For many millions of women all over the world, misery and irritability are a monthly fact of life, something that they have to live with month after month after month. However, what most of these women perhaps don’t know is that whilst premenstrual tension (PMT) or premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is suffered by as many as three out of every four ladies, it is not necessary to suffer anywhere near as much as they do. Although the number who suffer premenstrual problems as a chronic condition every month is mercifully small at somewhere around 2-5% of
all sufferers, it is nevertheless a fact that for many women, PMT or PMS is a blight on their live every month that they could well do without. In truth, there are plenty of entirely natural things that women can do to limit the worst symptoms associated with PMT or even get rid of them altogether and of course, because we are talking of completely natural solutions here, there is very little possibility of adverse sideeffects either. Before moving on to begin looking at how you can deal with PMT entirely naturally, let’s start by considering the condition itself and why
perhaps as many as 75% of women suffer from it each and every month.
What is premenstrual tension?
According to the definition of premenstrual syndrome featured on Wikipedia, there is a difference between PMS and PMT. However, according to most medical sites that mention both PMT and PMS, they tend to do so interchangeably. In essence, they are one and the same thing as far as most authoritative online resources are concerned so I am going to assume that they are the same for the purposes of this book as well. Indeed, many resources suggest that PMS is a far more accurate description of the condition suffered by so many women every month mainly because describing it as premenstrual tension suggests that there is only one symptom suffered by these ladies. In truth, there are many different symptoms suffered by those who are troubled by the condition, so using the phrase premenstrual syndrome is probably more accurate as it suggests that there are many different
signs or ill-effects of the condition, which is absolutely true. Although estimates of how many women actually suffer PMS vary, it is a fact that most women will suffer the condition on at least some occasions. However, for the vast majority of PMS sufferers, it is a condition which although it is generally very mild nevertheless besets them every month. Premenstrual syndrome is something that is completely regular feature of their life which (it seems) they cannot avoid.
For most women who suffer PMS, the condition usually sets in between seven and fourteen days before the beginning of their period, although for some women who suffer severe PMS, the condition can become one that is almost permanent, with symptoms being present before, during and after menstruation. This happens because many symptoms have a knock-on effect that causes other problems to arise at a later date, hence you have what is effectively non-stop PMS. Although as suggested there is no globally agreed definition of exactly what constitutes premenstrual syndrome, there are two definitions that are commonly used by researchers when studying the condition. These are:
- The definition proposed by the researchers at the University of California which suggests that there should be both physical and psychological symptoms of PMS shown during the five days before menses for three consecutive menstrual cycles. Furthermore, these same symptoms must not be present during the other parts of the cycle, especially the pre-ovulatory phase.
- The second definition is that formulated by the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA which is focused on the severity of symptoms in cycle days from 5 to 10 compared with the severity in the six-day period before the onset of menses. According to this definition, symptoms have to be seen for two consecutive mental cycles to establish PMS.
Whichever definition you use, for the majority who suffer PMS, the most common symptoms are mood swings and irritability, breast tenderness, headaches and nausea but for the majority who are relatively lucky, the symptoms tend to be very mild, in some cases so mild that they are almost unnoticeable. On the other hand, a small percentage of women are not nearly so fortunate with their symptoms being a great deal more severe and therefore considerably more disruptive too. And even though the symptoms highlighted above are the most common, there are many
other symptoms of both a physical and psychological nature that many women suffer.
Physical symptoms of PMS can include some or all of the following:
- Abdominal pain and/or bloatingJoint and/or muscle pain
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Worsening of pre-existing medical problems such as skin conditions
- Onset or worsening of acne
- Hot flushes
- Breast tenderness
- Food and/or alcohol cravings
- Excess water retention
- Weight gain
- General weakness.
Whilst for women who suffer severe PMS every month, these physical symptoms can be extremely unpleasant and debilitating, most women find that it is the psychological effects of PMS that are most damaging. Indeed, this is the primary reason why the alternative term premenstrualtension is used to describe the condition.
Included amongst the psychological symptoms associated with PMS are the following:
- Mood swings which are often very violent and sudden
- Irritability ranges from mild to extreme in severity
- Stress, anxiety or depression, often leading to insomnia
- Decreased libido
- Poor concentration and a lack of focus.
While most who suffer PMS find that the physical symptoms of the condition are relatively mild, the psychological side of suffering is not always quite so easy. For example, some women will change to such an extent that they become almost like a completely different person, sometimes even going so far as to resort to violence against loved
ones. Furthermore, because many women find it difficult to concentrate and focus on what they are supposed to be doing, work performance often suffers and they are considerably more likely to suffer accidents when suffering the worst of PMS.
