Premenstrual syndrome (or PMS) is the name given to the physical, psychological and behavioural symptoms that can occur in the two weeks before a woman’s monthly period. Another name for the occurrence is premenstrual tension (PMT).
It is easy to say, as a fellow sufferer, PMS can be extremely irritating and uncomfortable for us ladies. From snapping at someone over something incredibly insignificant, to crying when you drop your phone or feeling like you’ve gained magically gained a 6kg (a stone) in weight. Not to mention the headaches, acne and just feeling all round icky -it’s safe to say PMS is not fun!
The symptoms of PMS include, but are not limited to:
- Breast pain / tenderness
- Mood swings
- Crying spells
- Feeling irritable
- Loss of interest in sex
- Feeling tired
- Appetite changes or food craving
- Joint or muscle pain
- Trouble with concentration or memory
- Anxiety and / or depression
- Pain and discomfort in the abdomen (tummy) area
- Fluid retention
- Weight gain (up to 1kg)
- Decreased self-esteem
These symptoms usually improve when or a few days after your period begins. Nearly all women of childbearing age have some premenstrual symptoms, although women in their 20s to 40s are most likely to experience PMS. With around 1 in 20 women having symptoms severe enough to interfere with normal everyday life. This can also be the result of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) however.
You should see your local GP if you are finding it difficult to deal with the symptoms of PMS. They can help determine if you have PMDD, and may be able to offer advice and treatment to manage the symptoms you are experiencing.
The exact cause of PMS is not fully understood, however, it is thought to be linked to the changing levels of hormones in the body during a woman’s menstrual cycle. The fact that PMS improves during pregnancy and after menopause, when hormone levels are relatively stable supports this theory.
Certain lifestyle factors are thought to aggravate the symptoms of PMS, these factors include:
- A lack of exercise or being overweight: research has shown you are more likely to suffer from PMS if you are overweight and take part in little exercise.
- Stress: You may find the symptoms of PMS worsen if you are stresses, although this may not be a direct cause it can aggravate the symptoms.
- A poor diet: Eating too much of some foods and too little of others can contribute to PMS symptoms. Too much salty food may make you feel bloated as well as caffeine and alcohol resulting in disrupted energy levels and mood. Low levels of the correct vitamins and minerals may also make your PMS symptoms more acute too.
- Lack of sleep: A lack of sleep can also affect your PMS symptoms negatively as the body is unable to function at it’s optimum points, causing symptoms such as forgetfulness, tiredness and confusion to be impacted.
Certain lifestyle changes may help you to manage your symptoms if they are not severe. These changes include, but are not limited to:
- A healthy all-rounded diet
- Regular sleep patterns and enough sleep each night
- Regular exercise to improve both health and fitness
- Learning techniques to help relieve stress and methods implemented to avoid stressful situations and environments
- A lowered consumption of caffeine and alcohol
Psychological therapy or hormone medications may be recommended by your physician in more severe and disruptive situations.
However, there are certain home remedies that can also be implemented in order to improve various symptoms of PMS. These remedies include anything from taking supplements to simple relaxation techniques to help you cope day to day with managing your symptoms at home. This article is dedicated to helping you discovered these remedies and offering help to fellow sufferers of PMS. So, here is our list of the best remedies you can follow in order to squash your PMS symptoms!
B-vitamins can help to increase serotonin and dopamine levels. By increasing these levels of “feel-good” neurotransmitters this should result in improved symptoms of PMS. Serotonin is involved in mood, memory and sleep, deficiencies can cause irritability, forgetfulness, insomnia, anxiety, low level depression and moodiness which are all common factors when suffering from PMS. Therefore, by increasing the body’s serotonin levels this should have the desired effect on a woman’s symptoms of the syndrome.
These vitamins should also boost energy and aid in healthy muscle function. Some of the best sources of b-vitamins are leafy greens, quinoa, beans such as chickpeas and kidney beans, almonds, pecans, bananas and whole grains.
