Premenstrual Syndrome-also called premenstrual tension syndrome is a cyclic condition of women, characterized by troublesome, yet often ill-defined symptoms 7-14 days before menstruation.
- Sudden Mood Swings
- Loss Of Energy
- Altered Sex Drive
- Abdominal Bloating
- Breast Pain
- Fluid Retention
This syndrome affects about 1/3 of women between ages of 30-40 and about 10% of these have the extremely debilitating form.
Premenstrual syndrome has been recognized for centuries. Employers have, for a long time utilized the fact that some women go through a “witch cycle” prior to their menstruation, as an excuse to exclude women from high dependability, “even keeled” executive jobs. Although a lot of women suffer from this syndrome, some suffer in varying degrees of physical and or psychological distress. Not all women suffer from premenstrual syndrome. Much evidence does support the fact that some women suffer a lot psychologically. The highest number of violent crimes committed by women occurs 4-7 days prior to menses. There is also an increased female accident and suicide rate during this period. It is also the peak time for women being put into institutions (psychiatric and prison).
There are many ways of understanding and treating this disturbing syndrome: by utilizing Chinese medicine, homeopathic medical practice, and scientific medical fact.
Chinese medical philosophy is based on thousands of years of trial and error in trying to understand the inner workings of the human body from outside the body. The Chinese had to guess at the existence of different organs and the functions, which they perform. The Chinese system of medicine is a holistic model of medicine because it focuses on interrelatedness.
One organ is interrelated with other body parts and emotions. So if there is problem with these body parts there is a corresponding problem with the organ with which they are associated. The liver, in the case of premenstrual syndrome, governs the uterus and is associated with the emotions of anger, and depression (which is anger directed internally).
In Chinese medicine the physical body is not thought of as being separate from the mental/emotional levels of an individual. So by treating the liver emotional problems of extreme anger and depression can be rectified.
PMS in Chinese medicine is caused by the ascent of liver fire, stagnation of blood and energy, deficiency of blood, and deficiency of kidney essence. The ascent of liver fire is associated with lots of anger, red eyes, a fast full pulse, red tongue, and a very warm body that is aggravated by heat.
Stagnation of blood and energy causes menstrual cramps, anxiety, depression, bloating, and swollen breasts. Deficiency of blood can result in scanty menstrual flow, weakness, lethargy, blurred vision, and dizziness. Deficiency of kidney essence is associated with low back pain, water retention, no libido and cold extremities.
Homeopathy, which used to be the premier form of medicine in North America, is highly effective in treating PMS as well as almost all other diseases. Homeopathy is based on the study of “like cures like”. When a normal healthy person ingests a substance, they develop certain symptoms and these symptoms are what the remedy rectifies in a diseased person.
For PMS there are numerous remedies. Here are just a few with their physical as well as mental/emotional predispositions:
Lachesis is typically very jealous, vindictive, and very loquacious. All her ailments seem to be worse in the morning and get better as the day progresses. The majority of her ailments tend to be on the left side of the body. She can have hot flashes, headaches, menstrual cramps, irritability, etc. all of which are relived once her menstrual flow starts. The lachesis type person literally has a very venomous personality. Many lachesis patients have expressed that they could kill before their menses.
Lycopodium women who suffer from PMS tend to crave sweets to the extreme. They have a lot of gas, bloating, and all their ailments are worse on the right side of their body. Their energy as well as all of their symptoms are worse around 4-8 PM. And their PMS typically started after a mental/ emotional event that severely damaged their self-confidence.
Sepia women have suffered from PMS since an extreme change in hormones either from pregnancy, abortion, or miscarriage. They tend to be angry and irritable and have a deep love-hate relationship with their loved ones. All their complaints are worse on the left side of their body. They love heavy exercise, which makes them feel better.
Pulsatilla women weep intensely when they have their PMS. They are generally thirstless, feel better outside and all their complaints are worse on the right side of their body. They love to be hugged and consoled. They crave rich fatty foods but are worse by them.
Magnesium Phosphate women have extreme menstrual cramps that are better doubling over and better with heat.
Colocynthis women are exactly the same as magnesium phosphate sufferers but their complaints are worse when they suppress their anger.
These are just a few of the personalities and physical complaints that homeopathic remedies can rectify.
