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Herbal Remedies For PMS With Aine Marie Reilly

Tuesday, 7 February 2006


Aine Marie Reilly our medical herbalist is with us today to give us all plenty of herbal hints and tips on how to ease the symptoms of PMS, Pre- Menstral Syndrome.

PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome, refers to the physical, mental and emotional symptoms which many women experience during the second half of the menstrual cycle.  Most women experience some symptoms of PMS at intervals throughout their life. However some women experience PMS every month. In the past, PMS was also known as PMT (pre-menstrual tension). 
Over 150 symptoms of PMS have been recorded but the most common of these are:
. Fluid retention
. Breast tenderness
. Cramps in the pelvic area
. Joint or muscle pains
. Acne
. Thrush
. Carbohydrate cravings
. Abdominal bloating and discomfort
. Constipation
. Headaches and migraines
. Sleep disturbance
. Tiredness
. Poor concentration
. Anxiety
. Irrational thoughts
. Irritability or aggression
. Depression and tearfulness

Pre-menstrual Syndrome is primarily due to hormone imbalance, most commonly a deficiency of progesterone in relation to the level of oestrogen. This has a knock on effect on other hormones such as increased prolactin, which causes breast tenderness, reduced serotonin, which leads to depression, and reduced cortisol, which increases susceptibility to stress. PMS is exacerbated by stress and by Candida overgrowth, such as after overuse of antibiotics. Excessive consumption of caffeine, sugar and salt make symptoms worse.

Aine's Helpful Herbs

Agnus Castus
This balances hormones and raises levels of progesterone in particular. It can help with most of the symptoms of PMS as it addresses the main cause. Best taken as a tincture, which is widely available in pharmacies and health food stores. For best results, take the entire daily dose in one go first thing in the morning as this is when the pituitary gland is most active.

Evening primrose oil
This herb helps to balance hormones. It reduces breast tenderness when taken long term. Also it is beneficial for acne. This herb is available as capsules or in liquid form.

This relieves anxiety, irritability, headaches and aggression and aids restful sleep.

Siberian ginseng
Helps to protect the body against the effects of stress, relieves tiredness, helps to balance blood sugar levels and reduces cravings for sweet foods.

Passiflora Tea Leaves
Passiflora is super for mood swings.
How to make a soothing tea
. Mix dried passiflora herbs with chamomile flowers.
. Add hot water.
. Leave to brew then strain and drink

Dandelion Root Leaves
Beneficial for the liver which is responsible for maintaining hormone balance in the body it also relieves constipation. Dandelion leaves drain excess water from the body which helps to relieve fluid retention. Full of minerals and an excellent detox remedy which also helps the skin. Can be used as a tea or the fresh leaves and also can be eaten in salads.
How to make Tincture
. Put 100g finely chopped dandelion leaves into a glass jar, add 500 ml of vodka, store in a warm place for 2 weeks and shake daily. 
. Then pour the contents of the jar including the herb residue into a muslin cloth suspended in a bowl and squeeze out all the liquid and empty the jar out.
. Then squeeze out the contents through the cloth.
. Finally pour the finished tincture into a dark glass bottle.

Essential oils:
Geranium balances hormones and mood swings, sweet marjoram eases cramps and reduces oversensitivity, and clary sage is helpful for depression and anxiety, sleep disturbance and exhaustion.
How To Make The Oils
. Add three to five drops of each oil into 30 ml of a suitable carrier such as almond oil and shake well.
. Stand the bottle in a bowl of hot water before use to warm the oil.   

All of the above herbs are available nationwide and over the counter. Prices and the way the herbs are prepared may vary from chemist to chemist. 

For Further Information:
Irish Institute of Medical Herbalists,
Lismore Clinic of Herbal Medicine
Co. Waterford.
Tel: 058 53200