Premenstrual Syndrome

PREMENSTRUAL SYNDROME

It's "that time of the month" when men in the household make themselves as scarce as possible. Premenstrual syndrome is caused by changes in the levels of estrogen and progesterone in your body. The higher the level of estrogen level, the greater the risk of PMS. Here is a brief rundown of supplements and herbs that may help (and certainly won't hurt).

Your daily supplement formula should include at least 100 mg of vitamin B6. B6 also helps to normalize magnesium metabolism, which is also thought to contribute to premenstrual syndrome. Magnesium intake should ideally match your calcium intake and should be at least 400 mg per day, but more preferably around 800 mg per day. Your daily vitamin E intake should be between 600 i.u. and 800 i.u.

The last and perhaps the most important is your intake of essential fatty acids. We recommend organic flax seed oil, or even better, one of the new organic oil blends on the market that has a 1:1 ratio of omega 3 to omega 6. Take one to two tablespoons of the oil daily.

There are also a number of herbs that can help relieve symptoms of PMS. Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) has been used for menstrual disorders since Greco-Roman times. It helps balance hormones produces during women's monthly cycles, increases the production of luteinizing hormone, and inhibits the release of follicle-stimulating hormone. This causes a shift in the estrogen-progesterone ratio. However, because chasteberry increases progesterone, women who have depression with PMS should avoid chasteberry.

Chinese angelica (Angelica sinensis) or dang-quai is used primarily as a women's tonic to treat PMS and menstrual cramps. Stinging nettle (Urtica dioica) is a traditional liver tonic. When the liver is sluggish it processes estrogen slowly. This herb can also reduce bloating and breast tenderness. Budock (Arctium lappa) is also a traditional liver tonic and is mildly diuretic, which can help relieve bloating and breast tenderness. A tea (infusion) made with equal parts of stinging nettle and burdock would be useful for PMS.

Soy products contain phytoestrogens which limit the uptake of estrogen, and may also help control the symptoms of PMS. Black beans and lima beans also contain this estrogenic compound genistein.

If you suffer from PMS try the above remedies. Increase your supplementation as suggested and then try some of the herbal remedies to see which will help you. Always follow directions on labels for each product, and whenever possible buy standardized herbal products.

Werbach, MR. Nutritional Influences on Illness. New Canaan, Ct: Keats Publishing, 1988.

Duke, JA. The Green Pharmacy. Emmaus, PA: Rodale Press, 1997.

Colgan Chronicles.

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