Serena Norr
Written by Serena Norr

Reviewed by Dr Jessica Gunawan

5 Natural Ways to Relieve Premenstrual Syndrome

During a women's menstrual period, they may experience premenstrual syndrome. Here are some natural ways to relieve PMS using holistic and TCM practices

A young woman listening and dancing to music happily at home because she is free from premenstrual syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a combination of physical and emotional changes that affect many women before the start of their menstrual cycle. This is believed to be caused by hormonal fluctuations that begin 5 to 11 days before menstruation and typically go away once menstruation begins.

Often signified as the ‘time of the month,’ over 90% of American women (ages 20s to 40s) experience symptoms related to premenstrual syndromes such as moodiness, bloating, or headaches. In rare cases, symptoms can lead to a severe form of PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). However, this only impacts 5% of the population.

Below, you’ll find more about symptoms of PMS and a number of ways to naturally alleviate them using holistic and TCM practices.

5 Common Premenstrual Symptoms

A woman holding her stomach due to period cramps
Stomach pain is a common symptom of premenstrual syndrome.

Did you know that more than 200 physical and psychological symptoms have been associated with the occurrence of PMS? This typically causes stress, PMS depression, acne, change in mood, and fatigue, to name a few. And while these symptoms can be annoying, they do tend to follow a pattern every month. If a woman knows her cycle, she can be empowered to have solutions for herself. However, those experiencing severe symptoms should always see their doctor.

Here are several common PMS symptoms that many women experience.

1. Acne

Everyone gets acne from time to time. With PMS, women tend to get a flare-up 7 to 10 days before the start of their period. This is caused by a combination of reduced estrogen and progesterone levels and unchanged levels of testosterone in a woman’s body. 

This imbalance of hormone levels stimulates the sebaceous glands, causing them to excrete more sebum. In turn, this activity in the sebaceous glands will encourage the breeding of Cutibacterium acnes — the bacteria that causes acne. Consequently, this will trigger an immune system reaction, causing pimples to develop. Like all symptoms, this does go away.

2. Hormonal headaches

Hormonal headaches, also called menstrual migraines, start before or during a women’s period. More than a bad headache, this is usually accompanied by pain that ranges from mild to severe, dizziness or blurred vision, a throbbing or pounding feeling, nausea or vomiting, and feeling very warm or cold. In addition, physical symptoms like acne, constipation, fatigue, joint pain, less frequent urination, and a lack of coordination are also connected with migraines. Some women have to miss work or school during their period because their PMS is intolerable.

3. Sleep issues

Sleep is imperative for everyone to recover and heal. Nonetheless, women with PMS are twice as likely to experience disrupted sleep, or insomnia. This leads to fatigue, daytime drowsiness, lack of energy, and mood fluctuations.

Interestingly, PMS can also cause some women to sleep too much. This condition is also known as hypersomnia and is accompanied by anxiety traits, depression, and higher stress levels.

4. Swollen or tender breasts

Swollen, sore, or sensitive breasts occur during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Reduced levels of estrogen and progesterone can cause soreness and lymph node swelling.

This is signified by breasts that feel bumpy and dense when fingers are rubbed over them. It is usually present in the outer area of the breast near the armpit. You may also experience a feeling of breast fullness as well as tenderness, along with dull and heavy pain.

5. Mood changes

PMS can greatly change someone’s mood. A woman might find herself crying one minute to being filled with anger the next. Mood swings and irritability are can also affect your ability to concentrate or focus. Some have also reported issues with their memory when experiencing PMS.

Moreover, PMS can make people feel more anxious, depressed, and can cause social withdrawal. If your PMS depression goes on, it is important to seek help from a doctor.

5 Natural Ways to Reduce Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms

a young woman doing yoga at a studio to relieve premenstrual syndrome symptoms
Regular exercise, such as Yoga can help reduce PMS symptoms.

No single treatment works for everyone. However, symptoms are temporary where lifestyle changes and knowing what’s to come can help you to relieve mild to moderate PMS symptoms.

