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  • Catherine Wasik

PMS newsletter

PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME (PMS) PMS is a combination of physical and emotional symptoms that many women get after ovulation and before the start of their menstrual period. Researchers think that PMS happens in the days after ovulation because oestrogen and progesterone levels begin falling dramatically, and symptoms appear to ease within a few days of the period starting as the hormone levels begin rising again. Symptoms vary from woman to woman, some only getting very mild and insignificant symptoms while for others the symptoms are severe and can even result in the women needing to be absent from school or work. These more severe symptoms can be a sign of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMS symptoms are different for every woman. You may get physical symptoms, such as bloating or gassiness, emotional symptoms, such as sadness, or both. Your symptoms may also change throughout your life.

Physical symptoms of PMS can include

Emotional or mental symptoms of PMS include

Swollen or tender breasts Irritability or hostile behaviour

Constipation or diarrhoea

Bloating or a gassy feeling


Headache or backache


Lower tolerance for noise or light

Feeling tired

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

Mood swings

Less interest in sex

Hormonal changes in PMS PMS is associated with the latter phase of the menstrual cycle. It occurs after ovulation but before menstruation and is known as the luteal phase. During the luteal phase there is an increase in the hormones oestrogen and progesterone. It is thought that, depending on the speed of change and the woman’s body sensitivity to these changes, is strongly associated with whether or not PMS will be experienced. Diagnosis There is no distinct test for PMS but it is presumed that PMS is a problem for those with symptoms that: · Happen in the five days before your period for at least three menstrual cycles in a row

  • End within four days after your period starts

  • Keep you from enjoying or doing some of your normal activities

PMS is also thought to be increased in those with high sodium intake, alcohol intake, and poor/inappropriate diet.

PMS vitamins and minerals that aid in relief

Studies have found benefits for:

  • Calcium. Studies show that calcium can help reduce some PMS symptoms such as fatigue, cravings and depression. Calcium is found in foods such as milk, cheese and yogurt. Some foods, such as orange juice, cereal and bread, have calcium added (fortified).

  • Vitamin B6. Vitamin B6 may help with PMS symptoms including moodiness, irritability, forgetfulness, bloating and anxiety. Vitamin B6 can be found in foods such as fish, poultry, potatoes, fruit (except for citrus fruits), and fortified cereals. You can also take it as a dietary supplement.

  • Magnesium. Magnesium may help relieve some PMS symptoms, including migraines. If you get menstrual migraines. Magnesium is found in green, leafy vegetables such as spinach as well as in nuts, whole grains and fortified cereals. You can also take a supplement.

  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6). Studies show that taking a supplement with 1 to 2 grams of polyunsaturated fatty acids may help reduce cramps and other PMS symptoms. Good sources of polyunsaturated fatty acids include flaxseed, nuts, fish and green leafy vegetables.

Herbs that can help with PMS

There are several herbs which also aid in easing the symptoms of PMS. It is important to get the right balance of herbs, as there is very good evidence that some herbs promote their effect by stimulating removal of excess hormones from the body by activating the liver, while others can work on the glands and tissues that stimulate the production of hormones. Herbalists have the skill to prescribe herbs effectively and safely to promote positive effects. When the woman is taking the birth control pill or has a contraceptive implant it is even more important to engage the services of a herbalist to ensure that herbs are used appropriately to avoid unwanted changes in hormones that may result in pregnancy.

  • Black cohosh. The underground stems and root of black cohosh are used fresh or dried to maKe tea, capsules, pills or liquid extracts. Black cohosh is most often used to help treat menopausal symptoms and some women use it to help relieve PMS symptoms.

Vitex agnus castus (chasteberry)
  • Chasteberry . Dried ripe chasteberry is used to prepare liquid extracts or pills that some women take to relieve PMS symptoms. Women taking hormonal birth control or hormone therapy for menopause symptoms should NOT take chasteberry.

  • Evening primrose oil. The oil is taken from the plant’s seeds and put into capsules. Some women report that the pill helps relieve PMS symptoms, but the research results are mixed.


details: for more information and advice

Catherine Wasik BSc Hons Ost; BSc Hons MNIMH

Registered Osteopath and Medical Herbalist

With acupuncture training and rehabilitation pilates instructor training

At George Morris Physiotherapy Clinics in Hindley, Ashton and Leigh Direct line: 07828261152 email:

Herbal Osteopathic Life

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