You feel snappy and mean. Your breasts are tender and your ankles are swollen. Chocolate is your only friend. Yes, you’ve got PMS again. You know that these last few days before your period are going to be a struggle. At least nowadays you recognise it for what it is and you no longer believe that the world has turned against you, but it still feels like it.
Most women get premenstrual syndrome at some time. But only between 10 – 20% get it to the degree that it blights their lives. PMS has been the cause of women leaving their jobs, falling out with friends and even ending relationships.
It used to be thought that PMS was the result of abnormal surges of the hormones, progesterone and oestrogen but now it considered a hypersensitivity to normal level of hormones. As a homeopath I’ve always known that and it is that sensitivity that a homeopath will be looking at in your treatment for PMS, whether it is part of your long-term make-up, a result of taking the contraceptive pill or a result of a change in your life or circumstances.
Obviously, people who are sensitive to their hormones are probably sensitive to everything else too, so at this time of the month the best advice is to live as clean a life as possible: do plenty of exercise, have plenty of sleep, drink no alcohol and avoid caffeine. Oh yes, and reduce meat, sugar and salt. Funnily enough, as you will know, this is exactly the time of the month when you are going to find it hardest to do that!
PMS symptoms tend to fall into four categories:
Anxiety: you get jittery and nervous or debilitating anticipatory anxiety.
Cravings: you can’t resist sugar, refined carbohydrates and typically chocolate.
Depression: you feel bleak. Like there is nothing to look forward to and your life is meaningless. You feel isolated and guilty.
Water problems: you have swollen ankles, sore swollen breasts and headaches.
In my practice I think most women come with a combination of symptoms and some even with all four together.
As a homeopath I would be looking at treating the underlying cause of your sensitivity and therefore you PMS. This involves finding out in detail about aspects of your life like what are your characteristics, what drives you nuts, what makes you happy, how you sleep, your food desires, how you experience life and its joys and disappointments. Treating PMS is not something you can do at home. Below I have outlined how certain characteristics of some well-known remedies can show up in the treatment of PMS, but don’t try this out for yourself.
Anxiety: A remedy that typifies jittery PMS is Arsenicum. People who need Arsenicum are pretty highly strung in the first place. Generally afraid of being alone, dying, the dark and such like, and prone to anxious worrying but these symptoms are aggravated in the pre menstrual period when their control on their emotions is under such strain that they get weepy, fidgety and angry.
Cravings: Lycopodium is often thought of as a sort of masculine remedy, but in fact it is a great remedy for some people with bad PMS. Lycopodium is famous for being for people who crave sugar; especially if they get very windy from it too. But they also crave, and are worse from eating, pastry, cakes and chocolate and for having an insatiable appetite.
Depression: Sepia is a remedy for women who have a great sadness and depression, before their period, which is accompanied with lethargy, general weakness and exhaustion. They have a really bad time of the day mid afternoon and feel snappish and irritable. They can experience an indifference to the people they would normally consider their loved ones (partner and children for instance) that allows them to be cutting and seemingly spiteful. People who need Sepia nearly always feel better for vigorous exercise.
Water problems: Natrum Muriaticum is a remedy made from salt so it is unsurprising that it affects the use and storage of water in your body. People who get Nat Mur as their remedy usually suffer from dryness of skin or vagina or eyes and they might have a great thirst. During the pre menstrual period they can expect oedema in their ankles and feet, sore, swollen, tender breasts, bursting headaches and a tearfulness (that they wouldn’t show in company).
One of the things that really helps is knowing that you are not alone with this experience, so please write in below and share your experiences. You are not alone.