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PMS 

Mood swings, tender breasts, a swollen abdomen, food cravings, fatigue, irritability and depression. If you experience some or all of these problems in the days before your monthly period, you may have premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

An estimated three of every four menstruating women experience some form of premenstrual syndrome. These problems are more likely to trouble women between their late 20s and early 40s, and they tend to recur in a predictable pattern. Yet the physical and emotional changes you experience with premenstrual syndrome may be more or less intense with each menstrual cycle.

Still, you don't have to let these problems control your life. In recent years, much has been learned about premenstrual syndrome. Treatments and lifestyle adjustments can help you reduce or manage the signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome.

Signs and symptoms

For many women the signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome are an uncomfortable and unwelcome part of their monthly menstrual cycle. The most common physical and emotional signs and symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome include:

* Weight gain from fluid retention
* Abdominal bloating
* Breast tenderness
* Tension or anxiety
* Depressed mood
* Crying spells
* Mood swings and irritability or anger
* Appetite changes and food cravings
* Trouble falling asleep (insomnia)
* Joint or muscle pain
* Headache
* Fatigue

Although the list of potential signs and symptoms is long, most women with premenstrual syndrome experience only a few of these problems.

For some women, the physical pain and emotional stress are severe enough to affect their daily routines and activities. For most of these women, symptoms disappear as the menstrual period begins.

But for some women with premenstrual syndrome, symptoms are so severe they're considered disabling. This form of PMS has its own psychiatric designation premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). PMDD is a severe form of premenstrual syndrome with symptoms including severe depression, feelings of hopelessness, anger, anxiety, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating, irritability and tension. A number of women with severe PMS may have an underlying psychiatric disorder.

Causes

Exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but several factors may contribute to the condition. Cyclic changes in hormones seem to be an important cause, because signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome change with hormonal fluctuations and also disappear with pregnancy and menopause.

Chemical changes in the brain also may be involved. One clue to the cause may be traced to fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that is thought to play a crucial role in mood states, especially depression. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to other symptoms of PMS, such as fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.

Occasionally, some women with severe premenstrual syndrome have undiagnosed depression, though depression alone does not cause all of the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. Stress also may aggravate some of the symptoms, but alone it isn't a cause.

Some PMS symptoms have been linked to low levels of vitamins and minerals. Other possible contributors to PMS include eating a lot of salty foods, which may cause fluid retention, and drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which may cause mood and energy level disturbances

Alcohol, sugar, spicy foods, hot drinks, and hot soups can trigger hot flashes.

You can manage or sometimes reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome by making changes in the way you eat, exercise and approach daily life. Try these approaches:

* Modify your diet
* Eat smaller, more frequent meals each day to reduce bloating and the sensation of fullness.
* Limit salt and salty foods to reduce bloating and fluid retention.
*  Do not eat any type of sugar, and of course sweeteners.  Modify your diet
* Substitute garlic powder or onion powder for salt when cooking.
* Choose foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
* Choose non-dairy foods rich in calcium and perhaps a daily calcium supplement.
* Take a daily multivitamin supplement and a good source of plant derived trace minerals.
* Avoid caffeine.
* Avoid alcohol.
* Incorporate exercise into your regular routine
* Engage in brisk walking, cycling, swimming or other aerobic activity most days of the week. Regular daily exercise can help improve your overall health and alleviate symptoms such as fatigue and a depressed mood.
* Reduce stress - EFT is wonderful for reducing stress.
* Get plenty of sleep.
* Practice progressive muscle relaxation or deep-breathing exercises to help reduce headaches, anxiety or trouble sleeping (insomnia).
* Record your symptoms for a few months
* Keep a record to identify the triggers and timing of your symptoms. This will allow you to intervene with strategies that may help to lessen them.

Here's what's known about the effectiveness of some of the more common natural products and remedies used to soothe the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome:

* Calcium. Consuming 1,000 milligrams (mg) of dietary and supplemental calcium daily, such as chewable calcium carbonate (Tums, Rolaids, others), may reduce the physical and psychological symptoms of PMS. Regular, long-term use of calcium carbonate also reduces your risk of osteoporosis.
* Magnesium. Taking 400 mg of supplemental magnesium daily may help to reduce fluid retention, breast tenderness and bloating in women with premenstrual syndrome.
* Vitamin B-6. A daily dose of 50 to 100 mg of vitamin B-6 may help some women with troublesome PMS symptoms.
* Vitamin E. This vitamin, taken in 400 international units daily, may ease PMS symptoms by reducing the production of prostaglandin, hormone-like substances that cause cramps and breast tenderness.
* Herbal remedies. Many women report relief of PMS symptoms with the use of herbs such as black cohosh, ginger, raspberry leaf, dandelion, chasteberry, St. John's Wort and evening primrose oil.
* Colloidal Gold.  Colloidal gold is one of the least known yet most effective mood and mental enhancers.
* Natural progesterone creams. These are derived from wild yams and soybeans. Some women report that these creams relieve symptoms. Combine one handful of chamomile and one handful of dried orange flowers in a cheesecloth or muslin bag and hang from the bathtub faucet. The warm water will release the fragrant oils and relieve PMS discomfort.

See also:

topics that may be helpful:

Natural Help for PMS

Cramping

Menstrual Cramps

 

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