Tips for dealing with premenstrual pain
Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, August 2, 2012 at 5:04 p.m.
Q: My marriage is on the rocks. Recently, my husband told me, "If you don't do something for your PMS, I'm packing my stuff and leaving!"
I honestly want to get well, and I've tried birth control pills, Midol, countless tranquilizers and antidepressants. I feel doped and still cry a lot and feel moody. Can you help?
— E.R., New York, N.Y.1>
A: You're not alone in the quest to manage the monthly madness. Saving your marriage is going to require a few more months of patience on your husband's part, some compliance on your part and forgiveness for one another's "imperfections."
Hormones need to be in balance, so ask your doctor to do a hormone profile to see what your levels are for thyroid hormone, DHEA, cortisol, estradiol, progesterone and testosterone. If one of these is out of kilter, the others are affected, too, and pre-menstrual symptoms could get out of hand.
Women often try to supplement randomly with herbs and vitamins in an effort to generate production of one of these hormones, but it's not smart. Too much of a good thing could fuel growth of cancer cells. Plus, you might sprout hair in places it shouldn't be (like your chest) and lose it places you want it (like your head). Lovely.
A hormone specialist will know how to test you, or you can now order home test kits and take the results to your doctor. Home test kits usually involve saliva or urine samples and some of them optionally offer tests that require a blood spot (yes, this requires a gentle finger prick). You can order hormone test kits through ZRT Lab (www.zrtlab.com); Virginia Hopkins (www.virginiahopkinshealthwatch. com); the late Dr. John Lee's Web site (www. johnleemd.com) and DirectLabs.com.
If you feel irritable or moody, you could try a little bit of magnesium (magnesium glycinate or citrate, about 200-300 milligrams once or twice daily). Combinations that contain calcium are fine, too.
Green tea is meditation in a teacup; it contains a substance that's instantly calming. The Siberian herb Rhodiola rosea is calming, about 50-100 milligrams twice daily.
Since tearfulness is a problem, magnesium could be particularly helpful, as well as St. John's Wort or 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP). These may also help you sleep better. Ask your doctor about these last two, especially if you take medications for anxiety, bipolar disorder or depression.
This is easy: Sprinkle ground-up flax seeds on your food. They help curtail the effects of excessive estrogens in the body. You could also eat bucketfuls of broccoli or take the supplemental form called I3C (also DIM) which can help safely process estrogen. Fish oil (with meals) can help reduce cramping and inflammation.
For more information, visit DearPharmacist.com.