Hacking my Cycle: Eliminating PMS Naturally PART TWO
There's men wearing the blood of the woman they love
There's white wearing the blood of the brown
but every woman learns how to bleed from the moon
and we bleed to renew life every time it's cut down
I got my vertebrae all stacked up high as they can go
But I still feel myself sliding from the earth that I know
So I excuse myself and leave the room
Saying my period came early but it's not a minute too soon
Ani DiFranco verse two of Blood in the Boardroom
And, I’m back. Ani DiFranco rocks doesn’t she? Part two of my blog gets into the details of what I have been doing over these past few months to get rid of premenstrual bloating, menstrual diarrhoea and menstrual headaches. The prostaglandins that cause diarrhoea are the same chemicals that make the uterus contract to expel the lining also cause cramps. I don’t really get cramps and as I’ve already said I think this is because of my neutral sole shoe wearing habits and my focus on lengthening and stretching my back line/ calves and hamstrings, which keeps my pelvis in (fairly) neutral alignment - that is my theory anyway, I just know that there is a link. But anyway, back to those prostaglandins:
Magnesium and Omega Threes for Cramps and GI discomfort
If your body makes more prostaglandins than it needs then there is an overflow effect to nearby organs and the smooth muscles of the bowels start overworking. We can decrease the effect of these cramp and diarrhoea causing chemicals by taking Magnesium and Omega 3 fatty acids. Magnesium levels fluctuate during a woman’s cycle. The higher the oestrogen or progesterone, the lower the magnesium. During the second half of the menstrual cycle, when both oestrogen and progesterone are elevated, magnesium plummets which makes no sense to me as that is the very mineral we need to relax our smooth muscles. Luckily dark chocolate (80 percent cocoa or higher) has loads of magnesium in it. This must be one of the reasons why women crave chocolate before our period. Another is: well it’s chocolate.
In the week leading up to my period and (because it was quite tasty) the week of my period, I made daily spinach, banana, avocado, tahini, pumpkin seed smoothies in my nutribullet. These ingredients are all high in magnesium and served as a very tasty second breakfast (to help keep on top of my blood sugar levels for headache prevention purposes.)
Omega 3 is found in oily fish such as mackerel and salmon, it’s in cod liver oil, walnuts, flax seeds and chia seeds. So, in the week leading up to my period I ate mackerel for lunch, I had salmon for dinner, and for the entire three months I pimped my muesli: to my rolled oats with nuts and seeds I also added ground flaxseed, hemp seed, ground golden berry and chia. Making my own muesli is a really easy way to get some good protein and minerals into my diet and it just involves putting a whole bunch of ingredients into a tupperware container. I have made an accidental gluten free version with toasted quinoa flakes in place of rolled oats when the cupboards were almost empty.
I have always had period diarrhoea, I didn’t realise that I could do anything to prevent it. Amazing. I wish I had known years ago that omega threes and magnesium were the secret. For my most recent period I didn’t have any GI discomfort at all - nothing. On holiday, I’ll pack these vitamins and see if they work as well. I suspect that all the other progesterone and gut support is important too so I won’t get my hopes up.
The main reason why I started reading about hormones and diet was to see if I could do anything about my menstrual headaches. In Stacy Sims book Roar She explains how Nitric Oxide can help:
Nitric Oxide, regular snacks and teas to prevent menstrual headaches
Four days before my period I ate a whole lot of nitric oxide rich foods which support vasodilation and stop my body getting shocked with the drop in hormones and resulting vasoconstriction (like a boa constrictor in my head) of day 1 of my period. I ate pomegranate seeds, watermelon, beetroot risotto, roast beetroot salad, I drank beetroot juice - you get the idea. In preparation for day 1 of my cycle also I organised my “stable blood sugar” snacks the night before so for the f