If you have menstrual periods, you’ve probably experienced premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms. Premenstrual syndrome, or just PMS, is a range of symptoms that many people who menstruate go through a week or a few days before their period starts. While you can take medication to relieve the symptoms and feel better, healthy habits can be just as effective, if not more so, in the long run.
Eating a balanced diet is especially linked to healthy menstrual cycles and milder PMS symptoms. But in this article, we collected 6 uncommon foods, spices, and teas, which you’ve probably never heard of before, that have evidence of relieving PMS symptoms and improving the health of menstrual cycles.
What is PMS?
Before we go any further, let’s better understand what PMS is and why it happens. A woman’s hormonal cycle typically spans around 28-35 days. Each cycle has four phases: menstruation, the follicular phase, ovulation, and the luteal phase.
The menstruation phase starts with the bleeding. During this time, hormonal levels are low so is your energy. As the cycle progresses into the follicular phase, estrogen increases, leading to more energy, sharper cognition, and improved mood. Estrogen peaks during ovulation, so during this time, you’re likely to feel even more energetic, sensual, and social.
The surge of estrogen stimulates the release of luteinizing hormone (LH), which then starts the final stage of the cycle, the luteal phase. During this phase, especially towards the end of it, you might experience PMS symptoms like:
- Back pain
- Water retention
- Low mood
- Oilier skin and scalp
- Brain fog
PMS is very common, and in fact, as many as 90% of women experience mild to severe PMS symptoms. And while it’s expected, you shouldn’t suffer each month. And one of the ways to reduce uncomfortable symptoms is through diet. Different foods have different functions in the body, and you may be surprised to learn about these six specific foods that can help alleviate PMS symptoms.
6 foods and spices that can help relieve PMS
Beechnuts are edible nuts that grow on beech trees. They have a mild, slightly sweet flavor, and are usually consumed raw or roasted. While beechnuts are a part of many different cuisines, eating a lot of these nuts is not recommended as they are mildly toxic.
However, beech nut tree nuts are full of magnesium, copper, antioxidants, and B vitamins that are imperative for mental health, a healthy period and menstrual cycles. Beech trees are native to Europe, Asia, and North America, but you might find them in larger supermarkets or specialized herbal stores as imports.
Peppercorn’s tree plant
Peppercorns or black peppers are berries that grow on Piper nigrum plants and are valued for their flavor and richness as a spice and are used in many cuisines across the world. Peppercorn berries are high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. Some studies show they might be effective against chronic inflammation and have cancer-preventing effects.
In Ayurvedic medicine, black pepper is used to reduce period cramps as it’s believed to lower the level of prostaglandins (hormones that stimulate uterine contractions that cause period pain).
Watermelon berries are wild berries that are native to Alaska and are known for their sweet, watermelon-like flavor. Many people eat watermelon berries for desserts or just as a snack.
However, the berry is a potent herbal medicine that shouldn’t be consumed in high quantities. But it’s believed that watermelon berries can help with the loss of appetite and work as an anesthetic, helping to relieve the pain during the first days of the menstrual cycle.
Bean sprouts come from sprouting bean seeds. You can sprout beans at home or buy already prepared sprouts. They are known for their numerous benefits for the skin, hair, and health in general. Bean sprouts can even be effective in preventing certain diseases like cancer and diabetes. Nutrients in bean sprouts are also known to lower blood sugar levels and create the feeling of fullness. In addition, bean sprouts are high in folate (B9 vitamin), a vitamin necessary for a healthy menstrual cycle.
Fiber and nutrients in bean sprouts are powerful in removing excess estrogen from the body and lowering its levels. Excessive estrogen can lead to various PMS symptoms, including painful cramps, heavy bleeding, sore breasts, etc.
Parsley tea might not sound like the tastiest beverage, but it’s a powerful herb to combat crippling PMS symptoms. Parsley tea is made of the leaves and stems of the parsley plant. Parsley tea is full of vitamins C, K, E, and other antioxidants, and it’s often used to promote healthy menstruation.
Although somewhat anecdotal, parsley tea is used to induce late menstruation as it is an emmenagogue, a substance that stimulates blood flow to the uterus.
In addition to all these benefits, parsley tea is good for digestion as it relieves bloating and promotes detoxification.
Oolong tea is traditionally consumed in Chinese medicine. It comes from the same plant as green and black tea, but it’s processed differently through the processes of oxidation and firing that give the tea its distinct flavor. Like green and black tea, Oolong tea is full of antioxidants and other health-promoting benefits.
It can help balance blood sugar levels, preventing diabetes and cardiovascular disease. On top of that, the tea contains L-theanine, which is known to increase cognitive function and help reduce brain fog. Brain fog can be one of the worse PMS symptoms, disrupting your daily work, and ability to concentrate and remember things.
Get to know your menstrual cycle better
While PMS symptoms are often uncomfortable, they are like a mirror to your health. Alongside a balanced diet, regular physical activity, and quality rest, traditional and herbal medicine can serve as powerful tools in improving your well-being and menstrual cycles. By incorporating these herbs and foods into your lifestyle, you can take proactive steps towards managing PMS symptoms and promoting a healthier you.
If you want a deeper understanding of your periods, menstrual cycles, and body, consider tracking your menstrual cycles. By keeping a record of the symptoms you experience and tracking any repeated or random signs, you can better understand what your body goes through during PMS and the whole cycle.