One of the most uncomfortable and involuntary things most women have to go through is menstruation and pms fatigue. Whether we like it or not, our bodies see 3-7 days of periods that usually bring along other unwelcome visitors too, such as acne, tender breasts, bloating, tiredness, mood swings, changes in libido, and other such physical and emotional fluctuations.
All of these symptoms fall under the premenstrual syndrome (PMS) umbrella. PMS occurs around a week or so before the start of the period and affects around 80% of women in their reproductive years, though its symptoms vary from person to person.
Additionally, to make matters worse, these symptoms may increase with age or pregnancy. PMS can also worsen other chronic conditions such as asthma, migraines, and seizure disorders.
To get a well rounded introduction as to what exactly PMS is, the causes, symptoms and natural treatment options, we urge you to watch the following video. While it is only around five minutes long, we promise that, after watching it, you will be well informed:
Though the exact cause is not clear, PMS is linked to hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle. Small differences in the estrogen and progesterone levels lead to changes in brain chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
Estrogen and progesterone are the two most important steroid hormones in the female body responsible for maintaining normal reproductive health. Low estrogen levels may also cause forgetfulness. Serotonin, dopamine, and GABA are three key neurotransmitters responsible for mood regulation. Fluctuations in these neurotransmitters can cause anxiety, irritability, and depression, as well as PMS fatigue, food cravings, and disturbed sleep.
Breast tenderness is caused due to hyperprolactinemia, which is the excessive production of prolactin, the hormone that stimulates breast development. Retention of sodium and water by the kidneys causes bloating and periodic weight gain.
Moreover, prostaglandins, hormone-like substances, can cause uterine contractions and trigger painful cramps and further PMS fatigue. Aside from this, deficiency in necessary vitamins and minerals in the body can also trigger PMS.
While the above symptoms are beyond our control, there are some things we may unknowingly be doing that worsen these PMS symptoms. Not getting enough sleep, for starters, interferes with our bodies’ production of certain hormones important for maintaining good health.
Further, excessive alcohol intake can increase dehydration and bloat. Too much caffeine decreases blood flow to the organs – not enough blood to the heart may increase heart rate and contribute to anxiety while constricted blood vessels may also contribute to bloating. Other factors include stress, unhealthy diets like sugary or fried food, and higher salt intake.
Now that you know what not to do, let’s get into what we can do to relieve premenstrual symptoms like cramps, anxiety, and PMS fatigue. There are several safe and natural supplements available online and in stores that can help ease your time of the month.
Other products like birth control and antidepressants may also help with PMS, but these supplements come with fewer side effects or precautionary measures. Let’s take a look:
As kids, we were all told to drink enough milk and get our daily dose of calcium. Adulthood is not much different for women. While calcium is primarily known for building strong bones, it also aids PMS fatigue.
In a 2017 study, 66 students with PMS were divided into two groups – one was given 500 mg of calcium per day, and the other received a placebo for two months. It was found that calcium did, in fact, help with mood disorders like anxiety and depression.
Another study conducted some years earlier also had similar results. The group given calcium carbonate for three months found changes in usual symptoms where the supplement improved PMS fatigue, irregular appetite, and depression. In both groups, participants were in their early 20s.
You can increase your calcium intake by consuming calcium-rich foods around your period. If this doesn’t work for you, calcium supplements are easily available.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These fatty acids have a number of benefits – from relieving inflammation in joints to helping ease PMS fatigue, they can do it all. Omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids – namely alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are found abundantly in seafood like salmon and sardines, in nuts like walnuts, and some plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oil.
200 women divided into two separate groups, underwent a trial. To one group, omega-3 fatty acid was administered in the dosage of 2 grams per day. The other group received a placebo. The symptoms in both groups were monitored and compared at 1.5 and 3 months after the start of the treatment.
It was found that omega-3 fatty acids reduced depression and anxiety as well as bloating, headache, and breast tenderness. The longer the treatment was administered, the more the effects increased.
Sometimes including specific foods in your daily diet isn’t easy, which is why supplements are available to make your life (and nutrition-intake) easier. Two fantastic supplements that provide Omega-3 are New Zealand green lipped mussel supplements and fish oil supplements.
The raw materials used to make these are all-natural and sourced from extremely clean waters in New Zealand. The end products are pure and offer a number of other benefits in addition to PMS fatigue relief.
Studies show that low levels of magnesium may affect PMS. One study found that supplementing with 360 mg of magnesium per day for two months reduced menstrual migraines in participants.
Another study evaluated the effects of magnesium and vitamin B6 together. For four months, participants were divided into three groups – one was given 250 mg of magnesium. The second was given 250 mg of magnesium plus 40 mg vitamin B6, and the third received a placebo.
Results found that the combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 was most effective in lowering PMS symptoms such as bloating, breast pain, back pain, stress, and PMS fatigue.
You can get good amounts of magnesium in foods like almonds, peanuts, and green leafy vegetables, while vitamin B6 can be found in oats, bananas, chicken, pork, etc. If not, supplements are, of course, available.
Chasteberry, also called vitex, is a well-known herbal remedy that relieves PMS fatigue and other similar symptoms. Grown in the Mediterranean region, it is formulated into a common supplement for female reproductive health. One study found that taking 20 mg of chasteberry extract over a couple of months relieves PMS symptoms.
Another similar study saw an improvement in bloating, breast pain, and headaches, working better than Prozac in some cases. It is thought to work by decreasing prolactin as well as supporting women’s progesterone levels.
Ginkgo biloba is another herbal remedy to treat PMS symptoms. In a 2008 study, 90 women who regularly experienced PMS were assigned to two groups for an experiment to gauge the effects of ginkgo Biloba on PMS symptoms.
One group was administered tablets of 40 mg ginkgo Biloba leaf extracts three times a day while the other was given a placebo. The herbal supplement can significantly decrease the severity of both physical symptoms like PMS fatigue and psychological symptoms like mood changes.
Evening Primrose Oil
This herbal supplement is made from the seeds of a flower grown in North America. One older study found that it was highly effective in treating depression, irritability, and bloating. It is believed that the gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) present in the oil converts to prostaglandin E1 and prevents prolactin from causing PMS.
Another study in 2010 combined evening primrose oil, vitamin B6, and vitamin E – results showed improvement in PMS symptoms though it is not known how much the primrose oil contributed to this. However, evening primrose oil has also proven to be effective in improving skin health, such as acne prevention, eczema relief, elasticity, moisture, and firmness. In addition to this, it can also reduce breast pain by reducing inflammation and inhibiting prostaglandins.
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s Wort is considered to be an herbal substitute for prescription antidepressants used to treat mild depression. It works by affecting the serotonin and norepinephrine levels in our bodies. These are two neurotransmitters that contribute to mood and are used in many antidepressants.
Though St John’s Wort is known to help with psychological PMS symptoms, a 2010 study found that it also alleviated physical symptoms when taken daily.
There is no hard and fast rulebook to eradicate PMS symptoms. These supplements will alleviate your pain but be patient in seeing results – sometimes extreme PMS pain may be premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which is a more serious health issue than PMS. In these cases, it is better to be safe and get prescribed medication instead of home-remedies and self-prescribed supplements.
Moreover, be patient as you use them as most supplements take a couple of months to start working as well as expected. While all of the listed supplements are proven to be capable of treating PMS symptoms, it is to be noted that the inclusion of the supplements, along with other medicines, may cause different results. Their effects may also vary along with age or other health problems, so always consult your doctor before regular usage to avoid unforeseen effects.