PMS – Premenstrual Syndrome
PMS stands for Premenstrual Syndrome, it’s also known as PMT Premenstrual Tension but my favourite is Please Make Tea! It’s one of the most common things I see as an Acupuncturist, women with PMS & menstrual irregularities. So it’s no surprise that the majority of people think that painful menstruation and PMS is normal.
So is it normal to experience PMS?
Without going too deep on one of my favourite subjects ~ Menstruation, my opinion is that it’s natural for women to feel differently at each stage of their cycle. This doesn’t make us crazy, this movement and changeability is what’s beautiful about women. Our modern lives, our culture and even ourselves might not appreciate that leading up to menstruation (when PMS is occurs) our energy naturally is moving inwards and is declining. We naturally withdraw from activity both physically and mentally. This is the Winter of the cycle and it’s a time we must conserve energy and rebuild for the next cycle. So when we aren’t living in harmony with our cycles, these changes become more intense. Check out my article on Winter to get an idea of what the Chinese recommend we do during this phase of our cycle.
So what is PMS?
These are the common “symptoms of PMS” they can start 10 – 4 days before bleeding and usually subside once bleeding begins. With all women and patterns being different, some symptoms may get worse as you bleed.
Physical Symptoms of PMS:
- fluid retention (swollen fingers or ankles)
- bloating around the abdomen
- breast swelling and tenderness
- skin problems such as acne
- headaches and/or migraines
- poor coordination or clumsiness
- tiredness, lethargy, insomnia
- increase in weight
- constipation and/or diarrhoea
- food cravings
- aches and pains
Emotional Symptoms of PMS:
- nervous tension
- lower coping ability
- difficulty concentrating
- lower libido
- reduced interest in work and social life
- mood swings
- aggression & irritability
PMS and Chinese Medicine
Chinese Medicine is all about balance and harmony. It’s nature based, meaning, we’re affected by our external environment and in particular the seasons. As women we experience the four seasons, each month as our menstrual cycle. Each of these phases has a different energy, just like Winter feels different to spring and autumn. This is important because what we do in each season effects the next season and so on. For example, if we don’t rest and stay warm during winter, when spring and summer comes we don’t have the energy for the intensity of those seasons.
This is important because it means that a lot of our problems can be fixed with changes to our lifestyle, our diet and to put it simply ~ honouring the cycles changeable nature.
What treatments are available for PMS?
As I mentioned most symptoms of PMS can be improved with lifestyle changes but sometimes there’s a few things going on and that’s where acupuncture and herbal medicine comes in. I used to be a purist, I’m naturally idealistic but with the state of our agriculture and food industry, I’m not sure we can get everything we need from food, so there are a few supplements that I recommend taking along side a healthy/ varied paleo like diet.
Along side a healthy diet, exercise, understanding the energy of each phase of the cycle, our bodies may need help rebalancing. When energy isn’t moving smoothly through the body, we experience symptoms. We may experience a build up of energy is certain parts, like swollen and tender breasts. This build up of energy may come out as anger and irritability. This energy stagnates causes heat to rise, giving us headaches and acne. Energy not moving, can make us feel tired and depressed.
Acupuncture and PMS
Acupuncture works to regulate this energy, whilst looking into the root causes. Is energy not moving freely because we’ve been taught that women are polite, so we’ve never allowed ourselves to express all our emotions? Is there a life time of self expression stagnate & held in the body? Is energy not moving freely because we’re not following our dreams and our vision? Is there enough energy to move around smoothly, or are we depleted and tired?
Herbal Medicine and PMS
Herbal Medicine works in a similar way to acupuncture ~ alleviating the symptoms but also by working on the root cause, the pattern. Herbal Medicine is especially helpful when there are deficiency or if you’ve been experiencing PMS and other menstrual irregularities for a long time. Herbal medicine works with acupuncture, supporting the treatments.
As an acupuncturist and herbalist, I treat people from my clinic in Byron Bay, if you’d like to book in for a treatment, give me a call on 0413 936 024 or email me and we’ll find a place for you. I specialise in Women’s health, menstrual health, fertility, gut health & digestion, emotional and mental health.