Treating Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) with Chinese Medicine

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Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a group of emotional and physical symptoms linked to the menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms occur one to two weeks before a menstrual period starts. The most common symptoms include depression, mood swings, anxiety, loss of concentration, fatigue, food cravings, trouble sleeping, headaches, breast tenderness, water retention, acne flare-ups, constipation, diarrhea, and many others. The symptoms vary for each woman and from one cycle to the next. For some women, the symptoms may be mild or moderate, while for others they are severe enough to negatively impact their daily routines and activities. For most women, PMS symptoms disappear as soon as the menstrual period begins.

While the exact cause of PMS is not totally clear, hormone changes are thought to contribute to PMS symptoms. These monthly hormone changes may also have an effect on the neurotransmitter chemicals in the brain that relate to mood, particularly serotonin. Low levels of serotonin often lead to low moods, depression and sleep and appetite disturbances. Other causes of hormone imbalance include diet and stress.

A diet high in sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and dairy can all cause the hormones to become imbalanced. Alcohol can also damage the liver, preventing it from being able to eliminate excess estrogen in the body. Stress increases the amount of cortisol in the body, which impairs progesterone activity, causing the level of estrogen to be too high in relation to progesterone, leading to PMS symptoms. Constipation can also lead to high levels of estrogen. If the bowels are not moving sufficiently, the estrogen in the digestive tract can be reabsorbed by the intestines, and back into circulation.

There are many ways women can care for themselves to reduce PMS symptoms. Eating a diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids – foods such as salmon, trout, mackerel, and certain nuts and seeds, like flax, sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, and walnuts can help relax the muscles and reduce menstrual pain. They also may help alleviate depression and anxiety.

Depression is often associated with a low level of serotonin. Eating foods that are rich in carbohydrates can help to raise your levels of serotonin, thereby alleviating the depression. Foods rich in carbohydrates include wheat, whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

To reduce bloating and water retention, decreasing the amount of salt in the diet can help. Try to also minimize your intake of sugar since excess refined sugar consumption can increase insulin production which may aggravate bloating.

To improve your quality of sleep, increase your intake of magnesium-rich food, such as salmon, halibut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, soybeans, black beans and spinach. Cut back on alcohol and caffeine during the day and avoid them during the evening.

Chinese herbal medicine can very gently and effectively balance the hormones to alleviate PMS symptoms. Merry Clinic’s PMS formula contains herbs that harmonize the body’s systems, soothe the mind to allow you to better deal with anxiety, depression, and improve sleep. Please follow the link below for more information on Merry Clinic’s PMS formula.

http://www.merrywomenclinic.com/treatment/pms.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Teresa is a California licensed acupuncturist in San Francisco, CA

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