Premenstrual syndrome, commonly known as PMS, is the name for the grouping of symptoms that many women experience in the days leading up to menstruation. These symptoms can include any combination of fatigue, abdominal cramps, back pain, breast tenderness, low mood, irritability, anxiety, digestive issues, headaches, and insomnia. 1 The following natural approaches can help to reduce these symptoms.
If you experience severe premenstrual symptoms to the point where they interfere with your day-to-day life, you may be experiencing premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) and you should speak to a healthcare professional.2 Additionally, prolonged bleeding or frequent periods should also be assessed by a licensed healthcare provider.
Research shows that valerian root may help to reduce physical symptoms and low mood caused by PMS. 3 Evening primrose oil is particularly popular for treating PMS symptoms and many people find that it helps them, although further studies need to be conducted to determine its effectiveness. 4 Herbal supplements can be taken as tinctures or capsules. Speak to a naturopathic doctor before beginning usage of any herbal supplements.
Many people experience low mood and anxious feelings with PMS. Studies show that regular meditation practice boosts mood and reduces anxiety. 5 Meditation also improves sleep quality and can help with PMS-related insomnia. 6 Integrating a meditation practice into your regular routine does not have to be time-consuming or difficult. There are a number of quick, simple mindfulness meditation techniques you can use no matter how busy your schedule may be. See this blog post to learn more.
Studies suggest that acupuncture can help to ease physical pain caused by PMS, especially cramps. 7 Cramping and abdominal pain from PMS is caused by excess prostaglandin, a hormone that helps the uterus to contract in order to shed its lining. 8 This process can be accompanied by inflammation and is often painful. Acupuncture impacts the brain’s limbic system to reduce pain and is frequently used to treat inflammation and pain. 9
Diets high in fat, caffeine, sugar, and salt are associated with a higher prevalence of PMS symptoms. 10 Reducing foods high in sugar, caffeine, fat, and salt and ensuring that you are eating a nutrient-rich, well balanced diet can significantly reduce the severity of PMS symptoms. Speak to a naturopathic doctor (ND) for advice on dietary changes that can help manage your PMS symptoms. Your ND will work with you to analyze your current eating habits and come up with a nutrition plan tailored to you.
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