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PMS: Three Helpful Hints from a Functional Approach

It’s that time of the month again…you’re feeling bloated, anxious, restless, and the acne that you thought you left behind during your teen years has come back in full swing. Pre-Menstrual Syndrome, commonly referred to as PMS, can pose a real issue for women. While some experience mild symptoms, others have symptoms so debilitating that they are forced to take time off and rest. So, what can we do about PMS? In this week’s installment, we will highlight Five Helpful Hints to deal with PMS and dysmenorrhea from a functional approach.

1. Get your daily dose of Omega-3s!

Many women experience severe cramps and bloating with their menstrual cycles, which can be attributed to prostaglandin synthesis. Instead of popping anti-inflammatories such as Advil, Motrin or Aleve, try Omega-3 supplementation, which can combat prostaglandins the natural way. Omega-3 supplementation can be in the form of fish oil supplementation daily or eating naturally oily fish, such as wild salmon, sardines, herring or krill twice a week. Plant based Omega 3s can be helpful as well, but do not have the full complement of Omega 3s as fish oil. If you were to pick between plant based vs. fish oil, fish oil supplements deliver the right type of nutrients, and are the preferred option.

2. Clean up that Diet!

Eat a diet full of fiber and low in saturated fat. The total fat you consume should be less than 20 percent of your total calories.Make sure to include veggies that can help with liver detoxification and estrogen metabolism,  such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, bok choy, and Brussels sprouts Around 10 days prior to your menses, limit your intake of alcohol, salt, caffeine, and refined sugar products. If you are sensitive to dairy or gluten, cut it out!


3. Supplements…which ones can help?

Sometimes, we have patients who are looking for wonder supplements to cure them of their every ailment. While we encourage supplement use if its done right, we do not want to encourage ineffective or excessive supplementation. That being stated, lets take a look at some that may help with PMS.

Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex agnus-castus) (20-40 mg a day of chaste berry extract or 250-500 mg per day of dried fruit)

Helps balance the hormones released by the pituitary gland, which controls your overall hormone function. Can help with breast tenderness, irritability, mood changes, cramps, and food craving. Be careful of the following: avoid if you are pregnant, breast-feeding or have a hormone sensitive condition such as cancer. This supplement may also interact with birth control pills or anti-psychotic medications



Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa) (20-40 mg of standarized extract, twice a day)


Compounds bind to a type of serotonin receptor, which may be a reason why it has positive effects on mood. Can help with anxiety, tension, depression, premenstrual discomfort and painful periods. Be careful of the following: possible side effects include GI disturbance and headache. Consult with a healthcare provider if you have liver disease. Do not take if pregnant, breast-feeding or have a hormone sensitive condition such as cancer. Be careful of several medication side effects.



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