Premenstrual syndrome or PMS is a diagnoses which most women respond exceptionally well to alternative methods of control or natural remedies. Premenstrual syndrome is really a combination of physical, psychological and emotional symptoms, numbering over 150, which affects approximately 40 million women. At the present time, researchers believe that premenstrual syndrome may be a result of sensitivity to hormonal fluctuations which occur each month during the menstrual cycle, as well as a decreased ability to utilize serotonin, a neurotransmitter found in the brain which is responsible for mood, anxiety and weight gain.
In several studies done within the past 10 years researchers have found that calcium levels in women who have premenstrual syndrome are lower than in women who don’t and that calcium supplementation can reduce the severity of the symptoms. In one study researchers found that 300 mg of calcium carbonate four times a day throughout the month significantly reduced depression, mood swings, food cravings and bloating. (1)
Another a naturally occurring mineral, magnesium, has shown good preliminary results for premenstrual syndrome. In one study 32 women use 360 mg of magnesium three times a day from Day 15 to the beginning of their menstrual period. These supplements were found to significantly improve their emotional changes. In another study researchers found that magnesium significantly reduced weight gain, swelling and bloating, and breast tenderness. (2)
Individuals who have heart or kidney disease should consult their physician before taking any extra calcium or magnesium since the side effects can include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, slowed heart rate, confusion and potentially interfere with medications the individual is already taking.
Although there is no current scientific evidence behind the use of acupuncture for premenstrual syndrome there have been reported case studies that indicate that acupuncture with exercise and breathing exercises will help to improve symptoms and decrease pain and discomfort that women experience with premenstrual syndrome.
Another important natural remedy which can be used, and should be used, for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome are dietary changes and lifestyle choices. By reducing sugar and salt intake, eating smaller frequent meals to stabilize blood sugar, eliminating caffeine which can aggravate anxiety, depression and breast tenderness, increasing fruits and vegetables, avoiding alcohol and tobacco as well is decreasing the intake of fatty foods than red meat, women are able to decrease the extent and severity of the symptoms they suffer from premenstrual syndrome.
While physicians tell us to exercise at least 30 minutes three times a week in order to improve our cardiac health and reduce our risk of stroke and peripheral vascular disease as well as diabetes and high blood pressure, exercise is also able to reduce the symptoms which women experience from premenstrual syndrome. Regular aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming have been found in research to decrease the experience of emotional and physical symptoms. This study found that it was the frequency of the exercise is not the intensity that was associated with a decrease in symptoms. (3)
But women should also avoid empty calories such as soft drinks, sweets containing refined sugars and decreased dairy products each day since lactose can block the body’s abortion of magnesium which helps to regulate estrogen levels and increases its excretion. Researchers have also found that an excess of amount of dairy products taken in each day will actually decrease the amount of calcium the body is able to absorb.
Most importantly women should not isolate themselves, believing that they are the only ones experiencing the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome. By acknowledging this issue with their spouses, friends or coworkers it can help to decrease the stress of the emotional toll women experience every month as well as help their relationships grow with friends and relatives. Other women find it beneficial to find a premenstrual syndrome self-help group to share their experiences.
(1) General Internal Medicine, New York medical College: Calcium Supplementation in Premenstrual Syndrome
Journal of the American College of Nutrition: The Potential for Dietary Supplements to Reduce Premenstrual Syndrome
WallStreetJournal: Dose Calcium Lessen the Symptoms of PMS
British medical Journal: Calcium Reduced PMS Symptoms
(2) Journal of Womens Health: Magnesium Supplementation Alleviates Premenstrual Syndrome
(3) Shape: 10 Moves to Ease Symptoms of PMS
Health: 10 Ways to get Rid of PMS
Journal of Reproductive Medicine: Conditioning Exercise and Premenstrual symptoms
Journal of Womens Health: Exercise and Premenstrual Symptomatology
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: evening Primrose
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Black Cohosh
MayoClinic: Water Retention: Relieve this Premenstrual symptom
WomensCare: Nutritional Therapy for PMS
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: Premenstrual Syndrome