MENSTRUAL DYSFUNCTIONS (premenstrual syndromes, post-menstrual syndromes, cramps)
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© April 2013, The Center For Development
For millions of young women, symptoms associated with the menstrual period are annoying and, at times, debilitating. Many women resort to taking pain killers or worse, birth control pills, to feel better. The birth control pill is one of the most dangerous drugs on the market. Instead of this suffering, most menstrual difficulties can be resolved easily using a nutritional balancing program and, if necessary, modifying it at certain times of the monthly cycle.
This article discusses the cause of most menstrual difficulties and how to correct them without needing drugs of any kind. The article divides symptoms not so much by when they occur, as by the sodium/potassium ratio and often this correlates with high estrogen or low estrogen, as follows;
HIGH ESTROGEN SYMPTOMS
In terms of physiology, these symptoms correlate with an increase in the sodium/potassium ratio before the menstrual period, and a higher available copper level. (Note: You can experience the symptoms regardless of the level of the sodium/potassium ratio on your hair mineral analysis.)
Symptoms. Typical symptoms may include anger, irritability, breast swelling and tenderness, acne or other skin eruptions, copper headaches (usually one-sided and perhaps around the eyes), and perhaps some anxiety and feeling very emotional. Less common are very severe symptoms including crying spells, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, violent outbursts or more severe sleep difficulties.
When symptoms occur. A few or perhaps more of these symptoms usually occur about seven to ten days prior to when menstrual bleeding begins. They often become worse until the period comes, or close to it. Sometimes they can last a day into the menstrual bleeding time. Then they go away until near the end of the cycle again – around day 24 to 26 or so, and the cycle repeats itself.
Sometimes one monthÕs symptoms are mild, while the next monthÕs are more acute, and this pattern alternates. This is because one ovary is producing more hormones than the other.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT HIGH ESTROGEN SYMPTOMS
A complete nutritional balancing program will eventually reduce and usually completely stop these pre-menstrual symptoms. However, this can take a few years on a program to completely rebalance the hormones and eliminate toxic metals. In the meantime, here are changes to the typical nutritional balancing program that usually work to minimize the pre-menstrual symptoms:
1. Add zinc to your program, up to about 40 mg three times daily. Zinc taken away from meals may cause nausea. If this occurs, use zinc lozenges instead of tablets or capsules, as this might work better. Zinc works by helping to lower the sodium level and the sodium/potassium ratio.
2. Increase your intake of vitamin B6 or a variant of vitamin B6 called P5P or pyridoxyl-5 phosphate. You can take up to 400 mg of either one three times daily. (This is a lot! Do not take for more than 10 days at a time). Vitamin B6 may help with symptoms by various means, reducing edema and inflammation and lowering copper as well.
3. Stop taking all high-potency B-complex vitamins. This includes multi-vitamins that contain any appreciable amount of B-complex vitamins. These tend to raise the sodium level. If you are taking Megapan 2-2-2, you may need to reduce the amount you are taking, as this product contains B-complex vitamins.
4. Stop taking adrenal, thyroid, pituitary or ovarian glandular products. Also perhaps reduce or avoid all kelp at this time of the month. These products can also raise the sodium/potassium ratio.
5. Stop taking extra vitamin C or E. These also raise the sodium/potassium ratio.
6. Stop taking Limcomin, a product we use often during nutritional balancing programs. It raises the sodium/potassium ratio.
7. Liver support in the form of Russian black radish, milk thistle or dandelion root may also be helpful. This can be done all month long if the dosages are small.
8. Return to your regular nutritional balancing program a day or two after you get your period when symptoms subside. Do not continue on this PMS regimen the whole month. If you need the PMS program all month, then your nutritional balancing program is incorrect and needs changing.
LOW ESTROGEN SYMPTOMS
Less commonly, young women experience the symptoms of low estrogen. This may correlate with a low sodium/potassium ratio on a hair mineral analysis. It is also associated with what is called biounavailable copper in the body.
When during the month the symptoms occur. Typically, symptoms are worse when the young woman gets her period, and for a few days afterwards. The symptoms may begin a day or two before the menstrual period begins, however, in some cases. Symptoms may also occur just after ovulation, around day 16 to 18 of the menstrual cycle, and they only last a few days.
