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Premenstrual Tension Solutions

Premenstrual tension can be sent packing with a good diet, vitamins, and a life transforming herb called Agnus castus

Words Ralph Quinlan Forde

WITH one third of women in the UK suffering from premenstrual tension it may come as a relief to know that a well-known herb called Agnus castus could give women back the 12 weeks a year they lose to symptoms of this condition.

Ecohomme Premenstrual tension
Ecohomme Premenstrual tension

As PMT premenstrual tension is a hormonal problem connected to the menstrual cycle it is believed that there are inadequate amounts of progesterone in the body in the days before menstruation. This comes as no surprise as this is the time when oestrogen begins to kick in, causing the ovaries to ovulate.

The low level of progesterone causes an imbalance in the hormones that regulate the levels of sugar and salt in the body.

Due to this hormonal imbalance, fluid retention affects all the cells in the body, especially the brain cells. This is believed to be the reason behind the weight gain, headaches and irritability.

The list of symptoms for PMT premenstrual tension includes:

  • swelling of the breasts

  • aches and pains

  • fatigue

  • loss of libido

  • changes in sleeping and eating patterns

  • stress

  • tension

  • anxiety

  • irrational thinking

  • anger

  • frustration

  • depression and loss of concentration

Ecohomme Premenstrual tension
Ecohomme Premenstrual tension

PMT premenstrual tension sufferers are said to consume 62 per cent more refined carbohydrates, 275 per cent more refined sugar, 79 per cent more dairy products, 78 per cent more sodium, but 53 per cent less iron, 77 per cent less manganese and 52 per cent less zinc. Diet is probably the most important factor in managing premenstrual tension.

PMT premenstrual tension has only been properly recognised in the past few decades, Before that, women were more likely to be given tranquilizers as a way of treating the condition. Certain vitamin supplements are now known to help PMT, such as vitamin B6.

PMT premenstrual tension can also be attributed to an imbalance of oils in the body. Today’s diet is heavily biased towards artificial fats such as hydrogenated margarines and we also consume more hard fats from meat and cheese than is naturally good for tis. Instead, we are better suited to a diet rich in essential fatty acids.

Evening primrose oil supplies the body with a fatty acid, known as gamma-linoleic acid or GLA (not to be confused with alpha-linoleic acid, which is one of the ornega-3 fatty acids), and is therefore useful in treating PMT premenstrual tension.

Ecohomme Chinese Medicine
Ecohomme Chinese Medicine

In Chinese medicine, PMT premenstrual tension is believed to be the result of a hyperactive liver and gall bladder which causes a slowing down of the the pancreas, creating depression, poor concentration, craving for sweets and mood swings.

So avoid foods which irritate the liver such as hot spices, flitty and fried foods, alcohol, additives, coffee and red meat. White sugar is detrimental to the pancreas so try and cut it out by using stevia grass extract and chromium GTF supplements. Stevia grass is really sweet and suppresses the sugar cravings; a drop on the tongue is all you need. Chromium GTF will help to regulate the blood sugar levels in the body.

Foods that help cool the liver are salads, cabbage, yoghurt (with live bacteria) and asparagus. The fruits that are helpful are, grapefruit, which is excellent, prunes, plums, melons and black grapes. If you have to use sugar try to replace it with honey as that is de-toxifying.

The condition also increases the amount of a hormone called prolactin which causes breast soreness and which also prevents the liver from clearing any excess oestrogen from the body. Vitamin B6 increases the liver’s ability to process the excess oestrogens.

If you suffer from severe cramps, I suggest that you use an extract of pineapple called bromelain which has strong anti-spasmodic effects, especially on the smooth muscle of the contracted cervix that goes into cramp.

Ecohomme Herbal Medicine
Ecohomme Herbal Medicine

Recently the medical journal, The Lancet, published details of a German study that had used the herb called Agnus castus in the treatment of PMT premenstrual tension with a group of 170 women. The herb had a beneficial effect on PMT premenstrual tension symptoms the study showed. Another study who were studied 93% of the women given the herb reported a decrease in premenstrual tension symptoms.

Use of the herb may also allow women who have been prescribed an SSRI anti-depressant (serotonin re-uptake inhibitor) to switch to Agnus castus for the treatment of the depressive symptoms of PMT premenstrual tension. They need to consult their GP about this.

We recommend taking Agnus castus in tincture form which can he bought in chemists and health food stores and will probably last 6 months. Take 20 drops a day in a little water. If you try these dietary and supplemental changes, you should alleviate all or most of the symptoms associated with PMT premenstrual tension.

In my experience of prescribing the herb for women with PMT premenstrual tension, most have reported a complete reversal of their symptoms.

There are a number of Medical Herbalists working in private practice you can consult with in order to get the right herbal medicine prescription for your needs. By doing so you will keep a very important medical tradition alive. If you are on a contraceptive pill they will be able to advise you correctly about using the herb or not as it can reduce the contraceptive pills effects.

Another use of the herb is increasing fertility for those who want to get pregnant. The herb can be used to the point of conception but no further. Once again a registered medical herbalist can support you.

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