin and mineral deficiencies lie at the heart of the problem. Many sufferers have been placed on long-term antidepressant medication or hormone treatments in an attempt to resolve the associated mood swings and depression. In the majority of cases these measures are ineffective and often cause more long-term problems.

The syndrome can be split into four subtypes, although many women have symptoms that fall into all four categories.


Most commonly associated with high oestrogen and low progesterone levels, the main symptom suffered by this group is anxiety, something that over 80% of sufferers experience. Type-A  sufferers commonly complain of mood and emotional disturbances. Related changes in the hormones adrenaline, serotonin and noradrenaline trigger the irritability, tiredness, water retention and palpitations so commonly reported.

Oestrogen can also affect mood. This hormone can actually block assimilation of vitamin B6, preventing the vitamin working in the liver to produce the hormone serotonin. This may explain the difficulties that PMS-A sufferers experience in keeping blood sugar levels balanced. Excessive oestrogen may aggravate the problem by increasing the release of prolactin, causing water retention.


Over 60% of PMS sufferers gain up to 3lb in weight over their period, a characteristic associated with this second group PMS-H. With symptoms of breast tenderness and a swelling of the abdomen, legs, arms, hands and face, the H in this group represents hyper-hydration (excessive water retention). Such a fluid problem can only be hormonal. The prolactin connection has been established in only a handful of studies, but what cannot be contested is the role of another hormone, aldosterone. This hormone increases the amount of fluid held in the body, which is vital to health. A number of aggravating factors such as excessive oestrogen, deficiency of dopamine and stress in the lead-up to the period, however, can mean an uncomfortable excess of water.


40% or more suffer from craving certain foods, in this group. Associated with PMS-C is an increased appetite, often for very sweet or savoury foods. Sufferers also complain of headaches, fatigue, fainting spells and palpitations. When tested for their ability to handle sugars in their blood, women with these symptoms showed a temporary inability to produce a balanced insulin-output. There is, so far, no adequate explanation for this problem, although a deficiency of both magnesium and chromium may be indicated.


Depression is a serious problem for this group. Thankfully it only accounts for 5% of PMS symptoms reported. It is thought that low levels of brain chemicals and oestrogen are responsible. Other theories hold that it is due to an excessive amount of progesterone, itself a central nervous system depressant. This sub-group is chemically opposite to PMS-A.

Self help plan

Start by mapping out your symptoms. Take the first day of your menstrual period as day one and make a daily record of your feelings, both emotional and physical. As the month passes by and you go through ovulation (about day 14 in a 28 day cycle) you may start to notice change in mood and physical symptoms. As you do, grade them using a simple rating system where one is a mild symptom and three means you are totally unable to function.

After a couple of cycles you will start to notice a trend; familiar symptoms will appear and disappear with predictable regularity. This will help you monitor your response to a natural treatment program and any dietary changes.

The nutritional status of PMS-A women is quite unique. Studies of their eating habits have shown that they consume far more dairy and sugar-based foods than other women. Both types of food can cause the body to lose significant amounts of magnesium, which can lead to deficiency states.

Mood changes have long been associated with changes in brain chemistry. Vitamin B6 is involved with the production of the brain chemical dopamine. Dopamine has a calming effect on the nervous system and a deficiency of vitamin B6 may result in reduction of dopamine production. This situation can put the nervous system on edge.

Vitamin B6 may be responsible for additional benefits such as helping to increase the magnesium levels in the body’s cells, increasing progesterone levels and helping to reduce oestrogen levels.

There are other brain chemical involved in mood balancing. An amino acid found in green tea, L-Theanine, has a calming effect on the brain, enhancing the calming alpha waves, soothing the nervous system and relaxing the muscles. Known as Elthea-100, this can effectively help to control mood and reduce the number and severity of panic attacks and has no known toxic effects.

True PMS-C sufferers cannot avoid binges. The foods most often taken during the binges are sweet foods like chocolate, but a minority crave savoury foods. We do know that hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) is at the seat of many craving episodes. It has always been recommended that complex sugars like rice, pasta and potato are eaten at this time and simple sugars (sweets, honey, chocolate, cakes and so on) are avoided.

This makes good sense but the addition of a good quality chromium supplement, such as ChromaTab, which can regulate blood sugar levels can make all the difference. It builds a chemical bridge between the insulin and the cells of the body. By doing so, chromium can help improve its function.