Combinations of low estrogen and high estrogen symptoms. Some women can alternate between high estrogen and low estrogen symptoms during the month as well, although this is rare. In most cases, these women are malnourished, or have suffered a trauma that upsets their hormones. This usually improves within six months on a nutritional balancing program.
Monthly differences in symptoms. Occasionally, a woman has high estrogen symptoms one month, while the next month the symptoms switch to low estrogen symptoms or something else, in alternating fashion.
This is usually due to differences in the activity or functionality of the womanÕs ovaries. Each month, one of the ovaries produces a mature egg, and they alternate – left ovary one month, followed by the right ovary the next month. If one ovary is functioning better than the other, then PMS symptoms can alternate from month to month, depending upon which ovary is producing a mature egg that month.
This problem should eventually go away if a woman is following a nutritional balancing program, which usually will slowly improve the functioning of both ovaries.
A Low Estrogen Menstrual Cycle
The following excellent description of low estrogen menstrual difficulties was written by Debbie Criddle and explains it better than I can:
A menstrual cycle for a woman that has predominately low estrogen has several significant hormones changes in the monthly cycle. The overall tone of low estrogen is characterized by symptoms of relentless depression, low physical energy, anxiety, headaches, insomnia, tearfulness, rapid heart rate, easily angered, edgy, hypersensitivity, sense of hopelessness, low self-confidence and self-esteem.
Some of these symptoms can be the same as high estrogen but there is more of a higher energy behind the symptoms, almost like a fire raging out of control when it is high estrogen.
The difference between a low estrogen cycle and a high estrogen cycle is that high estrogen predominates in second half of the cycle, the luteal phase and PMS can last as little as 2 days up to 14 days until the cycle starts or 2 days before the cycle starts is when estrogen begins to drop significantly. If you were using a PMS protocol you would be able to stop it 1-2 days before the cycle or as soon as the cycle starts.
The low estrogen woman has many of these symptoms listed above throughout the month and then worsens significantly at ovulation and on the cycle. This is the major difference between high and low estrogen. On the cycle itself hormones are the very lowest so women with low estrogen are going to feel worse on the cycle as opposed to before. The low estrogen continues for the entire time bleeding is occurring.
There is a drop at the end of the bleeding cycle where estrogen drops again. This could occur for 1-2 days then estrogen slowly starts climbing up. The next significant drop happens right after ovulation and this can start anywhere from 12 to 24 hours after ovulation occurs. Estrogen drops significantly and low estrogen symptoms can be very intense at this time. This may be felt for 24 to 48 hours.
Then it begins climbing again. If a womanÕs estrogen is so low she may not even have enough hormone to have a true PMS (high estrogen) or she may go into high estrogen for only a few days sometimes longer. From here the next estrogen drop happens 2-4 days before the cycle actually starts, then again throughout the bleeding. What makes a low estrogen cycle so challenging is that when there is not much estrogen to begin with and then the drops occur which is about 4 times in the month for varying lengths of time, supplements need to be adjusted for the low estrogen times to ensure these levels do not drop further. Low estrogen dramatically effects physiology throughout the month and therefore has a profound influence on the emotions and emotional stability.
The following questions can help to identify the low estrogen menstrual cycle:
Do you feel significantly worse ON your cycle (while bleeding is occurring)?
At mid month- ovulation time do you experience an intensification of symptoms for several days?
Do you experience a major decrease in energy a few days before your cycle starts?
Do you seem to feel your best right before ovulation?
WHAT TO DO ABOUT LOW ESTROGEN SYMPTOMS
Here are suggestions to modify a nutritional balancing program if you have low estrogen symptoms:
1. Diet: Be sure to eat lean red meat at least twice weekly. Also, be sure to have animal protein on a daily basis, and maybe twice daily. Strictly avoid all fruit, all juices, all raw salads, and all sweets of any kind, as these weaken the glands. Reducing fat in the diet, such as that found in dairy products, may help a little as well.
2. Add Limcomin from Endomet Labs in Phoenix, Arizona. You may vary the dose from 3-12 per day. If you are already taking this product, which tends to raise the sodium/potassium ratio, double or even triple your dose for a few days and see if you feel better.
3. Also, take additional adrenal, thyroid and/or ovarian glandular products such as Endo-dren, Thyro-complex or Ova-adren from Endomet Laboratories.
