By: Beth Walsh for Uterus1
A new study that reviewed trials involving 3,475 women found that Chinese herbal medicine (CHM) provided significant improvement in premenstrual cramps when compared to pharmaceutical drugs. It also reduced overall symptoms, all with no adverse events. The research revealed that CHM was also better at alleviating pain than acupuncture or heat compression.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can cause a wide range of symptoms from cramps and irritability to bloating and headaches. Period pain affects as many as 50 percent of women of reproductive age and 60 percent to 85 percent of teenaged girls, leading to absences from school and work. While the cause is still under debate, it is believed to be linked to an imbalance in ovarian hormones.
|Non-Pharmaceutical Ways to Reduce PMS:|
Know your PMS symptoms and when they happen. Track your cycle – then you can adjust your diet, exercise and schedule accordingly.
Eat complex carbohydrates, fiber and protein. Cut back on sugar and fat.
Avoid salt for the last few days before your period to reduce bloating and fluid retention.
Cut back on caffeine to reduce tension and irritability and ease breast soreness.
Cut out alcohol to avoid bouts of depression.
Keep to a regular schedule of meals, bedtime and exercise.
Try to schedule stressful events for the week after your period.
The researchers at the Center for Complementary Medicine Research at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, said that CHM not only relieved pain, but reduced the recurrence of the condition over three months.
Participants were prescribed herbs that regulated their ‘chi’ (energy) and blood, warmed their bodies and boosted their kidney and liver functions. Some of these include Chinese angelica root (danggui), Szechuan lovage root (chuanxiong), red peony root (chishao), white peony root (baishao), Chinese motherwort (yimucao), fennel fruit (huixiang), nut-grass rhizome (xiangfu), liquorice root (gancao) and cinnamon bark (rougui).
In one trial involving 36 women, 53 percent of those who took herbs reported less pain than usual compared with 26 percent in the placebo group. There is no cure for PMS, but eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly may help. Prescription and over-the-counter medications may help as well.
Finding the best treatment may involve some trial and error. Since symptoms vary for each woman, so too does treatment. Diuretics help rid the body of extra sodium and fluid. They can ease bloating, weight gain, breast pain and abdominal pain. Diuretics are usually taken just before you would normally have these symptoms.
Antidepressants can help with the severe irritability, depression and anxiety that some women with PMS experience. Birth control pills can ease PMS symptoms by regulating your hormone levels throughout your cycle.
Over-the-counter medications can help those with mild to moderate PMS symptoms.
More and more women are interested in avoiding drug therapy in favor of herbal treatments, however. Talk to your doctor and/or a reputable alternative therapy practitioner to make sure you are taking the right dose and combination of herbs. Be aware too that some herbal medicines can negatively interact with prescription drugs.