If symptoms are impairing your quality of life and performance of daily activities, you should seek medical advice as soon as possible.

1. Try natural remedies

Natural remedies can also help you deal with any PMS symptoms. This includes taking evening primrose oil or St. John’s wort. You can also gently massage your stomach or enjoy a soothing cup of tea such as Black Sugar Cube with Red Date Longan Tea. This tea nourishes the body and the blood, relieves pain, and is beneficial to the heart and the spleen.

2. Exercise regularly

Second, start a workout routine. Doing aerobic exercises like brisk walking, cycling, running, or swimming can help give you more energy, combat fatigue, and improve your mood. It can also help to increase your heart rate and improve lung function. Ideally, 30 minutes of aerobic activity on alternate days of the week is a great way to start.

3. Consume traditional Chinese remedies

The first step you can take is to consume Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). TCM believes that PMS is a result of stagnation liver qi and deficiency of kidney yang. Therefore, the focus of treatment with TCM is to address the root cause of different symptoms. 

Based on a study, acupuncture provides relief by stimulating the body’s healing mechanism. Acupuncture can also reduce inflammation and help alleviate mood swings linked to PMS.

You can also consume Bak Foong Pills, an herbal supplement widely used by Asian women. This TCM formula is made with numerous ancient ingredients that can help treat blood and qi deficiencies and improve fatigue and paleness due to a weak body constitution. Taking this herbal remedy can also help alleviate menstrual symptoms, maintain vitality, and boost energy levels.

4. Make dietary changes

The next step is to improve what you eat. If you get monthly PMS, start consuming a diet consisting primarily of complex carbohydrates like barley, lentils, brown rice, and whole grains to help regulate your mood and alleviate food cravings. 

Consume superfoods, including foods rich in calcium and healthy fats like Omega-3 and Omega-6. It is also important to limit your intake of fatty foods, foods high in salt or sugar, and avoid caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.

In addition, stabilize your blood sugar levels by consuming more food servings daily, albeit in smaller portions. Consuming cordyceps, 12 strains of healthy bacteria, and 90 types of fermented fruits and vegetables can also help provide stress relief and promote a healthy bowel movement. Supplements such as vitamin D and magnesium can also help with your overall mood and wellbeing.

5. Reduce your stress

The last step, which can be the most challenging for many, is to decrease your stress. However, regulating it can help you both emotionally and physically to feel your best.

Relaxation therapy can help lessen the severity of PMS symptoms by lowering stress levels. Deep breathing exercises, massages, meditation, and yoga are common examples of relaxation therapy. Diluting drops of chamomile, lavender, and peppermint oil in a diffuser can promote relaxation, while you can diffuse cedarwood, eucalyptus, hyssop, and pine oil to compliment breathing exercise routines. If you are dealing with cramps, you can try relaxing with a heating pad and some oils.

Getting quality, restful sleep every day can also lessen moodiness and relieve fatigue. Consuming a spoonful of honey with warm water can supplement your body with the amino acids, enzymes, and vitamins needed to improve sleep quality, nourish the skin, and regulate your metabolism. 

As you can see, premenstrual syndrome varies from person to person. PMS symptoms are manageable and can be alleviated by following a holistic approach. Furthermore, these methods can help you to improve your overall health and well-being.

References

  1. Mayo Clinic. 2021. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). [Accessed on December 21, 2021]
  2. Women’s Health. 2021. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). [Accessed on December 21, 2021]
  3. Medline Plus. 2021. Premenstrual Syndrome. [Accessed on December 21, 2021]
  4. Cleveland Clinic. 2021. Menstrual Migraines (Hormone Headaches). [Accessed on December 21, 2021]
  5. Sleep Foundation. 2021. PMS and Insomnia. [Accessed on December 21, 2021]
  6. Medline Plus. 2021. Premenstrual breast changes. [Accessed on December 21, 2021]
  7. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. 2010. Defining Meridians: A Modern Basis of Understanding. [Accessed on December 21, 2021]
  8. Cochrane Library. 2018. Acupuncture and acupressure for premenstrual syndrome. [Accessed on December 21, 2021]

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