4. Some women may need extra B-complex vitamins at this time, or about 400 iu of extra vitamin E. In rare cases, extra copper is helpful. Save this remedy for last, however, as most women are slow oxidizers and have too much copper in their tissues.
These changes for either high or low estrogen types of menstrual difficulties may seem complex. However, they usually work well and the need for them will diminish as a young woman becomes healthier.
CAUSES FOR MENSTRUAL DIFFICULTIES
Causes of menstrual problems include stress, nutritional deficiencies, improper diet, copper excess and other toxic metals present in excess, an unhealthy lifestyle, emotional imbalances and liver toxicity.
Most young women need to drastically increase the amount of cooked vegetables they eat to about 70-80% of their diets. They require cooked vegetables, not salads, at least twice or three times daily.
Ten to twelve ounces of carrot juice daily, perhaps with a few greens added, is also excellent. Do not have more, however, as it will upset the blood sugar and is too yin. Also, strictly avoid all smoothies.
Eat red meat twice a week in most cases, have animal protein daily, and avoid fruit and all sweets.
Also eliminate all wheat, most pasteurized dairy products and all pig products. Eat animal protein daily, especially if you are a slow oxidizer. Also, drink about 3 quarts or 3 liters of spring water or carbon-only filtered tap water daily to properly hydrate the body. Avoid all other types of water and most other beverages. Read Water for Drinking for more on this important topic.
Toxic Chemicals that are hard on your liver and should be avoided include chemicals such as nail polish, hair sprays, and many body care products. Chlorinated and fluoridated water, and toxic household cleaners and solvents are also very hard on the body and should be strictly avoided. Also avoid toxic paints, pesticides, hair dyes, most cosmetics and skin lotions, along with other toxic products in common use. Use only natural cosmetics in small amounts, if needed.
Inadequate rest will make PMS worse for most women.
Excessive exercise exhausts the adrenals, and may lead to complete cessation of the menstrual period. This is very unhealthy for young women. Some gentle exercise daily, such as walking, is fine however.
Emotional imbalances in many women include hidden anger and resentments. While these can be understandable and explained, they are not helpful at all. They are a very important contributor to many cases of menstrual difficulties. The emotions can affect the liver and all glandular activity. They tend to affect the adrenals as well. The adrenal glands regulate copper metabolism and produce female hormones. Methods such as relaxation techniques, spiritual reading, prayer, and the Roy Masters meditation exercise can go a long way toward helping one to release hidden anger and resentment.
Anything that affects the adrenal glands negatively is likely to raise the copper level. Fatigue is probably the single most common factor in adrenal underactivity. Worry or other emotional imbalances is second most important in most cases.
Lack of self-acceptance as a woman. Some young women today are anger at themselves for having periods and even for being a woman. This lack of self-acceptance as a woman tends to worsen menstrual symptoms even more. It is important to understand that all is in divine order concerning the body and ones gender.
Extra detoxification procedures are most helpful for anyone with PMS. The two main ones are coffee enemas and Near Infrared Lamp Sauna Therapy. Both are excellent and described in separate articles on this site.
Most women with PMS are slow oxidizers. This means their adrenal and thyroid glands tend to be underactive or sluggish. This may not be revealed on blood, urine or saliva tests. A complete nutritional balancing program will help balance the oxidation rate and the major ratios. Adding sauna therapy, in particular, assists their bodies to eliminate toxins much faster and more comfortably. The sauna need not be costly or fancy. Free plans are available on this website by clicking here.
Herbs to assist liver detoxification include milk thistle, dandelion, black radish and dehydrocholic acid. If liver toxicity is extreme, coffee enemas and a liver-gallbladder flush once or twice a year may also be helpful. However, an integrated program based on a properly performed hair tissue mineral analysis is always best. This is to keep the body balanced throughout the detoxification process.
TECHNICAL ASPECTS – PHYSIOLOGY OF THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE
Here is a look at the basic hormonal cycle that occurs each month. When bleeding starts at the beginning of the period, estrogen, progesterone and copper are at their lowest levels of the month. The levels of estrogen and progesterone remain relatively low while menstrual bleeding occurs. At the end of the bleeding phase, estrogen begins to rise. It continues to rise until ovulation, about half way through the cycle.
