When patients come to me for advice about specific medical problems, they usually have been told that they need medication or surgery, and they are seeking ways to avoid those treatments. Sometimes they have already tried medications, which have produced significant side effects.
Usually, they have many treatment alternatives but they have no information about their choices. One example of effective alternatives is the reduction in blood pressure that meditation produces. Others are the dietary changes and exercise programs that lead to lowered cholesterol. Since the medical treatments for these two conditions are often more dangerous than the problems, it is worth seeking safer alternatives.
Dr. Dean Ornish has shown that patients with heart disease can often avoid surgery and reverse their heart disease with a combination of a low-fat diet, meditation, and exercise. Norman Cousins healed his ankylosing spondylitis (a form of arthritis of the spine) with laughter and high doses of vitamin C. He wrote about his experience in the New England Journal of Medicine, and followed this article with a book, The Anatomy of an Illness. Many patients have cured their digestive disturbances simply by avoiding certain foods.
Over and over, we are seeing the results of lifestyle changes in health care. A recent scientific medical conference put on by the American College for Advancement in Medicine was entitled: Lifestyle Medicine—Medicine for the Nineties. Researchers and physicians both attended and taught at this scientific meeting. Much of it related to the role of dietary supplements in medical therapy.
Dietary supplements are amongg the safest and most effective choices in health care. They are almost free of side effects, they are easy to take, they are relatively inexpensive, and they usually enhance many life functions besides the specific condition for which they are being given. Following is an example of how nutritionally oriented physicians might use supplements as part of the treatment for a specific health problem. This is a suggestion that is supported in the medical literature and in the experience of many physicians.
Remember this is an example, not a prescription for you, and the supplement list is in addition to many other health practices. Other supplements may be helpful, and you may not need all of these to get results. For more information on any one supplement, look for its description in Dietary Supplements. No one program is appropriate for everybody, but these suggestions are good starting points from which individual programs can be modified.
Premenstrual symptoms range from mild to severe, and they include bloating, cramps, headaches, fluid retention, depression, low back pain, abdominal pressure, sugar cravings, anxiety, irritability, breast tenderness, acne, and mood swings. Some of these symptoms may also occur during the menstrual period, especially cramps, and they are often controlled by the same supplements.
For both premenstrual and menstrual symptoms, in addition to the dietary supplement program, you may need supplements of natural progesterone. This is the hormone, produced primarily by the ovaries, but also by the adrenal glands, that supports pregnancy and also helps to maintain and increase bone density. It also counteracts excessive estrogen stimulation.
Natural progesterone (as opposed to synthetic “progestins” such as Provera®) has no side effects and it regulates many different functions. It is particularly important to menopausal women for increasing bone density and managing some menopausal symptoms. (Synthetic progestins are different, and do little for bone density.) Progesterone is commonly deficient, is free of side effects, and can be taken as a supplement either orally or as a skin creeam. It is wise to have a gynecologic examination before proceeding with progesterone treatment.
The following table of supplements includes those most commonly helpful with both premenstrual syndrome and menstrual symptoms:
|Basic Multiple Formula||3||3|
|Vitamin C 1000 mg||2||2|
|Pyridoxine (B6) 250 mg||1|
|Magnesium aspartate 200 mg||1||1|
|GLA 240 mg (from borage oil)||1|
|Vitamin E 400 IU natural mixed||1||1|
|Flaxseed oil, 1–2 tbsp daily, or|
|EPA 1000 mg||2||2|