Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Premenstrual Syndrome Ė PMS

What is it and what can you do to help yourself?

Premenstrual syndrome, PMS, is the most common of all menstrual problems and around 70 per cent of women who are still having a menstrual cycle will suffer from it to some extent.

The physical and mental changes may begin just after mid-cycle, but usually occur in the seven days immediately preceding menstruation and vanish as soon as the period starts. Sadly, PMS is still a much under-rated and often ignored problem from a medical standpoint, but even in mild cases it can be distressing and uncomfortable. Women who suffer severe PMS endure extreme mood swings, often leading to aggressive behaviour and physical violence. Concentration, co-ordination and dexterity can all be impaired. Swollen ankles, fingers, breasts and general fluid retention cause great discomfort and can be accompanied by weight gain, lethargy and depression.

We have here a mixed bag of symptoms, but the solutions to most of them will be found in your weekly shopping basket - the ultimate home remedy. Herbs are a vital part of controlling this problem, and PremHerb is one of the most effective.

It is a traditional herbal medicine containing Agnus castus fruit. Each tablet contains 4mg of the fruit extract and is the only MHRA registered traditional product containing the extract.

This medicinal herbal preparation has been used to help relieve the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome, exclusively based upon long-standing use.

Kitchen medicine

Dealing successfully with PMS is virtually all kitchen medicine. Youíll find the details in nutrition (below). Specific remedies are the calming herbs which should be used in cooking - rosemary and basil are particularly effective. Anything which promotes fluid excretion will relieve a great deal of discomfort - parsley is the most easily available, but even more effective are dandelion leaves. Itís not for nothing that their country name is íwet the bed,í and in France you can buy pis en lit salad in any street market. So donít kill of the dandelions in your garden; encourage them and mix a few of the young leaves with your salad every day. They really will help prevent the swellings caused by fluid retention - and theyíre a great source of iron, too.


Itís not just what you eat thatís important in treating PMS, but what you donít eat and when you eat. Most women who virtually write off a week or ten days in every month of their lives tend to get food cravings and erratic eating patterns in the time leading up to their periods.

They binge on high-sugar and high-salt snacks, canít be bothered to prepare or eat proper meals and their consumption of coffee, tea and alcohol is likely to rocket. The erratic bingeing and starving routine causes enormous fluctuations in blood/sugar levels, which is turn makes the mood swings even worse. The excessive salt intake is a major factor in fluid retention, increased caffeine is an irritant to the central nervous system and heightens the aggression, the increased alcohol consumption is a powerful depressive.

Women with PMS can effect an enormous reduction in their symptoms simply by eating little and often - never leaving more than two hours without food - and making sure that when they do eat, they take plenty of complex carbohydrates - wholemeal bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, root vegetables, beans - with sensible protein like fish, eggs, cheese, poultry and lean meat. Sweet cravings can be satisfied by fruit - bananas, grapes, dates, dried apricots, raisins and any other fruit you fancy; they all contain an abundance of other nutrients as well as natural sugars.

Vitamins B6 and E and the minerals zinc and magnesium play an enormous part in controlling the pattern of PMS. Spinach and other dark green leafy vegetables are good sources of B6 and magnesium - so is wholemeal bread. Lean red meat, poultry and all offal also provide B6 as well as iron. Extra virgin olive oil, eggs, nuts and seeds are rich in vitamin E. Shellfish, oysters and pumpkin seeds contain lots of zinc. All the oily fish are rich in the Omega-3 fatty acids, which are natural anti-inflammatories and play a big part in reducing premenstrual discomfort.

You will improve your quality of life if you include one item in each category of the lists above in your food every day.


As with all menstrual problems, exercise can be hugely helpful in the reduction of symptoms and the regulation of the cycle. Exercise not only encourages the body to manufacture the feel-good hormones endorphins, it stimulates all the other hormones, too - including those that effect the menstrual cycle.


Nutrition, as above, is the most effective way of preventing the monthly return of PMS symptoms, but there are other preventative measures which are crucial too.

Take a daily dose of one tablet of PremHerb (from Boots, Holland & Barrett, Superdrug, independent pharmacies and health food stores, or online from:- www.schwabepharma.co.uk ) plus 50mg of vitamin B6 on a long-term basis.

This should be supplemented with a combination of evening primrose oil and fish oil (2-3g of a combined capsule daily) starting ten days before the likely onset of menstruation until the day after the period begins. As the severity of symptoms declines and you get some months totally free, this dose can be reduced to 25mg of B6 and 1g of the combined oil pills.

Eventually your improved eating habits should supply all the nutrients you require without the need for supplementation.

For lots more info visit www.pms.org.uk, the site for NAPS, The National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome.


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