25 Home Remedies for Premenstrual Syndrome

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. No one really knows why certain women develop PMS.

You've heard the line before. A woman flies off the handle at work or at home and some joker says, "It must be that time of the month."

 

The remark, of course, ignores the fact that women sometimes have good reason to get upset or fed up with the demands made on them by husbands, children, and jobs. For some women, however, comments such as this, although made in jest, hold more truth than they'd like to admit. For these women, "that time of the month" really is a period of emotional imbalance and seemingly unprovoked or out-of-proportion anger, depression, and anxiety. Situations that they normally cope well with suddenly become insurmountable. And the energy and health they enjoy most of the time give way to fatigue, discomfort, and weight gain almost overnight.

 

These women have what is known as premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, a condition with an unknown cause and no complete cure. There are, however, some ways to reduce the impact of PMS, using minor lifestyle changes, preventative measures and home remedy treatments. In this article, we will show you 25 ways to ward off PMS' negative effects by eating the right foods and avoiding other substances. In addition, you'll learn some natural home remedies for dealing with what effects you do experience, some of which use very common items found in your kitchen. But first: Let's discuss what PMS is.

Doctors don't really know what causes PMS, but they believe it is a result of hormonal changes, particularly in estrogen, that occur around the menstrual cycle. Some believe that PMS mood swings may be related to deficiencies in vitamin B6 and magnesium. One theory of PMS suggests that its symptoms are due to an ovarian hormone imbalance of either estrogen or progesterone. Still, no one really knows why certain women develop PMS, and research has produced contradictory evidence.

Whatever the cause, the symptoms can include irritability, mood swings, and anger. Indeed, the emotional symptoms, which occur in more than 80 percent of PMS sufferers, are what often drive women to their doctor's office. Other symptoms may include sugar cravings, headaches, dizziness, shakiness, abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, and overall swelling (from edema, or fluid retention). Much less common are depression, memory loss, and feelings of isolation. The symptoms of PMS appear to occur in a cycle, and their severity varies from woman to woman. As a rule, PMS symptoms typically begin a few days to a week before menstruation and fade once the woman's menstrual period begins. Researchers believe that about 40 percent of women of child-bearing age experience PMS in some form. Symptoms and severity vary from mild and manageable to severe and disruptive. Some women have only one symptom, while others have a whole constellation of symptoms. But PMS can be downright brutal for about 15 percent of women. They're the ones who experience many symptoms to a debilitating degree, causing serious problems on the job and in interpersonal relationships.

Even though it's not fully understood, PMS is now recognized as a legitimate condition. There are medications available that can mitigate or stop many of the harshest symptoms. Like so many other conditions, though, there are simple home remedies that will work to relieve symptoms. So try them and see what happens. If you're a PMS sufferer, you know that anything that might help is worth a try.

To learn more about the female reproductive system and potential issues associated with it, visit the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

 

 

Home Remedy Treatments for Premenstrual Syndrome

©2006 Publications International, Ltd. Increasing blood circulation in the pelvic region can help flush out the extra fluid often retained during PMS.

Looking for relief from PMS? You're not alone. Luckily, there are several home remedies to relieve PMS. What follows are some lifestyle changes to try.

Maintain a well-balanced diet. Include lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, starches, raw seeds and nuts, fish, poultry, and whole grains -- all foods that should be part of a healthy daily menu anyway.

Go easy on sugar. You may find yourself yearning for chocolate and other sweets, but giving in to sugar cravings can cause reactive hypoglycemia (an abnormal decrease of sugar in the blood), which will make you feel even worse and intensify feelings of irritability and anxiety. If you can't give up the sweets completely, try eating only small amounts at a time, and opt for treats such as fruits or apple juice that can help satisfy your sugar craving and provide nutrients.

Eat small, frequent meals. Waiting too long between meals could cause blood sugar to drop, triggering reactive hypoglycemia. Plus, sometimes hunger pangs alone are enough to make a person grumpy.

Avoid alcohol. You may think a glass of wine or two will help get you through a bout of PMS blues, but alcohol is a depressant that will only make you feel more down and fatigued. Booze also depletes the body's stores of B vitamins and minerals and disrupts carbohydrate metabolism. What's more, it disrupts the liver's ability to metabolize hormones, which can lead to higher-than-normal estrogen levels. So if you need to be holding a beverage at that dinner party, try a nonalcoholic cocktail, such as mineral water with a twist of lime or lemon or a dash of bitters.

