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Chiropractic and PMS

It’s not all in your head! If there’s evidence of nerve compromise to your reproductive organs, chiropractic care may help.

It’s not all in your head! If there’s evidence of nerve compromise to your reproductive organs, chiropractic care may help.

Every woman knows this acronym, and for those who live with it, they know it is disruptive to life, painful in most cases, and a major disruption to their lives.. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects women most noticeably in their late 20’s to early 40’s, and 10-20% of women report severe or even disabling symptoms. So how does one avoid having this “monthly gift from God” and actually enjoy the whole month? Well, chiropractic may be able to help with that one.

PMS is thought to be a side effect from hormonal changes that occur right before and during the monthly menstrual cycle and can be made worse by stress, decreased serotonin levels in the brain, and subluxations (vertebra out of place that is pinching a nerve) in the lower back. We’ll discuss these three things that aggravate PMS so you can have an easier time dealing with it, and get back to enjoying life.

Decreasing Stress Sounds Easy, Right?

Well, to deal with something, one must first understand it. Stress is the body’s response to everyday life. It is the end result when someone reacts to a situation. The body increases stamina, and heightens alertness, strength, and focus. While this sounds good for a short period of time, constant “heightened” senses can really wear out the body. If you don’t take time to relax (or de-stress), and let these “heightened’ senses actually relax and return to normal levels, you may be running out of juice early in the day, and that’s not good because that can cause more stress. Vicious cycle, I know.

To help decrease stress you have to be realistic. Nobody’s perfect, not even you. If you put too high of expectations on anyone, especially yourself, it’s only going to put more frustration on your conscious if you fail. Avoid excessive scheduling by cutting out activities that aren’t on top of the to-do list and move what can be moved to another day. It’s not called procrastination; it’s called “time management.” Relax every once in a while. Taking a break in the middle of the day does wonders for the body, and setting time aside to set everything aside for a few minutes can really help to manage your stress levels. Get a good nights sleep every night. Being tired in the middle of the day can be more taxing on your body than you think. Stress levels skyrocket when you throw exhaustion into the mix. Always have a positive outlook on life. Whatever the negatives are, there are always some positives. Having a positive attitude helps keep the good chemicals flowing in your brain and helps you keep your stress levels in check. Good body treatment helps maintain stress levels as well. Good body treatment means your getting regular exercise and are eating right. Not only does this decrease stress, but we’ll talk later about how it helps to increase serotonin levels, the second aspect that affects PMS. Finally, solving little problems helps to lighten your schedule load, and builds confidence as well. If you can figure out what to have for supper tonight, then that’s one less thing on your plate to worry about (and yes, pun intended).

Your Serotonin Levels

Increasing serotonin levels is the next step to helping ease PMS pains. Increasing serotonin levels is actually easier than it sounds. Since chiropractic believes in natural healing, we’ll stay away from the medical problems like prescribing drugs that may cause allergic reactions in patients. Homeopathic supplements such as Rhodiola and St. Johns Wort both show evidence of increasing serotonin levels, and are available without a prescription. Just exercise care when taking them. Change your diet and you can experience several health benefits. Serotonin is made from an amino acid called tryptophan. While the chemical tryptophan gets most of its attention during Thanksgiving, it isn’t just found in turkey. In fact, chicken and beef have almost the exact same amount of tryptophan. Unfortunately, other chemicals that interfere with tryptophan absorption are also found in these foods. Eat more carbohydrates to counter the countering chemicals. Carbs cause insulin levels to increase, which in turn absorbs those competing amino acids. Spend more time in the sun because bright light increases serotonin levels. For those of us living in Minnesota, the sun is a rare commodity for it seems like six months out of the year. Tanning beds and light lamps also work to increase serotonin levels, so they can be used when the sun can’t come out to play. Finally, exercise regularly. Regular workouts may not specifically cause an increase in serotonin, but several studies show that serotonin levels go up after exercise, and that exercise leaves increase amounts of tryptophan in the brain.

Detecting and Correcting Subluxations

Finally, correct subluxations. The lower back is the outlet for the nerves that control the lower abdomen tissue, such as the uterus. A subluxation can cause interference in the functioning of a nerve, causing a misinterpretation of signals which in turn causes abnormal functioning of certain body parts. Although chiropractic can’t do anything about how your body reacts to hormonal changes, several studies have shown that it can help decrease and lighten many of the symptoms of PMS without harmful and annoying side effects of some prescription drugs, and since your body isn’t allergic to itself, there is no possibility of any allergic reactions or side effects.

The Proof

Studies done on chiropractic and PMS have been conducted and have found that women diagnosed with PMS have a higher incidence of spinal subluxations as compared with non-PMS subjects (Walsh, 1999). Also, in 1992 Dr. Wittler did a study on 11 women with histories of PMS that had occurred for more than 4 months, giving care through 4 menstrual cycles and averaging 5-7 adjustments per month. The subjects of the study were given questionnaires at the beginning and end of care asking them to evaluate changes in irritability and mood swings, tension, ineffectiveness, lack of motor coordination, mental/cognitive functioning, eating habits, variations in sexual drive and activity, overall physical symptoms, and social impairment. They reported improvement in all ten categories, with the biggest improvement in sexual drive (70.7%), social impairment (64.5%), and mood swings (60.8%). Average improvement in all ten categories was 44.2%. Chiropractic helps the body to heal itself and to regulate itself better.

At Burtis Chiropractic we have helped numerous women out of this cycle and on to a better healthier life.

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