Are Adaptogens The Secret To Soothing PMS Symptoms?
As I started to immerse myself more into the holistic, high-vibrational foods realm, I increasingly came upon adaptogens. Flooding the mainstream, adaptogenic herbs are now on every wellness influencer’s feed and available for purchase at retailers like Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, and Amazon. So, what’s with all the hype? Used in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, adaptogens include an array of naturally occurring herbs from different kinds of healing mushrooms and plants. In essence, these herbs help decrease your body’s response to stress, creating a barrier between the damaging effects of chronic stress and your nervous system. Research shows that they can help you experience better sleep, improved libido, regulated digestion, and more.
So, after learning about medicinal herbs and the ways that adaptogens nourish the nervous system, I figured I should give them a try and bought Lunar & Bliss from holistic nutritionist, Erika Elizabeth. The main ingredient in this product is ashwaganda, which aids in decreasing the body’s natural response to anxiety, but the one that stands out most now is shatavari. The queen of adaptogens, shatavari has been used for centuries in eastern medicine practices, including Ayurveda, to treat women’s health. According to Elizabeth, it can help with menstrual cramps, infertility, irregular cycles, pre- and post-natal health, loss of libido, and various hormonal imbalances. That’s because the plant contains two compounds — shatavarin and sarsasapogenin — that are considered precursors to female sex hormones, helping nourish the endocrine system and balance the hormones within the body.
I’ve had horrendous PMS symptoms my entire life, often having to take off of school and work because I could barely walk, so as my first cycle after starting Lunar & Bliss came around, I prepared for the worst. The first night, I took Tylenol before bed and had moderate pain the following day. On the second night, I passed out early and went about my business in the morning. It suddenly dawned on me that, not only had I barely realized that my period was coming, I only needed an OTC pain reliever once. Normally taking Tylenol for at least three days, I could not believe how little I needed it this time. Without realizing it, I was padding my system with powerful herbs — and it worked.
It's also worth noting that ashwaganda and shatavari are both known for their ability to regulate cortisol, the stress hormone. While the mood swings and anxiety attacks associated with my period have not completely disappeared, I have noticed that my reaction is different. Rather than reacting instantly, going into a crying spell, angry outburst or panic attack, my mind has a slower response, and thus I have more time to calm down. My experience with adaptogens has been nothing short of miraculous. I can attest to the changes in my PMS symptoms, mood, and stress levels. If I miss a day or two of the elixir, I start to respond to triggers faster and find it more difficult to be at peace.
If you are looking to give adaptogens a try, whether to help with PMS or for the host of other benefits, there are a few things to consider. As with all things alternative medicine, talk to your doctor before taking any new herb combinations. Additionally, it’s important to make sure the herbs you choose are organic and GMP-certified, says Elizabeth Trattner, AP, a Chinese and integrative medicine practitioner. Make sure they do not contain any preservatives and that they are assessed for any contaminants, heavy metals, and sulfates, she adds. After researching the effects and quality of the adaptogens you plan on taking, focus on finding a formula you can easily incorporate into your daily habits — whether that’s blending it into a smoothie (my recommendation) or mixing it with your morning coffee. You’ll want to take it consistently, every day, for a few weeks to start seeing results.