Cut down on caffeinated beverages. You may be tempted to up your intake of caffeinated coffee, tea, or soda to battle PMS-related fatigue, but all that caffeine can intensify anxiety, irritability, and mood swings. It may also increase breast tenderness. Try substituting water-processed decaffeinated coffee; grain-based coffee substitutes such as Pero, Postum, and Caffix; or ginger tea. Watch your chocolate intake, too. And make time in your schedule for enough rest and sleep.

Crunch on carbs. Fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals and breads can reduce the cravings that come with PMS. They also help elevate mood. Eat smaller meals, then snack on these carbohydrates every three hours: popcorn (skip the butter), pretzels, rice cakes. Consume about 100 calories per snack.

Cut the fat. Eating too much dietary fat can interfere with liver efficiency. And some beef contains small amounts of synthetic estrogens. Too much protein can also increase the body's demand for minerals. So opt for smaller servings of lean meats, fish or seafood, beans, peas, seeds, and nuts. Use more whole grains, rice, vegetables, and fruits to fill out your meals. Limit fat to less than 20 percent of your daily calories. Here's how to do the math:

1. Divide your average daily calories by 5: If you eat 2,000 calories a day,

that's 400.

2. Divide that by 9. There are 9 calories per gram of fat. That comes to about

44 grams of fat allowed each day.

Put down the saltshaker. Table salt and high-sodium foods such as bouillon, commercial salad dressings, catsup, hot dogs, and a host of other processed foods can increase fluid retention, bloating, and breast tenderness.

Practice stress management. PMS symptoms feel worse when life's daily frustrations rattle your nerves and try your patience. Keep anxiety and tension under control by joining a stress-management or stress-reduction program at your local hospital or community college, learning biofeedback techniques, meditating, exercising, or doing anything that helps you to relax and cope more effectively with stress.

Exercise aerobically. Working up a sweat not only eases stress, but it causes your body to release feel-good hormones called endorphins that act like natural opiates. Furthermore, increasing blood circulation in the pelvic region can help the body flush out some of the extra fluid often retained during PMS. Choose an activity that will get you huffing and puffing, such as jogging, stair-stepping, or bicycling. Better yet, sign up for an aerobics class -- a little socializing with friends at the health club is an added bonus that may help improve your mood. Try to exercise for 20 to 30 minutes at least three times a week. Increase your exercise regime to once a day starting the week before your period to help relieve or prevent PMS symptoms. If you are just too fatigued to exercise when your PMS is at its worst, don't. Being active the rest of the month should help in itself.

Try not to plan big events during PMS time. Throwing a house party? If possible, schedule the event for a date when PMS won't be a problem. The added stress that comes with planning and playing host can make your moodiness and physical symptoms seem worse.

Sleep tight. Interruption in regular sleep rhythms can interfere with your regular cycle and cause irritability and fatigue.

Talk it over. Dealing with members of your family can be one of the biggest sources of stress for a woman coping with PMS. Feeling guilty about snapping at a spouse or child, then finding the strength to apologize for your outburst, can be emotionally draining. Try to limit the fallout by explaining to your loved ones and close friends the reason for your erratic behavior. Ask them to understand the problem and realize that when you lash out at them during such times, you are not as in control as you would like to be. This openness about your condition could help not only lower your stress level, but avoid hurt feelings. For example, if a rambunctious child has you climbing the walls, explaining that it's a bad time for him or her to make you upset may serve as a cue for the child to give you some peace and quiet by playing outdoors. Keep in mind, however, that PMS is a medical condition, not an emotional crutch. In other words, don't use your menstrual cycle as a defense for being nasty.

If the emotional symptoms are causing problems in your relationships, consider getting some counseling from a mental-health professional. Ask your physician to refer you to someone.

If preventative measures alone don't significantly reduce your PMS symptoms, try one or more of the natural home remedies suggested in the next section. As PMS affects women differently, its natural treatments work better for some, less for others -- but it doesn't hurt to try!

To learn more about the female reproductive system and potential issues associated with it, visit the following links:

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.

The brand name products mentioned in this publication are trademarks or service marks of their respective companies. The mention of any product in this publication does not constitute an endorsement by the respective proprietors of Publications International, Ltd. or HowStuffWorks.com, nor does it constitute an endorsement by any of these companies that their products should be used in the manner described in this publication.

