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Natural Healing for PMS

Is there a natural way to help ease my PMS symptoms? This month, Dr. Joanne offers solutions  involving healthy diet and  natural remedies that can help ease your PMS symptoms.  Learn the basics to a natural approach!

Symptoms of PMS usually manifest 7-10 days before the onset of menses and include mood changes such as low mood, irritability, difficulty sleeping; swollen breasts;  water retention and bloating; acne; food cravings and other symptoms.  75-80% percent of women experience PMS symptoms. Although it is natural to feel changes in your body as menses approaches, if the symptoms are debilitating to the point where you cannot function, something may need to be done to alleviate your symptoms.

The systems that typically need balancing when it comes to PMS are the liver, endocrine and nervous systems.

There are several possible contributing factors to explain PMS symptoms and the cause may vary from woman to woman. However, most often symptoms arise because of an imbalance between the two main female hormones – estrogen and progesterone. In the 2nd half of the cycle, progesterone should be higher than estrogen. But when PMS symptoms are rearing their ugly head, the ratio is often flipped and estrogen is higher than progesterone. Using herbs and natural remedies that help raise progesterone and lower estrogen will be helpful for many women.

Basic approach for relieving PMS symptoms and supporting hormone balance:


  1. Fiber: increase fiber to 35-40grams per day. Fiber will help your body clear excess estrogen. I recommend 2 tbsp of ground flax seed per day (buy whole and grind yourself). Also consume other high fiber foods such as whole grains, beans, nuts & seeds.
  2. Consume complex carbohydrates (vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts/seeds) and avoid refined/processed carbs (bread, pasta, pastries, cereals etc). Consume 5-7 servings of vegetables and 2-3 servings of fruit per day.
  3. Avoid sugar, refined /processed (white) grains, white potatoes, breads and pastas.
  4. Limit dairy
  5. Limit fat intake – reduce to 25% of total calories per day. Avoid saturated fat from meat, poultry and dairy. Choose fat from vegetable sources such as olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, nuts & seeds.
  6. Buy organic meat and dairy to avoid sources of exogenous hormones that are fed to the animals.

Balance the key female hormones:

  1. Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus) – 175-225 mg per day. Helps increase your body’s production of progesterone and balance the estrogen: progesterone ratio. Low levels of progesterone have been associated with many PMS symptoms including anxiety and sleep disturbance.  Taking chaste tree alone can make a big difference!
  2. Don Quai root (Angelica sinensis) – 1-2 grams of the powdered herb or 4 ml of liquid tincture per day. Discontinue 2-3 days before menstruation begins and do not resume until you have completely finished bleeding. Particularly helpful if you experience menstrual cramps, irregular menstrual cycles or premenstrual constipation. Pair with Chaste tree berry.
  3. 2 tbsp of ground flaxseeds per day (buy whole and grind them yourself). Mix 1 tbsp in 8 oz of water, add lemon and drink first thing in the morning. Sprinkle on salads, add to rice, oatmeal, yogurt or smoothies.
  4. Consider adding DIM to the above recommendations – 100-200mg per day. Add to the above recommendations if further estrogen reduction is indicated such as if you have symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding, severe menstrual cramps, significant breast pain, fibroids or low functioning thyroid.
  5. Others to consider:
  6. Oils high in GLA (gamma linolenic acid) such as Evening Primrose oil – 500mg 2-3x/day. Helps balance hormones and is particularly helpful if you experience breast tenderness.
  7. B6 – 50-200mg/day to help lower estrogen levels.

The endocrine system is slow to change, continue recommendations for 3-4 cycles before assessing your response.

* Day 1 of the menstrual cycle is the first day you start bleeding. Normal menstrual cycles are usually 26-30 days long.

Support your liver:

  1. Herbs that help liver function will help balance hormones by supporting their metabolism and clearance. This is especially helpful if you are estrogen dominant. These include Dandelion root, Burdock root and Milk thistle, Artichoke and Curcumin.
  2. Castor oil packs, 3-4x/week – see my next blog for more info!

For bloating and water retention:

Using the herbal approach outlined above to balance the estrogen: progesterone should help reduce water retention and bloating since excess estrogen increases the hormone aldosterone which causes water retention.

For symptomatic relief consider natural diuretics, such as Dandelion leaf and Parsley. Start 7-10 days before menses begins.

Dandelion leaf tea – 3-4 cups per day. Can add nettle leaf as well.
Traditional Medicinals makes a nice tea called Weightless to help with water retention.
B6 – 50-200mg/day.

Address the stress in your life:

There is an intricate and close relationship between your sex hormones (i.e. estrogen & progesterone) and the chemicals of your nervous system. This is why many women experience worse PMS symptoms when under stress.  Addressing the stress in your life with stress- relieving lifestyle activities such as exercise, breathing or yoga is another key step for getting your hormones in balance.

Come in and talk to me at the store if you’d like some help individualizing this approach to meet your specific needs and symptoms.


To Learn More:

“Getting Your Hormones in Balance So Your Period is Not a Curse” by Aviva Romm. http://avivaromm.com/pms

Herbal Healing for Women by Rosemary Gladstar

Heidi commented 2014-06-03 17:54:07
Thanks for sharing this information.

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