In short, PMS can be an extremely nasty condition, one that no woman is ever going to be happy about. Consequently, many will seek medical attention if they suffer severely, whilst others will resort to nonprescription drugs to help them get over the worst ravages of PMS. Turning to drugs should never be the first option of choice however, because even non-prescription drugs have been known to have serious adverse side-effects. We will consider some of the drugs to which some women might turn when suffering PMS and their potential sideeffects little later in the report.
Before doing so however, let us consider what is known about the causes of PMS.
What causes PMS?
The first thing to say about the causes of PMS is that medical science does not really understand why some women suffer physical and/or psychological symptoms each and every month whilst others do not suffer at all. Hence, it is fair to suggest that there is still a reasonable degree of mystery about the exact reasons why some women suffer and
It is however believed that a primary cause of premenstrual syndrome is the natural change in the balance of female hormones that happens every month as an integral part of the cycle of menstruation. As a result of these natural hormonal changes, there is a reduction in the level of progesterone in the body, are falling off of levels of the
hormone that prepares the uterus to receive a fertilized egg. At the same time, there is also an increase in levels of salt and water retained by the body, hence the feelings of being bloated and retaining too much water.
This does not of course explain exactly why these hormonal changes affect some individuals far more than they affect others. Whilst some experts suggest that all women suffer some symptoms of PMS, in the main these symptoms are mild or extremely mild, so this does not really take us much closer to discovering the course of PMS. One line of current thinking about the causes suggests that it may be something to do with neurotransmitters that are created by the central nervous system reacting with changing levels of sex hormones which would otherwise be within what are regarded as normal limits by the medical profession.
In particular, it is believed thatserotonin levels in the body may have some connection with the severity (or otherwise) of PMS that is suffered by an individual female, although there is no conclusive proof of this as
yet. Preliminary studies carried out in theUSA some 20 years ago suggested that of women who suffered PMS most severely, perhaps as many as four in every ten showed significantly decreased levels of beta endorphins in the blood at the time of their ‘attacks’. Beta endorphins are naturally occurring opioid neurotransmitters, which is one of the reasons why a lack of them as shown by 40% of women who suffered severe PMS has been likened by many medical
professionals to withdrawal symptoms associated with ‘coming off’ opiate-based drugs like heroin.
Another possible contributory factor isfamily history as it is generally believed that women who are from families where more severe PMS is relatively common are more likely to be sufferers themselves. This contention is backed up by the fact that the occurrence of PMS is twice as likely to appear in identical twins than it is in fraternal twins.
The bottom line is, medical science has still not really established the exact reasons why some women suffer serious psychological and/or physical problems as a result of premenstrual syndrome, whereas others hardly suffer at all.
One thing that is however clear is that there are contributory factors associated with lifestyle and that these factors may increase the risk of suffering severe PMS.
These potential contributory factors include:
- Increased levels of stress and anxiety
- Pre-existing depression
- High caffeine intake
- High alcohol intake
- Tobacco usage
- Increasing age (although for most women, PMS is likely to start for the very first time during their 20s or 30s and will probably disappear after they stop menstruating as well)
- Allergies to nuts etc.
- Dietary factors such as a lack of certain vitamins and minerals
From this list of contributory factors, you can probably see that certain lifestyle changes could help to reduce the severity or the likelihood of PMS being a problem.
Herbal remedies for PMS
As most women have a fairly good idea of when they can expect to suffer the first ‘twinges’ of PMS, they drink camomile tea two or three times every day for a week or two weeks before the anticipated onset of their PMS attack.
Not only is camomile tea famously calming, it is also a mild diuretic which will help to purge excess liquid from your body which in turn helps to reduce the unpleasant bloated feelings commonly associated with premenstrual syndrome. There are stronger herbal diuretics available as well.
In this category, you should might seek out and take herbal extracts of dandelion, juniper or nettle, all of which will help your body to purge excess water in advance of PMS setting in. Try using dandelion extract or dried leaves as the basis of a tea because not only does this help to banish water from your body, it is also believed to help fight against urinary tract infections and cystitis.
There are many other natural substances that are also believed to have diuretic qualities as well. For example, green tea has been used as a natural diuretic foodstuff and drink in China for many centuries, whereas cranberry juice is also believed to aid your body in expelling water as quickly as possible as well.
