Did you know that there are 4 distinct types of PMS? True story. Pre-menstrual syndrome consists of around 150 symptoms (yikes!) that occur during the luteal phase, anywhere up to 10 days prior to the onset of menstruation. In 1983 Dr Guy Abraham categorised the most common pre-menstrual symptoms into 4 defined groups, outlined below¹. These categories are one of the tools I use in clinic, and when applied with naturopathic protocols the improvements in symptoms are really significant. Ladies you aren’t crazy, it’s just your hormones. Here’s how to restore balance and find relief:
// PMS-A (anxiety)
Characterised by anxiety, insomnia or trouble staying asleep, irritability, frequent mood changes or excessive emotional reactions, heart palpitations, stress induced sweating. Thought to be caused by excessive oestrogen, low relative progesterone and an imbalanced stress response.
Restore balance: The herb Vitex agnus-castus for hormonal imbalance, increasing lightly cooked cruciferous vegetables in the diet, decrease in sugar, caffeine and alcohol intake to support oestrogen clearance. For anxiety symptoms the nervine herbs passionflower, valerian or lemon balm are beautiful.
// PMS-C (carbohydrate craving)
Characterised by sugar cravings, increased appetite, headaches, hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar: light-headedness, being ‘hangry’ or feeling faint), palpitations. Thought to be caused by enhanced binding of insulin.
Restore balance: Regular protein rich meals and snack for stable blood sugar and satiation, Gymnema sylvestre after meals to reduce sugar cravings. Add cinnamon in foods such as oats of smoothies. Incorporate oily fish for omega-3 fatty acids. Corydalis and Rosemary may help with headaches.
// PMS-H (hyperhydration)
Characterised by fluid retention, weight gain, bloating, breast tenderness and/or swelling, nipple sensitivity. Though to be due to increased aldosterone in later luteal phase as a response to elevated oestrogen. Also due to increased cortisol, the stress hormone.
Restore balance: Magnesium rich foods or supplementation, lower sodium diet, dandelion leaf or celery seed tea to reduce fluid retention. To regulate the stress response adaptogenic herbs such as withania, schisandra or siberian ginseng may be helpful.
// PMS-D (depression)
Depression, feelings of despair and hopelessness, crying, fatigue, insomnia, apathy and low libido. Due to oestrogen leading to increased degradation of our happy neurotransmitters. May also be due to enhanced production of androgens and/or progesterone.
Restore balance: Herbs such as st john’s wort, lavender and oat seed will support mood. Vitamin B6 and SAMe may also be helpful. Licorice and paeonia to reduce androgen levels.
Note that most women cross a few categories, and as hormones fluctuate over time so might your PMS symptoms! The best treatment is prevention and in this case eating a balanced whole foods diet, limited alcohol, sugar and caffeine are a great place to start when addressing hormonal issues.
Did you find this helpful? If you have further questions or want more info drop me a line or leave a comment below!
Wishing you the best of health,