Effective natural treatment for PMS can be prescribed by your naturopath. The cause and symptoms of PMS can be addressed using a combination of diet changes, essential fatty acids, vitamins and herbal medicine.
Any natural treatment for PMS and other hormonal disorders is best used for a minimum of three months for optimum results.
Mood swings, anxiety and depression experienced around the time of menstruation can be effectively relieved using herbal medicine and flower essences.
Irritability, nausea, headaches and migraines associated with PMS can often be due to a congested liver. If any of these symptoms occur around the time of your period, it is most important to treat the liver using dietary changes and herbal medicine. Balancing the hormones and cleansing the liver may also help balance blood sugar levels and reduce food cravings.
Diet for PMS
Dietary changes as a natural treatment for PMS have been shown to effectively reduce PMS symptoms in some women. Excessive intake of sugar, salt, honey, dairy products, white flour and fatty foods can aggravate PMS symptoms. Instead, eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, wholegrain bread and cereals.
- Avoiding non-organic dairy is a must for PMS sufferers. The main culprit is a protein called A1 casein. In some people, A1 casein cleaves in the digestive tract to form a potent opiate-type molecule (called casomorphin or BCM7) which stimulates histamine and inflammatory cytokines.
- Avoiding caffeine is particularly important in the prevention and treatment of PMS. Research shows that women who regularly consume caffeine are up to four times more likely to experience severe PMS symptoms. Caffeine is found in cola, black tea, green tea, coffee and chocolate. Give up coffee slowly to avoid withdrawal symptoms and aim to drink six to eight glasses of fresh filtered water each day.
- If you really can’t give up a cup of tea, choose a low caffeinated cup of black or green tea.
- You are not going to want to read this, but chocolate needs to go. Although there are initial mood benefits to eating chocolate (thanks to the happy mood altering effects of theobromine), the long-term effects on your PMS symptoms and waist-line can be far-reaching. If you are the type of woman that can stop at 2 squares of chocolate, then a compromise would be choosing 2 squares of a sugar-free, dark chocolate!
- Avoiding refined carbohydrates such as soft drinks, cakes, biscuits, sugar, honey and white flour will help conserve magnesium levels and balance blood sugar levels, reducing mood swings and blood sugar swings.
- Refined sugar can increase the excretion of magnesium, making the cravings worse. It can also be useful to decrease your intake of dairy products at this time, as excess calcium may impair the absorption of magnesium.
- Decrease your intake of saturated fatty acids found in animal fats, as well as dairy products and red meat as these can increase inflammation and pain associated with period cramps.
- Eat more tryptophan-rich foods during the luteal phase (day 15 to onset of menses): turkey, ripe bananas, cottage cheese, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and legumes. A depletion of tryptophan has been shown to increase aggression in women during the premenstrual phase.
- Increase your intake of unsaturated fatty acids found in fish, avocado and raw unsalted nuts and seeds and their cold pressed oils, as these have an anti-inflammatory action and also help maintain proper hormonal balance.
- Many women find that including foods rich in phytoestrogens (or isoflavones) in their diet helps prevent PMS. The best dietary sources are flaxseed, alfalfa seeds and fermented-only soy products such as miso and tempeh.
- Decrease your intake of salt, as this can contribute to fluid retention. This is what causes breast tenderness and abdominal bloating and can contribute to headaches.
- Make sure you drink two litres of filtered water a day, as this will reduce fluid retention.
Supplements for PMS
Natural treatment for PMS including the use of targeted, specific nutritional supplements can offers tremendous relief from many PMS symptoms.
- Maintain optimum nutrient levels in your body by taking a woman’s multivitamin and mineral formula, preferably one containing vitamin B6, magnesium and calcium.
- Evening primrose oil may help to prevent symptoms of PMS such as breast tenderness.
- B Complex can help with mood imbalances, low energy and food cravings.
- High dose Vitamin B6 levels may be reduced due to the contraceptive pill. Vitamin B6 can be helpful for high prolactin, depression, anxiety, fluid retention and breast tenderness.
- Chromium helps to relieve blood sugar imbalance and may help to alleviate symptoms of sugar and carbohydrate cravings.
- Magnesium is an important mineral involved in the nervous system and in the relaxation of muscles. It can be used to help relieve irritability, fatigue, period cramps, cravings, blood sugar problems and fluid retention.
- Myo-inositol has been shown to have a positive effect on women with PMDD. This could be due to the fact that myo-inositol is the secondary messenger of serotonin.
NB. For best results, try these recommended supplements for a period of three months. These supplements are best taken under the care and guidance of your healthcare practitioner.
Herbs for PMS
Natural treatment for PMS also includes the use of herbs. The herbal medicine kingdom appears to have a herbal solution for many hormone problems, including PMS.
- Chaste tree (Vitex agnus-castus) is a herbal remedy which has been clinically proven to assist with hormonal balance and may prevent or reduce the symptoms of PMS when taken over several menstrual cycles. Chaste tree can help reduce high levels of prolactin, reduce skin breakouts, pre-menstrual mouth ulcers, and improve mood.
- Peonia (Peony) and licorice are wonderful hormone balancing herbs, especially for luteal phase defects (e.g. prolonged second-half of the cycle).
- Cramp Bark and Black Cohosh are antispasmodic herbs which may help relieve symptoms associated with cramping pain.
- St John’s Wort can help relieve mild to moderate depression and anxiety associated with PMS. It is important to take a standardised extract three times daily.
- Other nervine herbs such as Skullcap, Damiana, Oats and Lavender can help ease symptoms.
- Adrenal adaptogen herbs such as Siberian Ginseng and Withania help improve your ability to cope with stress and improve energy, vitality and wellbeing.
- Gymnema is the herb of choice for sweet cravings.
- Milk thistle, Schizandra and Rosemary improve liver detoxification, optimising hormonal balance.
NB. You should not take any of the above herbs if you are taking the oral contraceptive pill, fertility drugs, HRT or any other hormonal treatment or other medication unless they are recommended by a registered, experienced practitioner.
Lifestyle recommendations for PMS
- Make regular moderate exercise a habit. PMS symptoms tend to be more severe in women who do no exercise.
- To relieve cramps, try applying heat to the pelvic region by using a hot water bottle or taking a warm bath. This improves blood flow and relaxes muscles.
- Castor Oil Packs and Linseed Packs provide tremendous relief from period pain and menstrual cramping and bloating.
Other natural treatment for PMS
- Homoeopathic medicines – your homeopath or naturopath will prescribe the most appropriate remedy for you.
- Natural progesterone cream – the dose is dependent on your symptoms and imbalances.
- Castor oil packs – to help with pain, inflammation and swelling, as well as the detox process.
- Acupuncture – to facilitate the free flow of energy through the body.
- Aromatherapy – can assist and support the reproductive system, and gently contribute to rebalancing your hormones.
N.B. Severe PMS symptoms may indicate an underlying health condition such as endometriosis. If your PMS symptoms are severe, or are not relieved by the natural treatment for PMS suggested above, consult your healthcare professional.