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Herbal Healing For Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Period Pain With Ciara O' Meara

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

It's time for a little herbal healing!

Ciara O' Meara - Medical Herbalist profile:
I have a long standing interest in natural medicine. From a young age I found myself allergic to antibiotics, this prompted a proactive approach to preventative medicine, ensuring that through diet and exercise I was always doing my best to stay healthy. I completed an honours Science degree in University College Dublin in 1997 followed by an MSc in Medical Genetics at Aberdeen University. I then spent a number of years working in the field of academic research in areas such as The Human Genome Project at Oxford University, UK, and on Cancer research at Cancer Research UK. It was during this time that I took up a yoga practice and further cultivated an interest in holistic medicine.

First hand experience of successfully using herbal medicine  prompted me to pursue an interest in the subject. I soon realised that this interest was part of a much broader, richer and complex area of natural medicine which required dedicated study to appreciate both its subtleties and power. To deepen my knowledge on the subject and acquire the ability to confidently use it as a health professional I completed a four year degree at Westminster University in London.

This University is a long established centre for excellence in the training of medical herbalists. Its facilities encompass a central London clinic for herbal medicine where members of the public can avail of treatment. This is where I completed 500 hours of clinical training as part of my degree, treating members of the public from young to old with a range of illnesses. This was an integral part of the educational programme, in the interests of maintaining a high level of safe practice. This training included differential diagnosis of illness up to a high standard of training clinically on par with that of a GP.

Herbal Healing For Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) and Period Pain:
There are over 150 different symptoms associated with Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). The symptoms experienced by a woman may change from puberty to post childbirth to pre-menopause. Many women find that they can improve after childbirth while some experience PMS for the first time at this point in their lives.

Some common symptoms of PMS include:

. Irritability, short temper
. Emotional, teary, over-sensitive
. Bloating/ constipation
. Breast tenderness and fluid retention
. Sleep disturbance
. Migraine

PMS is mainly due to hormone imbalance between oestrogen and progesterone in the body. These hormones can have effects on many tissues in the body such as serotonin in the brain which can account for the mood changes experienced by many women.

Factors of this hormone imbalance include: Stress, poor diet, low weight, over exercising

Some useful supplements:

Magnesium
Magnesium is necessary for normal sugar metabolism, a deficiency can lead to unstable blood sugar levels premenstrually. Low levels can be related to diet or excess consumption of dairy or refined sugars. Magnesium can also be of use where premenstrual headaches are experienced.

Recommended dosage: approx 300mg daily

Herbs:

Vitex -Agnus Castus
This herbs helps to balance hormones and raises levels of progesterone in particular. It can help with many of the symptoms. It is particularly helpful in raising progesterone levels in the second half of the cycle. Vitex is particularly useful where there are symptoms of breast swelling and soreness.

It can be taken in tincture or capsules. It is best to take it first thing in the morning as this is when the pituitary gland is most active. Dosage 10-20 drops first thing in the morning or one to two capsules.


For Low mood & Irritability:

Ashwaganda
This is a useful herb where both anxiety and insomnia combine. It can be used to counteract the stress induced changes in hormone balance. Ashwaganda helps to raise the body's resistance to stress.
Capsule dosage: 2 capsules three times a day

St Johns Wort
This herb is only available if dispensed by a medical herbalist or other qualified person. This is an excellent herb for helping with mild depression and anxiety. It can be useful for low mood following birth of a child or for women approaching the menopause, or as part of an overall approach to PMS. Mood enhancing effects can take four weeks to manifest.


Fluid retention
Dandelion 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. The fresh leaves can also be eaten in salads. The fresh juice may also be purchased in some larger health food stores.

Method
. Place teabags in boiling water
. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

Milk thistle
Hormones are recycled and excreted via the liver. If the liver is not working optimally then there may be inefficient movement of hormones out of the body. For this same reason it is important that there is a regular bowel movement as regular constipation may add to PMS problems.

Milk thistle enhances the functioning of the liver; it also has a very gentle laxative effect. Dosage as directed.

Painful periods:

Abdominal rub for painful periods:
Essential oils Clary sage, lavender and ginger are all useful for period pains as they reduce spasm and relax the underlying tissue. To use add 20-60 drops of each oil to 100mls of olive, almond or apricot kernel oil. This can be massaged into the lower abdomen and back when pain is bad. A hot bath before hand can help absorption of the oils.

Method
. Add 20 - 60 drops of clary sage, lavender and ginger to 100mls of olive, almond or apricot kernel oil.
. This can be massaged into the lower abdomen and back when pain is bad.

If this is too messy for you, make a hot compress by adding 5 drops of each essential oil to a bowl of very hot water, soak a cloth in it, wring out excess water and apply to the abdomen. Repeat if necessary or place a hot water bottle over the cloth.

Method
. Add 5 drops of clary sage, lavender and ginger to a bowl of very hot water.
. Soak a cloth in the water and wring out the excess water.
. Apply to the abdomen


For more information on Ciara please visit www.herbalist.ie

Locations of Ciaras clinics are,
Midland Centre for Natural health
Mitchel Street, Nenagh
Co Tipperary
&
The Herbal Clinic
Suir View
Cathedral Street
Thurles
Co .Tipperary

For More Information On Herbalists
Visit the Irish institute of medical herbalists -
www.iimh.org

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