The often distressing symptoms of PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, are familiar to many women. A week or two before their menstrual period, three out of four women experience some combination of bloating, breast pain, fatigue, headaches, depression, crying, angry outbursts, or any of 200 other symptoms associated with PMS.
PMS may stem from an imbalance of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone following ovulation. This imbalance may lead to mood shifts and food cravings and may trigger the release of prolactin, which causes breast tenderness and blocks the liver from efficiently clearing excess estrogen from the body. PMS symptoms may also be due to low levels of serotonin, a brain chemical that sends signals between nerve cells.
- Chasteberry (Vitex) controls the production of estrogen and progesterone so may correct imbalances.
- Dong Quai is an Asian herb that has little effect on its own, but it may enhance chasteberry’s activity. It often comes packaged with other herbs such as black cohosh.
- Vitamin B6 helps the liver process estrogen, increases progesterone levels, and stimulates serotonin. Chasteberry and Vitamin B6 work best during the second half of the menstrual cycle.
- Evening Primrose Oil or Borage Oil may ease breast tenderness and carbohydrate cravings.
- Magnesium taken dally, is well-known as an effective treatment for PMS. Consider getting magnesium in a bone-building supplement containing calcium too.
- John’s Wort is a useful addition to a daily program, especially when the primary PMS symptoms are emotional rather than physical. The herb works best when taken continuously and may require two complete menstrual cycles before its full effect is noticed.
- Natural Progesterone Cream acts to balance the excessive estrogen that contributes to many PMS symptoms. Progesterone supplementation should be used in the second half of the menstrual cycle, usually during the week to 10 days before your anticipated menstrual flow, stopped at flow, and restarted on approximately the same day every month.