Making Peace with PMS: Foods, Herbs and Rituals to Love Your Cycle
Wednesday, May 18th, 2016
Maybe I lost you at the “love your cycle” bit, and if so just stay with me here. Chances are if you’ve clicked on this post it’s because you’re looking for ways to make your cycle a bit easier. Maybe you experience PMS, mood swings, depression, fatigue, acne breakouts or painful cramps.
If you’re lucky like I used to be, you experience all of those things, every month. Some women report forgetting they’re even on their period each month while some of us are almost disabled when it’s that time of the month for us.
For many women it’s hard to know what’s normal and what’s not because we’ve actually created a syndrome out of normal fluctuations in mood and a woman’s body. We’ve made normal shifts in mood and energy abnormal. Since we lack the support and understanding of how to work with our cycle, we unknowingly work against it.
We’re all about doing more while pushing ourselves to the limit and this leaves little room for yin time in our lives. But the reality is women need time to rest and nourish themselves on different and deeper levels than men.
Our bodies bleed every month, some of us (many of us) make babies, and we breastfeed. All of these things tax our bodies, deplete us nutritionally if we’re not careful and cost us a lot of energy. Oh yes, and don’t forget, we also multi-task.
This means our brains work harder (note: I didn’t say better) than mens do because the male brain is designed to operate for one task at a time, thus expending less mental energy throughout the day. These are all very good reasons why we need more rest and less stress in our lives. And yet this is the exact opposite reality for many of us.
Instead we find ourselves running businesses and households, juggling too many things at once, suppressing period pain with pain killers and preventing our flow from causing any inconvenience with bleached tampons that can cause toxic shock syndrome. If you’re curious why I’m against most tampons on the market, check out my girl Alexandra’s post on Wild Woman Speaks here.
Some feminist authors argue if PMS is even real, and I would argue that it is and it isn’t. Traditional “PMS” as we know it; mood changes, subtle cramping or bloating, shifts in energy are all quite normal bodily responses in preparation for a woman’s bleeding time. I wouldn’t call that PMS, I would call that being a woman. We need not reject our bodies requests to slow down and go inward during certain times in our cycle and turn it into a syndrome.
But medically defined PMS when severe can look a lot like the troubles I mentioned above. Really painful cramps, deep cystic acne, depression or negative thoughts are not experiences we should consider our fate as women. These are signs we are out of balance. With gentle self-care and proper nourishment from food to herbs, we can bring ourselves back into balance and learn to love our cycles. And hopefully even embrace them as a source of power and opportunity for for letting go and starting fresh each month.
Since the very start I have endured very painful cramps and have never quite gotten to the bottom of it, though I have learned to love my cycle and celebrate it every month none the less. Below, I’ve broken up nourishing foods, herbs, supplements and rituals that you can take on in your own life at your own pace to slowly build up your self-care muscle.
That’s a picture of what I eat for breakfast almost every morning. Cooked greens in coconut oil or ghee, pastured eggs, seaweed, avocado and usually a bit of sauerkraut. Fats are going to be on of the most important things you shift in your diet if you’re not already doing so.
For optimal hormone levels, your body needs an abundance of good fat. Animal fats are comprised of different more absorbable fats than plant-based fats so things like bone broth, ghee and fatty fish are excellent.
Dark leafy greens and seaweeds are ultra nourishing and protective. They offer up magnesium and other minerals and nutrients your body needs to heal.
My dear friend Angela Willard of Harmonic Arts Botanical Dispensary often speaks of the healing gifts seaweed has to offer women. It protects against many reproductive cancers and can support a healthy thyroid. I like using their Sea Veggie Blend in the morning with leafy greens cooked in coconut oil or ghee.
- Bone Broth
- Grass-fed Ghee
- Grass-fed Meat
- Omega 3 rich fish
- Dark leafy green vegetables
Herbs & Supplements
Ashwagandha really saved my butt back in 2012. I was living in Orange County at the time and my PMS was out of control. At around day 17 of my cycle I would crash. My mood was awful, my energy was non-existent and I had negative thoughts I couldn’t control.
I would feel weepy, exhausted and frustrated that even though I knew it wasn’t really me, I couldn’t stop the sad or self-destructive thoughts from coming. Angela suggested Vitex (Chasteberry) and Ashwagandha.
I took both of these herbs religiously for 6 months and started eating more fat and my symptoms were relieved. By the way, my favorite tea is listed below, it’s a delicious and really pretty blend of herbs with rose petals in it designed to ease hormonal symptoms and relax the body.
- Ashwagandha – see here
- Shatavari – see here
- Chasteberry (Vitex) – see here
- Womens Moon Tea – see here
- Pain Support Tincture – see here
Rituals & Cycle Tracking
Creating rituals around your “moon time” or menstrual cycle can enrich the experience and remind you to take care of yourself. Look for PMS or moon time specific yoga poses online that you can follow. Also, be sure to track your cycle using a calendar like the beautiful Mystic Moon Calendar designed by my bestie Heather. It’s so beautiful and she gives it away free here.
I personally love bringing out my red sheets and towel every month to celebrate my cycle, and I even adorn myself in red clothing while I bleed. This reinforces on every level that I am proud of my body and honor my cycle.
How you honor your cycle will look unique to you so don’t feel like you need to decorate your house in red if that’s not your vibe. You can journal, which is always recommended, do a womb clearing meditation or simply schedule more alone time/quiet time or rest for yourself.
7 Self-Care Ideas
- Yin Yoga
- Red Sheets & Towels
- More sleep
- Womb clearing
- Cycle tracking
- Slow down
You’ll find your own way to honor your body each month, the important thing is that you do it. Trust that your value comes from who you are, not what you “do”. It’s ok to take time for yourself, in fact, it will make you a stronger woman and more powerful in everything that you do.
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