Maybe you’re not actually annoyed at your husband. Maybe, instead, it’s the food.
A naturopath says: Food allergies may trigger irritability. When you’re allergic to a certain food, the body releases histamine, which can make you feel stuffed up and sluggish, depressed and cranky. Even a sensitivity to certain foods can make your insulin and blood sugar levels rise more quickly, creating a sense of agitation.
TREATMENT: The most effective way to find out if certain foods bother you is to go on an elimination diet for about two to four weeks, avoiding anything suspicious, as well as the typical red flags: wheat, dairy, corn, soy, nightshade vegetables, citrus and meat. Then reintroduce the targeted foods for one or two days, a little bit at every meal, and see if there is an ensuing reaction. Generally, people during the summer tend to feel best when they eat cooling foods (think raw, moist, hydrating picks, like salads and
fruits). Big, heavy meals slow digestion, which can also make you feel tired and cranky.
—Paul Anderson, N.D., faculty member at Bastyr University’s School of Natural Medicine in Kenmore, Wash.
An integrative doctor says: The raging hormones at play in both premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) often cause irritability. PMS, which relates to the more physical symptoms associated with the onset of menstruation such as back pain, bloating, cramping and breast tenderness, can make you grumpy thanks to sheer physical discomfort. PMDD makes you more sensitive to everything—lights, noise, emotions—contributing to your short fuse.
TREATMENT: In addition to regular exercise and relaxation practices, certain supplements can make a significant difference in your mood. Vitamin B6 has long been recognized as an antistress vitamin, and taking 50 milligrams to 100 milligrams a day can get you on a more even keel. The herb St. John’s wort (take 300 to 600 milligrams three times daily) or the amino acid 5hydroxytryptophan (take 200 to 300 milligrams in divided doses of 100 milligrams) are also particularly effective ways of nipping crankiness in the bud.
—Shelley Wroth, M.D., integrative medicine physician and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, N.C.
An ayurvedic doctor says: In ayurveda, there are three doshas—vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (earth)—that govern everyone and everything. During hot summer months (the pitta time of year), these doshas can get thrown out of balance. A person’s internal heat, combined with the sultry weather, often produces an inflammatory response in the body that can trigger emotions like anger and irritation.
TREATMENT: First, take a look at your lifestyle. Pittas tend to over-extend themselves, a recipe for burnout. Second, go easy on the caffeine and alcohol, which are warming, and choose cooling drinks like coconut water; and mint, chamomile and lemon balm teas. A favorite yogic trick for staying calm and collected in the heat is sitali breathing: Make an “O” shape with your mouth and curl your tongue, inhaling through your mouth and exhaling through your nose with long, slow breaths. Do this for two to five minutes a day.
—Hillary Garivaltis, dean of the Kripalu School of Ayurveda in Stockbridge, Mass.