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6 Steps To Reduce PMS

6 Steps To Reduce PMS

What if you never had PMS?

What would change in your life?

What does PMS mean?

PMS or pre-menstrual syndrome refers to the physical and emotional symptoms that occur in the one to two weeks before your period – days 14-28. Symptoms are cyclical and vary between women and often end 1-2 days after your period begins. Common symptoms include acne, tender breasts, bloating, feeling tired, irritability, and mood changes.

And, PMS can be worse after having children due to hormonal changes.

When PMS hits you

First, it’s important to note, there is a wide range of variations of women’s cycles including timing, bleeding, and symptoms. It’s essential you discover what is “normal” for YOU.  {I LOVE the app My Flo, created by Alisa Vitti, to help you chart your cycle and get to the root of your symptoms.}

What is a ‘normal’ cycle?

Menstruation occurs between the ages of 12 and 50 years and lasts 3-6 days for most women,  arising once in a 25-28 day cycle.  More extended periods (>8days) are associated with anovulation or no ovulation.

The most substantial flow tends to be day 2 of the sequence; loosing about 30-80 ml of blood total.

And, If you are between 30-40 years of age…..

Due to a decline in ovarian function, women between the ages of 30-40 will experience a change in their irregularity, frequency, duration and amount of blood loss during their cycle.  Women in their 30s experience a shortening of their cycle due to increased production of FSH.¹

Then 2-8 years before menopause, the period lengthens again in preparation for the change, the average age of menopause in the US is age 51.

Factors that affect your menstrual cycle

Stress, changes in light exposure, sleep patterns, diet, travel, amount of exercise and illness can all affect the endocrine glands (these glands include the pineal gland, pituitary gland, pancreas, ovaries, thyroid gland, parathyroid gland, hypothalamus, and adrenal glands) which determines our cycle.

Other factors affecting our cycle include; a woman’s nutritional status, body weight, attitudes and beliefs about menstruation and environmental and workplace exposures.

PMS is real, here is how you can reduce your symptoms

#1 Track your cycle

Use a new app or the calendar on your phone to chart your period.  The first day of bleeding is considered Day 1, Day 14 you may notice some cramping and change of cervical fluid during ovulation, Day 25-28 you may experience some premenstrual symptoms before your period arrives.

Your cycle is unique to you and by tracking it; you can see any changes that may occur and encourage some self-nurturing practices before your period to get back on track. This also can provide valuable detailed information for when you would like to explore a health consultation. 

#2 Eat Whole Foods

Overall you want to consume fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, and cold water fish.  Add a good quality oil (like olive oil or walnuts) and essential fatty acids (think flaxseeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds to name a few) to each meal.

Stabilize your blood sugar throughout the day by eating often and adding good fats and proteins to each meal.

If you struggle with constipation, add 1 tbs. of flaxseeds daily from day 14-28.  Also, consider removing dairy and meat during the last half of your cycle; especially if you struggle with breast pain as well.

I like to add mung beans to week 3 of my cycle, filled with B vitamins, they can decrease bloating and PMS symptoms. Alisa Vitti, creator of the Myflo app does a fantastic job of breaking down the foods we need each week during the month to reduce unwanted symptoms.

#3 Exercise

Moving your body most days of the week can improve your mood, reduce stress and encourage bone mineralization which supports a healthy cycle. As your mood changes weekly, your exercise should change too.

Day 14-28 you may have more energy and want to run, hike and bike.

Day 1-14 you may wish to do more yoga, dance or Pilates. Listening to your body will result in a healthy cycle.

#4 Reduce Stress

Reducing your stress can be very powerful and useful for women with irregular cycles.  Cutting out caffeine, adequate rest, learning to say “no” to events on Day 1 and Day 2 of your period can encourage a positive experience each month.

Herbal adaptogens and botanicals that soothe the nervous system can improve your stress response, promote relaxation, reduce cramps, PMS and bloat each month.  Say bye bye to Advil and hello to herbs to aid digestion, reduce pains and ease PMS anxiety.

