Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms usually occurring 1 to 2 weeks before a woman’s period starts, affecting up to 85 percent of menstruating women. One might experience psychological symptoms such as tension, irritability, tiredness, feelings of aggression or anger, depression, anxiety, loss of confidence, and feeling emotional. There may also be noticeable changes in sleep patterns and appetite. Physical symptoms include breast tenderness, abdominal bloating, swelling of the feet or hands, weight gain, and headaches. PMS usually goes away with the onset of menopause. The cause of PMS is unknown. However, in conventional medicine, it’s believed to be related to a change in both hormone and serotonin levels at the onset of the menstrual cycle.
In the Traditional Chines Medicine (TCM) point of view, there are three major ways to explain the cause of PMS.
The most common cause is肝气郁滞, or the “failure of free flow of liver qi”, also called Liver Qi Stagnation. In TCM, the liver is the organ in charge of all emotions and decisions, thus the blockage of liver qi could cause the entire major emotional imbalance for PMS, from irritability to anger or anxiety. The Liver channel also travels through the breast, so that could cause breast tenderness and even fibrocystic changes. Herbal formulas for these symptoms are Xiao Yao San (The Happy Pill) and Chai Hu Shu Gan San (Liver Cleanser). In severe cases, Liver Qi blockage even cause extreme behavior like aggression or mania. For these cases, Tao He Chen Qi Tang has been clinically proven for effectively preventing these extreme symptoms.
The second common cause of PMS is心血亏虚, the “deficiency of heart and liver blood”. In TCM, Heart and Liver blood are in charge of nourishing the body and spirit activities. When there is deficiency of blood, clinical manifestations such as tiredness, headaches, depression, loss of confidence, forgetfulness, restless sleep and unusual grief may occur. There are several effective formulas to rectify this issue: Si Wu Tang , Suan Zao Ren Tang, Gan Mai Da Zao tang , Gui Pi Tang and Ren Shou San.
The last common cause of PMS is 脾气虚证, or “Spleen Qi Deficiency”. In TCM, the spleen is in charge of digestion and body fluid circulation. If there is deficiency in Spleen Qi, PMS symptoms such as appetite change, abdominal bloating, swelling of the feet and hands, weight gain, and loose stool will be evident. Several good herbal formulas to use are Jian Pi Wan, Li Zhong Tang, and Bu Zhong Yi Qi Tang.
In some cases, a woman might experience more than one group of symptoms, so formulas are safely combined to tailor to the individual’s needs.
Dietary changes at home can also reduce the symptoms of PMS. Avoiding cold or uncooked foods can help preventing the limb swelling and weight gain. Certain foods such as beets are believed to help with production of blood, and rose bud tea and lemon peel can help regulate the mood during PMS. Learn more about nutrition and PMS.
With so many options available, including acupuncture, one should discuss the symptoms and issues of PMS with an acupuncture physician. They are specially trained to prescribe the proper herbs and treatments to alleviate the symptoms of PMS.
At our wellness center serving Margate, Coconut Creek and Coral Springs, Dr. Dongfeng Zhou specializes in the treatment of PMS using acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Schedule a free consultation with her today to learn more.