How To Alleviate the Symptoms Of Premenstrual Syndrome

Woman touching her belly

Headaches, inflammation, colic, muscle fatigue, digestive problems, acne, breast tenderness and feelings of anxiety, sadness or irritability are the most common symptoms of this syndrome that affects those who menstruate. Photo: Freepik

LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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The days before menstruation don't have to be torture. Diet and lifestyle changes can help relieve PMS symptoms.

Premenstrual syndrome is a disorder related to the menstrual cycle that refers to a series of physical, emotional, and even cognitive symptoms that recur regularly in the last days of the luteal phase. That is, in the days before menstruation. However, on many occasions, they also manifest during menstruation.

Headaches, inflammation, colic, muscle fatigue, digestive problems, acne, breast tenderness, and feelings of anxiety, sadness, or irritability are the most common symptoms of this syndrome that affects those who menstruate. In the most severe cases, there are people who faint or feel crippling pain. 

Various studies show that about 90% of women admit to having some of the symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. However, only around 8% and 20% have symptoms that are clinically significant or that prevent them from carrying out their activities normally.

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However, it is also true that this is an undervalued problem. In fact, the approach that has been given to the treatment of the syndrome can be criticized, since it is usually alleviated with painkillers, contraceptives, and medications, but the causes that originate it are not usually addressed. However, studies have suggested that its root is in the hormonal changes of progesterone and estrogens, and especially in an unbalanced increase in estrogens.

Lara Briden is a naturopathic physician and author of the best-seller How to Improve Your Menstrual Cycle and Hormone Repair Manual. Her books have become popular around the world because they offer practical guides to achieve well-being in female cycles, based on recommendations for nutrition, health, lifestyle, and bioidentical hormones.

Briden suggests that a diet that avoids, or restricts, histamine-rich foods such as cow's milk or alcohol is essential to eliminate PMS. She also suggests avoiding inflammatory foods such as gluten, saturated fat or sugar. Foods rich in vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, tryptophan, Zinc and Omega 3 are essential to alleviate the discomfort of PMS.


Tryptophan is found in carbohydrates. This, combined with alterations in serotonin levels, explains the desire to eat sweets, bakery products, and chocolates that many women manifest in the menstrual phase. However, due to the high levels of fats and sugars they contain, they could be counterproductive. So, it is more convenient to eat nuts, dried fruits, bananas, pineapples, avocados, plums, and dark chocolate. The latter also provides magnesium.

On the other hand, there is a natural technique that is gaining popularity called Seed Cycling, which consists of consuming seeds during the different phases of the menstrual cycle to regulate hormones. In the follicular phase, that is, from the first day of bleeding until ovulation, approximately in the middle of the cycle, you should consume flaxseed, pumpkin, and chia seeds. In the luteal phase, that is, from ovulation to menstruation, sesame and sunflower seeds should be consumed, as they help the body cope with sudden hormonal changes and regulate estrogen levels. This will have an impact on reducing PMS symptoms.

On the other hand, a study carried out this year in Turkey on 286 students found that performing Pilates exercises considerably reduces the symptoms of PMS and may represent an effective cure to treat this discomfort. Likewise, another study from the University of Huelva found that the practice of exercises such as Ba duan jin, yoga, and aerobic exercise are modalities that produce improvements and can provide effective treatment. Exercise is effective because it increases the release of neurotransmitters, including endorphins that act as natural pain relievers.

In addition, a hot water bottle can be used and placed on the abdomen to relieve tension in the muscles in the pelvic area and relax the area. Likewise, to avoid fluid retention, it is advisable to drink a lot of water and include drinks with phytotherapeutic effects such as infusions of thyme, fennel, ginger, chaste berry or lavender.

Regarding psychological and emotional symptoms, it is convenient to practice techniques that help relaxation such as mindfulness or breathing techniques. Likewise, it is advisable to sleep and rest well. However, if the symptoms of PMS are too uncomfortable or painful, it is best to see an expert doctor so that he can make a more in-depth diagnosis of other possible causes such as polycystic ovaries or dysfunctions in the reproductive system.

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