Pre-Menstrual Syndrome

What is Pre-Menstrual Syndrome?

Pre-Menstrual Syndrome is a disorder characterized by a set of hormonal changes that trigger disruptive symptoms in a significant number of women for up to two weeks prior to menstruation. Of the estimated 40 million suffers, more than 5 million require medical treatment for marked mood and behavioral changes. Often symptoms tend to taper off with menstruation and women remain symptom-free until the two weeks or so prior to the next menstrual period.  There are believed to be over 150 physical and emotional symptoms linked to PMS.

Common physical PMS symptoms are:

  • Abdominal Cramps
  • Breast Tenderness
  • Generalized Aches and Pains
  • Joint Swelling
  • Weight Gain
  • Intense Food Cravings
  • Bloating
  • Headaches
  • Skin Problems
  • Fatigue

Common emotional PMS symptoms are:

  • Sadness, Tearfulness
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Mood Swings
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Panic Attacks
  • Poor Concentration

What Causes PMS?

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. Fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that is thought to play a crucial role in mood states could trigger the symptoms. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.

Some women with severe premenstrual syndrome have undiagnosed depression, though depression alone does not cause all of the symptoms. 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 Pre-Menstrual Syndrome 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.

Traditional Chinese Medical Treatment for PMS and other Menstrual Disorders

According to Traditional Chinese Medical (TCM) theory, the main organ system that distributes hormones through the body is the liver. When that organ system becomes taxed, (whether from genetic, environmental, or lifestyle factors) an imbalance in the energy flow of that system develops and symptoms of PMS or other hormonal imbalances occur including PCOS, endometriosis, and amenorrhea.

A combination of acupuncture, herbal medicine, and nutritional recommendations can be extremely effective at relieving Pre-Menstrual Syndrome and other menstrual disorder symptoms. Acupuncture can help to boost endorphin and serotonin levels, regulate the endocrine system, relieve excess bloating and general discomfort, and reduce stress and anxiety. Additionally, herbal medicine and nutritional recommendations can help to balance hormones, reduce bloating, and ease other symptoms.

 

Chemical changes in the brain also may be involved. Fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that is thought to play a crucial role in mood states could trigger the symptoms. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.

Some women with severe premenstrual syndrome have undiagnosed depression, though depression alone does not cause all of the symptoms. 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.

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