Manage PMS with nutrition

Manage PMS with nutrition

Author -  Healtheries Naturopath

Manage PMS with diet and nutrition

What is PMS?

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a collection of physical and emotional symptoms that many women experience between ovulation and menstruation.

PMS signs and symptoms

It is estimated that 70% - 90% of women experience at least one symptom of PMS and 30-40% have symptoms that disturb their normal everyday lives. There have been 150 PMS-related symptoms recorded and one or more of the following symptoms are commonly reported by women experiencing PMS.

2-6% of women are classed as having severe symptoms, which is known as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) - a serious type of premenstrual syndrome and symptoms can include rage, anger, severe depression and anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, low self-esteem, and lack of focus/difficulty concentrating.

Due to the complexity and varied number of PMS symptoms, an American doctor called Dr Guy Abraham devised a system of categories for the different types of PMS symptoms. These fall into four categories:

  • Type A – Anxiety: Up to 80% of women each cycle, includes those symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, anxiety and tension.
  • Type C – Cravings: Sweet cravings, increased appetite, fatigue and headaches. Up to 60% of women can experience these kinds of symptoms leading up to the period.
  • Type H – Hyperhydration: Water retention, breast tenderness and enlargement, abdominal bloating and weight gain. Up to 40% of women can experience these changes.
  • Type D – Depression: Depression confusion, forgetfulness, clumsiness, withdrawal, lack of co-ordination, crying spells, confusion. Only 5% of women experience these symptoms but these can be the most serious if the woman is verging on the point of being suicidal.

Many women will get symptoms from each type during any one cycle. And for some women these symptoms can change from month to month, so they are not always experiencing exactly the same symptoms before each period.

Which nutrients are helpful for managing PMS?

  • B-Complex vitamins: Research has found that B6 is particularly beneficial in PMS1. B-Vitamins work together as a team so a deficiency in one may indicate a deficiency in another. Stress, anxiety and depression disorders may indicate a B vitamin deficiency. 
  • Vitamin E: can be helpful for changes in mood and supports circulation.
  • Magnesium: Magnesium supplementation help reduce PMS symptoms such as cramping, depression, irritability, mood swings and fluid retention.
  • Chromium: helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels and can help protect against sugar cravings. 
  • Iodine is needed for healthy thyroid function and a deficiency of this mineral has been linked with this glands inability to manufacture thyroid hormones.  Any disruption to the production of T4 (thyroxine) will affect oestrogen, in particular oestradiol. Iodine-rich foods include, kelp, seafood & saltwater fish.
  • Essential Fatty Acids including Omega 3 Fish Oil and Evening Primrose Oil: help to reduce inflammation associated with PMS such as cramping and menstrual discomfort.

Braun, L. and Cohen, M. (2010). Herbs and Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide, pg. 951
Braun, L. and Cohen, M. (2010). Herbs and Natural Supplements: An evidence-based guide, pg. 685