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4 Alternative Therapies for PMS (The Third One Is Easy to Perform)[Updated Feb/2023]

Premenstrual syndrome refers to complex psychological, physiological and behavioral changes that occur during the last week of the menstrual cycle and resolve themselves at the beginning of a new menstrual cycle, including: psychological symptoms (anxiety, nervousness, depression, confusion, irritability, mood swings, lethargy, sleep disorders), as well as physical symptoms (breast tenderness, bloating, changes in appetite, weight gain, headache, abdominal pain, edema of the limbs, fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, skin problems)… etc

It is estimated that about 20% to 40% of women of reproductive age are affected, and 10% are more severe Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), which often affects family, work, and relationships.

In medicine, there are many theories as to the causes of PMS (progesterone-to-estrogen imbalance, increased angiotensin, decreased endorphins, subclinical hypoglycemia, vitamin deficiency, increased prolactin/prostaglandins), but no theory can fully summarize them

Treatment is usually focused on alleviating symptoms, with common medications including antipsychotics (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), hormonal therapy (estradiol and progesterone), or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

In empirical medicine, what alternative therapies are helpful for PMS is detailed in the text analysis

What are the alternative therapies that can help with PMS?

  1. Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus)

Chasteberry, also known as chaste tree or vitex, is an tree in the verbena family, up to 6 meters tall, distributed in the Mediterranean, Central Asia and North America, the main compounds are glycosides, flavonoids, diterpenes, steroids and linoleic acid etc.

Since ancient times, this plant has been considered an important plant for the treatment of disorders of the female reproductive system, including: menstrual disorders (amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea), premenstrual dysphoric disorder, luteal insufficiency, hyperprolactinemia, infertility, acne, menopause, periodic breast pain.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (3 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials with 520 PMS participants) noted that symptom relief was 2.57 times higher with chasteberry preparation compared with placebo (as measured by total symptom score or PMS diary score). Note 1

*Conclusion: For PMS, oral chasteberry preparations may provide positive help, but limited by small sample sizes, more high-quality studies are needed to further validate

  1. Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy refers to a medicinal or therapeutic treatment in which essential oils extracted from plants are absorbed through the skin or olfactory system, and while more than 40 plant derivatives have been identified for therapeutic use, lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary, chamomile, and peppermint are the most commonly used extracts

Aromatherapy is most commonly used topically, and when applied topically, it is usually added to a carrier oil and used for massage, or inhaled through a humidifier, or soaked in gauze, placed near the patient.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (8 randomized controlled trials, 295 participants with moderate to severe PMS) suggested that aromatherapy (inhalation) reduced the severity of PMS physical symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, fatigue, and improved total PMS symptom scores. Note 2

*Conclusion: For PMS, aromatherapy (inhalation) may bring positive help, but due to small sample sizes and heterogeneity between samples, more high-quality studies are needed to further validate

  1. Exercise

The hypothesis that exercise promotes health and longevity is not new. As early as 2500 BC, records of organized exercise to promote health have been discovered.

In both men and women, a modest increase in energy expenditure due to physical activity (about 1000 kcal per week) or an increase in physical fitness by 1 MET (metabolic equivalent) was associated with a reduction in mortality of about 20%.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (15 randomized controlled trials, 717 moderate PMS participants) found that exercise reduced mental, physical and behavioural symptoms and improved global PMS symptom scores. Note 3

*Conclusion: Exercise may be a positive help for PMD, but more high-quality studies are needed to validate this due to the high risk of bias and heterogeneity of the included studies

  1. Regional reflexology

Regional reflexology is a non-pharmacological complementary therapy that applies appropriate pressure to specific acupuncture points and areas on the feet, hands, or ears that correspond to different body organs and systems, with beneficial effects on organs and a person’s overall health.

One of the most common foot reflexology massages uses the thumb and forefinger to stimulate certain acupuncture points on the feet, and possible benefits include: improved circulation, elimination of toxins, stimulation of lymphatic drainage, and strengthening of the immune system.

A systematic literature review and meta-analysis (9 randomized controlled trials, 475 PMS participants) suggested that regional reflexology helped reduce overall score of PMS, physical and psychological symptoms. Note 4

In addition, the increase in massage time in each session also improves its treatment efficiency.

*Conclusion: Regional reflexology may be of positive help to premenstrual syndrome, but more high-quality studies are needed to further validate due to small sample sizes and heterogeneity between samples