Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) describes emotional and physical symptoms occurring before the onset of menstruation. There are some 150 symptoms that have been associated with PMS including breast distension, depression, sadness, irritability, anxiety, bowel changes, acne, food cravings, and sleep changes. Eighty percent of women experience premenstrual emotional or physical changes, whereas 20-40 percent of these women have difficulties as a result.
According to Chinese medicine the contributing factors to PMS are emotional strain, diet- specifically over consumption of dairy products and greasy foods, and overwork and physical strain. Most often PMS is viewed as an imbalance in the Liver system but can also involve the Spleen and Kidney systems.
The most common of the five main diagnoses is Liver Qi Stagnation. In the case of Liver Qi Stagnation one experiences abdominal and breast distension, irritability, depression, moodiness, and constipation. Acupuncture points are used to course the Liver Qi, eliminate stagnation, and calm the mind. Chinese herbal therapy is also very effective. Xiao Yao Wan (Free and Easy Wanderer Pill) is widely used for this pattern.
Dietary and lifestyle changes are important. A whole foods diet with minimal intake of dairy products, greasy foods, sugar, refined carbohydrates, caffeine, and saturated fats is optimal. Daily exercise and meditation are also recommended. Vitamins like B6, magnesium, evening primrose oil, and vitamin E in addition to a well balanced multivitamin can be beneficial.
There is no need to suffer from PMS. Chinese medicine is very effective and although at least three menstrual cycles are recommended to evaluate results, benefits are often seen after the first week.