If your family, friends and co-workers have been driving you nuts lately, and you feel as if you're losing your mind, you may suffer from mood swings.
Mood swings have the uncanny ability to make you feel totally out of control and hypersensitive to every feeling, touch, look and word. As frustrating as this may be, the good news is that you're not alone.
According to the American Medical Association, more than 75% of women experience some emotional distress between the onset of menstruation and the culmination of menopause.
Symptoms of mood swings include irritability, depression, fatigue and insomnia. Mood swings are caused by a hormonal imbalance and the effect the reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone have on serotonin levels in the brain. They disrupt the ability to think clearly, process information and react well to stress. Treatment has traditionally been focused on reducing the roller coaster-type symptoms with narcotic drugs such as lithium and valium. But new understanding about the cause of mood swings has led to more natural therapies centered on botanical enhancements, diet and exercise.
Mood swings occur when serotonin levels rise and fall rapidly, leading to the roller coaster ride of emotion many women experience during their menstruation and menopause cycles. Both estrogen and progesterone, which fluctuate during a woman’s cycle, control serotonin production levels. While in the past physicians have treated mood swings with artificial forms of estrogen and progesterone like those found in birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy, natural forms of these important hormones can be found in several herbs and plants that are readily available.
Natural progesterone can be found in Mexican wild yam (diascorea villosa), a common root that contains a substance that when metabolized converts to progesterone. The substance is best absorbed through the skin, making it a perfect enhancement to skin creams and lotions. Available at most natural health stores, look for products containing "natural progesterone."
Estrogen is even more abundant in the botanical world since many plants contain phytoestrogens, which affect the body in the same way as natural estrogen. You may have heard that soy products were good for PMS and menopause and the reason is that soybeans contain some of the highest levels of phytoestrogens found, making them especially potent in the fight against mood swings. Tofu, both cooked and raw, is an abundant source of phytoestrogen, as are fresh soybeans, known as Edamame. A common staple in the Asian diet, fresh soybeans can be found in markets specializing in Asian foods and most health food stores. You may even be able to find frozen soybeans in grocery stores.
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