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Help for hormones

Hormones play a bigger role in a woman’s body than most of us realise. Read on for natural help with PMS and other hormone-related health issues

“There are many wonderful things about being female, but you may well feel that one of them isn’t your menstrual cycle,” says nutritionist Emma Ross who is PMS advisor to A.Vogel. “As you may have up to 450 menstrual cycles during your lifetime, having menstrual problems can quite effectively lower your quality of life.”

“Women suffer a lot of different hormonal problems from PMS to pre-and post-menopausal symptoms,” says Helena Murphy at Loop de Loop, Castletownbere, Co Cork. “Symptoms include physical discomfort like cramping, back pain, bloating, fatigue, skin problems, swollen hands and feet, weight gain, tender breasts, dizziness and headaches and emotional changes such as mood swings, insomnia, depression, no sex drive and irritability. Lots of customers ask for help with PMS, menopause and fertility issues – these are actually very common issues and nothing to be ashamed of.”

“We often get women telling us they suffer from breast tenderness, bloating, low moods and irritability,” says Olive Finn from The Olive Branch, Clonakilty, Co Cork. “Some women have difficulty getting a decent night’s sleep just coming up to their period.”

Natural help

Helena Murphy: “Taking supplements like B6, magnesium, evening primrose oil and flax oil can help with hormonal issues. Dong quai can help with menopausal hormonal issues, and also there are some really good homeopathic remedies too.”

Olive Finn: “For hormonal health and PMS we really like the Indian ayurvedic holistic herb Shatavari. It helps improve regularity and blood flow. Vitamin B6 would also be a favourite of ours in-store – when taken with magnesium it really helps with low mood. We encourage women to take daily doses of omega 6 if they suffer with PMS as this can help alleviate the symptoms – hemp seed, evening primrose, and borage/starflower are really good sources. Magnesium can help relax the neuromuscular system which might help a stressed body when taken before bedtime. Certain research has shown that women with low levels of vitamin D suffer more with cramps while menstruating. Optimising your intake of vitamin D may help alleviate the pain associated with menstrual cramps.”

Emma Ross: “Women have two main hormones that control their menstrual cycle – oestrogen and progesterone. Many women don’t make enough progesterone and have high levels of oestrogen instead, which leads to PMS symptoms such as heavy periods, irritability, sore breasts, pre-menstrual fluid retention, and a tendency towards fibroids and endometriosis. This hormonal imbalance can also contribute to heavier and more frequent periods in the menopause. Agnus castus can help alleviate this condition by increasing the amount of progesterone that a woman’s body makes. However, if you are on hormonal contraceptives, steer clear of agnus castus or use a barrier method as it can undo the work of the contraceptive.”

Lifestyle choices

Helena Murphy: “Changing something in your lifestyle can help like eating less meat, avoiding sugar and processed foods. Try to fit in at least half an hour of exercise every day like walking, meditation can help relax the mind if emotions or irritability are an issue. Taking a bath or soaking your feet can really relax the body and help with promoting good sleep so your body can properly rest.”

Olive Finn: “Keeping blood sugars balanced can help prevent mood swings and fatigue. It’s advisable to keep the cupboards stocked with wholesome healthy foods such as brown rice, eggs, seeds, walnuts, avocado, melon, peppers, bananas and plenty of green vegetables. Regular exercise is important for a wide variety of symptoms related to PMS and other hormonal health issues.”

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