Monday, April 28, 2014

Treating PMS Naturally

There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with PMS, but natural remedies can help alleviate them.

Woman enjoys beach sunset.

The internet is full of jokes about premenstrual syndrome (PMS), but for many women PMS is no laughing matter. Approximately 80 percent of menstruating women have PMS symptoms and 5 percent are incapacitated by severe symptoms on a monthly basis.

There are a wide variety of symptoms associated with PMS, including bloating, irritability, forgetfulness, insomnia, headaches, fatigue and increase in appetite. Natural remedies can help alleviate these symptoms.

Causes of PMS

There are a variety of factors that can cause symptoms of PMS:

  • Nutrient deficiencies – especially B vitamins, essential fatty acids and magnesium
  • Hormonal dysregulation – particularly estrogen, progesterone, prolactin and thyroid hormones
  • Stress – exacerbates hormonal imbalance because of an increase in cortisol
  • Blood glucose irregularities – causing mood swings, bloating and other symptoms

Treat PMS Naturally

The first step in dealing with PMS is working on the foundations of your health. This means eating a clean diet, getting at least 8 hours of sleep per night, drinking enough water for your activity level, practicing stress management and getting regular exercise. Here are some more specific treatments for PMS while you are working on your health foundations:

Botanical medicine – these can be helpful for symptom relief and balancing hormones

  • Vitex agnus-castus
  • Cimicifuga racemosa
  • Passiflora incarnata
  • Withania somnifera
  • Paeonia

Supplemental nutrients:

  • B vitamins – particularly vitamin B6
  • Essential fatty acids and evening primrose oil
  • Magnesium

Dietary guidelines

Increase:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Cold water fish
  • Nuts and seeds

Decrease:

  • Processed foods
  • Salt, sugar, fat
  • Caffeine

Homeopathy: Consider specific homeopathic medicine that matches your unique symptom picture and personality. Your menstrual cycle need not be a time for joking, but a time for reflection and introspection. Simple changes to your lifestyle and perhaps a few supportive nutrients and botanical or homeopathic medicines can make a big difference with your monthly cycles. Consider making an appointment with a naturopathic doctor to discuss specific treatments tailored for you.

For more information, see avivaromm.com/pms.

— By Emily Lesnak, naturopathic doctor and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health.

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