Monday, December 27, 2010

Premenstrual Syndrome

It is estimated that about half of the women in the U.S. capable of giving birth suffer from the scourge of PMS. It is regarded usually as a gynecological disorder and most sufferers wind up with the birth control pill. I want to explain why this condition fits the disease model that I have already described in a previous blog post.
Those that have read it know that the bunch of glands that come under the heading of the endocrine system are activated by the LS (limbic system) that is described as a computer. The LS has within it at least two time clocks. One rotates on a 24-hour basis and is called circadian rhythm. Circadian means “about 24 hours” and it is interesting to note that this rhythm without time cues is actually a 25-hour rhythm. It was proved by shutting a volunteer subject in a room without any clock and depriving him of the day/night cycle. Thus he had no clues as to whether it was night or day. I simply asked myself the question “why”? The intuitive answer is that we were programmed with a 25-hour rhythm and born into a 24-hour world. It strongly suggests that we have to compress that rhythm by adapting to the day/night cycle, an evolutionary phenomenon, perhaps of great importance as we live in this 24-hour world. It is as though Mother Nature has created a system to which we must continuously adapt throughout life. If not, then it gets out of sync and our body systems receive inappropriate signals.
The other known cycle is the menstrual cycle and it is an extremely important one since it is the “procreative mechanism” that prepares a woman for conception. Then, by hormonal control, it presides over the ensuing pregnancy. Its normal rhythm is 28 days, counting from the first day of the “period”. As everyone knows, the first sign of pregnancy is “missing a period”. This cycle has some curious features. For example, it is known that if women are living together in a dormitory, they begin to have their periods at the same time. I have often wondered, as I am sure others have, whether the 28-day moon cycle and the menstrual cycle are the same by coincidence or whether there is actually a cause and effect relationship. It would be curious if men do not have a 28-day cycle but they have nothing to show for it. Perhaps in some men it is responsible for emotional cycles that are considered usually to be “the reason that Dad gets grumpy periodically for no obvious cause”!
This cycle, governed by the LS, controls the release of hormones from the appropriate glands in the endocrine system. During the first half of the cycle estrogen increases and is withdraw at the 14th day when ovulation occurs. In the second half progesterone increases and is withdrawn when the period occurs. Thus, in the week before the period occurs, the LS is “working like a one-armed paper hanger”.
It is compromised function of the LS computer that is the cause of PMS and if a person reading this has become aware of the previous posts it will begin to make sense. The birth control pill shuts off the biofeedback system that is required for the LS to recognize and control the various hormonal changes over which it presides. It does work but is inappropriate to relieving the basic cause. It is as though the hormone is telling the LS that it is “no longer in charge” and it silences its controlling influences.
We can now begin to see that chocolate, sweet and salt craving are very much part of the whole picture because they are causing the problem and MUST be controlled. Why are they causing it? Because they provide inappropriate input signals to the computer as well as producing changes in oxygen use in the cells that are collectively responsible for the computerized program of the cycle.
As I have indicated previously, the computer becomes much more irritable and since the LS is responsible for our emotions, it is not surprising that one of the major symptoms of PMS is emotional lability. Husbands sometimes arrange their golf games during this week because they know that their wives are “difficult” at this time. The ensuing cramps are because of abnormal control signals to the uterus and there is often inflammation of the egg releasing mechanism at mid cycle. So left/right monthly alternating abdominal pain is experienced as the egg pops out of the ovary. This has been called “mittelschmertz”, a German word meaning “middle pain”. The release of an egg is from the left ovary alternating with the right with each successive period. Sometimes the inflammation affects only one side and the patient describes the fact that she gets this pain on that side only and with every other period cycle.
Because the autonomic nervous system is also controlled by the LS there may be associated heart palpitations, or diarrhea because of an irritable bowel. Sometimes there is excessive sweating or major changes in appetite from being voracious or diminished and the sweet craving is very hard to control in some individuals. It is important to understand that ALL the symptoms come from the faulty signals that go to the body organs.
What then is the treatment? The first one that I advise, always with extreme emphasis, is to stop taking the sweets, particularly when the craving occurs. That is often easier said than done but it is entirely useless to take vitamin supplements unless this is done “cold turkey”
Sometimes, just this effort and a hard look at appropriate diet is sufficient but nutrient supplements are usually required and should be chosen by a physician who understands the causative factors. It is well to remember that what I call “God-made” food is the only food that should be ingested. If there had been no naturally occurring food when we arrived on Earth, we could not have survived as a species. It is still the same today and the avoidance of “man-made” food is a necessity, particularly those that are sweet or salty. I always ask a salt-craving PMS patient how she solves it and the answer usually is pretzels. Coffee is also another cause and the number of cups ingested is irrelevant in those that are sensitive to caffeine. It has been suggested (erroneously) that we should all be taking 7 or 8 cups of coffee a day “because of the antioxidants that it contains”. Although this fact is true, it is far outweighed by the undesirable effects of caffeine. Caffeine stimulates brain cells to work and it may cause consumption of energy that the individual can ill afford. It gives us the false impression that it is providing energy because of the sense of stimulation. The reason that so many people drink coffee in the morning is because they are extremely fatigued. They are unfortunately adding to the problem because their fatigue is due to loss of efficiency in the energy required to make their brain cells function properly. They are being misled by the temporary disappearance of their fatigue. Just like any “recreational” drug, stopping it causes withdrawal headache that is assuaged by taking more coffee. It often contributes to the symptoms associated with PMS

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