Stop the PMS Nightmare – The Kitchen Rag


Did you know that periods aren’t supposed to be painful?

In most cases the debilitating cramps, irritability, weight gain, acne, abdominal bloating, cravings, and mood swings may actually be caused by hormonal imbalance, food allergies, magnesium deficiency, or too much sugar in your diet.

Your body is sending you a message. Start listening!

Maybe you all knew this, but for me this is big news. I always thought that women have to be in at least a little bit of pain, and if I wasn’t I felt uneasy.  An old wife’s tale from my country was that if you have painful periods you will have easy births. So I welcomed the pain and felt relieved. As a teenager, while laying in bed in the fetal position, holding a heated water bottle to my abdomen and moaning, I couldn’t be happier. My mama fed me chicken soup and tried to make me comfortable while assuring me that everyone goes through this. I admit that by the time I started college I didn’t buy this theory anymore. I took anything I could find for the pain. If I timed it right and took two Advil every two hours for the first 48 hours, I could function and not miss classes. I was still bloated, weak, and nauseous but I wasn’t in excruciating pain.

After college I embraced a healthier diet and lifestyle in an attempt to heal my digestion and migraines, among other things. These days, I am gluten, dairy, and vegetable oil free, and I avoid processed sugar and junk food. More than two years ago, we threw out all of our conventional hygiene products and now use only homemade or very wholesome products. While my body got stronger and I healed my migraines, hypoglycemia, and digestive issues, my periods continued to be painful. They had gotten slightly better, especially if I took magnesium supplements and ate some chicken liver, but I still had to take two or three Advil a day (instead of two every two hours).

Three months ago something happened: I had the first pain-free period in my life. I felt a dull pressure and a slight bloat, but nothing severe. In fact, I spent the day on my feet at my job. Initially, I thought it was a fluke. I hadn’t changed my diet at all and I was doing everything else the same. But then, next month the same thing happened, except that there wasn’t even the pressure or bloat.

This got my attention. I started thinking through the supplements I had been taking, and everything I had been doing differently lately.

Three months ago I began taking hydrolyzed gelatin religiously. I began taking it because I read Ray Peat’s article on the benefits of gelatin and I was sold. Gelatin improves digestion, supports your joints, helps your body release toxins, and improves your hair, nails, and teeth. I had bought regular gelatin before and made jello as a treat, but I didn’t eat it regularly simply because it took more work to prepare it. Hydrolyzed gelatin on the other hand dissolves in both hot and cold liquids and it is essential tasteless. This time around I was taking two tablespoons daily. I added it to my tea, water and sprinkled it on my food, even my pop corn!

I was skeptical about sharing what I thought healed my PMS symptoms so I didn’t speak up for a while. That is, until one of my housemates called to tell me that all of a sudden her periods were a breeze. Guess what we had in common… we both started supplementing hydrolyzed gelatin.

Something else worth noting is that I have been suspecting that I have an estrogen imbalance for some time, which can lead to painful PMS. Gelatin contains glycine, which is anti-estrogenic and promotes progesterone production. Source

Honestly, if someone would have told me that gelatin would cure my PMS symptoms a year ago, I would have rolled my eyes. Now I would say that the evidence that it’s helping with my period is strong. If you are at the end of you rope, give it a shot. But stay committed, and take it daily. The awesome part is that it is tasteless and virtually textureless, so you can put it in your water, tea, or coffee, or mix it in your food. I personally like to put my in my meat to enhance the protein I am already eating.