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Friday, 23 October 2009 17:25 - Health Tips Newsletter February 2009

Posted Nov 17 2009 10:01pm
Empower Yourself ARFE banner logo
February 2009
Monthly Health Tips Newsletter

Accessing Resources for Empowerment(tm)

This issue contains:

Dealing with Premenstrual Syndrome
The Sounds of Silence - listening for the spaces...between...sounds
School Break Coming Up? Travel in the  Optimal State
Answering Reader's Questions - Buying Supplements

Improve Symptoms of PMS with Nutritional & Lifestyle Changes

"Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a common cause of substantial psychological and physical distress for women during their reproductive years.Forty percent of women have symptoms that are severe enough to disrupt some aspect of their daily lives; 5% are incapacitated by their symptoms."

So begins a review article by Dr. Sue Douglas in the Canadian Family Physician journal from November 2002. PMS could have been dubbed the "forgotten illness" until about 20 years ago when gradually it was realized that this collection of symptoms was very common.  It was first classified in a useful way by Dr. Guy Abrams in the mid-1980s who outlined 4 types of PMS:

PMS-A In this type the symptoms are mainly increased anxiety with too much estrogen relative to progesterone being secreted,that results in a trigger for anxiety. This is the most common type found in about 70% of sufferers.

PMS-C This type is associated with cravings for carbohydrate, increased fatigue, headache and frequently heart palpitations.  People in this category may have low blood sugar, and represent about 25% of sufferers

PMS-D This type is characterized mainly by depression, forgetfulness, and difficulty sleeping.  These people might also have low thyroid,frequent crying spells, headaches, and usually too much progesterone in relation to estrogen.  They may have excessive hair growth.  It is the least frequent of all categories.

PMS-H This type is characterized by increased fluid retention, abdominal bloating, breast congestion and tenderness.  It affects about 25% of sufferers.

The above categories are not exclusive to each other.  People can have mixtures of all of these types, and they can vary in severity from mild to highly significant.  Symptoms usually occur within the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle, but usually during the last 7 to 10 days before the menstrual cycle begins.  They often end when the menstrual cycle begins.  While medications may be necessary in some cases, a good deal of relief can be obtained by paying attention to diet, exercise, and relaxation and supplementation -- in other words, healthy lifestyle changes.

Overall, the diet for anyone with PMS should consist of a Mediterranean type diet that consists of meals high in good-quality fruits and vegetables, low in red meats, sugars, and white flour, with moderate amounts of good-quality protein preferably from cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel,or tuna, but also from chicken, soybeans and other legumes. Mild to moderate exercise, such as walking or light running, has been found to help the symptoms of PMS. Decreasing the triggers for adrenalin or other stress hormone release through deep relaxation with meditation or self-hypnosis is also important. (see " Learn to Unwind ")

Research has shown that a number of supplements can help in all of the types listed:

B complex vitamins are very important in PMS-A. Take a 50mg B Complex vitamin through the whole cycle.  You can also add another 100mg of Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) on its own if the 50mg B Complex is insufficient to relieve symptoms after a few cycles.

Good studies have also found that calcium can be helpful.  I recommend about 1000 mg per day as the carbonate or about 500 mg a day as the citrate. The latter is better absorbed and you need less of it.

Magnesium is also helpful, especially in PMS-C, and can be taken as a Calcium & Magnesium tablet combined if you wish.  The dose of magnesium required is about half that of the calcium dose.

Oil of Evening Primrose is an essential oil to be taken by mouth in the reduction of PMS symptoms, again particularly in PMS-A and PMS-C.  The oil reduces the formation of inflammatory hormones called prostaglandins. You should take 3 capsules twice daily at breakfast and dinner.  The anti-oxidant Vitamin E in 400 IU dose daily should be taken to ensure that the Primrose Oil works effectively.

All supplements should be taken with meals and are not likely to cause any unpleasant side effects in the dosages recommended here.  They should always be a part of an overall lifestyle improvement program for greatest effectiveness.

When you are trying any of these lifestyle and supplement treatments, take them for about 3 menstrual cycles before deciding whether to continue or stop.  There are many other hormonal, naturopathic,  and homeopathic treatments that can be helpful, but are beyond the scope of this article.

Answers to Reader's Questions

A.M. from Kingston, Ontario writes:  "Are there any guidelines to look for when buying herbal or vitamin supplements?  I was once told to only buy ones that say "standardized" on the label because it will guarantee that the active ingredients are in the bottle. Is this true?"

This is a question from a Canadian reader, so my answer is going to be primarily for Canadians.  The short answer is 'no' - 'standardized' on the label means nothing.  Regulations and laws regarding vitamin supplementation vary from country to country.   In Canada we have a Natural Health Product Directorate - it is a division of Health Canada that is oversees the natural health products sold to Canadians. See  Natural Health Products Directorate . Under the Natural Health Products Regulations, which came into effect on January 1, 2004, natural health products (NHPs) are defined as * Vitamins and minerals
* Herbal remedies
* Homeopathic medicines
* Traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicines
* Probiotics, and
* Other products like amino acids and essential fatty acids.
Each product is supposed to be assigned either a DIN (drug identification number), a DIN-HP (the drug identification number for a homeopathic preparation), or an NPN (natural product number). It was established over 5 years ago now, but the funding for this directorate is insufficient, and they are way behind with assigning what are called NHP numbers.  Although the idea is to give Canadians access to better natural health products, that outcome has not yet been reached.  Just wonder through Toronto's Chinatown - most of the products do not have those NHP numbers, and no one is regulating that market!
As a  consumer you need to realize that most of what is on labels in over-the-counter natural health products is advertising hype and not scientific fact.  The industry itself is also attempting to standardize production - sometime you will see 'GMP' on the label meaning this product has been through a 'good manufacturing process' - a health supplement company standard.
The main problem?  No law is enforced to the maximum so caveat emptor - buyer beware!

