Holistic Management of PMS/PMDD
The vast majority of women experience some level of PMS or PMDD at some point in their lives. Symptoms of PMS, also known as premenstrual syndrome, and PMDD, also known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, impact the lives of women in many ways. The scale of PMS and PMDD is large, women may experience little or no symptoms, or they may experience debilitating symptoms – or somewhere in between the two extremes. To discuss holistic management of PMS and PMDD, it is first important to establish what the symptoms of each are. The US Department of Health and Human Services provides a comprehensive look at the symptoms of each:
Physical symptoms of PMS can include:
•Swollen or tender breasts
•Constipation or diarrhea
•Bloating or a gassy feeling
•Headache or backache
•Lower tolerance for noise or light
Emotional or mental symptoms of PMS include:12
•Irritability or hostile behavior
•Sleep problems (sleeping too much or too little)
•Appetite changes or food cravings
•Trouble with concentration or memory
•Tension or anxiety
•Depression, feelings of sadness, or crying spells
•Less interest in sex
Symptoms of PMDD include:
•Lasting irritability or anger that may affect other people
•Feelings of sadness or despair, or even thoughts of suicide
•Feelings of tension or anxiety
•Mood swings or crying often
•Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
•Trouble thinking or focusing
•Tiredness or low energy
•Food cravings or binge eating
•Feeling out of control
•Cramps, bloating, breast tenderness, headaches, & joint/muscle pain
Will My PMS and/or PMDD Ever Stop?
When a woman experiences PMS or PMDD, it may simply be frustrating or it may greatly impact their day-to-day life. There is a myriad of prescriptions and OTC medications that can help mask and control some of the symptoms associated with PMD and PMDD, but they do not cure it, and you will likely face those same symptoms month after month until you address your holistic health.
Naturopathic & Holistic Treatment of PMS & PMDD
The range of Western medicine treatments for PMS and PMDD include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, prescription, and OTC pain relievers, birth control pills for hormonal regulation, OTC diuretics, and more. If those things are not something you want as part of your normal daily life, or on a recurring basis, it is imperative that you look at what the root causes of your PMS and PMDD may be so that you can begin to holistically address, rather than simply mask, the symptoms.
As with almost any illness, ailment, syndrome or disease, one of the most important places to start your treatment and healing is with your diet. What you consume directly and dramatically impacts your overall health. Do you eat a diet rich in healthy, whole foods or is it primarily processed and high in sodium and carbohydrates? There are two very important nutrients for women when managing PMS and PMDD: Vitamin B6 and Magnesium. These two nutrients impact hormonal balance, neurotransmission, and even metabolism.
Additionally, many women find that adding things like herbs as part of their holistic treatment of PMS/PMDD can help. Evening primrose oil to be beneficial in the management of breast tenderness and pain. Clary sage may help balance hormone levels. Lavender oil can help with things like stress, anxiety, and even cramps and bloating. Chasteberry can help reduce fluid retention and food cravings.
In addition, many women find that their levels of estrogen and progesterone may be out of balance throughout their cycle. If that is the case, the addition of progesterone, estrogen, or a combination may be ideal. In all these cases, it is ideal to consult your naturopath to determine which holistic and natural treatments are best for managing your unique PMS and/or PMDD symptoms.