For a condition that afflicts just about every female on the planet at one time or another, premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a bit of a catchall, encompassing more than 150 symptoms. If you’re irritable, edgy, and light-headed, you’ve probably got PMS; feel bloated and achy, and dissolve into tears at the slightest provocation? Ditto.
Insomnia, migraines, hives, sugar cravings, acne, and even asthma are all signs of what Dr. Robert Svoboda, an ayurvedic scholar, calls a woman’s “monthly dysfunction syndrome.”
Insomnia, migraines, hives, sugar cravings, acne, and even asthma are all signs of what Dr. Robert Svoboda, an ayurvedic scholar and healer, calls a woman’s “monthly dysfunction syndrome.”
Most doctors agree that the type of symptom doesn’t matter as much as the pattern in which it occurs. If you experience flare-ups at roughly the same time every month—generally a week or two before your period—and then feel better as soon as you start your flow, chances are you have PMS. So what’s a girl to do? Kathy Thorpe, a certified homeopath in Boulder, CO, suggests giving homeopathy a try. Choose a remedy that appears to address both your physical and emotional symptoms, Thorpe says, and take one 30c dose twice daily until symptoms improve. If you don’t feel better, try a different remedy. We recommend products by Hyland’s, Boiron, or Nelsons.
Sepia. You feel sad and weepy, exhausted and bloated, and just want to be left alone. You may experience a heavy bearing-down feeling in the uterus, feel chilly, and have intense headaches and acne breakouts. You often feel better after exercising.
Lac caninum. Your breasts are swollen and tender, and you feel pain in your ovaries. You suffer from low self-confidence and have an aversion to being touched. This type of PMS is often followed by intense gushing periods.
Natrum mur. You feel sad, emotionally vulnerable, anxious, and averse to company. You may experience migraines with flashes of light, weakness, and heaviness of eyelids, as well as vaginal dryness and an aversion to sex. You crave salt, and your symptoms often worsen around 10 a.m.
Pulsatilla. You feel clingy, demanding, sensitive, and moody. Your symptoms worsen from heat and in the evening, but improve after you have a good cry and take a walk outdoors.
Yoga helps alleviate PMS symptoms in a number of ways, according to Patricia Walden, coauthor of Yoga for a Healthy Menstrual Cycle (Shambhala, 2004). Physically, it balances the nervous and endocrine systems and increases blood flow to your reproductive organs. Psychologically, a restorative practice eases stress and promotes relaxation, so your hypothalamus can regulate your hormones more efficiently. And, of course, it provides the time you need to listen to your body and respond to what you hear. Try upavista konasana (wide-angle seated pose) with your head on a bolster. This pose, Walden says, will help improve circulation in the pelvis and calm the agitation and irritability associated with PMS.
Sit up tall with your legs wide apart. Place a bolster or several folded blankets lengthwise in front of you. Inhale and lift your arms overhead, stretching up through your spine and the sides of your waist. Exhale and bend forward, with your back slightly concave, and reach your arms out in front of you, lengthening your spine toward your feet. As you inhale, bend your arms; exhale as you bring your head down to rest in your arms on your support. Stay in this pose for 2 to 5 minutes or as long as it’s comfortable.