#5 Your Attitudes & Beliefs

Our bodies pain creates unhealthy thoughts and poor self-image. By cultivating a sense of nourishment each month, you can begin to enjoy the rest that our cycle allows.  On day one make yourself a cup of tea, journal, go for a walk or curl up in bed with a good book. One of the first books my mother gave me and I still own is; “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” by Christine Northrup, M.D. She says

“We can reclaim the wisdom of the menstrual cycle by tuning in to our cyclic nature and celebrating it as a source of our female power.”-Christine Northrup, M.D.

#6 Reduce Environmental Exposures

Chemicals in our environment can mimic as estrogen in our bodies, and they are known as exogenous estrogens. Many of these compounds are endocrine disruptors which affect our cycle and also may contribute to reproductive problems and cancers.

To reduce your exposure to these toxins avoid foods that readily absorb the leached material from plastics like dairy foods. By removing plastic from our foods (think plastic wrapped cheese) and reducing the number of water bottles that touch our lips; we reduce our overall exposure to these harmful chemicals.

You can also reduce your exposure to chemicals by purchasing organic tampons, pads, condoms and vaginal lube from companies like; organique or sustain.

Conclusion

PMS is common but not normal.  You don’t have to suffer every month and suppress the pain.  Getting to the root of your discomfort will help alleviate your monthly stress and possibly improve fertility.

Your diet, particularly removing dairy and meat, may decrease cramps and breast pain.  By improving elimination with an increase in fiber, you can reduce bloating and constipation and help your body eliminate excessive estrogens.

Tired of suffering every month? Book a health consultation with Tara to learn how diet and natural remedies can change your monthly PMS. 


References

¹Romm, A. Botanical Medicine for Women’s Health. Churchill Livingstone, 2010

Don’t trust botanicals, here are 7 companies to love

Don’t trust botanicals, here are 7 companies to love

Do you want to trust and believe herbs will work for you, but in the back of your mind you’re thinking “is this going to harm me?”

Do you feel like your practitioner is selling you snake oil? That cure-all elixir with false claims.

Or do you have bottles of supplements, you’ve never used for fear of what is in them?

It’s hard to believe some supplements may work for you when you’re not sure what to look for.

One concern is the increase in lead or mercury in our herbal products.

A study published in the August 27, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), demonstrated that one-fifth of U.S.-manufactured and Indian-manufactured Ayurvedic products bought on the Internet contained detectable lead, mercury, or arsenic.¹

Purchasing online from a reputable company is important to your health. You want to know exactly what is in the ingredients you are ingesting and if you can trust the company from which you are purchasing.

How to trust your herbal products

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) was created in 1982 and is the voice for the herbal product industry.

When purchasing herbal products look for products that have full labeling. Look for the following on the label:

  • The company notes the full name of botanical on the product.
  • They have an expiration date. Keep in mind, herbal tinctures or tonics that have alcohol can be preserved for years beyond their expiration date. If your product smells bad or you have a gut feeling it is not good, throw it away.
  • The company offers dosing suggestions on the bottle. Herb Pharm has a whole line of products dedicated to children’s health and has the dosing on the bottle.
  • Watch for any ‘red flags’, companies claiming for weight loss or extreme health declarations that seem impossible.
  • Even if they have perfect labeling, you want to look for these additional concerns when consuming botanicals.

Concerns when using herbal medicine

The company you purchase from:

  • Ensures quality control in each product
  • Three companies I love: Herb Pharm, Herbalist & Alchemist and Moutain Rose Herbs offer this information online to their consumers.
  • They use certified organic or pesticide-free plant products that are sustainably harvested.
  • The plant is vibrant, tasty, potent, and consistent
  • The product is proven safe through laboratory analysis.
  • Tests each product to ensure there are no molds or contamination
  • Does not practice product substitution – using another botanical as a substitution
  • Is considerate of temperature control, freshness, and monitor’s quality.
  • Can provide you with an organic certificate, kosher certificate, certificates of analysis, pesticide residue tests, GCMS printouts, and MSDS forms documents to ensure your safety.

