We all know that periods are an essential function of our bodies’ reproductive systems and that in a sense, they’re a sign of health. As easy as it is to say that at any other time of the month, though, when your period starts to approach, we’re not exactly jumping for joy.
That’s because the vast majority of us experience some degree of unpleasant symptoms from PMS or, in rarer cases, PMDD. Here’s the good news, though: you aren’t stuck choosing between biting the bullet through the symptoms or taking powerful pharmaceuticals. There are natural remedies for PMS and PMDD, too.
Let’s take a closer look at these two conditions and how you can treat both of them naturally.
Most people are familiar with PMS, or premenstrual syndrome. It’s the collection of symptoms that occurs just before and in the early days of your period. Between cramps, mood swings, fatigue, anxiety, bloating, and cravings, you probably know PMS all too well.
PMDD, on the other hand, stands for premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Essentially, PMDD is a more severe form of PMS. It’s rarer, only affecting 2-5% of those with periods, but that means it still affects millions of people in the US alone.
PMDD also tends to weigh more heavily on a person’s emotional health. While it was difficult to diagnose in the past, it was finally written with diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5: the current guide mental health professionals use to diagnose conditions. In other words, PMDD is now a recognized emotional disorder.
Most of the time, people aim to treat their PMS symptoms one at a time: pain relievers for cramps, caffeine for fatigue, sleeping pills for insomnia, and so on. At their core, though, all your PMS symptoms stem from one cause: the sudden and dramatic shift in your hormone levels between ovulation and menstruation.
Some natural remedies can treat all your symptoms at once by improving your hormonal balance. Others still focus on specific symptoms, but unlike pharmaceuticals, they tend to work in better harmony with your body and often have fewer (if any) side effects. Try these natural methods to see for yourself.
Nature is full of herbs that benefit our bodies in countless ways, so it’s not surprising that specific herbs work well for PMS and PMDD, too. Rather than trying to mix and match individual herbs and vitamins, look for a compound herbal supplement that’s specifically designed for menstrual relief.
Take Flow and Glow from Herb Krave, for example. It’s a pharmacist-formulated blend of effective herbs like Maca root, Vitex(Chaste Tree Berry), Cordyceps , Black Cohosh and Dong Quai. These ingredients work together to restore your hormonal balance and reduce your PMS or PMDD symptoms.
Turmeric has become increasingly popular as a natural health compound, and for good reason. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory. Because inflammation contributes to several types of period-related symptoms and pain, turmeric packs a powerful punch against those ailments.
In some cases, you might be able to get enough turmeric from food to notice a difference. It’s a common spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Of course, there are also turmeric supplements that do the trick.
PMS and PMDD have a strong emotional and mental component. That’s why it’s so crucial to take steps to reduce stress and alleviate those emotional symptoms during challenging days. Aromatherapy is often an effective yet natural way to make that happen.
Every scent you take in will interact with your brain in a different way. In the case of some scents, they trigger reactions in your brain to change the way you feel, and that’s the crux of aromatherapy.
The scent you choose should depend on your current symptoms. If you’re struggling with insomnia, opt for chamomile. For anxiety, reach for lavender, neroli, or clary sage. Bonus tip: aromatherapy with clary sage may even be able to reduce your cramps too.
Research suggests that mindful meditation can reduce anxiety, depression, and pain — all common symptoms of PMDD. Meditation requires you to focus on the present moment and concentrate on your breathing. This can help you relax and detach from uncomfortable symptoms.
To get started, try these guided meditations from UCLA Health. You can also access hundreds of how-to meditation videos on YouTube, or you can download a meditation app to your mobile device.
You’ve probably enjoyed fennel in a dinner or two, but did you know it’s a thriving natural health remedy, too? This is especially true for PMS and PMDD because it has a unique combination of effects.
For one, fennel has estrogen-like properties so your body treats it much like estrogen. This relieves many symptoms of the sudden drop in estrogen that happens during your cycle.
On top of this, fennel is a natural muscle relaxant, so it reduces menstrual cramps. Fennel even reduces bloating and water retention as well as other PMS-related digestive symptoms. It’s a true multi-tasker when it comes to easing PMS and PMDD symptoms.
Truthfully, for many of us, PMS or PMDD makes us want to do nothing but lay in bed with a heating pad a binge-worthy show. You may not be especially motivated to exercise, but it genuinely helps your symptoms in multiple ways.
Take cramps for example. Cramps happen when your uterus contracts so much that it cuts off the blood flow. Working out, however, enhances your blood flow so those cramps are less severe.
As far as period-related emotional symptoms go, exercise naturally releases endorphins which boost and stabilize your mood. If you tend to feel anger and irritability from your PMS or PMDD, some types of workouts have the added benefit of providing a healthy release for the anger. Boxing class, anyone?
Part of the challenge with PMS and PMDD is that not only are there physical symptoms but there are emotional symptoms that are more difficult to define and understand. If you don’t feel like yourself during that time of the month, talk therapy may be able to help.
Look for a therapist in your area who has experience treating the emotional aspects of PMS and PMDD, as well as any other struggles you may have. They can help you during those challenging times and give you strategies to modify and stabilize your moods without medication.
The world around us is full of natural ways to improve our health if we know where to look. The next time you’re suffering from PMS or PMDD, try the techniques and supplements above to enjoy natural relief without the side effects of mass-manufactured pharmaceuticals.