Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects most women at least occasionally. Symptoms can occur anytime in the two weeks prior to menstruation. Symptoms include bloating and water retention, breast tenderness, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, depressed mood, insomnia, fatigue, food cravings and weight gain, headaches, as well as joint and muscle aches. Different women are affected in different ways, and symptoms often vary from one month to the next. Because the problem is so global, treating PMS requires a comprehensive plan.
Treating PMS Naturally
The first step in treating PMS naturally is making lifestyle changes. Keeping a regular sleep schedule and getting adequate amounts of sleep is important in reducing the symptoms of PMS. Exercise is another critical component. A minimum of thirty minutes of exercise a day, five days a week, has been shown to considerably improve many of the symptoms of PMS, especially those related to mood. Exercise reduces stress and increases endorphin production. Endorphin are chemicals produced by the body that reduce pain and elevate mood. Finally, a well-balanced diet is critical to controlling PMS symptoms. Whole grains reduce food cravings and balance blood sugar to reduce fatigue and mood swings. Drinking plenty of water will reduce bloating and water retention. Including plenty of fruits and veggies in your diet will ensure that you get the many vitamins and minerals your body needs to function optimally.
Vitamins and Minerals
Several vitamins and minerals have been shown to be very beneficial in treating and preventing PMS:
- Vitamin E. Studies have shown that getting plenty of vitamin E helps reduce PMS symptoms. Vitamin E is also a powerful antioxidant and has many other health benefits, so including it in your diet can only have a positive effect.
- Vitamin B-6. Vitamin B-6 can relieve many of the symptoms of PMS, including depressed mood. However, B-6 intake should be carefully regulated, since too much can be harmful. Make sure that you are not taking multiple supplements containing B-6, and that your total daily dosage does not exceed 100 milligrams.
- Magnesium. Magnesium helps reduce water retention and bloating. When paired with B-6, it is also effective in regulating mood.
- Calcium. Calcium supplements help with all the symptoms of PMS except fatigue and insomnia. It also helps your body absorb and utilize magnesium.
Several different herbs have been used to treat PMS. Some of the most common include:
- Chaste tree berry extract. This herb is said to balance hormonal fluctuations associated with PMS. Evidence from a recent British study indicates that chaste berry extract provides relief from symptoms and causes few side effects.
- Evening primrose oil. The oil of the evening primrose has been used for centuries to alleviate symptoms of PMS. Many alternative practitioners recommend it to their patients.
- Dandelion leaf extract. Dandelion leaf is a natural diuretic. Many people also claim it cleanses the blood and helps relieve headaches and nausea.