Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

premenstrual syndrome PMS woman suffering from PMS
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

By Dr. Pamela Frank, BSc(Hons), ND, Licensed Naturopathic Doctor

You live with PMS symptoms because you are a woman, strong and stoic, but did you know that PMS does not have to be a fact of life every month? Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), affects 75 – 90% of women at some point, making it very common, but it is certainly not healthy.  PMS is defined as a collection of symptoms that typically occur for one to two weeks before menstruation, followed by improvement for 2-3 weeks and may include the following:

  • Acne
  • Anxiety
  • Backaches
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Constipation
  • Cramping
  • Crying spells
  • Depression
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Emotional hypersensitivity
  • Excessive hunger
  • Food cravings
  • Forgetfulness
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Irritability
  • Low energy
  • Joint pains
  • Low libido
  • Mood swings
  • Tender, swollen breasts
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Water retention
  • Weight gain
  • Withdrawal

Naturopathic Treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Address the root cause of the problem; don’t settle for just easing symptoms. PMS is caused by nutrient deficiencies, blood sugar instability, hormonal imbalances and/or hormone fluctuations throughout a woman’s menstrual cycle.

  1. Plastics, pollutants and animal fats can contain hormones or hormone-like chemicals.  To avoid them:
  • Eat lots of organic fruit and vegetables
  • Eat organic meats and dairy products (if desired)
  • Store food and drinks in glass containers
  • Avoid petroleum based personal care products like baby oil, foundation and lipstick
  1. B vitamins help the liver metabolize estrogen, support the adrenals (your stress glands) and help produce serotonin, a mood elevating hormone.
  2. Vitex, also known as Chastetree berry, has a progesterone enhancing effect that offsets excess estrogen that can cause PMS. I do not recommend self-medicating with herbs; seek advice from a qualified naturopathic doctor.
  3. Improve the liver’s ability to detoxify and eliminate excess hormones and all toxins (not through the kits found at health food stores!).
  4. Stabilize blood sugar levels through exercise, healthy diet and supplements like chromium, vanadium and cinnamon.
  5. Magnesium helps relax muscle tension and supports healthy serotonin production.  Serotonin is a mood elevating neurotransmitter that can help you feel more upbeat.
  6. Fish oil and evening primrose oil can help balance prostaglandin production.  Prostaglandins can have an inflammatory or an anti-inflammatory effect, the key is a healthy balance of essential fatty acids.

These are just a few of the many means that I use as a naturopathic doctor to normalize hormones and ensure month-long health and happiness.

PMS & Natural Medicine Research

Vitex agnus castus: Vitex agnus castus extract in women with premenstrual syndrome was found to decrease symptom severity.
Source: Phytomedicine. 2012 Nov 15;19(14):1325-31. Epub 2012 Sep 28.

Vitex agnus castus: Vitex agnus castus extract was found to be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for the relief of mild to moderate PMS symptoms.
Source: Acta Med Iran. 2012;50(2):101-6.

Evening Primrose Oil: Current evidence suggests that oral evening primrose oil is likely ineffective for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome.
Source: American Family Physician, Volume 80, Issue 12, pages 1405-1408, Decemeber 2009.

Magnesium: A study found that supplementation with magnesium and vitamin B6 led to the greatest decrease in PMS symptoms.
Source: Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research, Volume 15, Issue 1, pages 401-405, December 2010.

Vitex agnus-castus: In 7/8 trials with premenstrual syndrome patients, Vitex extracts were found to be superior to placebo, pyridoxine, and magnesium oxide at dealing with the symptoms.
Source: Planta Med. 2012 Nov 7.

Omega-3s: Taking a daily omega-3 supplement led to a reduction in PMS symptoms including decreased severity and duration of depression, anxiety, lack of concentration and bloating.
Source: Complementary Therapies in Medicine Jan 2013 (In press).

Zinc: Low dietary intake of zinc has been identified as a possible risk factor for the development of PMS.
Source: Am. J. Epidemiol. (2013) doi: 10.1093/aje/kws363

Iron: Low dietary intake of iron has been identified as a possible risk factor for the development of PMS.
Source: Am. J. Epidemiol. (2013) doi: 10.1093/aje/kws363

Omega-3s: Supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids was found to decrease severity of depression, anxiety, lack of concentration and bloating in individuals with PMS.

Source: Complement Ther Med. 2013 Jun;21(3):141-6

Chamomile: Supplementation with chamomile extract was found to be more effective at reducing the intensity of emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome than mefenamic acid.  Source: Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice October 2013

Oral Contraceptives/Birth Control Pills for PMS

Vitamin E and C: Supplementation with Vitamins E and C may be beneficial in reducing the risk of oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease in those taking low dose oral contraceptives.
Source: Contraception, 2012 April 9

Vitamin C: Vitamin C supplementation may be beneficial in reducing the risk of oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease in those taking low dose oral contraceptives.
Source: Contraception, 2012 April 9

Vitamin E: Vitamin E supplementation may be beneficial in reducing the risk of oxidative stress and cardiovascular disease in those taking low dose oral contraceptives.
Source: Contraception, 2012 April 9

St. John’s Wort: St. John’s wort can decrease levels of ethinyl estradiol contained in birth control pills by 15% leading to decreased pill effectiveness.
Source: Complementary Prescriptions Journal, Vol.26, Issue 12, Dec. 2012

Vitamins: Oral contraceptive administration was found to decrease nutrient status of vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate and zinc.
Source: Complementary Prescriptions Journal, Vol.26, Issue 12, Dec. 2012

DISCLAIMER: The information provided here may not apply precisely to your individual situation. Diagnostic and therapeutic choices must always be tailored to the individual patient’s circumstances, and consultation with a licensed naturopathic physician should be undertaken before following any of the treatment strategies suggested in this web site.

 

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