Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a recurrent condition of women, characterized by troublesome symptoms seven to fourteen days before menstruation. Typical symptoms include: decreased energy level, tension, irritability, depression, headache, altered sex drive, breast pain, backache, abdominal bloating, and edema of the fingers and ankles. Severe PMS, with depression, irritability, and extreme mood swings, is referred to as premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Although there is a wide spectrum of symptoms, there are common hormonal patterns among PMS patients compared to women who have no symptoms of PMS. The primary finding is that estrogen levels are elevated and plasma progesterone levels are reduced five to ten days before the menses, or the ratio of estrogen to progesterone is increased. In addition to this hormonal abnormality, hypothyroidism and/or elevated prolactin levels are common.
Hormones are chemical reactions that result in daily mental and physical health. Low levels certain hormones such as testosterone, progesterone, and estrogen have a direct impact on daily functioning.
Changes in societal roles, pollution, food processing, direct exposure to radiation, all have an affect on this tenacious balance. Indeed, the modern woman is more likely than ever before to have PMS symptoms.
Estrogen imbalance changes the activity ofmood affecting chemicals such as biogenicamines, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. Epinephrine triggers anxiety. Norepinephrine causes hostility and irritability. Serotonin at high levels creates nervous tension and inability to concentrate. Estrogen also increases the level of the adrenal hormone aldosterone, which prevents the normal excretion of salt from the kidneys, adding to fluid retention. This creates edema-like symptoms of bloating, abdominal swelling, and swollen breasts. It has secondary causation for intense migraine pain.
Calcium: A large double-blind, placebo-controlled study found positive results using calcium for the treatment of PMS symptoms. Participants took 300 mg of calcium (as calcium carbonate) four times daily. Compared to placebo, calcium significantly reduced mood swings, pain, bloating, depression, back pain, and food cravings. Calcium helps to support strong bone and nail production. It also has benefits to skin.
Magnesium: In a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 32 women found that magnesium taken from day 15 of the menstrual cycle to the onset of menstrual flow could significantly improve premenstrual mood changes. Another small double-blind preliminary study found that regular use of magnesium could reduce symptoms of PMS-related fluid retention. In this study, 38 women were given magnesium or placebo for 2 months. The results showed no effect after one cycle, but by the end of two cycles, magnesium significantly reduced weight gain, swelling of extremities, breast tenderness, and abdominal bloating.
Iron: is depleted with the blood flow of menstruation. This healthy processes gives women the advantages of avoiding the negative affects of iron oxidation in the blood that happens with age. However, the slight deficiency ofiron associated with PMS have the effect of fatigue and lethargy.
Zinc: is involved in more body functions than any other mineral. Zinc affects menstrual irregularity and female sexual organs. Without zinc the carbon dioxide exchange could not occur at a rate fast enough to keep humans alive. Zinc levels are low in women with PMS and there is a high correlation between zinc deficiency and depressive moods in women.
Anti-Oxidant herbs and vitamins promote proper functioning by blocking free radicals in the body. Free radicals are loose, unpaired electrons resulting from a variety of daily activities including poor break down of food and EMS exposure. The danger of free radicals is their ability to damage cellular structure and interrupt or change chemical processes in the body. They are cited as causal of cancer and aging of the body. Anti-oxidants absorb these radicals and improve overall functioning of the body.
Vitex chasteberry help relieve PMS. In two surveys of gynecological practices in Germany, physicians graded chasteberry extract as good or very good in the treatment of PMS. More than 1,500 women participated in studies of chasteberry. One-third of the women experienced complete resolution of their symptoms, while another 57% reported significant improvement and 90% reported improvement or resolution. Chasteberry extract appears to be particularly useful in cases of corpus luteum insufficiency or prolactin excess. The usual amount of chasteberry extract to take (often standardized to contain 0.5 percent agnuside) in tablet or capsule form is 175 to 225 mg per day. If you are using the liquid extract, the typical amount is 2 ml per day.
In a research involving 84 Korean women living in the USA, aged 28-40 years, soy isoflavone intake was significantly correlated with MDQ scores in the menstrual phase, indicating beneficial effect of dietary soy isoflavones on certain menstrual symptoms. In another study involving 23 women aged 18-35 years, given isolated soya protein (ISP) containing 68 mg/d (aglycone equivalents) soy isoflavones (IF). Result showed ISP containing IF may have potential to reduce specific premenstrual symptoms such as headache, breast tenderness, cramps, and swelling.
One double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated the benefits of Ginkgo biloba extract for women with PMS symptoms. This trial enrolled 143 women, 18 to 45 years of age, and followed them for two menstrual cycles. Each woman received either the ginkgo extract (80 mg twice daily) or placebo on day 16 of the first cycle. Treatment was continued until day 5 of the next cycle, and resumed again on day 16 of that cycle. As compared to placebo, ginkgo significantly relieved major symptoms of PMS, especially breast pain and emotional disturbance.
Black Cohosh is traditionally used by native Americans to relieve PMS symptoms such as cramps, muscle pains, and menstrual pains. With its mildly sedative and relaxing effect, Black Cohosh is used also to reduce anxiety and nervousness. Black Cohosh is high in phytoestrogens and can help normalize the female reproductive system.
Evening Primrose Oil is a source of the omega-6 fatty acids, and maybe useful for relieving general PMS symptoms, but there is only minimal supporting evidence.
Progesterone cream is sometimes recommended for PMS.