Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a group of physical and emotional symptoms linked to a woman’s menstrual cycle. PMS symptoms usually occur during the 5-10 days prior to menses and disappear either shortly before or after the start of menstrual flow. Symptoms vary from woman to woman, but each woman’s individual pattern of symptoms is typically predictable.
Women may be at increased risk for PMS if:
1) they are over 30 years old
2) they are experiencing significant amounts of stress
3) their nutritional habits are poor
4) they have suffered side effects from birth control pills
5) they have difficulty maintaining a stable weight,
6) they do not get enough exercise,
7) they’ve had a pregnancy complicated by toxemia,
8) they have had children (the more children, the more severe the symptoms, or
9) they have a family history of depression.
In treating PMS, Western medicine recommends diet and lifestyle changes coupled with medications that manipulate the levels of progesterone and estrogen (i.e. birth control pills), tranquilizers and antidepressants (for nervousness, anxiety, and depression) that affect mood and emotions. Although prescription medications sometimes bring immediate relief, they, unfortunately, do not address the underlying cause of PMS symptoms, and they can cause unwanted side effects that may mimic PMS symptoms.
A natural approach In 1997, The National Institute of Health issued a consensus report that suggested acupuncture is effective in the treatment of menstrual cramps, and other symptoms associated with PMS. Acupuncture can address PMS symptoms naturally, without medication, by restoring balance and harmony, both physically and emotionally.
In Chinese medicine, the root cause of PMS is usually an imbalance or blockage of Qi or vital energy, and blood within the specific organ and meridian systems. When Qi and blood become imbalanced or blocked, symptoms and signs associated with PMS will appear.
The role of a practitioner is to investigate the underlying causes leading to PMS symptoms. After a thorough diagnostic evaluation to determine what organ and meridian system s are out of balance, they treat PMS symptoms according to each individual patient’s imbalances and concerns.
Using fine, sterile needles into specific points on the body, an acupuncturist is able to stimulate and activate the movement of Qi and blood. When Qi and blood begin to travel freely throughout the body, balance and normal function are restored and PMS symptoms and alleviated. Acupuncture restores hormonal balance and provides deep relaxation to help reduce stress, ultimately encouraging and supporting greater health and well-being of both body and mind.
A practitioner may also recommend lifestyle changes such as eating a nourishing, organic, whole foods diet, getting regular aerobic exercise and adequate sleep, enjoying a warm bath, supplementing the diet with vitamins and herbs, and practicing deep relaxation exercises such as meditation, breathing exercises, or yoga.
Whether you suffer from PMS symptoms on an occasional or a monthly basis, acupuncture, and Chinese medicine can offer a safe, natural and effective approach to alleviating these symptoms.
Womenshealth.gov, PMS fact sheets, January 2012
National Institutes of Health Consensus Conference on Acupuncture, Program & Abstracts (Bethesda, MD, November 3-5, 1997). Office of Alternative Medical Applications of Research. Bethesda.
Acupuncture Media Works, 2015