Mood Swings, Fainting and PMT

Q. My 14 year old daughter tends to feel faint at the onset of her periods and has fainted several times. She also suffers considerable discomfort and mood swings every month. Mrs S. M. Chester.

A. Firstly ask your GP to check for low blood pressure which often goes hand in hand with low blood sugar, both of which can trigger the feelings of faintness. A great majority of the women who suffer symptoms associated with PMS such as bloating, exhaustion, breast tenderness, mood swings and discomfort, tend to consume far too much sugar, refined carbohydrates (cakes, biscuits, white rice , pasta and bread etc) and caffeine.

Encourage your daughter to eat a healthier diet rich in foods that release their natural sugars more slowly such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta and bread, sweet potatoes, low fat and sugar yoghurts, and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. She can snack on rice and oat cakes, rye or amaranth crispbreads, apples, bananas and pears, and most health shops now sell low sugar biscuits.

Fizzy drinks, coffee and sugary cordials should be replaced by filtered or bottled water, low sugar apple juice and herbal teas. It is important for her to eat small amounts regularly to keep her blood sugar levels on an even keel – as when the blood sugar falls too low then fainting is a common symptom. The mineral chromium which balances blood sugar and reduces sugar cravings is often depleted in PMS sufferers, try giving her 200mcg of chromium daily.

Other important nutrients are magnesium, vitamin B6, manganese, zinc and iron. Every day she can also take 300mg of magnesium malate, 50mg of B6, plus a good quality multi vitamin and mineral for women- that contains 50mg of zinc. An iron tonic such as Floradix or Spatone might also be a good idea for one month. The herb agnus castus is helpful for balancing hormones and easing the discomfort associated with menstruation. Available from all health stores.