Caffeine can increase levels of adrenaline and cortisol, which can lead to food cravings, anxiety and irritability. Instead of pumping your body full of these PMS symptom inducers try sipping on decaffeinated herbal teas to help relax and relieve common physical and emotional symptoms of PMS.
Here is a list of some of our favourite PMS symptom squashing teas:
- Chamomile tea: Because it contains properties that aid in relieving muscles spasms, chamomile tea is an ideal choice for those who suffer from painful menstrual cramps. Drinking this particular tea may also help reduce tensions that can lead to anxiety and stress.
- Dandelion tea: Drinking a few cups a day of this tea can result in relief from bloating, water retention and menstrual cramps alike.
- Red raspberry leaf: Packed full of naturally occurring calcium, raspberry tea can help to regulate hormones in the body and like many other of our herbals teas on this list ease symptoms of PMS such as cramping and depression.
- Chasteberry and skullcap teas can balance hormones and relieve other physical symptoms such as tension perfectly when combined.
- Feverfew eases headaches and can start your menstruation flow if a little assistance is necessary.
- Guelder rose tea is used to relieve cramps. By easing pain, water retention and pressure within the body.
- Hops, which are known for their role in producing beer, can aid in easing physical symptoms such as fluid retention. While helping a woman to fall asleep -therefore it is best to drink this particular tea before bedtime. Hops also may play a role in alleviating anxiety and nervousness.
Women who practise meditation or other relaxation methods are able to reduce many PMS symptoms. Relaxation decreases cortisone levels, helping to balance your biochemistry, and reduces inflammation in the body which should in turn benefit any cramps you may be suffering from.
Gentle yoga postures can ease specific aches and cramps. Simple breathing techniques which accompany the yoga poses allow for relief from PMS and subside any emotional turbulences.
- The cat pose, also called the marjari asan, relaxes the spine and abdomen.
- The child pose calms the nervous system.
- The cobra is fantastic for blood circulation while relaxing the back.
- Bow pose is ideal for menstrual discomforts and aids in removing fatigue.
- The fish stretched the chest and neck which releases any tension.
- The corpse pose may be sadly named, however this posture can bring a deep, meditative state of rest to the practicer. Releasing built up stress and tension.
No rigorous exercise or postures should be performed during this period as they can obstruct the menstrual flow. It is recommended to practise only gentle postures that help assuage any discomforts and relax both mentally and physically. Learning from a yoga teacher is the best way to find what postures are best for you, tailored to your specific issues when experiencing PMS, and to ensure you practise these positions correctly to avoid injury.
Evening Primrose Oil
Some women find that taking around 3g of evening primrose oil per day can quell their PMS symptoms. The symptoms evening primrose has been claimed to reduce or eradicate are: depression, menstrual cramps, irritability, acne, anxiety, headache, breast pain, fluid retention and even irregular periods.
Benefits of evening primrose oil:
- Women around the world take this in supplement form to naturally treat the symptoms of PMS due to the oil’s essential fatty acid content. Getting enough of these essential fatty acids is shown to support overall hormonal function throughout the body.
- Can aid in treating hormonal acne.
- Can halt hair loss and aid in healthy regrowth or simply keep your hair healthy and happy.
- Evening primrose oil has been proven to be a valuable treatment choice for individuals suffering from skin conditions such as eczema and atopic dermatitis. Studies have shown this oil can help with age-related structural and functional changes in skin tissues such as firmness, redness and fatigue resistance (including black circles under the eyes).
You can take evening primrose oil as a supplement form in a capsule or apply directly to the body. For most users of evening primrose oil having it as part of a supplement is the best and most effective way of administrating the PMS aid. Although, rubbing the oil onto sore breasts during the menstrual cycle has been noted to provide some relief for many. As well as rubbing the oil onto your abdomen for menstrual pains / cramps too.
“A study at St. Thomas Hospital in London found that when PMS sufferers were given evening primrose oil three times daily, 67% of the participants were symptom-free and 22% achieved partial relief. In all total, 89% had positive results with the evening primrose oil.”
Those tiny hair-thin needles (that don’t actually hurt as much as you’d think) penetrate your body to help improve circulation and blood-flow, while inducing a state of mind that is relaxed and calm, bringing your body and it’s hormone back in balance.