Consumer concerns when using herbal medicine:

  • Watch for potential allergic or idiosyncratic reactions, this is an abnormal sensitivity to a drug which may result in:
    • severe skin reactions – look for skin rashes, itching, or hives
    • anaphylaxis – along with skin rashes, the throat will feel like it is closing up and you have trouble breathing. Take a deep breath, this rarely happens.
    • blood dyscrasias – a disease or disorder of the blood.
    • hepatotoxicity – liver damage.
    • fever or joint pain

Who is at risk for idiosyncratic reactions?

  • Women who are 50 or older
  • Those who are currently using medications
  • If you have:
    • hepatic disease
    • renal ideas
    • If you are malnourished and/or decreased weight
    • If you consume alcohol regularly
    • If you have possible enzyme deficiencies

The most prevalent source of adverse effects is with clients who are currently taking medication. If you are taking the following medication, please check with your doctor and community herbalist before ingesting a new herbal product.

Are you taking these medications?

  • anticoagulants
  • barbiturates
  • insulin
  • cardiac medications
  • NSAIDs
  • oral contraceptives
  • anti-depressants

Please check with your doctor before consuming a new herbal product.

Idiosyncratic reactions occur very infrequently and are independent of dose, and are highly unpredictable. Herb/drug interactions present a higher risk than allergic reactions.  But, if you or your child’s partner has an allergy to the Asteraceae family, it would be important for you to keep this plant away from your child until they are older.

Other concerns when using botanicals:

  • Watch for the timing of use – stop taking botanicals two weeks before surgery for fear of too much bleeding or a bad reaction.
  • Dosage – always check for correct dosing when using any medication.
  • Duration of use

Herbs to avoid with your children (and ages)

  • Basil herb <2
  • Coffee seeds <12
  • Coltsfoot leaves <2
  • Comfrey leaves and roots (externally)<2
  • Eucalyptus <2
  • Jamaica dogwood
  • Lobelia plant
  • Mate leaves <2
  • Oregano leaf <2
  • Peppermint leaves & E.O. <2
  • Senna leaves <12 {ok for kids 2+ for 1x use}
  • Tea leaves <6
  • Uva ursi <12
  • Valerian root <3

For a complete list see: Herbal Contradictions and drug interaction

Who are the 7 herbal companies you can know and trust?

To search for a company you love, head over to the American Herbal Products Association directory of members.

Who is your favorite company to use? Let us know in the comments below.


References:

¹ https://www.fda.gov/forconsumers/consumerupdates/ucm050798.htm

Additional resources:

How to stop a sinus infection naturally

How to stop a sinus infection naturally

You can stop sinus infections with diet, herbs, and homeopathy.

Imagine knowing the exact plan to reduce the use of antibiotics for decades to come.

For years, I would call up the doctor and request medications for my sinus pressure.  I knew I needed drugs to get rid of the pain. Little did I know overusing antibiotics would bite me in the butt years later.

I struggled with acne, digestive problems and then food sensitivities to gluten and dairy all due to using antibiotics frequently.

When you learn how to reduce medications, heal your gut, and integrate natural remedies, you won’t have to worry about antibiotic resistance in the future.

What are the symptoms of a sinus infection?

  •  A headache or heavy feeling in the head (sometimes with difficulty concentrating)
  •  Nasal congestion or nasal discharge
  •  Post-nasal drip (mucus dripping down back of the throat)
  •  A sore throat (mucus dripping down can cause chronic irritation)
  •  A cough – wet or dry and usually all day
  •  Fatigue
  •  Bad breath
  •  Moderate to high fever

The next time you feel a sinus infection brewing.. try these natural remedies.