Thanks for reading this month's newsletter. See you next month!

Healthy Tips Short and Simple~News to Use
There are four basic principles to health:
1. Good nutrition
2. Good exercise
3. Good thinking and emotional states
4. Good self-care
These embrace the mind, body and spirit of good health and well-being. Each monthly tip(s) will address one or more or more of these principles. These health tips are short and simple. All tips, where applicable, are based on quality research that is being done in the medical field. You will see links throughout the newsletter to take you to more detail if you wish...or you can simply read what's here.


Most of us would agree that there is not a lot of opportunity to experience the sounds of silence in today's society.  Inundated we are with sensory stimuli, and then with our own thoughts, about 60,000 of them a day apparently.  Our bodies and minds process 2.3 million bits of information per second, (don't ask me who counted!). Fortunately we don't have to pay attention to all those pieces of information -- our minds are fairly adept at filtering out what is unnecessary.  But is there such a thing as sensory overload?  Do we have too much input?  Perhaps I hear a resounding 'yes' from the reader!  I know that all I have to do is drive down a busy street, and that sometimes picking out a stoplight amongst all the other lights and sounds that are there as distractions can be tricky.  And music! It's everywhere!
I experienced silence and stillness on a couple of occasions recently, and I was struck by how much peace they can bring.  One such time I was sitting on a promontory overlooking the Minas Basin on the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia.  There is not a lot of sound there to begin with, maybe the occasional shore bird or the lap of waves as the highest tide in the world comes in.  What struck me was that the opportunity to appreciate the silence between those sounds was ever present. When we hear the gaps between sounds what might be called 'quiet' there is an ever increasing sense of peace that seems to pervade.  In a way the sounds themselves become a gateway to quiet in the gaps between the sounds. Perhaps in the same way when we are meditating or just contemplating, we can 'listen' for those sounds of silence and in them find some peacefulness. Time seems to slow down in those moments and there is a rejuvenation of body and mind.
Finding those moments in a busy day can be tricky. Sure, we can take a moment and close our eyes, and the visual stimulus disappears.  But even if we put earplugs in the actual sounds can still be heard. And even if in a quiet room we may find that we can still 'hear' our inner voice chattering away at remembering, hoping, anticipating, worrying, etc.
So here is something to consider now so that later you can have a different experience than the busyness of life around you.  Listen for the spaces between the sounds; listen for the pause...the gap... where there is nothing 'no thing'.  Just notice it.

Sometimes when we see something still, it enables stillness within us.  One summer a small turtle ventured out of our garden pond, its head and tail perfectly aligned as if pointing itself in a certain direction.  But what struck me was its ability to stay so, so still; and in fact, in order to observe it I had to be still as well!  Not just externally but also internally in awe of its ability!  Stillness watching stillness.  Just quiet.

I think when we get still inside something powerful happens, even if it's for a moment, we settle. No equipment is required, and no batteries!  Just a willingness to stop for a moment, and listen to the sound of silence.

So, your bags are packed and you've got all your liquids in their small plastic containers for carry on.  It's five in the morning and you're headed for the airport.  That glorious trip that you have been planning is finally in sight. But you arrive at that airport and it's hell!  There is a morass of people.  Line-ups all over the place.  You start to feel tense, perhaps a headache is coming on -- now your bags are overweight, somebody stepped on your foot and your kids are cranky.  Somehow that great vacation that you had in sight is quickly losing its allure.
But wait.  Help is on the way!  I call it the Optimal Travel State or OTS for short.  It's a state of relaxed alertness helpful for negotiating today's tough travel environment.
Interested in learning how to get into an OTS?  It's easy.
Go to Optimal Travel State to get your 15 min. mp3 download in time for the holiday season at a special holiday price

Have Bright Idea for a Health Topic?

I'd like to hear about it! Just reply any time and let me know what topics you'd like to know more about.
Email Dr. Leyton

Did you receive this newsletter forwarded or sent from a friend or colleague by email?  If you would like your very own monthly issue
Copyright Accessing Resources for Empowerment(tm) 2008. All rights reserved.
Accessing Resources for Empowerment (tm) is committed to bringing you quality products,
workshops, ideas, information and links to help you negotiate the world around you more
easily and comfortably. The information and suggestions provided in this newsletter and other
articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended as treatment to be used without
the further advice of a physician or other health-care practitioner familiar with the diagnosis
and treatment of any condition using nutritional or other alternative approaches.
Please, always see your health care provider to provide a proper diagnosis and
for any further details of treatment.
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