PMS Bloating, what helps?
The phenomenon of PMS bloating is known to almost every human being. It is not necessarily due to a specific type of PMS, but affects virtually everyone affected by PMS, inflammation or estrogen dominance (regardless of your sex or hormones). Typically, digestion weakens post-period which causes PMS bloating, upset stomach, diarrhea, flatulence or constipation.
There are several theories about the causes of bloating as well as many different approaches to treat it. No one likes bloating, and no one likes bloating post-period, period.
Causes of PMS Bloating
One major cause of this premenstrual discomfort is usually the typical culprit, hormonal imbalances. These can manifest in many symptoms as they affect many body functions. The other major cause is inflammation which often goes undetected or identified. Many people ride it off as a normal symptom after ingesting something that is actually toxic to their body (like an allergen).
The cycle is a delicate and sophisticated system where hormones conduct a complicated dance of fluctuations depending on the cycle phase. A perfect balance of hormones is only achievable when they are adequately sustained and nurtured, and, congruently, sustenance and nutrients can only be retained with a balanced hormonal system.
In the last phase of the cycle (luteal), progesterone is the dominant hormone. However, if there is a lack of progesterone or estrogen is too high, issues with the digestive system, among other symptoms, will arise. Increased serotonin, for example, is one cause for diarrhea, constipation and flatulence. Unlike common belief, excess serotonin actually causes detrimental symptoms. It is not a happy hormone, it is mainly a digestive hormone and primarily inflammatory. Estrogen Dominance has been reported to increase the levels of serotonin (because it upregulates tryptophan which is the neurotransmitter that synthesizes into serotonin). Refined sugar and stress have also been reported to increase serotonin levels. 95% of serotonin lives in the gut and is the prime neurotransmitter that regulates digestion and bowel function. When you stretch your stomach, you will produce more serotonin in order to properly pass the intake. This can even happen from drinking excess water, so, though it is important to stay hydrated, it may not be wise to drink more water than necessary. Chronic progesterone treatment has shown to decrease serotonin levels in research.
In addition to flatulence, Estrogen Dominance is also the culprit for bloating and feeling full. When the ratio of progesterone to estrogen is unfavorable in the luteal phase (and eating inflammatory foods continues to aggravate this feeling), uncomfortable bloating can occur. This imbalance can also affect the thyroid function which can lead to a whole lot of other unwanted symptoms and health issues. The excess of estrogen will overburden the liver, and if the liver is too busy trying to filter the excess estrogen, the production of bile juice will suffer and cause irritable bowel symptoms or syndrome (IBS). This means that the food in the stomach is not processed properly and flushed through the bowel as quickly as possible. This also inevitably leads to a leaky gut, when particles actually leak out of torn parts of the gut, which is a main culprit in auto-immune diseases and most PMS symptoms.
Estrogen is also the main source of PMS water retention, a sign of inflammation in the body. It promotes water retention in the skin and tissues, dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. Result: breast tenderness, weight gain, abdominal distension. The uterus may also enlarge during and prior to your period.
PMS Bloating and Cravings
Women who suffer from food cravings during the premenstrual period often report symptoms of indigestion and bloating as well. PMS and cravings are a combination that inevitably leads to rather unfavorable diets. Too much refined sugar can cause more bloating and aggravate serotonin which will lead to irritable bowel symptoms. It is advised to seek nutrient-dense and easily digestible foods. It may also be advisable to stay away from inflammatory foods if you have a compromised gut.
What helps with fullness and flatulence?
The first step is to unequivocally avoid things that can aggravate these symptoms. This means staying away from inflammatory foods like gluten, grains, nuts, nightshades, dairy, hard-to-digest foods like raw veggies and high-fiber, and refined sugar. can be very helpful. Instead, eat easily digestible and anti-inflammatory foods. Garlic has anti-inflammatory properties, but in large quantities (and sometimes in any quantity) can upset the stomach. Onions should be also be avoided, as they can cause bloating and aggravate digestion.
It is also helpful to engage in movement. Light exercise and endurance stoking movement can help sooth digestion and increase energy. After lunch, you could take a short walk to get your digestion moving as well as your legs. Yoga and stretching is a great way to enhance digestion and alleviate all sorts of PMS symptoms.
3. Medicinal herbs really help!
Medicinal herbs, especially in the form of teas, are usually underestimated. Especially for the widespread problem of women like PMS there are very effective herbs that combat symptoms like bloating. Especially for PMS conditioned like water retention, bloating and digestive problems there is help within your backyard herb garden, or, if you don’t have a green thumb, with our FEMNA Health teas like High Tide.
Yarrow, lady’s mantle, goldenrod, lovage root and birch are all active herbal elements in this tea that harmonize with hormones and relieve water from the sinking ship so you boat will float, not bloat! The combination of these herbs particularly focuses on water retention and digestive problems.
More on PMS
 US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, Serotonin in the Gastrointestinal Tract: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2694720/