Clinical research has shown that acupuncture is one of the best ways to treat PMS symptoms.
One study found that 78% women who underwent acupuncture treatment experienced less PMS symptoms within the first 24 hours of their first treatment.
Acupuncture is best for: cramps, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and nausea.
Get plenty omega-3s
Omega-3 rich food such as wild salmon, flaxseeds, pumpkin, butter, walnuts and pastured-organic eggs (with the yolks), can really help to balance out hormone levels in the body.
Fermented cod liver oil is another great way to provide the body with all the omega-3 it needs as it is nature’s best source of omega-3 fatty essential acids, as well as vitamin D and preformed vitamin A. Take one teaspoon daily for best results -although we know it tastes awful, so try your best!
Fluid retention, a particularly annoying symptom of PMS, builds up as a result of fluctuating hormone levels and can make you feel just awful! Nutrients such as potassium, calcium, magnesium and both vitamins B and C act as natural diuretics, relieving bloat. By snacking on bananas, fennel, celery, tomatoes and watercress pre-period you can help relieve this PMS symptom.
For women who have PMS-related pain issues such as cramping, headaches, breast tenderness and backaches nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers (NSAIDs) can provide some relief.
These painkillers include ibuprofen (Advil and similar drugs) and naproxen (Aleve).
Birth control / alternative birth control methods.
If you are not already using some form of birth control that you are happy with, considering low-dose oral contraceptives which can reduce PMS symptoms as well as possibly curing irregular or heavy periods. These medications work to even out hormones over the course of a woman’s cycle.
Some women, such as myself, even take their oral contraceptive continuously to avoid periods and reduce the symptoms of PMS. However, consult your doctor before choosing to do this as this may not be a suitable method for you personally.
Note: continuously taking the oral contraceptive can lead to breakthrough bleeding, in which case it would be wise to have a period at the next opportunity. I, personally, suffer this every 3 months and thus have my period once every 3 months.
Magnesium supports hundreds of reactions in the body and often contributes to better sleep (which is great for your hormones). Magnesium supplements are the most effective option for those with damaged digestive tracts or severe deficiencies when treating PMS symptoms such as cramping.
Excessive exercise is not recommended in alleviating PMS symptoms as this can actually mess with your body’s hormone levels. Instead, participate in around 30 minutes per day (when convenient) of light to moderate exercise including activities such as: walking, swimming or cycling.
Exercise can help to boost the body’s metabolism, help you to stay healthy, encourage serotonin production and release, relieve premenstrual cramps / pains as well as making you more alert and wakeful. Therefore, can be a brilliant (plus cheap and easy) aid in helping your premenstrual syndrome symptoms.
Take 1,200 mg of calcium before bed or take two Tums (which contain calcium) after every meal. This mineral reduces headaches, mood swings and muscle cramps for the taker. Calcium also helps in making you sleepy, which (if you struggle with insomnia as a symptom of PMS) is one reason to take such a large dosage before bed.
If you are unsure whether or not you need to take calcium always consult your physician for advice.
We know PMS can be unsightly, infuriating and downright difficult to live with for both the sufferer and everyone around and prescription medications don’t always do the job effectively enough. That’s why we’ve compiled this comprehensive list of remedies to squash your PMS symptoms -hopefully for good! From meditation and yoga to magnesium and calcium supplements we have covered every angle of possible treatments.
If you are unsure about taking any of these treatments / remedies, please do consult your doctor before proceeding, discussing with them the most appropriate method for you as an individual in treating any PMS symptoms you may have. Every woman suffers differently and has their own particular PMS-related symptoms, so please do not be discouraged if one of these remedies does not work for you specifically as it may not be best suited to your case. Read the descriptions thoroughly in order to determine which is most appropriate for yourself.
Feel free to let us know which one of these remedies works best for you, or if perhaps we’ve missed one (we hope not!). We here at Balance Me Beautiful always look forward to hearing from our readers, so leave a comment below!
Thanks for reading.