Your Guide to Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

The fluctuations of mood and personality that many women experience prior to menstruation are often the subject of humor and parody.  But for millions of women, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is no laughing matter.  PMS can cause serious emotional and physical pain and make life nearly unbearable for several days every month.

Premenstrual syndrome is a collection of physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms related to a woman's menstrual cycle. The most common signs and symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome include: An estimated three of every four menstruating women experience some form of premenstrual syndrome. These problems are more likely to trouble women between their late 20s and early 40s, and they tend to recur in a predictable pattern. Yet the physical and emotional changes experienced with premenstrual syndrome may be particularly intense in some months and only slightly noticeable in others.

Exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but several factors may contribute to the condition.  Cyclic changes in hormones seem to be an important cause, because signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome change with hormonal fluctuations and also disappear with pregnancy and menopause.  In addition, fluctuations of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that is thought to play a crucial role in mood states, could trigger the symptoms.

Diet Tips

Calcium-rich foods may help reduce a woman's likelihood of developing PMS Magnesium helps to reduce bloating and breast tenderness associated with PMS

Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems. Some women with severe premenstrual syndrome have undiagnosed depression, though depression alone does not cause all of the symptoms. Stress also may aggravate some of the symptoms, but alone it is not a cause.

Natural Solutions
PMS symptoms can be treated effectively with herbs.  Rehemannia smoothes the symptoms of hot flashes in peri-menopause. Dong quai is high in natural plant estrogens called phytosterols and helps to reduce the symptoms of estrogen deficiency.  Dong quai is beneficial for promoting blood flow to the reproductive organs, relieving menstrual cramps and regulating uterine contractions. Epimedium (Horny goat weed) helps regulate mood swings, depression, and libido. Cornus officinalis treats excessive sweating and heavy menstrual bleeding.  Poria cocoa has a soothing and tranquilizing effect on the nervous system and can be helpful in treating tension, anxiety and insomnia.

PMS Formula Types




Chinese Herbal Formula Rehmannia Glutinosa, Dong Quai, Atractylodes Macrocephala, Codonopsis Pilosula, White Peony, Poria Cocos, Ligusticum, Licorice
European Herbal Formula Shepherd's Purse, Cramp Bark, Blessed Thistle, False Unicorn Root, Goldenseal Root, Squawvine, Uva Ursi
Japanese Herbal Formula Cinnamomum Cortex, Clove Floral Bud, Goldthread Rhizome, Licorice, Polyporus, Peach Kernel, Tree Peony Bark
Phyto Formula Soy Isoflavone, Mexican Wild Yam, Dong Quai, Black Cohosh, Borage Oil

In addition, eat smaller, less salty meals to reduce bloating and fluid retention.  Eat whole foods.  Avoid smoking, caffeine and alcohol.  Exercise regularly to improve mood.  Get plenty of sleep.  Practice yoga or other muscle relaxing techniques to reduce stress.

What to do

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