Diet to stop a sinus infection

  • Gluten, dairy, and sugar are common allergens that cause sinus infections.
  • Eliminate these foods from your diet if you experience frequent sinus infections. If I was to choose just one, I’d get rid of dairy ASAP.
  • Encourage lots of green vegetables & soups when you are under the weather.
  • Drink clear liquids and caffeine free tea.
  • Consider adding a probiotic to your diet and healing your gut with The 4R approach. 

heal your gut

  • Make garlic toast!
    • Toast some gluten-free bread and top with Organic Olive oil and sliced raw garlic.
    • Fresh garlic is known as an antimicrobial to aid with infections. Eat daily until you are better.

Tinctures to stop a sinus infection

  • Take Echinacea tincture For 7-10days. Take 30-40 drops 3-4x day in a little bit of water.
  • Garlic is a great anti-microbial and can fight viral and bacterial infections.  Eat garlic raw if able, or mix with hot water and lemon for a garlic lemonade.

How to use essential oils to stop a sinus infection

  • Add one drop of Thyme Essential Oil to a facecloth (for adults only), place in the shower and let the steam help open your sinuses.
  • Alternatively, try herbal steam.
    • Boil water and place one drop of Lavender or Thyme Essential oil in the bowl, cover your head and steam for 20 min.  You can also use lavender dried buds or dried Thyme for less potent steam.

 Apply Lavender Essential Oil topically

  • Dab diluted Lavender Essential oil on your cheeks and under ears.  Dilute when using with children.  ONLY 1 drop of essential oil to 1 tbs. of carrier oil. Don’t use with children under 2 years of age.

Homeopathic Remedy For A Sinus Infection 

sinus infectionTake 30 C Kali Carbonicum if you have the following symptoms:

    • Pressure, fullness, and pain at root of the nose.  Discharge is thick, ropy green-ish yellow, post-nasal drip, violent sneezing; mucus tastes sticky, aching and fullness in global, worse with cold, 2-3am, suppressed catarrh.
  • Take 2-3x day if symptoms are improving.
  • STOP taking homeopathy if your symptoms get worse, you should feel your symptoms improving with each dose of homeopathy.  For a sinus infection, you may have to take for 2 or 3 days, along with the tinctures and change of diet.  Be patient and rest.
Read how Dr. Aviva Romm, Dr. Axe, and Dr. Jocker’s stop sinus infections naturally.
Conclusion

Even if you’ve struggled with sinus infections your whole life, you can stop a sinus infection in its track with diet, herbs, and homeopathy.  

Even if you don’t know how to use herbs.

Even if you don’t know anything about natural remedies.

I’m proof.  It’s been 10 years since I’ve needed antibiotics for a sinus infection.  A simple change in your diet, healing your gut and integrating natural remedies can reduce the number of antibiotics you need due to sinus infections.

There may be a time you’ll need antibiotics, but overall if you strive to improve your diet, you can stop the use of antibiotics for sinus infections.

What do you do when you have sinus pressure? Share your tips below.

7 Natural Remedies For Everyday Stress & Anxiety

7 Natural Remedies For Everyday Stress & Anxiety

Everyone experiences anxiety at different points in life—stress, and worry are natural parts of being human. Even though it’s not unusual (anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. today), anxiety can be isolating and hard to confront when it gets out of hand.

Most days we’re able to bounce back from stressful events, but for those who struggle with anxious feelings, daily life can feel like an uphill battle. Raising twins and running a Pilates studio taught me the true meaning of anxiety and burnout a few years back. After months of sleep-deprivation, I began studying to become a women’s herbal educator, hoping to get to the root of my struggle with anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

I quickly learned that nourishing my body with botanicals—specifically adaptogens and nervines— is key to keeping anxiety and burnout at bay.

