Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Guest author
Gabrielle von Pagenhardt, Waterloo (Ontario), Canada

Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, is not a normal part of women's lives. PMS occurs about one to two weeks before onset of the monthly period. Symptoms and experiences vary widely. Many women experience purely physical discomfort, while others struggle with a myriad of psychological problems. Many women don't experience any symptoms at all.

What are the most common complaints? Symptoms range from mood swings to irritability. Bloating and digestive tract upset is very common, especially with women in peri-menopause (the time before actual onset of menopause). Swollen breasts and tenderness, cramping and/or water retention in hands and feet, as well as food cravings (especially carbohydrates and chocolate) and skin problems are very common. While many women have no or minor problems during this time, others have debilitating pain and emotional upset that seriously interferes with their lives. Other problems include migraine headaches, backaches, forgetfulness and extreme tiredness. Often, women cannot carry on with their normal work life.

As research shows, many of these symptoms occur when changes in the hormonal cycle are extreme and recurring. These hormonal imbalances are dependent on a complex set of factors. Often, PMS problems are linked to an imbalance in prostaglandins, which is a hormone-like fatty substance. Very detrimental is a diet rich in meat, and lacking cold-processed oils, such as extra virgin olive oil and fish (such as salmon) oil. Also, we have to take great care of the liver, the much-neglected organ. The liver is responsible for detoxification and breakdown of hormones. What else makes PMS worse? Lack of sleep, alcohol, refined sugar , and a lifestyle that presents outward, but no true inner happiness and contentness.

How can PMS helped in a nutritional way?

First, women with PMS should chose wisely when it comes to nutrition. The same is especially true when it comes to premenstrual migraine. Unrefined, cold-pressed seed and nut oils such as sunflower, flax and sesame seed oil are very important. These can be taken into salads and yogurts. When it comes to yogurts, chose the brand which contains life bacteria.

Evening Primrose Oil is very efficient in combating PMS. The B vitamins are essential for bloating, weight gain and acne. Magnesium is found in figs, nuts, lemons and grapefruit, as well as in bananas. Wheat Germ is a wonderful source of nutrients and very good for breast tenderness and pain. (It is also very important to reduce coffee and soda pop intake, as well as chocolate, in short: all sources of caffeine).



To sum this section up : Vitamin E, Vitamin B-complex, Magnesium (together with Calcium) and Evening Primrose Oil (possibly Red Currant Oilv and Borage Oil) are very important.

When it comes to herbal remedies, we have an excellent body of research available. Every woman is different and it is important to have a vitamin and herbal program tailor made by a professional. Shopping sprees in health foods stores can be costly and might not bring the relief wanted. The following recommendations represent a small selection out of many possible herbal combinations.

Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus castus L.) stimulates the pituitary gland and normalizes hormonal function.                                                         
Damiana (Turnera diffusa) also balances the hormones and boosts energy.                                                                                       
Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla xantochlora) regulates the menstrual cycle. It can be combined with black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) and dong quai (Angelica sinensis).
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) relieves cramps and can be combined with lady's mantle.                                                                          
before menstruation begins, place a warm St. John's oil (Hypericum perforatum) wraps on the lower abdomen to help alleviate symptoms.

Homeopathy offers a wide array of remedies when it comes to PMS. There is a great number of single or combination remedies used to treat PMS and here are the most common ones
Sepia is important when indifference to others turns to anger and irritability. There is great fatigue. Exercise improves energy.
Nux vomica is needed for impatience, weak nerves and sensitivity to noise. Certain kinds of spasms and cramping might also be helped.
Pulsatilla is definitely helpful for the moody, weepy woman who needs a lot of help and reassurance.

It is advisable to see a qualified homeopathic practitioner.

Again, proper diet is extremely importing when it comes to PMS. Meals high in complex carbohydrates have been found to help greatly. Such a diet can increase the body's production of serotonin, the body's very own antidepressant. On the other hand, eating read meat and dairy will promote an imbalance in estrogen to progesterone. It is always advisable to check for thyroid disorder, immune system disorder and yeast infections. Lots of studies have shown that caffeine causes anxiety and sleeplessness. In any case, caffeine worsens PMS problems. Caffeine raises our blood pressure and stress level, which none of us needs. It increases the secretion of adrenaline. Smoking also greatly aggravates stress which , in turn, will promote premenstrual discomfort.

There are no hard statistics, but it is estimated that 70-75% of women suffer from some form of PMS, at one time or another. For many years, PMS was dismissed as being a psychological problem. We know that it is largely a physical problem. Hormonal imbalances, such as estrogen dominance (relative to progesterone) are causing many reactions, from water retention to circulation problems. It is very important to take care of a stable blood sugar level. Small meals during the day are essential. Food allergies are also linked to PMS and need to be investigated. As we can see, PMS is truly a multifactorial problem. There is no quick fix. But is very worthwhile to check out the life style and nutritional changes.

Autor/In: Gabrielle von Pagenhardt, Dr. of Natural Health,

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