What is PMS?
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, is one of the most common hormonal imbalance affecting women. PMS can affect any woman who is having menstrual periods — from her first period onward — but it most often appears in adulthood. If PMS first occurs in your 40’s, it’s usually an early signal that you are entering peri-menopause. Symptoms tend to be worse when big hormonal changes occur, such as during puberty (before periods start), just before the menopause (peri-menopause) or after coming off hormonal treatment such as the oral contraceptive pill. It is not clear why some women experience PMS why others don’t. One theory is that it is not so much the fluctuations of hormones which occur naturally with the menstrual cycle that causes PMS, but the relative ‘balance’ of oestrogen and progesterone that is important.
Symptoms of PMS
Emotional symptoms affect the way you think, feel and respond and can give rise to a lower ability to cope with stress etc. Symptoms include mood swings, anxiety and tension, irritability, tearfulness, feeling fed-up and even depression.
Physical symptoms tend to affect a specific body part, giving rise to bloating, acne, weight gain, food and sugar cravings, period pains and a general feeling of being tired and unwell.
Each woman tends to follow a pattern of symptom development and relief that is consistent from cycle to cycle. For some women there is a tendency for their PMS to worsen over time, sometimes reaching a point where they are symptom-free for only a few days a month. Fortunately, most women can alleviate PMS…
You don’t just have to live with PMS. As is true of most expressions of hormonal imbalance, there are multiple underlying causes, and for that reason it is rare that a single remedy will resolve all the symptoms of PMS. There are plenty of ways to relieve PMS. Giving the body the right support with good nutrition, dietary supplements, and herbal remedies enables the body to make and balance its hormones as it was designed to do. And homeopathy can help too!
Avoid foods that are highly refined as these lack vitamin B6, zinc, magnesium and omega 3’s, as these are required as raw materials for hormone production. Topping up on fresh foods rich in these nutrients helps to rebalance hormone production. By cutting back on refined foods and eating more good quality protein (oily fish, pulses, lean meats), nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables you can help your body with hormone production.
- Vitamin B6 plays a vital part in synthesising certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) that control your mood and behaviour.
- Vitamin E has been shown to be helpful for the breast symptoms associated with PMS and also the mood swings and irritability.
- Magnesium is classed as ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and so is vital in those aspects of the pre-menstrual symptoms which relate to anxiety, tension, etc.
- Chromium is needed for the metabolism of sugar and without it insulin is less effective in control ling blood sugar levels. The ability of chromium to help with cravings is especially important if one of your main pre-menstrual symptoms involves appetite changes.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids – Signs of an Omega 3 fatty acid deficiency are dry skin, lifeless hair, cracked nails, fatigue, depression, dry eyes, lack of motivation, aching joints, difficulty in losing weight, forgetfulness, breast pain and tenderness.
- Agnus castus regulates the hormonal cycle, increases progesterone levels and reduces FSH and oestrogen if used for 3 to 6 months. It reduces anxiety, irritability, insomnia, headache, mood changes, breast tenderness, water retention, bloating and sugar cravings.
- Dandelion root is a powerful diuretic that clears excess water weight and bloating. It does not deplete potassium like other diuretics and is therefore safe. This wonderful herb assists the liver in clearing oestrogen dominance and thereby reducing PMS.
- Dong Quai relieves pain, cramps, headache, mood swings, insomnia and constipation. It regulates blood sugar and is a tonic for low energy.
- Licorice contains phytoestrogens that regulate oestrogen and progesterone ratios to relieve symptoms of anxiety, headaches and exhaustion.
- Wild yam is useful to take during the progesterone- dominant phase of the menstrual cycle (from ovulation to period). It also helps to correct the low progesterone and high oestrogen ratio.
Homeopathy for PMS
- Pulsatilla: This remedy is of great help if the woman is highly sensitive towards every little thing. The smallest of things tend to affect them deeply and they start to weep over little, insignificant issues. They are highly emotional and cry easily – they usually feel better when offered sympathy. When bloating is the primary symptom, consider this remedy. Open air makes them feel good. In most cases there is a total absence of thirst.
- Sepia: Sepia is a great remedy for the irritable woman who is easily offended. The woman may appear indifferent and/or irritable prior to her period, often taking her foul mood out on those closest to her (her partner or children). She will be fatigued, snappy, and chilly, and markedly worse for missing meals.
- Folliculinum: This remedy is indicated when there is lots of bloating and weight gain without excessive eating, worse during ovulation and prior to periods. Premenstrual migraines or congestive headaches. Breasts are swollen and tender. Alternation of excitability and depression (mood swings), especially before menses.
- Ignatia: Ignatia is indicated when the woman feels emotionally vulnerable, especially due to grief. She may have contradictory feelings and appears hysterical. Mood swings and panic.
- Lachesis: For women who tend to be easily annoyed, talkative, and envious, and whose pain and bloating is worse on the left side. Symptoms tend to worsen upon awakening in the morning, and with exposure to heat or light pressure. Also for women whose symptoms improve dramatically when menstruation begins.
- Magnesium phosphoricum: Mag phos is a wonderful remedy for sharp cramps that are relieved by bending forward, abdominal massage, and warmth (such as a heating pad), but are worsened by cold air.
- Chamomilla: This remedy is invaluable for intense menstrual pain. This remedy is most appropriate for women who are extremely irritable, angry, and have frequent mood swings.
Please not: This article is for educational purposes only and not intended to replace the advice of your physician or health care provider. If there are multiple PMS symptoms and/or symptoms that have existed for a long time it is advisable to book a full consultation with a professional homeopath.
Ulrike Holzer LSECH MSCH MARH (Registered Homeopath)