PMS and PMDD are a struggle and SSRIs only do so much. Is microdosing psilocybin for PMS and PMDD a better option?
The week is finally over and you’re ready to snuggle up on the couch in your plushest robe with the latest Taylor Jenkins Reid novel and your favorite glass of natural wine. Well, forget the book, grab your heating pad, and double the pour because you feel your period coming on. With it comes mood swings, irritability, cramps, cravings, and anxiety, and a total loss of any plans you may have had this weekend. Wouldn’t it be great if there was something actually effective in treating your symptoms? Something that could relieve your physical and psychological distress without the drawbacks of any serious side effects. Sound too good to be true? Well, microdosing psilocybin for PMS and PMDD has the potential to make that fantasy a reality.
In order to understand how microdosing may help treat the effects of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), we must first understand what exactly happens to our bodies during this time and how that links to the effects of psilocybin. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, PMS is the combination of symptoms that many women get a week or two before their period and occurs because estrogen and progesterone levels begin falling dramatically if you are not pregnant.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, brain areas that regulate emotion and behavior are studded with receptors for estrogen, progesterone, and other sex hormones. These hormones affect the functioning of neurotransmitter systems that influence mood and thinking. Thus, hormonal changes in the menstrual cycle significantly affect serotonin levels, which plays a significant role in the severity of PMS and PMDD. The symptoms associated with this dramatic drop in serotonin include, but are not limited to, depression, anxiety, irritability, decreased energy, food cravings, and even insomnia.
PMDD is an extreme form of PMS in which all the regular PMS symptoms are experienced at an intolerable level.
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Due to its unpredictable and ambiguous nature, the traditional treatment for PMDD typically involves a cocktail of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) like Zoloft, Celexa, or Lexapro. Since the symptoms of PMDD revolve around changes in mood, like depression, anxiety, or irritability, treatment has focused on correcting that mood shift. These SSRIs work by “correcting” neurotransmitter dysregulation to trick the body into thinking there has been no significant dip in serotonin. However, their effects are not immediate but they do come with several immediate and long-term side effects that make their utility questionable. SSRIs require long-term, continuous use in order to be effective, even when you’re not experiencing PMDD symptoms. With continued use, your PMDD symptoms diminish, yes, but you conversely open the door to a whole host of entirely new problems.
In a study conducted by Teri Pearlstein for the National Library of Medicine, she found the adverse effects from the use of SSRIs in women with PMDD included anxiety, dizziness, insomnia, sedation, nausea, and headache. Long-term, women may experience sexual dysfunction and weight gain. With side effects like that, you’re better off with the goblet of tea and heating pad.
With self-driving cars, virtual reality, and 3D printing, doesn’t it seem like side effect-free medicine should exist for women who suffer from PMS and PMDD?
Well, in a way, it does. Unfortunately, since women’s health has taken a backseat to these technological advances due to the sheer fact it won’t make a man any money, those side effect-free solutions are not readily available in the mainstream. Traditional Western Medicine infamously leaves women behind. Pain medication is geared toward men, gender bias in healthcare persists despite rapid advancements in detection, diagnosis, and treatment, and maternal healthcare continues to fail many women, especially women of color. If you’re thinking psilocybin seems like an extreme treatment for a problem every woman faces, microdosing delivers it to you in the least extreme way.
The act of microdosing involves taking small amounts of psychedelic medicine, a compound of which serotonin is a derivative, like psilocybin, every three to four days in order to achieve desired effects, such as improved mood, enhanced creativity, and increased focus. More on Microdosing 101 here.
But, don’t worry, you won’t be talking to trees or eating lunch with Aretha Franklin when you microdose, as the dosage is typically 1/10 of a hallucinogenic dose. In fact, the dosage is small enough that you won’t notice any hallucinogenic effects at all—microdosing is meant to be sub-perceptual. Our mood, energy level, and general disposition may reap the benefits, though.
Similar to SSRIs, psilocybin activates the serotonin system, but in a different manner. By binding to serotonin receptors in the brain, the psilocybin makes the brain think there is more of it present and that a significant dump has not occurred. Psilocybin achieves this effect without creating more serotonin. Therefore, your body is not at risk of the serotonin syndrome caused by SSRIs. When your brain believes there is more serotonin present, your energy levels stabilize, sleep improves, and depression symptoms diminish. Concurrently, the area of your brain responsible for anxiety and fear responses turns stagnant, allowing you to take control of your irritability and anger. Most attractive, though, is psilocybin’s immediate effects.
Unlike SSRIs, psilocybin has the potential to provide you, the user, with more immediate effects that outperform SSRIs—without the negative side effects. Where SSRIs require months of usage before you may actually notice any of the effects, psilocybin provides symptomatic relief within the first dosing cycle. That means you can begin microdosing at the onset of your PMS/PMDD symptoms instead of taking an SSRI throughout the month, letting you take control of your time and your body.
If you’re still not convinced enough by the vast psychological benefits microdosing can provide to give it a go, [perhaps the physical benefits will compel you. Cramps, muscle pain, and headaches do have few popular remedies – ibuprofen, Midol, heating pad, and cool gel mask. But those only go so far, and it’s likely your body has built up a tolerance to these. Psilocybin, when microdosed, acts as a vasoconstrictor, constricting your blood vessels, effectively reducing the blood flow to certain areas of your body. When this happens, the inflammation causing cramps and soreness reduces and headaches alleviate.
Dealing with the symptoms of PMS and PMDD can be challenging. If you’ve tried treating something that happens naturally with lab-made medications, maybe it’s time you try something naturally occurring. Providing immediate relief with no harmful side effects, microdosing psilocybin may be an effective treatment option for women suffering from PMS and PMDD. Psilocybin’s ability to “trick” neurotransmitters, regulate mood, reduce anxiety, and relieve the physical pain caused by PMDD without the harmful drawbacks associated with SSRIs make it a worthy contender in the world of modern medicine.
It’s always best to consult a doctor before trying new treatment options, but if you’re looking for a community of experienced, supportive women, the team at Retreat is here to help. You can join our digital community, speak with a doctor, or sign up for our microdosing course.
Our doctors and therapists are always happy to answer any questions you may have and share our insights to get you to a comfortable place. Book a call here.
Learn to microdose with our free guide.
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