Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) - Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a group of symptoms that appear monthly from a few days to 2 weeks before menstruation starts. These symptoms may include, among other symptoms, breast tenderness, headaches, edema, moodiness (from mild to severe depression, anger, or anxiety), and sugar or chocolate cravings.
Women with PMS tend to have relatively high levels of estrogen coupled with relatively low levels of progesterone. Often the low progesterone is caused by excessive physical or mental stress, which causes most of the progesterone to turn into cortisol, the stress hormone. Other factors associated with PMS are diet, vitamin and mineral deficiencies (especially magnesium and calcium and essential fatty acids), obesity with high insulin levels, and lack of exercise. Certain herbs, such as Chaste berry tree (Vitex agnus castus) may also assist with PMS.
Menstrual cramps are not the same as PMS. Many women have PMS and painless periods, and others have no PMS and severe cramping during their periods. This is usually a sign of an elevated inflammatory state and can be helped with magnesium, calcium, evening primrose oil, and herbs such as red raspberry leaf, though a relative progesterone deficiency may be also present.
PMS and other related symptoms often responds beautifully to tiny "allergy" treatment doses of various natural hormones, to various nutrients and dietary changes, to natural progesterone, or to homeopathy.
See our section on Natural Hormone Therapy for more information on natural progesterone.