Raise your hand if you’ve been taught that PMS is just part of being a woman and raise your other hand if you’ve learned to think that you’re destined to suffer during the transition into menopause. It’s true that 20-40% of women report severe symptoms before their cycle and 75% experience mild to moderate symptoms and that the transition for most women into menopause is less than ideal (1,2). When it comes to our body, we need to distinguish between common and normal. Just because something is common does not mean it is normal. The way we’ve been taught about our bodies since childhood and what we’ve been conditioned to believe is normal can have some serious health long-term health consequences (2). PMS is a not a fate woman have to accept, it is in fact a symptom of a hormonal imbalance, and long-term imbalances of the sex hormones are responsible for the rocky transition into menopause that so many women experience (2).
What are Hormones?
Hormones are chemical messengers. They are produced by various glands and organs and they circulate through the blood, binding to receptors and in turn, influence myriad of functions such as sleep, appetite, libido, reproduction and the stress response (3,4). Hormones participate in a delicate dance and if one goes off count- they all do. The body produces many hormones, but the female sex hormones estrogen, progesterone and even testosterone are responsible for the change in physiology and mood around our cycles and in menopause. Women can have too much estrogen or not enough- same with progesterone and testosterone, and when this happens many symptoms can appear (3).
- Irregular periods (light/heavy flow, long/short cycle length, unpredictable)
- Fatigue/ insomnia
- Low libido
- Unexpected weight gain/loss or monthly weight fluctuations
- Bloating, cramps
- Headaches, decreased memory
- Depression or anxiety
- Birth control/ other medications
- Poor diet
- Insufficient exercise
- Exposure to Xenoestrogens- these are exogenous estrogens found in the environment that make their way into the body
How to Support Hormone Health
Diet forms the foundation of healthy hormones. By increasing fiber, whole foods and healthy fats along with eliminating dairy and conventional meat we limit our exposure to exogenous estrogens and provide the body with the building blocks it needs to synthesize the correct amount of each hormone. Hormones are complicated and while diet should be the base from which you proceed, other interventions such as herbs can be helpful on the road to balancing sex hormones (5). Specifically, a class of herbs called adaptogens. One adaptogen, Maca is particularly skilled at correcting hormone levels (6).
Maca is a wonderful herb, it is grown in the Peruvian Andes and it has been used for hormonal health since its discovery. Maca works on the hypothalamus and the pituitary gland. These are known as the master glands of the body as they regulate other glands and in turn, hormone production. Maca has been shown to reduce both PMS and menopausal symptoms and is therefore great for women throughout every stage the reproductive years (5,6).
The symptoms of imbalanced sex hormones are not only unpleasant but they can increase the risk for hormonal based cancers and disorders such as PCOS and endometriosis as well as osteoporosis (3,5). We can see that these symptoms labeled as “normal” can have dire consequences if not addressed. So, go grab yourself some Living Alchemy Maca, adjust your diet and lifestyle and remember- we as women are not destined to suffer, we have the power to change our health and change the way women’s health is seen.
1. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Premenstrual syndrome: Overview. 2009 Dec 12 [Updated 2017 Jun 15]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279265/
4. Nussey S, Whitehead S. Endocrinology: An Integrated Approach. Oxford: BIOS Scientific Publishers; 2001. Chapter 1, Principles of endocrinology. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK20/
5. Hyman, M. The Life Cycles of Women: Restoring balance (2007). Therapies in health and medicine. 13(3), 10-16. Retrieved from: https://drhyman.com/downloads/Lifecyles-of-Women.pdf