Fennel is another substance that has diuretic qualities and as it is also believed to be a herbal remedy that helps to calm you down, it would be an ideal choice at those times when the worst of PMT sets in! There are even some every day foodstuffs that have been shown to possess diuretic qualities as well. In this list, you would include asparagus, brussel sprouts, oats, cabbage, lettuce and tomatoes.
Hence, if in the ‘lead up’ to the time when you expect PMS to hit, you ensure that your diet is ‘top-heavy’ in these foods, you can help to minimize the chances of excess water retention (but of course, do not use excess salt when cooking them!).
Unlike chemical-based diuretics, these totally natural water-banishing herbal remedies work by gently strengthening the ability of your kidneys to expel water from your body more quickly.
Consequently, using natural diuretics is far less likely to have adverse side-effects although you would be well advised not to go too crazy because expelling liquid from your body too quickly is not going to do you a great deal more good than banishing it too slowly is!
Both evening primrose and starflower oil are a rich source of gamma linolenic acid (GLA) which helps to regulate hormone balance and has also been shown to help reduce swelling, breast soreness, irritability and mood swings.
Evening primrose in particular is extremely effective for reducing abdominal swelling and breast soreness, whilst the acids in starflower oil also help to reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels and skin complaints whilst also boosting your natural immune system.
Ginger is an excellent natural remedy for menstrual problems, including cramps, PMS and irregular menstruation. A study published in the journal International Scholarly Research Notices found ginger to be effective in reducing the severity of PMS symptoms.
- Add 1 teaspoon of grated ginger to a cup of boiling water.
- Let it simmer for a few minutes.
- Strain and add honey to taste.
- Drink 2 or 3 cups of this ginger tea daily, at least for a week before your period.
Note: If you have problems with gallstones, consult your doctor before using ginger as a remedy.
Apple cider vinegar is helpful in treating a wide variety of ailments. It is also good for reducing PMS symptoms like bloating, water retention, cramping, headaches, irritability and fatigue.
- Mix 1 to 2 teaspoons of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar in a glass of water.
- Add a little raw, organic honey.
- Drink this solution once or twice daily.
Flaxseeds contain omega-3 fatty acids that have been found to be helpful in reducing PMS symptoms like depression, anxiety, bloating, breast tenderness and headaches. Plus, they contain lignans that block excess estrogen and balance hormone metabolism. They are also an excellent source of fiber.
Consume 1 tablespoon of freshly ground flaxseeds twice daily. You can add it to your oatmeal, cereal, smoothies, salad or cooked vegetables.
You can also include fatty fish, coconut oil, eggs, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, almonds, walnuts and other foods rich in essential fatty acids in your diet.
Calcium is believed to help balance hormone levels, thus easing PMS symptoms. Also, it is good for your bones as well as overall health.
Magnesium helps reduce symptoms like food cravings, breast tenderness, fluid retention, bloating and menstrual migraine headaches. Both nutrients also reduce stress and alleviate cramping.
- Eat calcium and magnesium-rich foods like green leafy vegetables, beans, kelp, blackstrap molasses, bananas, nuts and seeds.
- Blackstrap molasses is a good source of iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, zinc, vitamin B6 and various other vitamins and minerals. Mix 1 tablespoon of this brown syrup in a glass of milk and drink it daily.
- You can also take up to 1,200 mg of calcium and 300 to 500 mg of magnesium daily. Before starting any supplement regimen, consult your doctor.
Vitamin B6 and E are also beneficial for treating PMS.
All over the world, at this very moment, there are countless thousands of women suffering premenstrual syndrome who really do not need to do so.
However, as suggested in this book, turning to pharmaceutical drugs to deal with PMS is not an ideal solution either, particularly when there are many perfectly natural solutions which are extremely effective if they were only aware of them. There is no doubt that premenstrual syndrome or tension is a problem suffered by millions of women all over the world, although fortunately, only a small percentage of sufferers are subject to a chronic condition which has a seriously adverse effect on the quality of their life every month.
As you have seen however, there are many ways you can ‘attack’ PMS using entirely natural solutions that will help to alleviate or even banish the worst symptoms of premenstrual syndrome once and for all. As always, using natural treatments for PMS (or PMT) is always going to represent a better solution or answer than turning to potentially harmful drugs.
Knowing this, and having learned of all of the different solutions that are available, there really is no need to suffer the worst ravages of premenstrual syndrome any more.