By Shirlee Michaels, Ph.D.

Ten years ago, only a few of my friends would comment on their state of mind or how their bodies felt before or during their monthly period. Generally they would say they felt sluggish or tired. Cramps might be mentioned, and there was only one friend who had a struggle with cramps severe enough to send her to bed almost every month.

Today, more than 50% of the Amer-ican population (women) struggles with symptoms that include malaise, irritability (The Bitch), mood swings, edema, headaches, food cravings, weight fluctuations, loss of sexual energy, aches and pains throughout the body, cramps, and cloudy thinking. Some women experience all of these symptoms for several days each month. This syndrome is so common in our country that we now have a name for it: "PMS".

PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome) has become a part of our national vocabulary, much like the term "kleenex". Mention PMS in a room full of people and almost everyone has an instant, personal response. For women, the utterance of these three little letters, P-M-S, signifies a gender bonding of female experience; men move a little closer to each other to close ranks for protection, having been the recipients of the wrath or spaciness of a strung-out, wiped-out PMS-laden woman.

I have researched the issues of PMS and menopause in other cultures. I wondered if PMS and menopause affected women on such a scale as in our country and what were the general attitudes toward these conditions. My research showed few references through the ages to a condition we now label PMS. Certainly women of all past ages and in other cultures have had less than perfect bodies and health; however, my findings indicate that we are in an unprecedented era of community chaos, pollution and change, all of which challenges the human psyche, body and energy fields.

From my perspective, PMS is a recent phenomena, a reflection of a chronically "too busy" society full of chemicals and electro-magnetic fields of energy which are not compatible with the human body. It requires more and more of our energy to make a living with much less time to develop quality, nurturing relationships with our friends, lovers or families.

The human body (this includes men) reacts to the environment that surrounds it; it holds electrical charges in the cells, such as pent up emotions =8B emotions which might have been stuffed for years. This is called "cellular memory". The body registers everything in our environment. If there is tension, anger, anxiety or fear, we absorb it non-consciously. Can you remember the stab in your gut when you were in a personal confrontation? Or how your body feels after you drive on a crowded freeway? Compare these sensations to what you feel when you are in nature, away from telephones, schedules, machines and masses of people.

To keep ourselves alive, we need to feed our bodies a certain amount of nutrients in order for them to function 24 hours a day, year after year. If we do not receive what we need, the systems in our bodies eventually weaken and we begin to experience conditions such as PMS, allergies, weight gain, or fatigue, which can eventually throw the body out of balance and lead to life-threatening diseases such as cancer.


The medical industry generally doesn't have a clue what to do about conditions such as PMS. How many times have I heard women complain that their doctor (usually male) gives the impression that there is nothing to complain about; PMS symptoms are simply the price for being female. With that usually comes the offer of a prescription for an antidepressant and/or a pain killer. According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, 83% of all antidepressant prescriptions are prescribed for women, and the use of Prozac (the medical/psychology community's current, preferred mind-altering drug) is up 65.4% in the last three years with 18 million prescriptions now in force!

The Politics of Gender still exist in the field of medicine; women are not taken seriously about medical complaints. As an example, a 1987 study conducted at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York exposed massive gender bias regarding coronary disease related diagnoses and treatment protocols; 40% of men with abnormal cardiovascular symptoms were referred by their physicians for specific treatment, while only 4% of the women with the same symptoms were referred for similar treatment and apparently received less medical attention.

Other studies come to the same conclusion: in general, women receive less attention than men, and physicians are twice as likely to label a woman's medical problems "psychosomatic" than those of a man. Enter the wonder drug Prozac . . .

Are you interested in longevity and the quality of your life? Do you want the emotional stability, stamina and strength to experience the wonders and meet the challenges of our existence? To be able to dance to rhythms of the soul and sing the song of love? The quality of our health and our existence is a choice!

Take responsibility for your health and your life. The state of your health and the quality of your life is up to you.

Shirlee Michaels, M.A., Ph.D., is a Nutritionist and Life Style Consultant who specializes in the "whole-being" approach to health and longevity. A long-time student of herbology, health and healing, as well as the transformational processes of change, she has been a featured guest on several television and radio shows. Dr. Michaels is a motivational speaker specializing in leadership development, changing global paradigms, health and healing and can be reached at (619) 481-3046 or toll-free (888) 432-8650.

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