The incidence and severity of PMS seems to be increasing. Pre-menstrual syndrome is where symptoms become present 2 weeks prior to the cycle and then dissipate within a few days of the cycle starting. Some of the more common symptoms that we see patients’ struggle with are breast tenderness, bloating, irritability, food cravings, insomnia, and headaches. The underlying cause of these symptoms is due to an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone during the second half of the cycle. Estrogen should be lower than progesterone during this time but the women who suffer with PMS have more estrogen than progesterone.
More extreme PMS symptoms like aggressive and irrational behaviors, debilitating anxiety and depression, OCD tendencies, abdominal discomfort and severe swelling in the lower legs have been more common complaints for women. Usually the PMS cases that we treat respond very well to botanicals that help to balance the hormones. We work on the detoxification pathways including the liver and the digestive tract to make sure the body can better break down the estrogen and eliminate it from the system. We often do acupuncture with patients to bring an energetic balance to the system. With some women progesterone therapy can be helpful if the body isn’t producing enough to create a better hormone balance during the 2nd half of the cycle.
In the past and even currently this approach can be very helpful but with the more complex cases we have seen lately the protocols that we typically use are only decreasing symptoms by 25-50%. We obviously strive for 100% relief for our patients so this has led us to investigate more deeply to see what may be a common thread in these more severe cases.
We have begun to use a test called the Organic Acid Test which evaluates how the body functions overall. It can look for metabolites of yeast and bacterial overgrowth, B vitamins, and how the body handles environmental and toxic exposures. The patient’s that have been able to do this test have come up positive in one if not all of these areas. Once these underlying issues are dealt with balance is re-stored. We understand that PMS takes a physical and emotional toll not only on our female patients but their families. It is best to be treated for even the most mild PMS symptoms now to prevent it from evolving into a more severe case. Symptoms are an expression that something is out of balance in the body so the sooner it is tackled the better!