Wednesday, February 18, 2009

PMS - Pre-Menstrual Disorder

PMS is pre-menstrual syndrome. The cause is truly unknown to the medical profession, but it is theorized to be brought on by the hormonal imbalance during this time period and the inability of the body to cope with the shifting levels. It occurs beginning 7 – 14 days before the onset of menstruation and can vary in degree from very mild to severe and incapacitating.

The symptoms might include, but are not limited to:

Back pain
Bloated abdomen
Changes in appetite, including cravings for certain foods
Crying spells
Fast heartbeat
Feeling irritable, tense or anxious
Feeling tired
Hot flashes
Joint pain
Mood swings
Not feeling as interested in sex
Tender and swollen breast
Trouble concentrating
Trouble sleeping
Swollen hands or feet
Weight gain
Wanting to be alone

Some suggestions for managing symptoms:


Maintain a Healthy, well balanced diet
Avoid sugar consumption, try to avoid giving into cravings!
Eat small, frequent meals (need to stabilize blood sugar)
Avoid alcohol (Drinking it before your period can make you feel more depressed)
Cut down caffeinated beverages (caffeine increases depression, irritability and
Crunch on carbs
Cut the fat
Cut the salt (to reduce bloating and fluid retention.)

From the Kitchen:

Oatmeal - It breaks down slowly and gradually releases sugar into the bloodstream. This slow, steady release combats the sugar craving that comes with PMS. Rye bread, pasta, basmati rice, and fruit produce the same effect.
Pasta - This is enriched with magnesium, which is important for normal hormonal function. A lack of magnesium may be the cause of muscle cramps. Other magnesium-rich foods include green vegetables, breakfast cereals (skip those sugary ones), and potatoes
Sunflower seeds - They're rich in omega-6 fatty acid, which may be missing in women who suffer with PMS. Pumpkin and sesame seeds are also rich in it.
Kitchen towel - Soak it in water, wring it out, then warm it up in the microwave for a minute. Moist heat is soothing, so apply this to your belly when you're having abdominal or ovarian cramps. Be careful not to burn yourself.
Avocados - These contain natural serotonin, which may supplement the mood-lifting brain chemical naturally produced by the body. Dates, plums, eggplants, papayas, plantains, and pineapple are also sources of serotonin.
Bananas - Rich in potassium, they can relieve the bloating and swelling of water retention that comes with PMS. Other foods such as figs, black currants, potatoes, broccoli, onions, and tomatoes are potassium-rich, too.
Cherries - An Ayurvedic remedy to relieve PMS symptoms, including bloating and mood swings, is to eat 10 fresh cherries on an empty stomach each day for one week before the start of the menstrual period.
Chicken - It's rich in Vitamin B6, which may be depleted in women who suffer from PMS. Vitamin B6 may help relieve depression by raising levels of serotonin, a mood-enhancer, in the brain. Other B6-rich foods include fish, milk, brown rice, whole grains, soybeans, beans, walnuts, and green leafy vegetables.
Turkey - It supplies tryptophan, an amino acid that converts into serotonin, a mood-enhancer. Cottage cheese is another source of tryptophan.
Black pepper - Add a pinch to 1-tablespoon aloe vera gel, and take three times a day with meals to relieve symptoms such as backache and abdominal pain. Aloe vera gel taken with a pinch of cumin works well, too.
Cinnamon - Good sleep habits are important in the treatment of PMS, and a brew of cinnamon tea is relaxing just before bed. Sweeten to taste with honey. Chamomile tea is a relaxing bedtime choice, too.

Relaxation: Lack of sleep and anxiety can lead to a tension in the bodies muscles causing the body to unwittingly fight its normal processes, which will make symptoms worse.

Practice stress management
Sleep – keep normal cycles of sleep
Talk – share the reasons for the behavior
Avoid entertaining – too much stress at a bad time
Take a hot bath - 1 cup of sea salt and 1 cup of baking soda

Exercise: Many of the symptoms felt during this time may be related to not keeping the body fit and toned.

Aerobic exercise – jogging, biking, stair stepping, exercise class - Work up to 30
minutes, 4 to 6 times a week - relaxes muscles, stimulates blood flow, and
combats fluid retention

Vitamins and Minerals: Lack of the proper nutrients can cause many of the woes felt during this time. Lack of calcium or potassium can cause muscle cramps at any time of the month!

