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MindCheck is the Weekly Wednesday Kids Mental Health series with Dr. Ray Pataracchia N.D.  MindCheck provides in depth information on the orthomolecular approach to coping with mood, behavior and psychotic disorders.  The MindCheck Health Series is endorsed by the  Mindful Network – ‘A Better Future for Children’s Mental Health’.

Pyroluria in General Population

The negative emotional and physical symptoms of PMS can be debilitating … PMS is a genuine condition often starting early on in teenage years and affecting up to 15% of women in childbearing years.

Orthomolecular Perspectives on PMS

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Physical symptoms prior to menses are normal and variable in women, often involving a mild degree of cramping, breast tenderness/swelling, constipation, and/or abdominal discomfort.  Women with PMS have a predictable pattern of symptoms unique to them.

PMS is a term that is often inaccurately applied to women with emotional changes near or during menses.

The medical definition for PMS is a condition in women where behavior is consistently and negatively influenced prior to menses and the degree of severity is such that it interferes with daily life. 

Common non-specific symptoms associated with PMS include fatigue, problems falling asleep, headaches, altered libido, muscle/joint pain, and acne.

Common emotional symptoms associated with PMS include emotional sensitivity, irritability, sadness, anxiety, mood swings, and feeling stressed out.  5% of women experience profound PMS symptoms.

Pre-Menstrual Disphoric Disorder (PMDD) is a more severe form of PMS that has a primary mood component and a secondary physical component.  In some cases PMDD is deemed a cyclic depression.

Risk Factors

Caffeine, age, stress, a history of depression, unhealthy diets, and a family history of PMS are all associated risk factors of PMS.

Biochemical Snapshot

Biochemically, PMS is associated with progesterone depletion during the second half of the cycle – when this hormone is required to prepare the uterus for the shedding of its lining.   Progesterone is a natural anti-depressant and pre-menstrual drops of this hormone are intimately involved in mood regulation and stability.  Other endocrine axis hormone systems are also implicated and include influences by the adrenal, thyroid, and pituitary.

Orthomolecular Targeted Therapy for PMS  

Orthomolecular Targeted Therapy is ideal for addressing PMS related imbalances.   There are 15 top orthomolecular syndromes associated with health and any condition including PMS.  Orthomolecular PMS assessment and treatment aims to balance all associated levels of vitamins, minerals, progesterone, estrogen, and thyroid/adrenal hormone metabolic imbalances.  Herbal protocols are also often quite helpful in restoring PMS related progesterone-estrogen balance.  PMS related adrenal anxiety is also factored into a comprehensive orthomolecular protocol.

Basic Vitamin/Mineral Deficiencies Associated with PMS

Dietary factors that influence PMS include depletion of foods high in Vitamin B-6, magnesium, zinc, manganese, and vitamin D and E.

Copper Excess and Estrogen/Progesterone Imbalance

Zinc and copper compete with each other for intestinal absorption and blood protein binding; so if one of these minerals is too high, the other gets depleted in the body.  When estrogen is high, the body retains copper (this happens at the bone level) and zinc ultimately gets depleted.  To go one step further, estrogen physiologically opposes progesterone, and the end result of copper excess is progesterone depletion.

The 1994 study by Chuong and Dawson described zinc and copper levels in PMS women (Chuong CJ, Dawson EB. Zinc and copper levels in premenstrual syndrome.  Fertil Steril, 1994(Aug); 62(2): 313-20).  They compared copper and zinc levels of 10 women with PMS versus 10 without (controls).   The women with PMS were found to have lower zinc levels and higher copper levels during the second half of the cycle (the luteal phase), versus controls.

So copper is associated with estrogen while zinc is associated with progesterone and the balance of these two minerals is a key to any mood associated vascilations – PMS, post-partum depression, or hormonal/cyclic depression/anxiety. 

Magnesium Deficiency and Thyroid/Adrenal Imbalance

Magnesium and B6 and balancing thyroid and adrenal function are very helpful in PMS.