Natural ways to relieve premenstrual syndrome (PMS)Tracey R
I still have to meet a woman who enjoys being in her period or experiencing the mood swings that often entails. Many women simply deal with irritability and bloating and continue with life (because we are women and that is what we do). But sometimes even the toughest of us need a little relief from our premenstrual problems.
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First, a look at what premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is exactly. After ovulation, midway through your cycle, your hormones move from higher levels of estrogen to higher levels of progesterone. This change can trigger symptoms such as moodiness, irritability, anxiety, breast tenderness and abdominal distension. These symptoms increase in intensity, then disappear magically when menstruation begins and the hormones are reinitiated. Many of my patients with severe premenstrual syndrome describe a sense of relief when they begin their period, as they begin to “feel like themselves again”. of depression, so talk to your doctor)
If you experience mild to moderate symptoms of PMS and are looking for some relief, there are some natural therapies that may help:
Aerobic exercise almost always makes you feel better, but especially in the weeks before your period. Exercise endorphins can help counteract the hormonal blues of premenstrual syndrome and the unpleasant sensation of swelling that occurs after ovulation. Thirty minutes of daily aerobic exercise during the week before your cycle has been shown to work, as well as antidepressants for the treatment of mild symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. While exercise may be the last activity you want to do when you have SPM, if you make it a priority during that time, you will most likely feel better.
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There are a lot of herbal therapies that claim to treat premenstrual syndrome. Most of these statements are flimsy, but there are couples who do have some science to back them up. Although the studies were small, Vitex (chasteberry) is an herbal therapy that has been shown to reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome with placebo, with minimal side effects. It is available without a prescription, and the recommended dose is 20-40 mg per day. Serenol is another herbal supplement composed of Swedish pollen extract that has also been shown to help the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting any therapy or herbal supplement.
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There is increasing data linking the low level of magnesium with mood swings. Magnesium supplementation in the second half of the cycle is a reasonable option for women whose main symptoms are related to mood.
Cognitive behavioral therapy
Therapy has been used successfully to treat depression and anxiety, and some women also find it useful for premenstrual syndrome as well. The studies contradict the effectiveness of therapy for premenstrual syndrome, but if your symptoms are mainly related to mood, cognitive therapy may be an option for you. If your main symptom is anxiety, activities to relieve stress, such as meditation, yoga, or mindfulness, can also be good choices.
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Acupuncture has shown in some small studies that it is useful for both the physical and emotional symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, reducing symptoms by up to 20 percent over placebo.
Changes in diet
Gynecology textbooks ask me to tell my patients to avoid salt, chocolate, caffeine and alcohol to help reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and increase carbohydrate intake. I guess it was written by a man who has never had PMS because that advice seems impossible to fulfill (apart from the increasing portion of carbohydrates). However, if you find yourself with more willpower than I have and want to try this strategy, then definitely do it and let me know how you feel. A more realistic plan could be to eliminate each of these elements individually during different cycles and trace their symptoms in a diary to see how they affect their symptoms.
What does not help?
In the past, calcium and vitamin B6 supplements were recommended for premenstrual syndrome symptoms, but more recent studies suggest that these are not effective. They can also cause side effects at higher doses (kidney stones for calcium and nerve problems with vitamin B6).
If natural therapies have not worked for you and your co-workers demand that you work from home the week before your cycle, it may be time to take traditional medications. Oral contraceptives (the birth control pill) work by keeping your hormone levels in a stable state to prevent ovulation and, therefore, prevent the hormonal changes that cause premenstrual syndrome. Antidepressants are also effective in treating premenstrual syndrome, reducing symptoms by up to 65% in most women.
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Premenstrual syndrome can be a real nuisance, but fortunately, offensive symptoms can often be relieved by increasing exercise, using herbal therapies and others, and considering your stress during that part of the month. If the most natural solutions do not help you and you find that your PMS affects your life and your relationships, talk to your provider about the medical options that might work for you.