My 16 year old daughter suffers from debilitating cramping, heavy bleeding, and mood swings during her menstrual period.
Q. Dear Terry, “My 16 year old daughter suffers from debilitating cramping, heavy bleeding, and mood swings during her menstrual period. Our OB has offered up birth control pills as a solution. I don't want to put her on them, but I'm starting to wonder if the risk with taking the pills outweighs the misery she is in. Do you have any suggestions that might help? Thank you for your help.” — Ann A., Canton, OH
A. Dear Ann, Diet and lifestyle changes can make a difference in easing symptoms.
· Diet: Sugar and simple carbohydrates can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels and make menstrual periods worse. So aim for healthy proteins and fats, complex carbohydrates, and lots of fruits and vegetables.
· Environment: Beware of chemicals that adversely affect hormone levels. Americans use tens of thousands of chemicals that may have toxic effects on our health and environment. Endocrine disruptors, like dioxins, phthalates, and bisphenol A (BPA), are especially concerning because they mimic or block your body’s natural hormones. They can alter hormone levels or change the way hormones work in the body. So kick the canned vegetables (BPA is a common ingredient in can linings), reduce use of household chemicals, and choose organic foods when possible.
· Exercise: Moderate exercise can help improve mood and release tension. Exercise also stimulates endorphin activity, which relieves pain. Some studies have shown that exercise can reduce fatigue as well.
In addition to the advice above, I believe your daughter should also consider adding chasteberry to her daily regimen. Doctors in Germany widely prescribe chasteberry, and the German Commission E, which regulates supplements in Germany, approves it for irregularities of the menstrual cycle, cyclical breast discomfort, and PMS. It’s no wonder. Results from clinical studies have been impressive, showing it to be effective for most PMS complaints, such as mood swings, irritability, headaches, cramping, and bloating. I would recommend taking 20 mg of chasteberry daily.
B vitamins, particularly B6 in the form of pyridoxal-5-phosphate, or P-5-P, are another natural option. Vitamin B6 helps the liver process hormones more efficiently and balance sodium levels, leading to a reduction in symptoms like bloating. In one study, supplemental vitamin B6 helped reduce the breast tenderness, headaches and weight gain associated with water retention in 215 women.
When it comes to Vitamin B6, look for its active form – pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P). Many people (some estimate up to 30% of the population) cannot fully utilize B vitamins from food and supplements, because these forms of B vitamins must be converted into the active form before they will function. By using the form of vitamin B6 that is identical to the kind your body utilizes, you bypass this problem entirely. I recommend taking 30-60 mg of vitamin B6 (as P-5-P) three times daily.
Please be patient, as it may take up to three months to get your daughter back on track.
Terry . . . Naturally