Magnesium – 1000mg daily - This will help you to get relief from the PMS symptoms
Calcium - 1,500 mg. Daily - this helps reduce some symptoms (such as of water
retention, cramps and back pain)
Vitamin E - reduces breast soreness (do not overdose)
Vitamin B6 - helps in blood circulation and water retention (do not overdose)

Herbs: Herbology has been used for many years to treat the complaints that many women have about this time of their cycle. The Chinese have many centuries under their belts in this field. The West only lags behind because of their later start in civilization itself, but I believe women used herbs for these complaints even before civilization recognized the need.

Evening Primrose – 5gms oil in capsules
Dong quai – 2 capsules daily - regulates the menstrual cycle, relieves menstrual
pains and cramps
Nettle – 100 mg 3x daily - a uterine tonic and will reduce bloating and swelling
during your cycle
Chasteberry - two 225 mg capsules per day – balances hormones, relieves cramps
Dandelion - Take 1/2 teaspoon of root tincture, mixed with 1 cup of water
three times per day - helps to eliminate the irritability, insomnia, anxiety, help
eliminate excess water and bloating
Rosemary - Mix 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary leaves in 1 cup of boiling water
- helps to stabilize monthly hormone levels
Black Cohosh - Take two 20 mg capsules of extract daily - helps to reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, mood swings, and tension. Also, menstrual cramps and water retention, helps control mood changes.
Peppermint or Chamomile – used in tea may help cramps

Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy has proven to be very effective in easing PMS symptoms. If you are looking for a natural treatment for the woes of ‘that time of the month’ try Aromatherapy. The essential oils are all encompassing, and can be quickly assimilated by the body through the olfactory nerves found in the nose or through the skin…the largest single organ of the body! There are some cautions associated with use…so check out the Essential Oils for the cautions to see how they may apply to you. (The next blog will have specific recipes with warnings for the oils used).

Clary sage

Yoga: New research shows that yoga can relieve both psychological and physical symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Through stretches and poses designed to stimulate and relax the female body in the appropriate areas, great relief can be felt.

Yoga stretches to try

Leg Extension
Forward Stretch
Nose to Knee Stretch
Hands and Knees Walk
Throat Massage
Spinal Twist
Crossed Legged Walk
Hands and Heels Walk

Poses to Try:

Modified Bridge
Child’s Pose
Upward Facing Dog

Monday, February 9, 2009

Menarche or Puberty…Which Is It?

Puberty is the entire transition a girls body goes through in the course of becoming a woman. Whereas Menarche is the first menstrual cycle of a young woman.

During the Puberty transition many things are occurring in a young woman’s body. The outward physical signs can be breast growth, body and facial hair changes, body shape changes, and body odor and acne. The internal changes are vaginal and discharge changes, ovary growth, and the beginning of menstruation (Menarche). The Emotional changes can be more difficult to see, but are still occurring and may encompass rapid changes in mood due to the fluctuations of hormones, and more awareness and concern over the rapid body changes leading to stress and tension. They may have responses to things that in the past were not an issue, creating a scene the family (and the young woman) is not expecting.

Ways of Coping With the Changes

Mom and Dad…..before (or at least at the beginning, when you see the first signs) your job as parent just got more complex. It is time for you to sit down and have a talk with your daughter. If she understands all these changes are occurring, she may have an easier transition… may you!

It is not the “Birds and Bees” talk, at least not yet. It is a time to explain the rapid changes she is soon going to experience. Understanding adds to the ability to cope. If you do not know how to go about this, set up an appointment with your doctor and get his advice. If he agrees (and you decide this is best) ask him to explain the process going on in her body to the young woman.

During this time it is vital that the young woman eat a healthy diet, take a multi-vitamin for optimum nutrition for healthy growth, get plenty of sleep, moderate exercise, and experiment with different soaps, deodorants, menstrual products and bra types to find what works best for her.

Stages of Transition

Dr. James Mourilyan Tanner, a British physician, studied the changes occuring in a young womans life. He discovered that there are 5 distinct stages, beginning at around 8 years old and finishing up at around 19 years of age. This is referred to as the Tanner Scale.

