According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, approximately 85% of women who menstruate experience at least one symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).
PMS symptoms range from mildly inconvenient to debilitating. According to a 2004 study published by the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, women with PMS present more absenteeism at work, nearly double their normal rates. They also experience a productivity loss at rate of 50% or less at school, work, or home. Relieving PMS symptoms not only allows women to feel well, it significantly increases quality of life.
The exact cause of PMS remains unclear. Genetics, diet, and stress affect the severity of PMS; however, it appears to be primarily related to hormonal imbalances, which occur at various stages in the menstrual cycle. Treatments for PMS target enhancing hormonal balance.
- Breast pain and/or swelling
- Sleep disturbances
- Digestive issues (bloating, diarrhea, constipation and irritable stomach)
- Cravings or shifts in appetite
- Joint or muscle pain
- Difficulties with memory or concentration
- Anxiety or depression
- Mood instability (tension, irritability, crying spells, extreme highs and lows)
Natural Remedies For Premenstrual Syndrome:
Check with your doctor and possibly an experienced herbalist before trying these natural remedies. Some of them decrease the effectiveness of other medications and you should also be monitored for allergic reactions. Many of these herbs have been used traditionally to treat PMS symptoms; however, their effectiveness can vary if you’re not taking a standardized form of the herb.
Chaste Berry eases PMS associated breast pain. Ginger acts as a pain reliever and is recommended to ease menstrual cramping. Dandelion Leaf helps decrease bloating. Shatavari provides phytoestrogens, which support hormonal balance, and keeps the body’s fluid balance at appropriate levels. St. John’s Wort when used with chaste berry lowers anxiety levels, depressive symptoms, and food cravings.
Anti-Inflammatory Foods Can Relieve PMS symptoms:
Food choices may aggravate or alleviate PMS symptoms. Selecting nutrient dense anti-inflammatory foods is the key to preventing and relieving PMS symptoms. A healthy diet supplies the body with the calories and nutrients needed to function optimally. This includes maintaining hormonal balance.
- Coconut Oil is anti-inflammatory and supports hormonal production.
- Choose Healthy Fats Olive Oil, butter and animal fats from lean and healthy animal protein sources.
- Eat Omega-3 Rich Fish. Like coconut oil, it is anti-inflammatory.
- Avoid Margarines, Vegetable Oils and other refined fats. They cause inflammation exacerbating cramps.
- Avoid Dairy, Meat, and Grains. They have been linked to inflammation.
- Use Nutraceuticals for Health and hormonal balance.
Nutritional deficiencies can cause or increase PMS symptoms. Getting the right nutrients into your diet keeps the body’s systems in balance and functioning properly. If your diet is deficient, consider supplementation as directed by your healthcare provider.
- Vitamin D
- Fermented cod liver oil
- Calcium combined with Vitamin D
- Vitamin B-6
- Folic acid
- Vitamin E
Simple Lifestyle Choices Could Treat PMS:
Simple lifestyle choices provide an easy and accessible way to treat PMS. The only cost associated with most of these suggestions is effort, planning and time. They also offer the added benefit of supporting your overall health, wellness, and fitness levels.
- Exercise at a Low To Moderate Intensity Level. Yoga, cycling, Pilates, swimming and walking are good options. Focus on exercises, which stretch the back, hips, and abdominal region. Increasing the blood flow to these areas helps to decrease menstrual cramping.
- Sleep Plays an Important Role in regulating all of the body’s systems. Insufficient and low quality sleep negatively affects hormonal balance.
- Avoid Hormone Disrupting Additives and Chemicals. Some components of pesticides, plastics, processed foods, mattresses and household chemicals mimic or interfere with the function of the body’s hormones. Look for all natural cleaning supplies, consume organic and whole foods, and avoid plastics as much as possible.
- Avoid Feminine Hygiene Products, which also contain toxic chemicals and plastics. These are easily absorbed by the moist porous tissues of the female genitalia. Consider switching to washable cotton pads or a menstrual cup.
Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) Symptoms:
If you find that your PMS symptoms cannot be managed with lifestyle changes, dietary changes, or supplements, you may have the more severe form of PMS, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). It has a markedly greater effect on the sufferer’s mental state. PMDD may be tied to lose serotonin levels. The Symptoms Include:
When 5 or more of these symptoms are discerned, the condition is diagnosed as PMDD. PMDD usually requires the use of pharmaceuticals and other interventions for successful treatment. Doctors prescribe antidepressants to treat the mental symptoms caused by the ailment. Three selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) meet Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval standards for the treatment of PMDD: Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, and Sertraline. The Yaz birth control pill may also be prescribed to alleviate some of the symptoms. Other treatment strategies include counseling and stress management.