Contrary to popular belief, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and menstrual symptoms are not a natural part of a woman’s cycle. In fact, proponents of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believe that a truly healthy woman should not experience any symptoms at all before or during her menstrual period. The symptoms that many women do experience such as irritability and emotional changes, fatigue, abdominal cramps, backaches, headaches, water retention, acne and, in more severe cases, bowel changes, nausea and vomiting, are likely the result of some form of imbalance. This unhealthy process might occur due to hormonal imbalance or may reflect a shift in energy (known as Qi in TCM) in the system. Such symptoms might even occur as a result of inflammatory processes in the body, various diet and lifestyle factors, nutritional deficiencies or circulatory issues.
The first step in addressing PMS and menstrual symptoms is to rule out any underlying conditions such as endometriosis, cysts and fibroids of the reproductive organs. A full assessment can be done using ultrasound imaging as well as blood tests to check on hormone levels. If these conditions are found to be the cause, there are certain naturopathic approached that can help to manage or support treatment. In the absence of such conditions, PMS and menstrual symptoms can be effectively managed using various naturopathic treatments.
Diet and lifestyle factors can be corrected to prevent symptoms and restore a healthy menstrual cycle. For example, some women find that avoiding spicy foods, salt, inflammatory foods, dairy and caffeine makes a significant difference in their menstrual cramps and water retention. Foods with estrogen or progesterone mimicking properties can also be used to help direct hormone levels to a normal balance.
Various nutritional supplements have been known to help prevent and treat PMS and menstrual symptoms. An energetic imbalance can be corrected using acupuncture and Chinese herbs selected to address the particular nature of the patient’s imbalance. Inflammation and circulatory issues can be managed using various herbal and nutritional supplements. Homeopathy and hydrotherapy are gentle approaches that can successfully be used alone or in combination to alleviate symptoms while dealing with the root cause of these issues. There are a variety of herbs that are helpful in correcting hormonal imbalances that may lead to symptoms. Furthermore, some B vitamins in combination with omega fats can produce beneficial results. The key is to understand the individual woman’s unique experience in order to identify the root cause of her symptoms. A qualified naturopathic doctor can provide a proper assessment and plan to treat PMS and menstrual symptoms and to address their root cause.