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Sick To Your Stomach Before Your Period: PMS & PMDD Nausea, or Nausea of Pregnancy?
by Dr. Daniel J. Heller
Nausea isn’t one of the most common PMS symptoms, but it is certainly one of the least pleasant. PMS nausea can truly disrupt your life: preventing you from eating regular meals, making social interactions difficult, tiring you out, and generally casting a pall on your plans. Add in the other PMS or PMDD symptoms you may experience, and it can make it a struggle to get through the day.
While premenstrual nausea can be a normal part of PMS and PMDD, it can also be a confusing emotional challenge. Nausea is one of the very early symptoms of pregnancy, a symptom most women know to watch out for, especially if they’re actively trying to get pregnant or trying to avoid pregnancy. For a woman trying to get pregnant, nausea before a period may bring false hope and excitement. For a woman trying to avoid pregnancy, it may cause anxiety and fear. Since nausea can occur before a typical pregnancy test is able to detect the pregnancy hormone HCG in your urine, PMS nausea can leave you waiting and wondering in confusion and anticipation. Add all this to typical PMS and PMDD symptoms, and it can make for a very difficult time.
One upside—perhaps the only upside—for women who suffer from PMS and PMDD nausea during most menstrual cycles is symptom recognition: you know to expect nausea, and know it probably isn’t an indicator of pregnancy. Of course, this is little comfort when what you really want is relief from premenstrual nausea.
Fortunately, there are natural ways that can help you manage PMS and PMDD nausea.
Ginger has been used as a nausea remedy for thousands of years. In recent history, scientific studies have demonstrated its effectiveness too, though for those familiar with herbal and folk medicine, this is merely confirmation. Ginger can be used any time symptoms occur, and since it is non-toxic, you can take it without worry whether you are pregnant or not.
Vitamin B6 is an effective supplement for many PMS symptoms, including nausea (it’s also often given to pregnant women for the nausea associated with pregnancy). As long as your dose is under 100 mg/day, it is a safe, non-toxic remedy without side effects. Taking vitamin B6 daily, especially during the second half of your cycle, will give you the best results. Always take vitamins, including B6, on a full stomach. For many women, the amount in PMS Comfort Herbal Relief will be enough to control this and many other premenstrual symptoms.
Acupuncture is a thousands-year old traditional medical system in China that is finding increasing appreciation throughout the world because it is safe and effective. Even people who are afraid of needles have found that the super-slim needles used in acupuncture are completely different, and a lot less scary, than the needles we associate with hospitals and blood draws.
Still, many people don’t have access to a qualified acupuncture practitioner; it can be expensive; and if you’re experiencing nausea right now, making an appointment for acupuncture for next week isn’t much help. Besides, for PMS and PMDD nausea, and even mild nausea of pregnancy, you can treat yourself with acupressure at the famous “nausea point,” known in most acupuncture circle as “PC 6.” This is a safe and inexpensive way to relieve your own nausea. There are even products available that apply continuous pressure to the nausea acupressure point in the form of a band that you wear on your wrist. This is a popular option for people who want to have continuous acupressure on PC 6 to prevent the nausea of long car or boat trips.
This YouTube video will show you how to treat yourself with acupressure for occasional mild nausea.
Even when there is a hormonal cause for nausea, it still helps to avoid hard-to-digest foods that can aggravate any stomach complaint. Heavy, fatty foods like peanut butter, fatty meats and cheeses, fried foods, and too-large meals can overload your digestive system, which could exacerbate nausea. The same is true for acidic foods such as coffee, wine, alcohol, orange juice, and tomato sauce. A common sense approach of eating easily digestible, non-irritating foods can help prevent nausea.
Another dietary solution you should consider is testing yourself for food allergies. Sometimes when the obvious foods aren’t the cause of the problem, something that is seemingly benig—even if it is a food you eat nearly everyday—can secretly be upsetting your digestion and causing symptoms.
We believe the best approach is always a holistic one. This doesn’t mean just eating healthy foods and trying to shop organic. This means that, rather than treating a symptom here and symptom there, you view your body and mind as one complete whole, and strive to address the causes of your symptoms rather than taking a piecemeal approach.
While ginger and vitamin B6 can be effective for nausea, a far superior approach is to take on the underlying cause of premenstrual nausea, which is, of course, hormonal imbalance. The PMS Comfort website is packed with details on a natural approach to PMS and PMDD, including stress management, which could very well be a holistic key to solving a nausea problem, and caffeine avoidance, which is a great first step in taking a natural approach to premenstrual symptoms.
We recommend you browse through the whole site to gain a thorough understanding of how you can take control of PMS nausea and other PMS symptoms, and consider using a hormone balancing herbal formula like PMS Comfort to address any underlying imbalance.