PMS stands for premenstrual syndrome. This refers to a collection of symptoms that women of reproductive age experience about one to two weeks before the start of their menstrual period. Each woman experiences a unique combination of PMS symptoms. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • bloating
  • breast tenderness
  • cramps
  • excessive hunger
  • fatigue
  • fluctuations in libido
  • food cravings
  • headache
  • irritability
  • mood swings
  • quick temper
  • sadness
  • sleep disturbances

The exact cause of PMS remains unclear. It is likely due to a combination of factors. Sex hormone fluctuations that take place just before the menstrual period are likely the largest culprit. However, since the body's chemical balances are intricately interconnected, these sex hormone fluctuations likely also influence the balance of other hormones such as cortisol, the stress hormone. Neurotransmitters in the brain may also be affected by the menstrual cycle.

Natural PMS Relief

Some women may experience no negative PMS symptoms whatsoever, while others may have symptoms so severe that it interferes with their daily life, work performance and mental health. Some prescription medications such as SSRI anti-depressants and birth control pills are indicated for treating severe PMS. However, both of these types of medications have a range of negative side effects. Any severity level of PMS can be greatly benefited by taking natural steps to relieve the symptoms. Since PMS affects about 75 percent of Western women, natural treatments are of great interest to the public.

Here are six ways to holistically and naturally balance your hormones and neurotransmitters in order to free yourself from premenstrual syndrome:

1. Exercise

Exercise is very important for overall good health. Although cramps and other PMS symptoms may make you feel like not working out, this is an especially important time in your cycle to keep exercising if you suffer from mood-related symptoms. Exercise helps to release endorphins, which are chemicals that elevate your mood and make you feel good. Thus, working out during the week or two before your period can prevent and relieve mood swings, irritability and more. Exercise also helps to balance your endocrine system as a whole, regulating hormone balance.

2. Natural Supplements

6 Secrets for Natural PMS Relief 2There are a huge variety of natural supplements including herbs and essential nutrients that can help relieve PMS symptoms. One of the best herbs to take for PMS is maca, which is an edible plant native to the mountains of Peru. Maca helps your body balance its own hormones, which alleviates PMS at its root cause. Maca is especially good to take if your PMS symptoms are characterized by depression, anxiety or low libido, as research shows that this medicinal root relieves these problems.

Another very useful supplement is Ginkgo biloba. Ginkgo biloba is a species of tree native to China, the leaves of which have been used as herbal medicine since the 1400s or even earlier. Research shows that Ginkgo biloba is very effective for treating PMS.

Some other PMS supplements with good scientific evidence include:

There are a huge number of other supplements that have been traditionally used for PMS. However, not all of them have been studied in a medical setting for their effectiveness. Traditional folk herbs for PMS include black cohosh, chromium, dong quai, lemon balm, St. John's wort and wild yam.

3. Eat Healthy

6 Secrets for Natural PMS ReliefResearch suggests that women who eat a larger quantity of plant foods experience fewer PMS symptoms, so be sure to eat plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes. Eating anti-inflammatory foods such as fatty fish and flaxseed may even help reduce cramps.

4. Take a Nap

Research shows that sleep deprivation worsens PMS. Be sure to get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every night, especially if you want to relieve your premenstrual symptoms. Let yourself take a nap during the day if you need it. If you deprive yourself of the rest you need, you will only suffer more from PMS.

5. Alternative Medicine

Some women find that their PMS symptoms are relieved through alternative medicine practices like acupuncture and essential oils. You may consider visiting a qualified and reputable professional acupuncture practitioner when you are experiencing PMS. On the other hand, essential oil therapy is something you can do yourself at home. For example, one study found that massaging the abdomen with lavender oil reduces cramps. Other popular essential oils to use for PMS include clary sage, cypress, peppermint and ylang ylang. To get the benefits, you can use these oils for massage, inhale the aroma, or both.

6. Natural Diuretics

Some women get very bloated when they have PMS. Bloating is caused by water retention. When there is excess water in your tissues, you may look and feel swollen. Bloating can be easily fixed with a natural diuretic, which helps your body expel excess water. Try a combination of dandelion leaf and olive leaf extracts.