Alternative Treatments for PMS
Herbs, supplements, and other alternative methods might help ease your cramps and irritability when traditional PMS treatments aren't doing the job.
By Sara Calabro
Medically Reviewed by Lindsey Marcellin, MD, MPH
Don't Miss This
Sign Up for OurWomen's HealthNewsletter
Thanks for signing up!You might also like these other newsletters:
Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, brings on physical and emotional symptoms that start anywhere from two days to two weeks before your period actually begins, leaving many women in search of relief. If you’re dissatisfied with traditional approaches to managing PMS symptoms, you may be thinking about alternative medicine. Keep in mind that many so-called natural remedies have not been well studied under controlled circumstances, so it’s important that you talk to your doctor before trying any unproven methods.
Targeting Symptoms of PMS
The symptoms of PMS are quite varied. Though not limited to this list, they can include:
- Irritability and stress
- Depression and anxiety
- Inability to concentrate
- Temporary weight gain
- Breast swelling and tenderness
- Changes in appetite
- Headaches and backaches
- Abdominal bloating and cramps
Due to the wide range of symptoms associated with PMS and the varying theories on what causes the condition — hormonal changes at this time of the menstrual cycle, vitamin deficiencies, and fluctuations in levels of other hormone-like substances are given the most credence — it has proven difficult to develop a one-size-fits-all treatment. But with more than 75 percent of women dealing with some form of PMS, strategies for managing symptoms are in high demand, and many are turning to alternative medicine for relief.
Treating PMS With Herbs
Herbal therapies for PMS symptoms are available in capsule and tablet form, or as teas or liquid extracts. Women using herbs for PMS should consult with a licensed herbalist about which form is most appropriate and how much they should take.
One herb suggested for PMS is St. John’s wort. This yellow-flowered plant is best known for treating depression, so it’s not surprising that it’s sometimes recommended for women whose PMS has an emotional component. Women who are taking oral contraceptives should speak with a physician before taking St. John’s wort for PMS.
Other herbs that have shown potential benefit for PMS symptoms include chaste tree fruit, black cohosh, and dandelion.
Treating PMS With Dietary Supplements
One theory as to why women experience PMS points to a vitamin or mineral deficiency, and some women find that taking supplements eases their PMS symptoms. Calcium, in particular, has the dual benefit of providing bone support and helping with PMS symptoms. Calcium has been studied extensively for its benefit to women with PMS. A recent study showed that calcium supplementation with 500 milligrams of carbonate twice daily significantly improved appetite changes and depression symptoms associated with PMS when compared to the effects of a placebo.
Other supplements sometimes recommended for PMS symptoms include omega-3 fatty acids to help with inflammation, melatonin for difficulty sleeping, and SAMe for mood elevation.
Other Alternative Medicine Approaches for PMS
In addition to herbs and supplements, other forms of alternative medicine have been shown to ease PMS symptoms:
- Acupuncture.This ancient Chinese healing technique, which involves inserting hair-thin needles into the skin, is used to treat a variety of PMS symptoms. The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Medical Acupuncture have recognized acupuncture as a viable treatment option for a range of conditions, several of which are associated with PMS, including depression, anxiety, headaches, low back pain, and insomnia. Researchers in Japan recently reported using acupuncture to successfully treat a case of premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, the severe form of PMS that involves psychological symptoms, but additional studies will be required to confirm this report.
- Nutrition.Research has shown that healthy eating can help reduce or eliminate certain PMS symptoms. Foods that are rich in calcium are recommended; these include low-fat dairy, almonds, beans, and dark leafy greens. When cooking, olive or vegetable oils are best, and it’s always a good idea to avoid trans fats, often found in processed and fast foods. Fish and lean meat are also part of a well-balanced diet. On the other hand, wheat, soy, and corn, along with dairy, are potential food allergens, so eliminating these items can sometimes reduce PMS symptoms for women who are allergic. Water — six to eight glasses every day — is favored over coffee and alcohol.
- Chiropractic.Spinal manipulation, the hallmark of chiropractic treatment, is sometimes used to alleviate some PMS symptoms. Chiropractic practitioners believe that spine health can affect many other body parts, including bones, nerves, muscles, and joints, so PMS-related pain or dysfunction in these areas might be eased through spinal adjustment. Typically, chiropractors will recommend several weekly treatments for PMS symptoms.
As you investigate your alternative treatment options, you may find it helpful to write down your symptoms, the treatments you tried, and whether it helped. Doing so will help show you and your doctor – and your alternative medicine practitioner — if there are any patterns at work that may indicate a condition other than PMS.
Video: Relieve PMS Symptoms With Natural Medicine Treatment
How to Make a Hanging Herb Garden for Your Kitchen
Russell Brand blames Katy Perry divorce on incompatibility’
How to Be Useful and Help Contribute to Society
How to Transfer Words to Wood
10 Essential Facts About Anthrax
16 Awesome Mens Manicure Sets For A-List Nails
Date Night Dressing: What To Wear To Meet TheParents
Dan Nevins: The Double-Amputee Yoga Teacher Is an Inspiration
Woman Has Stellar Response After Being Told to Rethink the Shorts