Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

You are probably suffering from PMS if you are experiencing decreased energy levels, tension, irritability, depression, headache, altered sex drive, breast pain, backache, abdominal bloating, oedema of the fingers and ankles, insomnia, crying spells, low self-esteem or food cravings 7-14 days before menstruation with relief at the onset of menses.

Definition

In order to be diagnosed with PMS you will need to:

  1. Have at least one physical and one psychological complaint.
  2. Symptoms must begin 2 weeks or so before menses and relieved with the onset of menses and occur regularly with each cycle.
  3. The symptoms are severe enough to interfere with daily functioning.

Statistics

Up to 85% of all women experienced PMS symptoms during their reproductive years but around 20-40% of these women have symptoms severe enough to classify them as having premenstrual syndrome and only 5-10% of them are significantly inflicted by this.

Aetiology

What causes PMS is not absolutely defined. There are many mechanisms at play, however there are common hormonal patterns among PMS patients compared to women who have no symptoms of PMS. The initial finding is that the ratio of oestrogen to progesterone is increased 5-10 days before menses. Further review of endocrinological studies has led to the popularity of recent theories such as altered serotonergic function, altered endorphin secretion, and/or altered melatonin secretion. Nutritional and prostaglandin imbalances have also been studied and hypothyroidism and/or elevated prolactin levels are common.

Naturopathic Treatment

Chaste Tree

VitexVitex agnus-castus commonly known as Chaste tree is probably the most widely used herb for the treatment of PMS. Studies have indicated that it acts on the hypothalamic-pituitary axis and on dopamine D2 receptors to decrease prolactin levels and therefore help with the symptoms of breast tenderness.Scientific research has also shown that Chaste tree normalises progesterone levels after 3 months’ treatment and alleviates the symptoms of PMS, especially, breast tenderness, irritability, depressed mood, anger, mood changes, headache and constipation (Braun & Cohen, 2007). Moreover, Chaste tree is indicated for menstrual irregularities, particularly when low progesterone levels and luteal phase defects such as hyperprolactinaemia, are present. It normalises menstruation in women with shortened, lengthened or infrequent menstruation.

Dong Quai

Angelica sinensisAngelica sinensis commonly known as Dong quai, has been traditionally used for gynaecological ailments including menstrual irregularities and cramps, retarded flow, PMS and menopausal symptoms. It relaxes and stimulates the uterus at the same time producing a balancing effect and it also has a mild sedative effect on the central nervous system.

Studies have found that vitamin B6 may also be effective in reducing the symptoms of PMS. It is a natural diuretic by suppressing aldosterone levels and it decreases oestrogen levels while increasing progesterone levels. In combination with Magnesium supplementation it is found to work synergistically to reduce anxiety-related PMS such as nervous tension, mood swings, irritability and anxiety.

Due to the many variations in symptoms of PMS, a careful history of the person is needed to individualize the treatment and maximize a successful outcome. Best results occur with a treatment triad of diet, exercise, and appropriate herbs.

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About Naturopathy by Savvas Ioannides
Savvas Ioannides is a Naturopathic, Herbal and GAPS Diet practitioner who studied at Nature Care College in Sydney. Savvas uses holistic and natural therapies including Herbal remedies and Nutrition to boost your vitality and help you achieve optimum levels of health.

2 Responses to Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)

  1. Pingback: Dong quai (Angelica sinensis) | Naturopathy by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

  2. Pingback: Chaste Tree (Vitex agnus-castus) | Naturopathy by Savvas Ioannides N.D.

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