Scientific medicine (at the research level) has differentiated premenstrual syndrome into four different categories:
- PMS-A (anxiety) Associated with excess and deficient progesterone. Excess estrogen alters the levels of important neurotransmitters increasing levels of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and serotonin and decreasing levels of dopamine. Adrenaline triggers anxiety, noradrenaline, hostility and irritability; serotonin initiates nervous tension, drowsiness, heart palpitations, water retention and inability to concentrate and perform. Dopamine is believed to counteract the other three neurotransmitters by inducing a feeling of relaxation and increased mental alertness. Most studies that have been performed on PMS-A patients have come up with the same hormonal results, but have been unable to identify a cause. PMS-A is due to a hormonal imbalance and like other imbalances within the body, due to an improper lifestyle. Stress, nutritional deficiency, and improper diet seem to be the main factors causing this hormonal imbalance.
- PMS-C (cravings) Glucose tolerance tests show that there is an increased secretion of insulin resulting in cravings. Hypoglycemia is due to excess consumption of refined carbohydrates and sweets. PMS patients consume 275% more refined sugar, 79% more dairy, 78% more sodium, 53% less iron, 77% less manganese, and 52% less zinc. They also consume excesses of coffee, tea, chocolate, and alcohol.
- PMS-D (depression) Increased breakdown of neurotransmitters as a result of decreased levels of estrogen.
- PMS-H (hyper hydration) Stress can initiate the release of more aldosterone from the adrenal cortex resulting in weight gain and water retention. Dopamine deficiency suppresses fluid retention hormones.
- Essential fatty acid deficiency (PMS patients consume 4.5 X as much dairy)
- B complex deficiency (adrenals)
- B6 deficiency (neurotransmitter production especially dopamine)
- Magnesium deficiency (associated with decreased dopamine levels)
- Stress- Adrenal exhaustion, stress induced hypoglycemia, vitamin B complex deficiency
- Birth control pills- causing abnormal hormonal fluctuations
- Vitamin C deficiency
- Lead or copper toxicity (associated with PMS-D and decreased estrogen)
- Exogenous hormones taken internally through the diet. The most notable sources are from chicken, beef or dairy production
- Diet: decrease refined carbohydrates, refined sugars, dairy, salt, and animal based proteins. Increase unrefined whole grains and essential fatty acids. Exclude coffee, tea, cola, chocolate, alcohol, cigarettes and heated or processed oils from the diet. Can use hormone free chicken and beef.
- Stress reduction: relaxation exercises or meditation.
- Spinal manipulation: once weekly for 4-6 weeks then once or twice per month.
- Exercise: helps regulate the hormonal system
- Hot footbath: if the person suffers from menstrual cramps.
- Anxiety: tepid bath
GENERAL NUTRITIONAL RECOMMENDATIONS:
- B-complex 25 mg/day
- B6 100 mg per day
- C 500 mg /day
- E 200 IU /day
- Beta carotene 50,000 IU /day
- Magnesium aspertate 400-800 mg /day
- Zinc picolinate 15 mg /day
- Linseed oil 1-2 tblsp/day
- Lactobacillus 1 tsp. /day
- Bioflavenoids 500mg 2X/day
- Evening primrose oil 500mg 2X/day
- Hypoglycemic diet
- Tyrosine 300mg /day
- Check for lead toxicity
- Licorice 3X/day
Chinese Patent Medicines (prescribed based on Chinese medical theory): Hsiao yao wan, Wu chi pai feng, Shu Kan Wan, Lung Tan.
Lachesis, Magnesium phosphate, Colocynthis, Pulsatilla, Nux Vomica, Lycopodium, Sepia.
WESTERN BOTANICAL MEDICINES:
Unicorn root (aletris farinosa)- PMS-D poor ovarian function. aletris has estrogen like activity.
Black haw (viburnum prunifolium) has uterine antispasmotic properties. Scopoletin, the main ingredient in black haw, is a uterine sedative.
Bromelain – extracted from the pineapple plant relieves menstrual cramping.
Milk thistle (silybum marianum) ensures proper liver function to maintain normal hormonal balance.
Natural treatment can easily provide long-term changes. These changes in a person, once initiated, are almost invariably permanent.
In my practice I typically use diet therapy, homeopathy, and Chinese medicine to effectively treat premenstrual syndrome patients.
With some of the above recommendations individuals may easily help themselves! However self help can be costly and time consuming, leaving you with an inaccurate idea of how effective natural therapeutics can be. If you want successful long lasting results and want them reasonably quick, consult your local Naturopathic Doctor. He or she is highly trained to diagnose your condition and to set up an individualized therapeutic regime prescribing the appropriate therapies.