As the cycle continues, the estrogen level dips slightly and then resumes its rise. The level of progesterone also begins to rise in the second half of the cycle. The last week or so of the cycle, estrogen levels are at their highest. This is usually the time one feels symptoms of premenstrual tension. However, some women are more uncomfortable when the period arrives, and other variations are possible. They can also vary month to month in some women.
COPPER AND ESTROGEN
Most important from a nutritional standpoint, the copper level parallels the level of estrogen, increasing as the cycle progresses.
Seven to ten days before the period, copper is at a relatively high level, along with estrogen. High copper can give rise to many of the symptoms women think of as premenstrual syndrome.
This happens especially, though not exclusively, in women whose metabolism is sluggish and in those whose tissue copper level is already elevated. These women become copper toxic, in essence, each month before the period.
It is also possible that in some women copper becomes mainly biounavailable. This produces a slightly different set of symptoms in some women.
THE SODIUM/POTASSIUM RATIO AND THE MENSTRUAL CYCLE
As the menstrual cycle progresses, in most women the hair tissue sodium/potassium ratio also rises. It is highest just before the period. This is tied to the rise in copper and estrogen in most women. The high sodium/potassium ratio just before the period and a much lower sodium/potassium ratio when the period arrives can also give rise to menstrual cycle symptoms.
The sodium/potassium ratio is a very crude indicator of the relationship between estrogen and progesterone in the body. Therefore, as the ratio rises, one may experience more symptoms of estrogen dominance or just high estrogen. Symptoms may include irritability, headaches, anger, water retention and breast tenderness.
Symptoms may be worse If the body cannot detoxify estrogen fast enough. This, in turn, may be due to or related to copper toxicity, which can affect the liver and is stored in the liver. Slow oxidation also will tend to slow all liver detoxification, as will deficiencies of zinc and selenium, among other nutrients.
A lower sodium/potassium ratio before the period. While the above situation is by far the most common, another is possible. If adrenal activity is very impaired, copper may become less biologically available before the menstrual period. This can give rise to a decreased sodium/potassium ratio at this time of the month. This will give rise to symptoms that emphasize exhaustion and depression.
If the corrective program for a high sodium/potassium ratio does not work, one can try the program for a low sodium/potassium ratio.
TAKING OTHER PRODUCTS
Some women use other products to control menstrual symptoms. Most of them are toxic and I do not recommend them ever. They are rarely needed if one follows a nutritional balancing program with the modifications above, when needed. Here are some common products used for menstrual dysfunctions with my comments:
Primrose or borage oil. While this may help some symptoms, it is slightly toxic and best avoided. Every woman needs fish oil or flax seed oil, about 1000 mg daily, and I much prefer these.
Natural hormone creams, patches or tablets. Progesterone and possibly estrogen creams or pills are sometimes used. These are all toxic, even the bio-identical hormones and they can increase oneÕs risk of cancer. I would avoid them all. They also do not address the underlying causes of the problem in most cases. They are very rarely needed
Herbal remedies such as black cohosh and others. These all tend to be a little toxic as well, and very rarely are needed. Of these, black cohosh may be best.
Birth control pills and patches. These are highly toxic and should be avoided completely. They contain synthetic hormones that severely upset body chemistry and have horrendous side effects such as heart attacks, strokes, and cancer.
For some women, the main menstrual symptom involves cramping. Possible causes include biounavailable copper and low female hormone levels. For these symptoms, often the remedies and program modifications above are sufficient. If they are not, you may do the following:
1. Add more Paramin (calcium/magnesium supplement 250/150 mg each) at a dosage of 1-1-1 or up to 3-3-3. This may take care of the cramps by relaxing the muscles. They could be due to biounvailable calcium and magnesium at this time of the month.
2. Relax and rest more at this time of the month.
3. Black cohosh, mentioned above, may also be very helpful for some women.
THE MENSTRUAL PERIOD AND THE PHASES OF THE MOON
A curious fact is that when a young woman begins a nutritional balancing program, her menstrual cycle will often change within a year or two and the time of the period will line up with the time of the full moon. I do not know why this occurs, but it is a common finding.
It is important for women to know this so that if the menstrual period starts to change, with either shorter periods or longer periods for a while, that the woman not be upset or worried about it. In all cases, the natural rhythm will re-establish itself after a time, and usually the period will then correlate with the time of the full moon.
This association between the period and the full moon has been known for millennia. In fact, Native Americans called the menstrual cycle the Òmoon cycleÓ.