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Part 3 of PMS: Natural Solutions for Improving Your Mood

I hope you've been enjoying this series on natural solutions for PMS. So far I've written about food cravings and constipation. Today's post is all about na
Mar 2, 2014 | Joy McCarthy

I hope you've been enjoying this series on natural solutions for PMS. So far I've written about {{reflink type=blog id=15050 title=food cravings }} and{{reflink type=blog id=15124 title=constipation }} . Today's post is all about natural solutions to promote a joyous mood. Many women suffer from mood swings, irritability, anger, even depression.

Why do you feel so miserable when PMSing?

  • Too much estrogen relative to progesterone in the latter half of the menstrual cycle (luteal phase)
  • Low serotonin
  • Drop in TSH and and cortisol (thyroid and adrenal function) during luteal phase
  • High norepinephrine/cortisol ratio
  • Increased testosterone

Translation? Imbalanced hormones.

Dietary Recommendations:

  • Reduce alcohol, better yet, eliminate it altogether. Alcohol directly interferes with the reproductive system. It lowers testosterone and elevates estrogen. It's all about balance and while it may seem like lowering a male sex hormone is a good thing, it's not. 
  • Avoid sugar and simple carbohydrates such as chips, cookies, muffins, pastries, white pasta, white rice. Simple rule of thumb for baked goods: If you didn't make it yourself, it's best avoided.
  • Eat whole grains (millet, quinoa), vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, chicken/turkey (choose organic) and legumes.
  • CAUTION: Non-organic fruits and vegetables especially the dirty dozen contain pesticides that can mimic estrogen. Choose organic as often as possible.
  • Follow the 10-day meal plan in my book. It's incredibly balancing.
  • Eat more cruciferous veggies! They contain phytonutrients that aid in the detoxification of excess hormones. Try this Roasted Cauliflower & Toasty Almond Salad

Sugar stimulates estrogen! It causes a unhealthy rise in insulin levels, which can cause a decrease in the sex-hormone globulin. Globulin helps your body bind excessive estrogen and breaks it down. This can cause your estrogen levels to elevate. Do a sugar detox for 2 weeks

Lifestyle Recommendations:

  • Exercise 30-60 minutes per day to decrease estrogen levels and to increase endorphin levels, which elevate mood.
  • Getting adequate sleep is important for reducing symptoms caused by insomnia such as irritability.
  • Sleep in a dark room to increase melatonin production at night. This decreases estrogen activity and helps regulate other hormones, including cortisol and prolactin. Keep your sleep patterns regular and go to bed before 11pm.
  • Establish a regular meditation practice that includes long deep breathing to decrease stress, relax the liver and balance hormones.


Magnesium- 200 mg 3 times daily

  • Supports adrenal function to better handle stress and avoid irritability, mood swings and depression
  • Assists vitamin B6 end essential fatty acid metabolism
  • Inadequate magnesium appears to reduce serotonin levels, and antidepressants have been shown to raise brain magnesium. A 2008 study found that magnesium was as effective as the tricyclic antidepressants in treating depression among people with diabetes.
  • Food sources: legumes, whole grains, leafy green vegetables, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, molasses, pumpkin seeds, coriander, dill and cumin.

Vitamin B6* - 100 mg daily

  • Reduces mood swings, irritability and anxiety by increasing synthesis of mood regulating neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.
  • Improves liver’s ability to metabolize estrogen and increases progesterone production.
  • *Requires magnesium to be converted into active form pyridoxal-5-phosphate so make sure you are taking magnesium.
  • Food Sources: Sunflower seeds, pistachios, tuna, turkey, chicken, prunes, bananas, avocados, spinach.

Vitamin B complex- 50-100 mg of each major B vitamin daily

  • Assists liver detoxification
  • Helps body adapt to stress by supporting adrenal function
  • Calms nerves

GABA- 750 mg daily

Assists in controlling anxiety and restlessness by increasing levels of serotonin in the brain
GABA boosting Food sources: oolong & green tea, cherry tomatoes, kefir, almonds, bananas, beef liver, brown rice, mackerel, oats and spinach.

NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine) 500 mg, twice daily

Assists liver detoxification and estrogen metabolism.

Essential Fatty Acids, Omega 3s

  • 2,000-3000mg per day
  • Aids in transmission of nerve impulses and is needed for normal brain function.
  • Food sources: mackerel, flax, salmon, walnuts, sardines.

Curcumin (turmeric) 2 tsp daily in food

Powerful anti-inflammatory that decreases the production of harmful PGE2 prostaglandin
Assists in liver detoxification and metabolism of excess estrogen

Fibre- 2 tsp freshly ground flaxseeds and 1 tbsp psyllium per day

  • Many studies suggest that a high fiber diet reduces PMS symptoms by binding excess estrogens in the gut and keeping them out of circulation.
  • Follow the suggestions in the constipation article previously posted.

Additional Info

One study found higher red blood cell and hair levels of lead, arsenic, and mercury in women with PMS compared to symptom free women. To eliminate your burden of chemicals and heavy metals, make sure you sweat every day! Saunas can be helpful treatment. Additionally, dry brushing helps detoxification and add metal chelating herbs such as cilantro to your diet to reduce accumulation of heavy metals and potentially reduce PMS.

You can use your PMS symptoms as a barometer for how well you are taking care of yourself and how well your needs are being met. Acknowledge underlying anger or frustration wherever it exists and open communication lines to let those feelings out.

Special thanks to my intern Heather Allen for helping me put together this post for you!

If you find that you are still struggling with this, I strongly recommend you book a session with me. Sometimes what you need is a more custom approach.

Be joyous!

Angela   •   March 3, 2014

Hi Joy. Love all your advice. One problem I have is the continuous eating habit. Even the healthy, homemade, baked goods with low sugar can send me into an eating machine. What can I do about that? I don't want to deprive myself but having here is not good either. Thanks.


Sandrine   •   March 4, 2014

Hi Joy, Thank you so much for these advices. I figured out my digestive troubles were hormonal when it became better DURING my PM's (strangely...). I'm trying to have


Sandrine   •   March 4, 2014

oups sorry finger ripped. I was saying lots of temptation at work, but I eat well at home. One thing I was recommended by a Lebanese friend is to try what we call "Nigelle oil", I've looked over the internet an it's called black seeds oil. Have you ever tested it or heard of it ? I'd love to have your opinion on this ! Thanks for everything !


Lil   •   March 6, 2014

Hi Joy, This is a great series. It really helps to understand the science behind the symptoms. It would be great if you could continue the series with information on pre-menopause. Or does all of the same advice apply? Thanks!


Danielle   •   March 9, 2016

Hi Joy & Team, Could you recommend a high-quality magnesium supplement? Thank you!

Kate McDonald Walker   •   March 14, 2016

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