Are you tired of feeling bloated, emotional, crampy, tired, irritable, restless and more during the days leading up to your period? Well, you are not alone. Surveys show that 40% of the female population experience at least some symptoms of PMS. Learn 5 simple and natural ways you can help yourself feel better now.
1. Foods to Cut Out
Reduce sugar consumption. Overconsumption of sugar has been shown to make PMS worse. Excessive sugar intake may increase sodium and fluid retention while also negatively altering mood. Too much sugar in the diet also lowers important vitamin and mineral stores in the body including B vitamins, especially B6, vit. E, and magnesium, all of which may contribute to symptoms associated with PMS. Consider sugar alternatives like stevia, agave syrup, or xylitol.
Curb caffeine! Women who consume caffeine daily are more likely to have PMS due to hormonal changes in the body. Caffeine has been shown to make fibrocystic breast disease and PMS worse. Avoid it completely or reduce intake to 1 cup a day max!
Lose the Alcohol. Studies show that women who consume alcohol have a greater incidence of painful menstruation associated with PMS. Even women who consume less than 5 alcoholic beverages a week were shown to have lowered fertility. Cut alcohol consumption to rarely ever when trying to conceive.
2. Necessary Nutritional Supplements
Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 may be used as a hormone regulator. It also helps to regulate blood sugar levels, and has been shown to alleviate PMS in several studies. Vitamin B6 given in a dosage of 50 – 100mg daily in combination with a vitamin B complex supplement or in addition to a multivitamin for up to 6 months may help reduce PMS.
Vitamin E: Several double-blind clinical studies have been performed on vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) supplementation for the reduction of fibrocystic breast disease and premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Fibrocystic breast disease often becomes painful and the benign tumors swell with the onset of menstruation.
Studies indicate that women given 600 IU of vitamin E per day had a reduction in overall PMS symptoms, particularly fibrocystic breast disease. It appears the vitamin E normalizes hormone levels in both PMS and FBD patients.
Pycnogenol: Pycnogenol is an antioxidant plant extract from the bark of the French maritime pine tree. In 2002 Pycnogenol® was awarded a patent for greatly reducing symptoms associated with PMS, especially painful menstruation. Just supplementing with 30mg a day has shown to greatly reduce PMS symptoms.
Calcium & Magnesium: Many clinical trials suggest a positive relationship between calcium supplementation and reduction in PMS symptoms. Daily suggested supplementation of calcium is 1200-1600mg per day.
Several other studies have shown marked reduction in PMS symptoms including fluid retention, anxiety, painful menstruation, and muscle relaxation with magnesium supplementation at a daily dosage of 400 – 800mg a day.
Calcium and magnesium are best taken together for proper absorption.
3. Helpful Herbs
Dandelion leaf (Taraxicum officinale): Liver health is vital to hormonal balance and reduction in hormonal imbalances and fluid retention associated with PMS. Dandelion leaf is a gentle, yet effective diuretic and one of the only herbal diuretics that doesn’t deplete the body of potassium. Dandelion leaf is best consumed as a strong infusion. Daily suggested infusion is 4 to 10 grams dried Dandelion leaf steeped in 1 quart of water for 3-4 hours. Strain and drink 4 times a day.
Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus): Clinical research has shown that vitex may be very beneficial for PMS symptoms, especially depression, headaches, rashes, acne, allergies, and sensitivity of the breasts. In one study, improvement of PMS by the first month was experienced by 32% of the women. By the third month, 84% of the women experienced improvement of their PMS. Vitex has also been shown through several studies to reduce acne associated with PMS and hormonal imbalances. Daily suggested dose for capsules is 900 – 1,000mg a day or as a liquid tincture at 60-90 drops a day. Vitex is best taken first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca): This herb is a powerful herb that brings quick relief to women who have painful periods with symptoms like anxiety, rapid heartbeat, hot flashes, headache, dizziness, stress, and difficulty sleeping. Motherwort is very effective at reducing uterine muscle spasm, cramping and improving uterine tone. This herb contains the alkaloid leonurine, which has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle, making it an excellent choice for women with PMS that experience painful menstrual cramps. Daily suggested dosage of liquid extract for painful periods and PMS is 10-25 drops every 5 minutes and then every 2 hours, for next few days, or until pain has subsided. This method should only need to be used this way for up to 4 months in a row.
Lavender (Lavandula officinalis): This plant is well known and easily accessible. Lavender helps reduce anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and depression associated with PMS. Lavender may be used as a liquid extract or tea; alternatively, the essential oil of this plant can be used in an aromatherapy diffuser or in a massage oil.
Evening Primrose Oil (Oenothera biennis): There have been four double-blind, crossover, controlled trials, showing significant positive results in reducing PMS by using 3-4 grams of Evening Primrose Oil a day. Results show a marked improvement in the reduction of headaches, foggy thinking, clumsiness, depression, irritability, bloating, and breast tenderness. Daily suggested dosage is 1500 – 3000 mg once daily.
Skullcap (Scutellaria laterifolia): A wonderful stress reliever that helps to calm the chaos in the body and keep all systems working properly. Skullcap is a wonderful supportive herb for curbing the blues, irritability and anxiety, or other PMS mood related symptoms. Daily suggested dose is 30-60 drops, 3 times a day.
This traditional Chinese therapy has been shown in one study to successfully treat symptoms associated with PMS in 77.8% of the participants. Acupuncture treats the underlying organ and energetic pathway imbalances within the body which may be causing PMS. If you are wondering if acupuncture might be right for you, contact your local acupuncture clinic.
Acupuncture works to reduce PMS by:
- Increases relaxation and reduces tension
- Reduces serotonin levels while increasing endorphins
- Reduces inflammation
5. Say Yes to Yoga
A 10-month empirical study to evaluate the effectiveness of yoga for PMS showed that specific yoga postures significantly lower many of the symptoms associated with PMS. Yoga increases circulation and reduces fluid retention; the paced deep breathing helps bring much needed oxygen to the muscles of the uterus to reduce painful cramping.
Helpful yoga poses include:
- Cat pose
- Seated twist
- Wind pose
- Bow pose
- Reclining angle
- Crocodile pose
- Rag Doll
- Modified Cobra
- Childs pose
These poses are best done beginning 2 weeks prior to when your period is to begin. To see a video slide show of these poses, click here…
- Romm, A. J. (2010). Botanical medicine for women’s health. St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
- Rodriguez, H., C.H., CMT. (n.d.). Pine Bark Significantly Reduces Endometriosis, New Study Finds. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/pine-bark-significantly-reduces-endometriosis-new-study-finds.html
- Barton-Schuster, D., CH, Doula. (n.d.). Vitamin E Essential to Improve Fertility. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/vitamin-e-essential-to-improve-fertility.html
- Rodriguez, H., C.H., CMT. (n.d.). Vitex… Fertility Super Herb? Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/vitex
- Barton-Schuster, D., CH, Doula. (n.d.). Fertility Herb: Motherwort. Retrieved from: http://natural-fertility-info.com/fertility-herb-motherwort.html
- Habek, D., Habek, J. &., & Barbir, A. (2002). Using acupuncture to treat premenstrual syndrome. Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, 267(1), 23-26. doi:10.1007/s00404-001-0270-7. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00404-001-0270-7
- Bender, M. (n.d.). Yoga positions: Natural relief for PMS. Retrieved from: http://www.self.com/fitness/workouts/2007/06/pms-relief-yoga-moves-slideshow#