Did you know that 85% of menstruating people have had some symptoms of Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)?
Did you know that 85% of menstruating people have had some symptoms of Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and 5% of people have reported having severe symptoms that affect their daily life, known as Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)?
PMS and PMDD both have physical and psychological symptoms that often occur a week or two before your period is due to begin. Symptoms can include
- Mood changes
- Breast tenderness
- Changes in appetite
- Changes in skin - greasy or spots
So, we know that PMS and PMDD affect people’s lives, but what can we do about it?
Your diet can have an impact on your PMS symptoms. It is advised that, if you are using medication to treat your PMS, changing your lifestyle can still play a part in improving your symptoms.
Things you can do:
- Eat smaller portions more frequently as this can reduce bloating and the sensation of being full
- Limit salty foods as this can also reduce bloating
- Choose foods high in calcium by eating dairy. If you are unable to eat dairy then try a supplement
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol
Exercise, relaxation techniques, and getting enough sleep can help reduce anxiety and headaches which people may experience leading up to, and during, their period due to PMS.
It has been reported that acupuncture may help relieve PMS symptoms.
Herbal Remedies For PMS
So, what if you don’t want to use prescription medications and you’d like to explore herbal treatments? There are a range of herbal tablets that people have suggested may work in reducing PMS symptoms. However, there is little evidence into the effects that herbal remedies have on PMS symptoms. Plus, herbal remedies are not regulated by the Food & Drug Administration.
Despite this, 4% of people with periods who buy supplements do so to help with their PMS symptoms.
Some women who have tried herbal treatments such as ginkgo, ginger, and chasteberry (Vitex Agnus-Castus), evening primrose, vitamin supplements, and St John’s Wort, have reported that they have helped with their symptoms.
- Ginkgo may reduce breast tenderness and mood changes
- Dandelion leaf may help stomach bloating
- Chasteberry (Vitex Agnus- Castus) may help with breast pain as it suppresses the release of prolactin, a hormone involved in breast milk production
- Chasteberry (Vitex Agnus- Castus) may also help with swelling, cramps, and food cravings
- Chasteberry (Vitex Agnus- Castus) combined with St John’s Wort may lower levels of depression, anxiety, and cravings
- Evening primrose oil contains gamma-linolenic acid which may reduce breast pain
- Magnesium and vitamin B6 may help with breast pain, fluid retention, and mood changes
Herbal treatments can also have an effect on other medications that you may be taking, such as the contraceptive pill, antibiotics, and prescription drugs, so make sure you check with a doctor or herbalist first.
It’s important to remember that different options work for different people. It may also be that it takes you a few attempts to find the right treatment/s for your PMS.
Recording your symptoms and how various treatment options work for you is a helpful way of remembering what has and hasn’t worked for you.
It’s important to stress that little scientific research has been done on treating PMS and further study is needed to fully understand the impact of someone’s diet, lifestyle, medications, and herbal remedies on PMS.
We would advise you to talk to your doctor about your PMS before deciding upon how to treat it, especially herbal remedies, as they can interfere with other medications you may be taking.