Pre Menstrual Syndrome and Natural Treatments

October 16th, 2012

Is your PMT driving you crazy?


Those of you who suffer from Premenstrual Tension know how debilitating and nerve-wracking the condition can be, especially if you have to endure it on a regular basis. Unfortunately those around us, particularly family members, are often subjected to its full force. It doesn’t take much to feel frustrated, irritated, tense and teary. These feelings can be compounded if you also happen to develop sore breasts, bloating, insomnia and constipation. Most women who suffer from PMT tend to develop the same set of symptoms each month and may only experience one or two complaints. However, PMT is usually defined as such if an emotional complaint is always present.

So the condition can be seen as a collection of physical, emotional and mental symptoms experienced during the luteal phase (the two-week period after ovulation) of the reproductive cycle. Symptoms tend to disappear soon after your period has started . Some women are lucky enough never to experience PMT, but the prevalence rate can be as high as 30% and may even be higher for women over forty.

The causes of PMT are not fully understood but naturopaths tend to believe that  hormonal factors, changes in brain chemistry and nutrient deficiencies can all impact on the way that women feel during this period of time. I’m going to list some of the naturopathic theorised causes below and how PMT symptoms can be categorised under headings such as Anxiety and Craving. I’ve also included some of the naturopathic treatments strategies I use to help alleviate individual symptoms.

Theorised Causes

      Hormonal factors

  • Excess oestrogen relative to progesterone (the two major hormones that regulate the menstrual cycle) is thought to increase feelings of irritability, aggressiveness and anxiety by increasing noradrenaline (a neurotransmitter) in the brain.
  • Relative progesterone deficiency. Progesterone normally inhibits aldosterone levels which helps to prevent sodium and water retention. When progesterone levels are low fluid retention worsens which can lead to sore breasts.
  • Stress, low magnesium, high oestrogen levels and low progesterone levels also increase high aldosterone levels leading to fluid retention.
  • Normal or mildly elevated Prolactin levels are thought to affect women with PMS due to excessive sensitivity. Prolactin is secreted in the pituitary gland in the brain and is normally elevated in breastfeeding women.

Brain chemistry

  • With an increased oestrogen to progesterone ratio there is a drop in endorphin levels negatively impacting on mood.
  • It is also believed that oestrogen inhibits the deactivation of adrenalin, noradrenaline and serotonin, (all brain neurotransmitters) which can cause nervous tension, inability to concentrate and fluid retention, but enhances the deactivation of dopamine which is said to reduce feelings of relaxation and alertness.
  • Dopamine is also said to inhibit prolactin, which is associated with symptoms of breast soreness and swelling. Therefore low levels of dopamine may increase these symptoms.


  • Magnesium deficiency has been associated with depression and depleted levels of dopamine. In addition deficiency causes fluid retention.
  • A deficiency leads to increased insulin secretion and may cause blood sugar instability premenstrually.
  • Low magnesium absorption may be due to increased sugar and dairy consumption often consumed more by PMS sufferers.


PMS A = Anxiety

  • Nervous tension
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety


  • Vitex agnus castus
  • Magnesium
  • Nervines – Valerian, Scutellaria, Matricaria (herbs)
  • Anxiety with exhaustion –  Withania (herb)
  • Menstrual irregularity with PMS – Bupleurum, Paeonia, Angelica (herbs)

Dietary Measures Decrease excess oestrogen by:

  • Increasing levels of whole fibre and reduce saturated fat content
  • Probiotics
  • Reduce weight if obese
  • Increase phytoestrogens, soy milk, tofu
  • Remove coffee, alcohol, chocolate from diet
  • Exercise – walking, yoga

Ice cream sandwich, Crave, Calgary

PMS C = Cravings

  • Headache
  • Craving for sweets
  • Increased appetite
  • Palpitations
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness or fainting


  • Restricted salt and sugar intake
  • Magnesium
  • Small frequent meals that include a source of protein

How to perform stomach fire Burning - STEP 20:...

PMS H = Hyperhydration

  • Breast tenderness
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Weight gain
  • Swelling lower body, eyelids


  • Vitex agnus castus
  • Magnesium

Dietary Measures Decrease excess oestrogen by:

  • Increasing levels of whole fibre and reduce saturated fat content
  • Probiotics
  • Reduce weight if obese
  • Increase phytoestrogens, soy milk, tofu
  • Remove coffee, alcohol, chocolate from diet
  • Restricted salt intake
  • Vitamin E for breast tenderness
  • Dandelion leaf to reduce fluid retention
  • Exercise – walking, yoga

the face of emotional exhaustion (day 187)

PMS D = Depression

Thought to be associated with a relative oestrogen deficiency.

  • Depression
  • Forgetfulness
  • Crying
  • Confusion
  • Insomnia


  • Magnesium
  • Phytoestrogens – soy milk, tofu, linseed bread, tempeh, soy flour and grits
  • Black cohosh for depression with headaches
  • Hypericum and Withania for depression (herbs)
  • Remove coffee, alcohol, chocolate from diet
  • Exercise – walking, yoga

day 96: period pain

PMS P = Pain

  • Aches and pains
  • Reduced pain threshold
  • dysmenorrhea


  • Magnesium reduces sensitivity to pain
  • Tansy – period pain and migraine (prostaglandin inhibitor)
  • Fish oil prostaglandin inhibitor
  • Decrease oestrogen excess to reduce prostaglandin production
  • Vitex
  • Increase levels of whole fibre and reduce saturated fat content
  • Probiotics
  • Reduce weight if obese
  • Increase phytoestrogens, soy milk, tofu

I hope this was of help to those who suffer from PMT and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to contact me or book in for a tailored treatment plan to help alleviate your premenstrual symptoms. It’s important to take the correct therapeutic doses to feel the full effects of natural medicine.

Monique  0432 540 996

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