Remedy - Question: I'm troubled by monthly PMS symptoms including irritability, headache, bloating, and cramps. What are some natural approaches I can take to relieve the discomfort?
Susun S. Weed, Herbalist
In the week preceding menstruation, many women experience water retention, mood swings, sore breasts, and indigestion. To relieve water retention, take 10-20 drops of dandelion root tincture in a cup of water with meals and before bed. A strong infusion (one ounce of dried herb in a quart of boiling water, brewed overnight) of stinging nettle also helps prevent further episodes of water retention. To moderate mood swings, use 5-10 drops of motherwort tincture in water, and repeat as needed up to 3-4 times an hour. For women who consistently feel pre-menstrual rage, use 20-30 drops of motherwort tincture twice a day for a month to help stabilize moods. One or more cups of an infusion of the herb oatstraw soothes nerves and provides a rich source of minerals.
To relieve congestion and tenderness in the breasts, 20-30 drops of cleavers tincture works wonders, and may be repeated every hour up to 6 times a day. Women who get a lot of calcium and magnesium from their diet (leafy greens, yogurt, and herbs that are rich in these minerals) have less breast tenderness.Susun S. Weed is an herbalist, women's health expert, and author of The Wise Woman Herbal Series (Ash Tree Publishing, 1989.)
Nikki Bradford, Flower Essence Therapist
Flower essences are ideal for soothing PMS, as well as many other ailments. Flower essences are a type of vibrational medicine in a liquid form, usually made from the special healing energies of plants or minerals. They are currently used in hospital settings all over the world.
Of the more than 2,500 different essences available worldwide, my top three choices for PMS are She Oak, Embo Ruda, and Easter Lily. While She Oak is great for a variety of PMS symptoms, it is especially good for addressing irritability, mood swings, and bloating. Embo Rudae is from Brazilian rainforests, and takes on many of the characteristics of the place it comes from (as many essences do). Embo Ruda is an exuberant, feisty, glad-to-be-female remedy that's especially helpful for heavy period cramps, as well as premenstrual irritability and/or depression. Easter Lily from Canada is helpful for all symptoms, particularly water retention, and especially if the PMS is due to a gynecological condition. Easter Lily can be taken, as can all essences, in conjunction with conventional medical treatments.Nikki Bradford is a professional spiritual healer, flower essence therapist and author of fourteen books, including Heal Yourself With Flowers and Other Essences (Quadrille, March 2007).
Jackie Long, MA, Yoga Teacher and Therapist
The best advice I can offer is to encourage each individual woman to tune into her body during menstruation so that she can pause, listen, and be present with the sensations unfolding within her.
I recommend the more gentle forms of yoga such as meditation, pranayama, and relaxing asanas during menstruation. Engaging in calming, restful, soothing practices will help to release stress and reduce anxiety.
Try this child's pose variation: Sit on your heels, spread your knees a few inches apart so your belly can melt between them, cross your arms across your chest as if you are giving yourself a hug, and hinge forward from your hips releasing your head toward the floor. If headache is a problem, place a block under your head to keep it slightly elevated. Relax your abdomen completely, allowing your soft belly to surrender completely towards the earth. Child's pose is symbolic of the fetus in the womb and the way we were once held by our mothers. This variation reminds us of the loving, compassionate way we can, but often forget, to hold ourselves when we experience unpleasant circumstances (such as cramps). Rest in the pose for as long as is comfortable, and be present with what arises within.