Oh that time. That wonderful, glorious time when your world comes crashing down because your shoe's untied and your boobs feel like they're going to explode. Amiright?
Ladies, there is help beyond the pill.
PMS (premenstrual syndrome) most often occurs when estrogen and progesterone are approaching their peak before the period. These high levels cause breast tenderness, weight gain and bloating, headaches, acne, fatigue, irritability, and a general feeling of "get out of my unsexy way". Getting to the root of these issues often requires a bit of detective work to figure out the best approach, however there are some awesome natural treatments that are incredibly effective.
Food. Refined carbohydrates, sugar and dairy worsen PMS by increasing inflammatory markers. This one gets tricky because who doesn't want sugar pre-period? It's so unfair. Cutting these out/down can be effective not only for PMS but for PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) as well. Ramp up the fruits, veggies, and healthy fats to help control this inflammation.
Also called mastalgia, sore boobs are super common symptom of PMS. It's also super uncomfortable, especially if you like to run for exercise (ahem, personal experience...). A big contributor here is coffee which is high in methylxanthines, and also chocolate. It's pretty well documented that, unfortunately, this is a big contributor to sore and fibrocystic breasts. BOO.
So, now I've just stated that removing sugar, bagels, cheese, ice cream, coffee, and chocolate pre-period is a good idea. I realize the irony.
Calcium and magnesium. One of the best supplements for symptom management on many accounts: cramping, breast tenderness, mood swings, back pain, etc. This can be taken throughout the cycle or from ovulation onward with similar efficacy. It's a pretty simple one to try first that can take care of a lot of common physical symptoms, so may give you the best bang for your buck. Always ensure you're taking one that has vitamin D in it, as taking calcium on its own may lead to some cardiovascular issues.
Chastetree. Getting a little cranky is one thing, getting angry is another. Depending on severity, this may be PMS or it may be PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder) which is the Incredible Hulk of PMS. This is best treated with herbs and Chastetree definitely effective here, though you need to make sure this is a good option for you. To get the right dose and a good quality supplement, be sure to chat with your friendly neighbourhood ND. Chances are buying whatever's on sale won't work so I don't want to you feel discouraged!
Keep in mind that while these recommendations do have some solid research behind them, they're pretty general. You're an awesome lady, but you're very different from the other ladies around you, and you may need some tailored advice. What I do want you to know is that there's lots of options beyond what's mentioned here to help resolve your PMS and have a happy month... the whole month.
References:Abraham GE. Nutritional factors in the etiology of the premenstrual tension syndromes. J Reprod Med. 1983 Jul;28(7):446-64.
Jang SH, Kim DI, Choi MS. Effects and treatment methods of acupuncture and herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder: systematic review. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2014 Jan 10;14:11.
Nevatte T, O'Brien PM, Bäckström T, Brown C, Dennerstein L et al. ISPMD consensus on the management of premenstrual disorders. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2013 Aug;16(4):279-91.