For those suffering from PMS-H a daily dose of magnesium with Parsley Leaf and celery seed extract will help. (Anyone taking diuretics or suffering from kidney disease should consult their health professional before supplementing their diet.)

In cases of PMS-D, consider increasing your vitamin B6 intake along with a balanced herbal aimed at hormonal irregularities and containing Maca root.

Top tips for beating PMS

ŸReduce your intake of dairy foods

ŸReduce your intake of animal fats and meat

Increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables

ŸIncrease you intake of pure water (at least 1.5 litres per day)

ŸIncrease your exercise level – start brisk walking or swimming three times a week

ŸAvoid foods containing caffeine

ŸAvoid foods containing sugar

ŸEat more complex carbohydrates, such as pasta, rice or potatoes

ŸCut down on meal size – eat smaller meals more regularly

ŸStop smoking

ŸCut out added salt

ŸLearn to relax and take some time to unwind


Hadley Wood Healthcare’s Well Woman Range


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Pre-Diabetes; what can be done?

I received an email from a person who’s doctor told him that he was a borderline diabetic. He was told to change his diet and to loose weight but was not prescribed any medication. His question was “is there any natural remedies to help me avoid having to take drugs?”
It sounds like you may be developing what is known as Type-2 diabetes. There are in fact two quite different forms of this illness, one that requires the use of insulin by injection and the other that can be controlled by diet alone or in more difficult cases the use of drugs taken in pill form. These are known as Type-1 and Type-2 diabetes respectively. Estimates indicate that there are well over 1 million diabetics in the UK with a similar number or people with the problem but going undiagnosed. The problem lies in the fact that many of the early symptoms of diabetes are quite mild and could be brushed aside. This is especially the case in Type-2 diabetes. Type-1 sufferers tend to be diagnosed in childhood and require insulin injections to replace the deficiency they have. For most, once stability is achieved this keeps their condition in good order. A few, however, do experience great difficulties in regulating their balance and may require a complex mix if insulin types. For those finding life difficult and need extra help and support Diabetes UK offers a great service, their web site is worth checking out. Once the dose balance is achieved they normally manage their problem well with occasional check ups from their GP or diabetic nurse. Type-2 diabetics on the other hand present more of a problem since the condition may have been developing over many years and be associated with other health problems such as obesity and heart disease. Picking up Type-2 diabetics can be tricky since some of the early signs may simply be fatigue and tiredness, an increased tendency to pass urine at night and an increased thirst. Other signs include recurrent thrush and persistent itch and in some cases unexplained weight loss. You can imagine that very few of us would take ourselves to the doctor because we are feeling a bit tired and fatigued and probably put any night time trips to the toilet down to drinking more in the evening! Its only when these symptoms escalate or are associated with additional problems that enough is enough and a check up is called for.
Unlike Type-1 diabetes, where insulin is deficient or absent, Type-2 sufferers may actually over-produce insulin! This over production of the hormone occurs because the receptors on cells in the body that normally respond to the action of insulin fail to be stimulated by it – this is known as insulin resistance. In response to this more insulin may be produced. However this overproduction eventually exhausts the insulin-manufacturing cells in the pancreas and they pack up. When this happens there is simply insufficient insulin available and the insulin that is available may be abnormal and therefore doesn’t work properly. This all sounds rather inevitable but many Type-2 patients never reach this point because they take their health into their own hands and change their diet and lifestyle. As simple as this sounds it can have dramatic health promoting effects on the body and even reverse some early insulin resistance symptoms. This is especially the case if you are over weight. Keep this in mind; the bigger your body fat mass the more cell surface area there is for insulin to act on and insulin resistance is a common result. Reduce your body fat mass and your insulin becomes more effective.

To help you on the way consider following a low glycaemic diet. There are plenty of books on this available at Amazon and the foods and recipes suggested are very suitable for a Type-2 diabetic. A look at Diabetes UK website will give plenty of online advise and diet recommendations as well as an online CarbCounter!
Also think about taking a supplement containing the trace mineral chromium. This has the ability to improve the sensitivity of your bodies cells to insulin; an important aspect of early diabetes where a situation known as insulin resistance develops. It’s a safe supplement and for many a very effective dietary aid. I normally suggest taking 1 capsule (200mcg) with lunch and dinner. However, diabetics on prescribed medication should seek professional advise before starting any dietary supplements.

Further reading
Information on global incidences of diabetes’s
Nutritional factors that influence insulin (Click the manual download button)
The effect of chromium on diabetes (Click the manual download button)


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