Premenstrual tension

Premenstrual tension (PMT), also known as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), covers a number of symptoms women experience in the led up before a period.  They tend to dissipate once bleeding begins but not always.  These symptoms can range from mild to severe and in some cases cause huge impact on the women’s life.

Symptoms of PMT:

  • Water retention, weight gain, bloating
  • Swollen and tender breasts
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Low libido
  • General aches and pains, backache
  • Hypoglycaemia: cravings for sweets and chocolate
  • Constipation or diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue, dizziness, fainting
  • Insomnia
  • Poor co-ordination, clumsiness, confusion, forgetfulness, poor concentration
  • Palpitations, anxiety, panic attacks, nervous tension, mood swings, irritability, aggression, depression, crying, self-loathing, vulnerability
  • Period pains, dragging sensation in lower abdomen
  • Lowered immunity and increased susceptibility to colds, sore throats, and other infections
  • Skin breakouts, acne, spots

PMT can be caused by a number of factors such as stress, a sluggish liver, constipation, poor diet, not enough exercise, age, thyroid dysfunction and hereditary disposition.

Dietary Considerations

Don’t skip meals especially in the two weeks before your period.  Missing meals can increase the tendency to blood sugar imbalance and negatively impact on hormones.

Cut out or reduce sugar, alcohol, salt, coffee, tea and chocolate.
Avoid processed foods- try to cook from scratch.  This way you avoid additives and preservatives.

Include lots of fruit and vegetables in your diet.  Eat a rainbow every day and aim for at least 5 a day.

Eat the right fats.  Flax seed oil added to your food after cooking is a great source of omega 3.  Choose oily fish (sardines, anchoivies, mackerel, salmon), avocadoes, nuts and seeds which are high in essential fatty acids.  Reduce saturated, trans- and hydrogenated fats found in processed foods, deep fried food and fatty meat.

Drink plenty of plain water 6-8 glasses a day.

Lifestyle Considerations

Sleep well.  Get to bed before midnight.
Take regular exercise.
Manage stress.  Take time out to do something you enjoy.
Yoga and T’ai chi incorporate gentle exercise and relaxation.

The Herbal Approach

Herbal medicines can help relieve symptoms using hormonal tonics, liver and lymphatic cleansers, circulatory stimulants, nervines, adaptogens and antispasmodics.  It is best to see a herbalist who will assess your symptoms and choose the herbs most appropriate for you.