You are not alone: millions of women suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms that include feelings of irritability, depression, breast pain, low back pain, abdominal bloating, swollen fingers and ankles, and sugar cravings.
PMS rears its nasty head up to 10 days before menstruation and ends, happily, within a few hours of its onset.
Natural medicine has looked at many ways to improve the symptoms and causes of PMS. Most of these include:
- a healthy diet
- regulating stress levels with exercise and relaxation time
- nutritional supplements and herbs to balance the female hormones preventing PMS. A multivitamin and mineral supplement will ensure you get a little bit of everything you need. You can then add the following nutrients in small does to help boost the nutrient support:
- Vitamin E and essential fatty acids: helpful for the breast symptoms associated with PMS and also the mood swings and irritability. Recent research, reported in the Reproductive Health journal showed a marked improvement among women who took 1g or 2g capsules of vitamin E and a combination of gamma linolenic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, and other polyunsaturated acids daily.
- Vitamin B6: this plays an important role in synthesising certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that control your mood and behaviour.
- Magnesium: a natural tranquiliser that helps with anxiety and tension. It is even more effective when taken with vitamin B6.
- GLA: Omega 6 essential fatty acids (linoleic acid) are converted to gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which is found in plants such as evening primrose, borage and starflower. A number of studies have shown that evening primrose oil (EPO) is effective in reducing the symptoms of PMS, particularly breast tenderness or fibrocystic breast disease.
- Vitex Agnus Castus: a valuable natural aid for PMS. In a controlled clinical trial using 20mg per day of a concentrated Vitex extract for three menstrual cycles, results showed reduction in most symptoms of PMS, including irritability, mood swings, headache, and breast tenderness. To read more about Vitex check our herbal section.
- (Robyn von Geusau, Health24, February 2011)