You never knew that curing cramps was so easy.
PMS refers to a wide range of symptoms that start during the second half of your menstrual cycle. These symptoms can include headache, dizziness, cramps, irritability, bloating, breast tenderness, nausea, vomiting, food cravings or aversions, weight gain, irritability, depression, anxiety and fatigue. They usually occur before menses begins and subside gradually at the onset of the period.
Studies indicate that around 75% to 80% of all women experience some form of PMS or the other. While just about any woman can be affected by PMS, it is a bit more common in those who have crossed into their late 20s. However, severe PMS, which affects a womans functioning, has been observed only in around 20% to 30% of all women. The most severe variant, which is PMDD, is seen in only around 2% to 6% of all the women living across the United States.
While a variety of factors can influence a woman’s symptoms during this time, including genetics, nutrition, medications, it is largely controlled by hormones. Getting your hormones in proper balance can go a long way toward reducing symptoms. The monthly fluctuation of estrogen and progesterone largely controls a woman’s cycle and there are theories that these hormones can interact with certain brain chemicals, creating the symptoms that you feel during these times. Optimally, these hormones are in balance and working correctly, and this interaction might cause little to no discomfort or symptoms, but if these hormones are out of balance, a variety of symptoms can occur.
If you’ve tried solutions such as antidepressants, birth control pills, or over the counter products, like Pamprin, Tylenol, and Motrin, you haven’t been aiming at the source of your symptoms. That brings us to using herbs to cure PMS symptoms.
We don’t use the word "cure" lightly when it comes to PMS, or any condition - especially any women’s health concern. That’s because sometimes the word cure is used in an overly simplistic fashion. What we mean by cure is this: you can do a tremendous amount to avoid and relieve premenstrual symptoms, up to the point where you may indeed feel you’ve cured your PMS.
This cure is entirely do-it-yourself. It doesn’t require medication, though we will point out the potentially important role of herbs, vitamins, and minerals that can make all the difference. You can overcome PMS, even after a lifetime of hormonal imbalance and menstrual symptoms. It won’t necessarily happen overnight, but you can do it. In the process, you’ll be making yourself healthier, using natural measures.
Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) is one of the most popular herbs for premenstrual syndrome in Europe - it’s actually been used to treat PMS for thousands of years. Of the herbal supplements mentioned in connection with PMS symptoms, chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus) has gained the most traction with scientists for easing PMS-related breast pain.
A study published in the British Medical Journal involving 178 women with PMS found that Chasteberry significantly reduced PMS symptoms over three menstrual cycles. Women taking Chasteberry had significant improvements in irritability, depression, headaches, and breast pain.
There have also been a few studies have shown that women treated with Chasteberry extract reported less breast pain, supporting the theory that Chasteberry suppresses the release of prolactin, a hormone involved in breast milk production that's been linked to breast pain. It may also help with swelling, cramps, and food cravings.
Chasteberry basically works by nourishing the pituitary gland and helps lengthen the luteal phase. It lowers prolactin and raises progesterone. For some women, this alone will improve symptoms.
The most common side effects of Chasteberry are nausea, headache, digestive disturbances, menstrual disorders, acne, itching, and skin rashes. Also good to know - theoretically, Chasteberry may interact with hormones or drugs that affect the pituitary gland.
St. John’s Wort
For centuries, St. John's Wort was used as a health remedy in Europe. In the past decade, St. John’s Wort has emerged as an important herbal medicine to cure PMS symptoms. While it was never historically considered one of the traditional "women’s herbs," it has a new importance. It was only after the use of antidepressants such as Prozac® and Sarafem® to treat premenstrual problems that include mood swings, depression, anxiety, and irritability that doctors decided to look into the potential for St. John’s Wort to relieve PMS symptoms. Um, why?
PMS and PMDD (Premenstrual dysphoric disorder) - or at least, their characteristic mental and emotional symptoms can be thought of as hormonally-induced depression and anxiety. If you read a medical pamphlet on the symptoms of depression or anxiety and then read about the symptoms of PMDD, you’d be amazed - there are so many similarities between the two. You might also be confused. Is there a difference?
The answer to this is an emphatic "Yes.” The difference is the hormonal aspect, and how the symptoms in women with PMDD happen only in the latter half of the menstrual cycle, not at any time of the month. However, women with PMS and PMDD are often predisposed to depression and anxiety, whether from a difficult life history or from genetic or familial tendencies. This makes St. John’s Wort a natural choice in difficult or severe cases of PMS, and in PMDD, where there is a strong emotional and mood component.
At recommended doses, St. John's Wort generally does not cause side effects.  However, St. John's Wort contains substances that can significantly alter the effectiveness of many drugs. If you're using antidepressants, birth control pills, blood thinners, medicines for HIV, cancer drugs, cyclosporine, or digoxin, talk to your doctor before you try it. St. John's Wort may interfere with how these drugs work.
