Natural Treatments for Premenstrual Syndrome
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is the bane of many women's existence. Symptoms of PMS usually occur in the one to two weeks prior to the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. The luteal phase is the time when menstruation or the period takes place. Symptoms of PMS usually dissipate once menstruation (the luteal
Women who experience PMS usually report all or a combination of the following symptoms:
- Breast tenderness and swelling
- Extreme fatigue, but may also have trouble sleeping
- Mood swings including sadness, depression, crying, tension, anxiety and irritability.
- Food cravings
- Bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea
A majority of women are able to cope with the symptoms fairly well without major lifestyle changes. However, in another subset of women the symptoms are so bothersome that sick days are used frequently at work and school, appointments and schedules rearranged, and the overall quality of life is decreased for one to two weeks each month. No fun.
There are plenty of natural treatments that can be tried. Natural therapies used for PMS symptoms target the hormones. If the hormones are out of balance, PMS happens. When the hormones are brought back to normal levels, the symptoms of PMS can be reduced and in many cases alleviated all together.
For starters, it is important to begin (or continue) a regular exercise program. This is helpful in keeping the body in good working order. Second, decrease the stress levels associated with everyday living if possible. Stop smoking and limit the intake of alcohol. Get enough rest and sleep, especially during PMS time.
Next, diet is extremely important for those with PMS symptoms. During the time when PMS occurs, limit salty, fatty and sugary foods. Avoid refined carbohydrates such as white bread, pasta, cookies and candies. Stay away from fast foods which contain high quantities of salt, fat and refined carbohydrates. Slow down on caffeine intake, it tends to aggravate the symptoms in some women; this includes coffee, soda and caffeinated teas.
As far as
foods to eat during PMS time,
opt for fresh fruits,
vegetables, legumes, nuts, whole
grains, and foods containing
omega-3 fatty acids. If
possible, introduce a reputable
multi-vitamin daily containing
all the essential vitamins and
minerals needed by a woman of
In addition to diet, exercise and stress reduction, there are several alternative therapies that have proven useful in treating PMS symptoms.
Herbal Medicine - Several studies have shown that evening primrose oil relieves physical and emotional symptoms in women with PMS. However, other studies did not validate these findings. The dosage used was 3-4 grams per day. Another well known herb in the natural health community for treating PMS is Vitex agnus castus,
or chaste berry. This herb
has been found to be extremely
beneficial in many cases
although research is not clear
on whether it is safe to use if
for longer than three months at
Acupuncture – This age old practice that works to clear excess energy or jump-start stagnant energy in the body has been very effective in helping many women with PMS symptoms. Trained acupuncturists can be found in most large metropolitan areas and their treatment is a very real and useful resource for PMS sufferers.
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