Got PMS?

PMS is thought to affect around 30-40 % of menstruating women. The symptoms occur 7-14 days prior to having a period. Stress can make PMS much worse. The most common hormonal imbalance is a high estrogen level relative to progesterone.

According to Dr. Guy Abraham, M.D., a research gynecologist and endocrinologist, PMS can be classified into one of four types according to symptoms. The four types of PMS include:

1. PMS A- for anxiety, irritability, mood swings
2. PMS C- for cravings
3. PMS H- for hyper hydration (water retention)
4. PMS D- for drama and depression

PMS A: This type is marked by nervous tension and being hypersensitive. This can be caused by fried foods or cooked fats, too much dairy or over-consumption of alcohol. Estrogen levels are too high and there are insufficient levels of progesterone.

PMS C: Cravings for carbohydrates can also be accompanied by fatigue, headaches and dizziness. The most important thing to do when you crave sweets is to increase protein in your diet and decrease sweets. The more sugar you consume the more you crave it.

PMS H: Many women suffer from abdominal bloating and breast tenderness before their periods.

PMS D: This can be accompanied by insomnia, confusion, forgetfulness, high blood pressure and problems with eyesight. Cycles are very light. Progesterone levels are higher than estrogen levels.

Treatments for PMS:
Treatment should integrate diet, supplements, stress management and acupuncture.

An anti-inflammatory diet that is plant based with some fish is optimum. Eat plenty of broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, as these help metabolize estrogen. Minimize alcohol, sugar, dairy, caffeine and processed foods and eliminate salt.

Helpful supplements can include: B complex vitamin taken daily and B6 vitamin taken the last 14 days of the cycle, Vitamin E, Calcium 1,500 mg daily with Magnesium 1,000 mg daily and essential fatty acids, such as GLA found in borage seed oil, black current oil or primrose oil. The herbs Vitex and Milk Thistle are also helpful in balancing hormones and supporting the liver.

Exercise is essential for managing PMS. A program should include aerobic conditioning, resistance training and stretching.

What about acupuncture?
The results of a study published in Arch Gynecol Obstet. 2002 Nov;267(1):23-6 by Habek et al entitled “Using acupuncture to treat premenstrual syndrome” found that the success rate of acupuncture in treating PMS symptoms was 77.8%, whereas it was 5.9% in the placebo group. The positive influence of acupuncture in treating PMS symptoms can be ascribed to its effects on the serotoninergic and opiodergic neurotransmission that modulates various psychosomatic functions. Acupuncture should be suggested to patients as a method of treatment.

About the Author

Dr. Geoff LecovinNaturopathic Physician/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist/Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist/Corrective Exercise Specialist/Performance Enhancement Specialist/Certified Sports Nutritionist/View all posts by Dr. Geoff Lecovin