Pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) is the subject of a lot of jokes in the media, and it’s something that women talk about a lot too, but the condition is not always that well understood.
If you’d like to know more about what goes on in the female body each month, and to learn about some PMS remedies, this information is outlined below.
What Is PMS?
PMS is a condition that women sometimes experience in the weeks before they get their menstrual period.1 PMS symptoms can vary, and not all women experience symptoms. Even those who do get PMS may find that their symptoms change from month to month. Having an awareness of your monthly cycle can help you to cope with PMS because you will be more aware of why you are having those symptoms and feelings.
PMS affects women who are going through their menstrual cycle. It will not affect girls who have not started puberty yet, and women will not experience symptoms while pregnant or after they go through menopause.2
PMS symptoms can vary from woman to woman. The symptoms will go away after the woman’s period starts. Common symptoms of PMS include acne, bloating or weight gain, breast tenderness, headaches, joint pain, food cravings, and mood swings.3
There is also a more serious and severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). Those with PMDD experience some or all of the symptoms listed above to the point where the symptoms interfere with their day-to-day lives.
There are a number of potential remedies which can be useful for managing PMS symptoms. Getting regular exercise can help reduce bloating, insomnia, and anxiety. Even if you do not feel like moving much, once you start moving, cramping and other issues can go away.
It also helps to eat regular, small meals that include some starchy carbohydrates. Aim to also eat lots of fruit and vegetables and to avoid sweets. Breast tenderness can be reduced by avoiding caffeine and saturated fats. If you really like drinking hot drinks, consider swapping to chamomile or fennel tea. Some women may benefit from supplementing with a small amount of B6, calcium, and vitamin D.4
There are also medications that can help with PMS symptoms. Some doctors will prescribe SSRIs for more severe psychological impacts of PMS, although it can take up to three months for these to have an effect.5 Until recently, diuretics were commonly used to treat bloating during PMS, but such treatments are now falling out of favor.6 Non-steroidal anti-inflammatories and other painkillers are sometimes used to help with joint pain, headaches, and cramping.7
Natural PMS Remedies
Prescription medications can be useful for managing PMS symptoms in the short term, but those medications may come with unpleasant side effects, and they can also be quite expensive. It’s understandable that many women would prefer to find ways to manage their symptoms on an ongoing basis, without fear of side-effects or large prescription bills.
Essential oils can be a useful home remedy, putting the power back in the hands of the women themselves. Some good essential oils for women struggling with PMS symptoms include:
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint is effective for curbing cravings or relieving digestive troubles.8 If you find yourself reaching for a tub of ice cream during that time of the month, then peppermint could help you to retain some control over your diet.
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It could also help soothe the inevitable upset stomach if you do find your cravings hard to resist.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is well-known for its relaxing properties. It can help reduce stress, ease tension headaches, and alleviate PMS symptoms. Studies show that lavender can help to reduce feelings of sadness, which can be a common symptom of PMS.9
Cinnamon Essential Oil
Cinnamon can help reduce the cramping that occurs during PMS. Studies show that while cinnamon is not quite as effective as Ibuprofen for reducing pain during PMS episodes, it is still more effective than a placebo.10
Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil
Many aromatherapy advocates swear by ylang-ylang because it is a relaxing scent that can help to reduce stress anxiety. In fact, ylang-ylang has been found to help reduce cortisol levels in some trials.11 One good way to reduce PMS symptoms is to combine ylang-ylang and lavender oil with a carrier oil to make a massage treatment and to apply that to the abdomen. This should help relax you and reduce cramping.
Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary sage is an estrogen-like compound. It is not estrogenic in the way that geranium and rose otto are, but studies have found that massage with clary sage can help to reduce PMS symptoms because of these properties.12,13
PMS is usually not a pleasant event to have to go through. However, most cases of PMS can be successfully managed through a combination of diet and lifestyle changes, and if necessary, medication or herbal remedies. Every woman’s body is different, and the symptoms that you experience may be different from those of your friends or family members. The remedies that work for you may be different too.
If you are struggling with PMS, try to keep a diary of the symptoms that you experience and other factors that you notice in day-to-day life. This will help you to be aware of how you are feeling so that you can prepare yourself for bad days and be self-aware when it comes to cravings. You may also find that you need to move certain activities around, perhaps avoiding long, stressful journeys on days when you think your symptoms will be at their worst. Over time, you will hopefully find ways of reducing your PMS symptoms or manage them when they appear using essential oils.
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