Coping with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

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PMS is a set of physical and/or behavioural symptoms that can occur up to 14 days before menstruation.

Physical symptoms can include: acne, abdominal bloating, water retention, breast pain and/or swelling, appetite changes, cravings, headaches, insomnia, constipation and backache.

Behavioural symptoms can include: anxiety, depression, increased irritability, anger, concentration problems and emotional sensitivity. Some women experience premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) which is a severe form of premenstrual mood disorder.

PMS is more common in women in their late 20s and 30s. It is thought to be due to hormone fluctuations and changes in neurotransmitters in the brain.

The good news is that there are herbal medicines and nutritional supplements clinically proven to help sufferers of PMS. It’s not something that is just part of being a menstruating woman!

Vitex agnus-castus- Chaste tree is a herb that has been extensively studied and has demonstrated beneficial results in the reduction of PMS symptoms. There are also many other herbal medicines that will help to reduce specific physical and emotional PMS symptoms.

Magnesium is a useful mineral in PMS helping to relieve symptoms of mood and fluid retention.

Vitamin E is also beneficial in helping breast tenderness and emotional tension and irritability.

A healthy diet is also important in treating PMS. Avoiding a diet high in dairy products, refined sugars, sodium foods and caffeine can be beneficial. Drinking plenty of water and herbal teas is essential. Eating small frequent meals to regulate blood sugar levels will assist your hormonal levels.

Regular exercise is essential to reduce PMS. Being your optimum weight will reduce your PMS symptoms. A BMI (body mass index) of >30 will predispose a woman to PMS.

Charting your cycle is important. A sense of control and understanding around your menstrual cycle can be achieved by being aware of when you are approaching your ‘danger time’. Steps can be taken to ensure that ‘that time of the month’ is not one of dread. For example, the premenstrual time may be the time that you schedule a massage, some pampering or just some time out to nurture yourself.

As with any health issue, the best results are achieved when using natural therapies including herbal medicine by consulting a qualified and experienced practitioner. Your symptoms and cycles can be assessed and effective treatments can be specifically prescribed for you.

Be well,

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