Do you have PMS?

Medically PMS is defined as:
“Premenstrual syndrome is a common disorder in women of reproductive age that is characterized by the cyclic recurrence of physical, affective, and cognitive (or performance) symptoms. The symptoms occur in the latter half of the menstrual cycle, resolve after menses begins, and are absent during the early phase of the menstrual cycle. A diagnosis of PMS requires that symptoms are severe enough to negatively impact a woman’s ability to function at home, in the workplace, or in personal relationships. As many as 85% of menstruating women experience one or more symptoms of PMS. Approximately 5% to 10% of women have symptoms severe enough to be debilitating.”

OK, where does that leave the rest of us who do not quite have enough symptoms to obtain an official medical diagnosis but are well aware that something just isn’t quite right????
The exact cause of PMS is not fully understood and may be related to a number of factors. The current theories on the underlying causes focus mostly on levels of sex hormones (e.g., estrogen, progesterone) and neurotransmitters (i.e., brain chemicals that control mood), as well as regulation of fluid balance by the kidneys and hormone balance by the liver.

Ok enough technical stuff …on to the good stuff!
Show of hands for those who have been to the doctor for PMS, menopause symptoms or hormone imbalances and your options were birth control pills or some form of synthetic hormone replacement therapy. We now know that those synthetic treatment options can cause adverse side effects that we really don’t want or care to deal with.  But it’s left on us, the patients, to find “alternative” treatments.

Please conduct your own research and talk to your healthcare provider before starting any herbal supplements as they could interact with prescription drugs and/or illnesses that you are already experiencing

First things first, reverse nutritional deficiencies by taking a quality multivitamin and maintaining enough vitamin B6, magnesium and calcium. Secondly know that a variety of herbal approaches have successfully been used to help manage PMS symptoms, many with a history of use dating back centuries. These natural interventions include herbs that support hormone and neurotransmitter balance, fluid balance, and liver health.

There are many however through my own personal experience and intense research, I’ve found the following herbal supplement approaches to be very helpful…although not all at the same time of course! 

  1. Vitex Extract (Vitex agnus-castus or Chaste Tree) Vitex Extract standardized to 0.5% agnuside provides a source of phytoestrogens.  Many of us already get some phytoestrogen through naturally occurring compounds in soy and some vegetables, fruits, grains and legumes. This reason phytoestrogens are often called “dietary estrogens”.  Vitex Extract is dose dependent- which means the effects change when the dose changes.  Although anguside is used, there are two compounds in this fruit extract, rotundifuran & agnuside that can bind to estrogen receptors in the body.  Vitex Extract has the ability to regulate hormones levels and provide symptomatic relief from related illnesses: PMS, Mastalgia, Acne, Uterine Bleeding Disorders, menopausal symptoms and other miscellaneous menstrual irregularities.
  2. Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) Within the system of Ayurveda, ashwagandha is classified as a rasayana (rejuvenation) and is expected to promote physical and mental health, help rejuvenate the body, and increase longevity.  This herb aslo helps to reduce stress levels and assist with weight loss.
  3. Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis) has its origins in China, Japan, and Korea, where it is used to balance the female cycle. Dong Quai works best in combination with other herbs to support menstrual regularity. Dong Quai can nourish dry, thin vaginal tissue,
  4. Wild Yam (Dioscorea villosa) has long been used to support female cycles and functions as a phytohormone.
  5. Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) is a phytoestrogen especially helpful for maintaining an even heartbeat, a normal body temperature, and a healthy menstrual cycle. It has long been used to support the body’s healthy response to pain, maintain healthy muscle function, and provide physical and emotional comfort and stability.
  6. Dandelion Root (Taraxacum officinale) has been commonly used for its ability to help maintain healthy fluid balance and for its cleansing effects. In vitro research suggests that the active constituents in dandelion—which include luteolin, quercetin, and inulin—suppress enzymes responsible for inflammation and pain and provide potent antioxidants.
  7. Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is an herb American Indians used for gynecological support, including relief from common, normal menstrual symptoms such as cramps and related low-back discomfort. Research shows that black cohosh effectively maintains a sense of calmness and healthy outlook, and it may help address menopause-associated vasomotor symptoms. According to the medical literature, black cohosh is beneficial to vaginal superficial cells and bone health without having a potentially detrimental effect upon the endometrium or follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. According to medical studies, black cohosh may exert its benefits through selective estrogen receptor modulation, serotonergic pathways, antioxidant activity, or inflammatory pathways activity, upregulate phase II detoxification, and support bifidobacteria growth.

Well there you have it. As always, I encourage you to do your own research.

Be Well!

Until Next Time!

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