If you struggle with PMS or are a PMS (poor man suffering) and especially if it’s been a chronic problem, please read on as I may be able to share something helpful with you. If not, you may want to skip this entry.
This series of posts has been a long time in the making, twenty-seven months to be exact. In October 2008 my hormonal issues became such a problem that I began to journal about it along with the remedies I tried to alleviate the symptoms. I’m in my 4th decade and have always had trouble in this regard, but it’s been worse in the last 5 years and after several discussions with my OB/GYN, I knew I had to do something or I was going to lose my mind. I know that sounds exaggerated, but living with regular bouts of depression, anger and brain fog, to the degree of being nonfunctional periodically, well, it pretty much seems like losing one’s mind.
The most troubling symptoms for me are fatigue, depression/feeling hopeless or overwhelmed (by trivial things), feeling edgy/angry/irritable, fuzzy thinking/brain fog, and wild mood swings. Something had to change; I realized I was becoming unreasonable with my loved ones, being snappy and angry over the most insignificant things. I didn’t even like my own company and often felt like finding a lonely cabin in the woods to wait out the storm. Wild, fluctuating hormones ruled me.
If this is new territory and you’ve yet to make a connection between how you feel and the role hormones play, the following is a general, non-exhaustive list of symptoms associated with hormonal imbalance:
hot flashes or night sweats
cravings for sweets or carbohydrates
loss of desire
insomnia or restless sleep
feeling depressed or overwhelmed
irritability/ mood swings
stiffness or joint pain
hair loss / dry skin
I’m not one to take medication unless it’s the occasional ibuprofen for minor pains. So when my doctor recommended Zoloft in 2008 to relieve my PMS issues, I bulked. She told me how it worked and what I could expect it to do, but when I researched it further at home, decided this wasn’t for me. The risks appeared greater than the benefit. That’s when I began looking for a natural remedy to try as I believe God has provided a natural cure for all our ills on earth.
I researched St. Johns’ Wort, an OTC herbal supplement widely used for mild depression. I learned it has a good reputation in Europe and is the #1 remedy prescribed in Germany for mild depression; it’s use for treating PMS was sketchy at best, but I decided it was worth a try. St. John’s Wort is readily available in the US, I found my supply at Wal-Mart: Spring Valley Standardized Extract St. John’s Wort (300 mg per serving / 900 mg daily value) with .9mg of the active ingredient, hypericin, standardized to contain .3%
I did experience some success with St. John’s Wort. It eliminated the issue of brain fog and significantly reduced the episodes of depression/hopelessness - no small thing. It only had a minimal effect on mood swings, and anger/ irritability however. Since I wasn’t accustomed to taking supplements or even vitamins, it was a challenge to take them each day on time. I took St. John’s Wort for 10 months, eventually stopping when I developed headaches, a very specific type, on a regular basis. As soon as I discontinued the supplement, no more headaches. Back to square one.
I went for several months doing nothing except cutting back on caffeine, eating good foods (along with my chocolate chip cookies) and hoping my body would get better on its own. It didn’t. All my usual issues resumed, intensely.
At my OB/GYN exam in 2009, again my doctor recommended Zoloft and this time I took a script with me but later threw it away. There’s got to be something better than taking an anti-depressant I thought. During the summer of 2010, I found a good liquid multi-vitamin to take since this was something else my doctor recommended. And by late fall 2010, I resumed my old habit of cardio exercise (which cannot be underestimated for how it helps physically, emotionally and spiritually) which is all good, but I still felt a slave to my hormones emotionally.