The “dreaded” Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) affects up to 75% of women at some time in their lives. PMS is described as a cluster of symptoms appearing during the 10 – 14 days before menstruation, that usually resolve with the onset of menstruation. Symptoms are variable between women, and may include:
- Mood swings and/or depression/weepiness
- Irritability, anxiety, insomnia and/or nervous tension
- Mental confusion, poor concentration and forgetfulness
- Abdominal bloating and distension
- Weight gain from fluid retention
- Breast tenderness and swelling
- Headaches/ brain fog
- Altered appetite, especially cravings for sugar, alcohol and fatty foods
- Physical fatigue and weakness
- Changes in libido
- Constipation and/or diarrhoea
Studies show that when compared to controls, women with PMS have lower levels of progesterone throughout the menstrual cycle, with elevated oestrogen levels during the premenstrual phase. The progesterone metabolites interact with the central nervous system to positively affect mood and behaviour, improve the stress response and enhance cognitive function. Lower levels of these metabolites may contribute to the mood disorders women experience in the premenstrual phase.
The hormone prolactin naturally elevates during the premenstrual phase and may be further increased by oestrogen and stress. Elevated serum prolactin levels are associated with cyclic breast tenderness, fluid retention and irritability. Aldosterone also contributes to symptoms of fluid retention, contributing to weight gain and bloating. Other neurological factors are thought to trigger food cravings, binge eating and fatigue. Collectively these factors contribute to the wide variability of symptoms experienced by each woman during her cycle.
Many of the emotional mood symptoms associated with PMS and stress may be linked to low neurotransmitter levels and function. Combinations of herbs have been shown to act synergistically to assist in the management of hormonally-related mood disorders by having a calming effect and restoring feelings of happiness and well-being during the pre-menstrual period.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a very extreme form of PMS that can be quite challenging. In a study of women with PMDD, subjects who took a specific herbal combination for six menstrual cycles revealed improvements were shown in all mood symptoms, including depression, anxiety and irritability. Some herbal combinations have been shown to have measurable phytoestrogen content. It is suggested this may help to modulate the mental and emotional symptoms of PMS.
Other herbal and natural remedies may help in the management of premenstrual headaches, mood swings and nervous tension, sore breasts, bloating and fluid retention. There is so much available to relieve the symptoms of this distressing syndrome. Don’t despair. Talk to one of our dedicated Naturopaths at Nurtura Health and let them support you to start enjoying life without this cyclic challenge.
Watch this space for future posts on other conditions in more detail!Disclaimer: The advice on this website is of a general nature only and Nurtura Health expressly disclaims all liability arising out of the improper use of the information provided. Nurtura Health actively discourages any self-diagnosis or self-medication. Please consult your health practitioner regarding these important health issues. All rights reserved.