Where to get it: At your local Walgreen’s or order it here.
Evening Primrose Oil
The Evening Primrose grows in the wild throughout North America. For centuries, Native Americans used this plant in brews or as salves for wounds. The seeds of this plant contain up to 25% of linoleic acid (LA) and gamma-linolenic acid, (GLA).
These acids are rarely found in the plant world, but evening primrose contains an astonishing amount of these beneficial acid.
You’ve heard of omega fatty acids, like those found in fish oil. LA and GLA are in the omega-6 fatty acid family. These are essential acids that we must consume, because they are not produced by our bodies.
The benefits of Evening Primrose oil are numerous. As an anti-inflammatory agent, evening primrose oil helps soothe menstrual cramps. Or, if you suffer from breast tenderness, evening primrose oil will provide relief so that putting on a bra is no longer an excruciating experience. Evening Primrose oil also helps with mood irregularities. If you become a stranger to yourself and your friends when you are suffering from PMS because of wild mood swings and depression, this is due to hormonal imbalances in your body. Evening Primrose oil helps promote a balance between estrogen and progesterone so you will feel like yourself again.
You can also enjoy long term benefits from Evening Primrose oil, besides just PMS relief.  The fatty acids lead to shiny, beautiful hair and strong nails. Evening primrose oil has also proven to combat clogged pores and help prevent acne breakouts. If you have difficulty conceiving, evening primrose oil promotes uterine health.
Where to get it: Amazon on Walgreens - who knew it was this easy?
Red Raspberry Leaf
Red Raspberry Leaf is a well known fertility herb that offers overall uterine health. It strengthens the uterus and relieves cramps, including that heavy and achy feeling during your period. One cup of tea three times daily during PMS (or all month long, if you like) can be of great help.
Where to get it: Buy it in bulk here for an amazing deal.
Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) is a plant used in herbal medicine. A member of the buttercup family (Yum!), it has a long history of use in the treatment of arthritis and muscle pain. Today, however, Black Cohosh is commonly taken for relief of symptoms associated with menopause.
As we’ve been saying, most of your PMS symptoms are due to hormonal imbalances—between estrogen and progesterone—during the time of your period. Scientists think that Black Cohosh acts much like estrogen in your body. Black Cohosh helps provide a balancing act for your out of whack hormones—it becomes the great hormone equalizer. Say goodbye to wild mood swings, depression, and lack of energy. You won't be a stranger to yourself anymore with this natural remedy.
During your period, you know the familiar feel of painful cramps. For centuries, women have been using natural remedies like Black cohosh in pain treatment. The Native Americans used black cohosh for muscle pain because it is a natural painkiller and an anti-inflammatory agent. It helps ease uterine cramps and muscle pain.
Fukinolic acid, a compound found in Black Cohosh, appears to have estrogen-like activity. It’s suggested that Black Cohosh's potentially estrogen-like effects may be beneficial to women as they experience menopause-related declines in their estrogen levels (a key factor in the development of menopausal symptoms). To that end, Black Cohosh is sometimes touted as a natural alternative to hormone replacement therapy.
Where to get it: The Vitamin Shoppe
Valerian Root is a nerve tonic will pull you out of distress, restlessness, and downright hysteria. It’s also a wonderful pain reliever, so it knocks the menstrual cramps and headaches right out. It’ll knock you out, too, so no signing legal documents or driving heavy construction equipment. Four to six ounces of the tea up to two times daily will settle things down until the storm passes. Don’t take it longer than a few days at a time.
Where to get it: Enjoy the tea form!
Dang Gui is a Chinese herb that is known as women’s ginseng. The herb has many therapeutic properties and can benefit the heart, lungs and kidneys. It is also used for detoxification and can be consumed to purify blood. Since it helps in promoting healthy flow of blood, it is also used by those who have anemia or other blood related disorders. The dried roots of the plant are usually brewed as a tea or administered orally in their dried forms. The herb can also be applied as a topical ointment for the treatment of inflamed skin as well as joints.
Dang gui improves secretions of female hormones to make them better balanced. It can therefore help improve fertility and regulate the female reproductive cycle. Phytoestrogens in Dang Gui offer mild additions to the overall quantities of estrogen in the body. This makes the herb effective as a natural hormone replacement. Dang Gui can also be used for balancing out low levels of natural estrogen. Coumarins, a group of compounds present in Dang Gui, can dilate blood vessels and control muscle spasms. This helps in regulation of menstrual flow.
Apart from helping women with different menstrual problems, Dang Gui can also help improve men’s fertility as well as the health of the prostate gland.
Where to get it: You can get just about any form of Dang Gui that you want straight from China.With a little know-how, you’ll find more relief in your herbal friends than any over-the-counter medication can provide and you’ll know exactly what you’re getting. The biggest thing you’ll be getting? Real, natural PMS relief.