Adaptogens are a category of herbs that help us “adapt around stress.” Their anti-fatigue effects make them particularly potent when you’re up against mental exhaustion, frequent illness, or chronic stress. If you’re burning the candle at both ends, treating yourself with any of these seven herbs will help you feel relaxed, balanced, and healthy again:

1. Ashwagandha (withania somnifera)

This is the first adaptogen I turned to when I was feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, and it’s still a personal favorite.  Ashwagandha is “known to give you the strength and stamina of a stallion”, but still gentle enough for anyone coping with anxiety. When taken regularly, it can ease shot nerves and improve sleep.

My favorite Ashwagandha product is Adrena Soothe by Dr. Aviva Romm. Try 2 dropperfuls in¼ cup of water two times per day, to reduce your stress.

2. Reishi (ganoderma lucidum)

Do you find you get sick when you finally go on vacation? The relationship between stress and illness is complex. One study shows that chronic stress can raise the risk of viral infections,  eventually manifesting in full-blown illness. Try reishi if you’re under the weather frequently, or just feel stressed out and run down. Taken regularly, reishi can reduce the likelihood that your stress will literally make you sick– so you can enjoy your vacations, rather than spending them out of commission.

Reishi has an earthy taste. I prefer Reishi Extract by Host Defense. Follow the directions on the label for dosing.  

3. Milky Oat Tops (avena sativa)

Filled with vitamins and minerals, milky oat tops are a great herbal remedy that nourishes your nervous tissue and promotes relaxation. Pairing milky oat tops with stinging nettles is a perfect combination to boost your daily energy without spiking stress or anxiety. Due to cross contamination, you may want to avoid milky oats if you have celiac disease.

My favorite way to enjoy milky oats is in a cup of blended tea. Combine equal parts of dried milky oat tops and stinging nettles. Add 1 tablespoon of the blended herbs to 1 cup of boiling water. Cover and steep the herbs for 20 minutes for a medicinal infusion, then strain and add a little raw honey for flavor.

4. Chamomile (matricaria recutita)

Just one cup per day of this well-loved tea can reduce menstrual cramps, shift your mood, and ease digestion. Safe for children, our family enjoys a cup of chamomile tea most nights to reduce our collective stress.

My favorite recipe for the whole family: Blend dried chamomile, lemon balm and milky oat tops together. Then add 1 tablespoon of the mixed dried herbs to 1 cup of boiling water.  Steep for 10 minutes. Add honey for flavor and double check the tea has cooled before serving to children.

5. Lemon Balm (melissa officinalis)

If you’re prone to ragweed allergies, skip chamomile and enjoy a cup of lemon balm tea. This delightful citrus-flavored tea is known as the “gladdening herb”.  As a nervine and mild anti-depressant, lemon balm promotes relaxation and reduces nervous energy.

To enjoy: Add 1 tablespoon of the dried herb to 1 cup of boiling water and let steep for 10 minutes. Add milk and honey for flavor.

6. Motherwort (leonurus cardiaca)

From motherhood to menopause, Motherwort is a true gift for women. It shouldn’t be used during pregnancy but should be your first go-to-herb after birth. Motherwort’s calming qualities can help with everything from heart palpitations to extreme anxiety. Taking motherwort throughout the day can release tension and reduce panic attacks, and it’s a great solution for falling back to sleep if you wake up frequently during the night.

Motherwort has a bitter taste, so I find it’s best taken as a tincture.  Follow the directions on the label for your dosing.

7. Lavender (lavandula officinalis)

My favorite way to use lavender is as an essential oil. Tap diluted lavender essential oil on your wrists or spray it in the air to soothe stress immediately. Lavender is known to help induce sleep, which makes it a perfect remedy for unwinding before bed.

To enjoy: Dilute lavender essential oil with water and add to your body products, spray on your pillow, or tap on your wrists as an organic, soothing perfume.  

Have you used botanical remedies before? Which ones work for you? Share in the comments section!

Obsessed with natural remedies, Tara Gregorio is a Certified Women’s Herbal Educator located in Cold Spring, NY. She loves helping women reduce their medications with botanicals. Her favorite herbal recipes can be found on Pinterest and Instagram.


