Herbs for hormones- managing pre menstrual syndrome naturally (PMS)
Erratic behavior, crying easily, breast tenderness, bloating, sudden anger, feeling low, tiredness, digestive discomfort and constipation-there is a whole hosts of symptoms associated with pre menstrual syndrome (PMS). Symptoms may range from mildly discomforting to something many women dread and find can overtake their life every month. Often as we get older, these symptoms can get progressively worse,
In my clinical experience, these symptoms are commonly a sign of an underlying hormonal imbalance. Often the oral contraceptive pill or hormonal coil is recommended. However as a herbalist looking holistically I prefer to try ( whenever possible) to get to the root of the problem, using herbs, nutrition and lifestyle changes to try and address these underlying imbalances and get the body back into a more natural balance. In my mind, a difficult and challenging monthly cycle is often an indication of other physical, nutritional and emotional issues that need to be addressed
( However get symptoms checked out by your medical professional if they persist as may be a sign of an underlying cause)
Here is a small selection of herbs that can help:
- Chaste tree (Vitex agnus castus): this wonderful herb can help normalize short and long cycles; balancing out oestrogen levels and increasing the effect of progesterone on the body. I find it particularly effective with cyclic mastalgia ( breast tenderness). This can be taken as a tincture or capsules throughout the cycle.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinalis): clinical proven to reduce pain associated with menstruation, a potent anti-inflammatory. Take ginger capsules or drink strong tea a week before and during menstruation for optimum effects.
I often recommend taking a 2 month course of milk thistle in capsule or tincture form to support liver function which is crucial for adequate hormonal balance and optimum detoxification when women are struggling with hormone issues. (it also really helps clear skin if women have cyclical acne/or spots).
- Dandelion leaf (Taraxacum officinalis): this is a natural nutritive diuretic, very useful to take during the build up to menstruation when very often women feel bloated and suffer from water retention. Best to take as a tea and combines really well with peppermint.
- cut back on caffeine and alcohol- these can place extra stress on the liver which is very important to effectively ‘recycle’ hormones and ensure good hormone balance.
- eat lots of brassicas and green leafy vegetables to support liver function.
- cut down on sugar ESPECIALLY during this time- refined sugar can increase testosterone levels and overall hormone balance. Refined sugar is also very inflammatory so can aggravate PMS symptoms dramatically.
- supplemental magnesium and B vitamins (especially B6) may help alleviate symptoms
- try having 1-2 teaspoons of Maca daily in either smoothies or yoghurt if feeling tired ( a natural boost rather than a caffeine hit). This Peruvian root is a ‘real’ superfood in terms of its mineral and nutritive qualities- it also helps with hormone balance.
- physical activity to promote pelvic circulation and blood flow to this area- swimming is particularly good.
- weight loss if indicated may help relive symptoms
- gentle yoga and stretching can also help with pelvic circulation
A qualified herbalist can make you up an individualized herbal tincture if you need more specific support with symptoms.
I run clinics at the Tree of life in Brighton where I specialize in women’s health, adrenal issues and hormonal imbalance. www.tolcentre.com
I will be writing a monthly herbs for hormones blog pages so keep checking back for my herbal and nutritional tips 🙂