Are you one of the estimated 85-percent of menstruating women who suffer from at least one symptom of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) in the week or two prior to your period? PMS can be mild or manifest itself in the form of severe Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). Whether your symptoms are a minor bother or have a large impact on your life, receiving treatments from a licensed acupuncturist can provide relief.
Common symptoms of PMS include:
- Swollen, tender breasts
- Back pain
- Food cravings or other changes in appetite
- Joint or muscle pain
- Gastrointestinal issues, including bloating, diarrhea, and constipation
- Mood swings
- Crying spells
- Irritability or anger
- And more…
While all of the causes of PMS haven’t yet been identified, the main factors include the changes in hormones during your cycle and possible alterations in brain chemistry. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies, a diet containing salty foods, alcohol and caffeine, and lifestyle factors are thought to worsen symptoms. There’s no need to sit idly by and allow PMS to get in the way of your daily activities. Acupuncture research has shown that the holistic practice can have a dramatic positive effect.
A study published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics reported that the success rate for treating PMS symptoms with acupuncture was 77.8%, as compared to 5.9% in the placebo group. Some of the women no longer had PMS after two acupuncture sessions. The researchers believe, “the positive influence of acupuncture in treating PMS symptoms can be ascribed to its effects on the serotoninergic and opioidergic neurotransmission that modulates various psychosomatic functions.”
From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, acupuncture is thought to stabilize hormones by eliminating blockages in qi, or energy. In addition, treatments help to encourage relaxation, which harmonizes the physical, emotional, and spiritual. By encouraging the body’s natural healing mechanism, balance is achieved, thus alleviating symptoms. Painless menstruation requires proper circulation. This can be hindered by stagnation. Addressing certain acupuncture points will restore this circulation and ease pressure.
In addition to actual acupuncture, a licensed, well-trained practitioner will look at the root cause of PMS and examine your lifestyle. Exercise, Chinese herbs, dietary changes, multivitamins, and stress reduction techniques may be recommended, as well. For example, most acupuncturists, and even Western doctors, will tell patients to cut out caffeine, alcohol, and sugar, particularly during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle when PMS occurs.
Unlike common medications prescribed to control PMS, such as NSAIDs, acupuncture does not pose a threat of serious side effects. It’s a relatively painless and completely natural way to take the edge off of the discomfort. Remember to always choose a fully trained, licensed acupuncturist for safety and the best chance at success.
What natural remedies have you tried for PMS symptoms?