The stages often overlap as each girl is unique unto herself. It is a guideline only, to help in the understanding of the changes occuring

Stages Ages Developmental Stage Changes Typically observed

1 8-11 Early adolescence · Hormone production begins, no outward sign
· Ovaries begin to enlarge

2 8-14 Early adolescence Rapid growth in height and weight
· Breast buds begin to develop beneath the
· Traces of fine, straight pubic hair begin

3 10-15 Mid-adolescence · Breast development continues
· Pubic hair hair begins to coarsen, darken and curl
· Armpit hair begins
· Production of normal vaginal discharge begins
· Menarche

4 10-16 Mid-adolescence · Areolas begin to be more defined and darken in color
· Breasts take on more definition
· Pubic hair takes on the triangular pattern and thickens
· Ovulation begins (cycles are still irregular)

· Breasts are fully developed (although may increase in size later)
· Full adult height is reached
· Mestrual cycles and ovulation become regular
· Puberty is essentially done

Dealing with the Symptoms

Cramps –

· Use a hot pad, or moist heat applied to the abdomen. This helps the muscles to stop or at least slow down the spasming.
· Raspberry leaf tea is soothing and will help relieve the cramps
· Ginger (in capsule form or tea) is a long muscle relaxant and will ease cramps for some
· Yoga stretches allow the muscles to lengthen and relax easing the cramps

Mood Swings and Intense reactions –

· Take a time out….you can see what you are doing, just step back and breath
· Talk, not yell….tell those around you what you are feeling, they may not realize that what you are experiencing is due to hormone fluctuations, but now you know
· Take a nap….drink a warm soothing cup of chamomile tea and curl up for a nap, you will wake refreshed and more in control
· Talk with your doctor, she may have some very good suggestions

© Karol Thunder Rowe

Just what do you mean…The Seasons of a Woman’s Life?

Each transitional stage in a woman’s life can be mapped out like the seasons. Every part of life is sacred in it’s own way, to be cherished and enjoyed. There are ways to fight against who we are or are becoming in each transition, and there are ways to nurture and feed ourselves to a healthier, happier time.

Spring – Finds the girl becoming a young woman. Her body changes, becoming more lush, shedding its boyish figure for softer, rounder curves. That is the outward appearance of the transition. But inside there is so much happening! Hormones become triggered for the first time, emotions run rampant, desires and interests change, life takes on new meaning. For the first time the young woman must think about the fact that her fertility has awakened! This is usually called puberty.

Summer – By now the young woman’s body has filled out and matured into the blossom of full womanhood. This is the time period many become pregnant. But to be in this stage a woman need not have children! A woman’s body again has undergone a change….or really a refining of what began in Spring (Puberty). There is now a true fullness and ripeness to the figure and form that her body taken. Now is when the nurturing of herself and others truly begins.

Fall – The dreaded season of fall….hot flashes, night sweats, emotional upheaval, and all the other horrors of peri-menopause and menopause begin. Again the body is in transition. It is leaving the period of fertility behind, adapting to drops in hormonal levels, coping with loses (both emotional, and physical). Children leave home and leave the nest empty…..husbands are in mid-life crisis and leave home for someone younger….parents have aged and pass onto the next level of existence, leaving us behind! But this can be a wonderful time of blessings, it does not all have to be “bad.” It can also be a period of expanded awareness and greater extension of self to others.

Winter – This transition is begun in retrospect. We look back on the last year, find that it has been a full year since our last menses, and discover that menopause has come and gone, we are now post-menopausal. This is the final transition before death….which can be 20, 30, 40 years into the future! This is a time when the wise blood stays within, where we find ourselves positioned to be arbiters, guides, teachers, and healers to the fullest extent because our bodies no longer make the demands upon us it did earlier in life! We are at last free to explore and nurture ourselves fully. It is not an end but another beginning!

© Karol Thunder Rowe

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What This is to be About

Let us look into the Seasons the Make up a Woman's life.....

Spring - Puberty

Summer - Motherhood

Fall - Peri-Menopausal/ Menopausal

Winter - Post Menopausal

Do you need to find different ways to cope with each passing season? This is the place to start. Ideas, Alternative Medicines, Recipes, and Life Experiences......all may and will be found here in the future!

Come and enjoy the transitions with me. Each Season brings new beginnings and endings, new experiences, and new joys and sorrows. Let us grow together!