If you’re like most women on earth, you have a 'hate-hate' relationship with PMS. Seriously, what’s to like about pre-menstrual syndrome, with its ugly calling cards – mood swings, bloating, uncontrollable food cravings and irrational crying fits? All told, the condition describes a collection of more than 150 symptoms that can strike the week before your period, due to an imbalance of oestrogen and progesterone levels.
Compounding the hormonal plunge are factors such as stress, insufficient sleep and unhealthy eating, says hormone researcher Lorraine Pintus, author of Jump Off The Hormone Swing. But don’t automatically raid the medicine cabinet – no matter what your symptoms, you may be able to find a fix with these alternative therapies
BEST FOR: mood swings, sore breasts, cramps, headaches, acne
Introducing the new premenstrual superstars: vitamin E and essential fatty acids, according to a study in Reproductive Health. Women who swallowed the two every day for six months saw major PMS improvements, possibly because both nutrients interact with prostaglandin receptors (prostaglandins are the hormones believed to cause fierce cramps). A daily multivitamin should supply you with the 15mg of E you need, and you can pop a daily fish-oil capsule to get your fatty acids. Vitamin B6, magnesium and calcium – the mineral you get from a diet full of leafy greens, almonds and yoghurt – may help prevent a number of PMS symptoms, according to Dr Erika Coertzen, a Limpopobased integrative medical doctor and homeopath. Aim for about 1 300mg of calcium a day.
BEST FOR: cramps, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, nausea
Finally, a prick you can love. Research shows acupuncture is brilliant at treating PMS. One study found that acupuncture quelled symptoms in 78 percent of women. Though Western doctors still don’t quite understand how it works, they believe acupuncture may increase circulation and elevate endorphins, which enhance mood and alleviate pain. Most women experience PMS relief within 24 hours after a session, so depending on your reaction, you could get treated once a month in the week before your period.
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