Natural Home Remedies for Premenstrual Syndrome

©2007 Publications International, Ltd. The magnesium in pasta helps regulate hormonal function.

If lifestyle changes alone don't do cure your PMS symptoms, some natural home remedies also exist that may help ease pre-menstruation discomfort. They're easy, contain items typically found in the home, and some probably work as well as, or better than, the medical treatments available.

Home Remedies from the Cupboard

Oatmeal. It breaks down slowly and gradually releases sugar into the bloodstream. This slow, steady release combats the sugar craving that comes with PMS. Rye bread, pasta, basmati rice, and fruit produce the same effect.

Pasta. This is enriched with magnesium, which is important for normal hormonal function. A lack of magnesium may be the cause of muscle cramps. Other magnesium-rich foods include green vegetables, breakfast cereals (skip those sugary ones), and potatoes.

Sunflower seeds. They're rich in omega-6 fatty acid, which may be missing in women who suffer with PMS. Pumpkin and sesame seeds are also rich in it.

the Drawer

Kitchen towel. Soak it in water, wring it out, then warm it up in the microwave for a minute. Moist heat is soothing, so apply this to your belly when you're having abdominal or ovarian cramps. Be careful not to burn yourself.

the Freezer

Ice. If you're suffering tension or extreme anxiety, a nice cooling drink may be relaxing. Or, wrap some ice in a kitchen towel to use as a cold compress on aching muscles and PMS headaches.

the Refrigerator

Avocados. These contain natural serotonin, which may supplement the mood-lifting brain chemical naturally produced by the body. Dates, plums, eggplants, papayas, plantains, and pineapple are also sources of serotonin.

Bananas. Rich in potassium, they can relieve the bloating and swelling of water retention that comes with PMS. Other foods such as figs, black currants, potatoes, broccoli, onions, and tomatoes are potassium-rich, too.

Cherries. An Ayurvedic remedy to relieve PMS symptoms, including bloating and mood swings, is to eat 10 fresh cherries on an empty stomach each day for one week before the start of the menstrual period.

Chicken. It's rich in Vitamin B6, which may be depleted in women who suffer from PMS. Vitamin B6 may help relieve depression by raising levels of serotonin, a mood-enhancer, in the brain. Other B6-rich foods include fish, milk, brown rice, whole grains, soybeans, beans, walnuts, and green leafy vegetables.

Turkey. It supplies tryptophan, an amino acid that converts into serotonin, a mood-enhancer. Cottage cheese is another source of tryptophan.

the Spice Rack

Black pepper. Add a pinch to 1 tablespoon aloe vera gel, and take three times a day with meals to relieve symptoms such as backache and abdominal pain. Aloe vera gel taken with a pinch of cumin works well, too.

Cinnamon. Good sleep habits are important in the treatment of PMS, and a brew of cinnamon tea is relaxing just before bed. Sweeten to taste with honey. Chamomile tea is a relaxing bedtime choice, too.

PMS can be a monthly inconvenience, but with some small precautions and simple home remedies, its negative effects can be greatly lessened, and, in some cases, even eliminated altogether. Leading a healthy, balanced lifestyle for the rest of the month helps -- but if needed, a warm kitchen towel for cramp relief or relieving PMS bloating by eating bananas are options, as well!

To learn more about the female reproductive system and potential issues associated with it, visit the following links:

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Timothy Gower is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in many publications, including Reader's Digest, Prevention, Men's Health, Better Homes and Gardens, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. The author of four books, Gower is also a contributing editor for Health magazine.

Alice Lesch Kelly is a health writer based in Boston. Her work has been published in magazines such as Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Woman's Day, Reader's Digest, Eating Well, and Health. She is the co-author of three books on women's health.

Linnea Lundgren has more than 12 years experience researching, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines. She is the author of four books, including Living Well With Allergies.

Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers and Southern Living magazines. Formerly assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine, her professional passion is learning and writing about health.

ABOUT THE CONSULTANTS:

Ivan Oransky, M.D., is the deputy editor of The Scientist. He is author or co-author of four books, including The Common Symptom Answer Guide, and has written for publications including the Boston Globe, The Lancet, and USA Today. He holds appointments as a clinical assistant professor of medicine and as adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.

Publications International, Ltd.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.