This article was featured in the Icon in March 2019. women's health

What is a tincture?

What is a tincture?

Want to know how I’ve managed to avoid conventional medication for over ten years now?

Teas and tinctures are my chosen medicine that has helped me reduce medications and heal my gut.

Here is everything you need to know about tinctures.

Tinctures, what are they?

Tinctures are concentrated, a liquid extract made from herbs, water & alcohol.  They are quick acting and a convenient way to take herbs. Most tinctures are hydroethanolic extracts-that is a combination of water and alcohol. The combination optimizes the extraction of the plants with both water and alcohol-soluble constituents are desired in the final product. 

Tinctures have a long shelf life, frequently lasting many years.  The alcohol content preserves the tincture from bacteria and fermentation, even when left at room temperature.  Store in a cool dark place and keep out of reach from children.

Why use tinctures?

Tinctures are a safe, fast, effective way to use herbs and seek their medicinal benefits. They are not, however, used when the nutritional aspect of herbs are being sought.  For this, one should use teas, infusions, decoctions, and syrups.

What is a glycerite tincture?

Glycerin is used to prepare “alcohol-free” tinctures, and to preserve and sweeten the taste of liquid extracts called- glycerites.  Children under 1 year of age, may prefer this for its sweet taste. Some of the children’s tinctures Tara creates combines a glycerine with a tincture to sweeten the taste.

Are tinctures safe for babies? 

Borrowed from Herblore: Herbs and herbal products should not be given to babies under 6 months of age, as their digestive systems are not mature enough to handle much more than breastmilk (or formula if its necessary).  To give herbs to an infant, its best for the breastfeeding mother to take a full dose of the herb and it will pass to the baby through the breastmilk. ¹

Are tinctures safe for toddlers?

Tinctures are part water, part alcohol.  Giving your child 7ml, they will receive 50% water and 50% alcohol.  When added to water and juice they receive even less.

Tips for giving tinctures to children

  • Babies can receive the tincture through the mother’s milk or in a bottle.
  • Toddlers love taking tinctures with a fun straw or a syringe.
  • For pregnancy and children, you can pour boiling water over the tincture to dissipate the alcohol.   Let cool completely and add juice for children to disguise the taste if needed.

When to take a tincture?

Tinctures are taken based on the urgency of your symptoms.  For sinus infections, you may have to take it 3x day for 3 days.  For stomach complaints, you can take before or after eating. 

What is the dosing for a tincture?

Dosage depends on the weight and age of the person being treated.   An adult dose is 60 drops.  To treat an acute condition you can take a tincture 1-3x day. 

Age — Dosage

  • Younger than 3 months — 2 drops
  • 3 to 6 months — 3 drops
  • 6 to 9 months — 4 drops
  • 9 to 12 months — 5 drops
  • 12 to 18 months — 7 drops
  • 18 to 24 months — 8 drops
  • 2 to 3 years — 10 drops
  • 3 to 4 years — 12 drops
  • 4 to 6 years — 15 drops
  • 6 to 9 years — 24 drops
  • 9 to 12 years — 30 drops
  • 12 and older —30-60 drops

How do I take a tincture?

To take a tincture, you would drop the suggested amount in a 1/4 cup of water and drink.  In emergencies, you may place the tincture directly on your tongue. 

How do store tinctures

Ideally, they are kept in a cool location away from direct heat and light and keep away from children.

Where to buy tinctures

I love the following companies:

Conclusion

I believe tinctures will be our new medicine.  They can aid digestion, reduce unwanted symptoms, and reduce antibiotic use.  Tinctures can also ease anxiety and depression.  They are quick and effective, place a dropperful in your water bottle and feel confident knowing you are supporting your body throughout the day.

Do you use tinctures as medicine?

Comment below and let me know what has been successful for you.

Warmly~ Tara


¹ https://herblore.com/overviews/childrens-dosage-guide

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