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By Alex Strande, M.Sc., Ph.D.

Premenstrual Syndrome is a combination of physical and emotional disturbances that occur after a woman ovulates and ends with menstruation.
The hallmark of the diagnosis of PMS is the symptom-free interval after the menstrual flow and prior to the next ovulation. If there is no such interval and symptoms persist throughout the cycle, then PMS may not be the proper diagnosis. PMS can still be present and aggravate symptoms related to the other conditions, but it cannot be the sole cause of constant or non-cyclic symptoms. Blood or other tests may be ordered to help rule out other potential causes of symptoms. Another way to help make the diagnosis of PMS is to prescribe drugs that stop all ovarian function. If these medications produce relief of the troublesome symptoms, then PMS is most likely the diagnosis.
About 80% of women experience some premenstrual symptoms. It’s been estimated that clinically-significant PMS (moderate to severe in intensity and affecting a woman’s functioning) occurs in 20%-30% of women. About 2%-6% of women are believed to have the more severe variant known as PMDD. Mood changes surrounding this condition have been described as early as the time the ancient Greeks. However, it was not until 1931 that this disorder was officially recognized by the medical community. The term “premenstrual syndrome” was coined in 1953.
PMS remains an enigma because of wide-ranging symptoms and difficulty in making a firm diagnosis. Several theories have been advanced to explain the cause of PMS. None of these theories have been proven, and specific treatment for PMS still largely lacks a solid scientific basis. Most evidence suggests that PMS results from the alterations in or interactions between levels of sex hormones and brain chemicals known as neurotransmitters. PMS has been characterized by over 150 symptoms, ranging from mood swings to weight gain to acne. The symptoms vary from woman to woman and cycle to cycle. For some women, the symptoms may be mild or moderate, and for others, they may be so severe as to be incapacitating.

Common symptoms include the following:
Mood-related (affective) symptoms: depression, sadness, anxiety, anger, irritability, frequent and severe mood swings.
Mental process (cognitive) symptoms: decreased concentration, indecision.
Pain: headache (e.g., menstrual migraine) breast tenderness, joint and muscle pain.
Nervous system symptoms: insomnia (sleeplessness), hypersomnia (sleeping for abnormally long periods of time), anorexia (loss of appetite), food cravings, fatigue, lethargy, agitation, and or vertigo, paresthesia (prickling or tingling sensation).
Gastrointestinal symptoms: nausea or diarrhea.
Fluid and electrolyte symptoms: oliguria, bloating, weight gain, Palpitations: (a rapid fluttering of the heart) sweating.
Skin symptoms: acne, greasy or dry hair, oily skin.

There are no medications as such for PMS. Using drugs for something that is not even a disease is a heavy-handed approach anyway. There are a lot of natural approaches to reduce symptoms of PMS. Improvements of your lifestyle, exercise, healthy diet and positive mental attitude could also be used. I am trained in the Australian and Naturopathic approach to addressing diseases and believe it is the best in the world. We use much higher and more therapeutic doses of nutrients than is being used in the U.S. Herbs and other plants have been used in traditional medicine for 5,000 years and to this day you can’t beat them with drugs, nutrients or any other therapies in terms of speed of results.
PMS causes a lot of friction in families and sometimes disintegrates them. This all can be prevented with a very simple administration of a few key herbs and amino acids at the right sequence and right concentration. A good Naturopath should be able to mix a liquid extract herbal formula that should work within 24 hrs. A variety of herbs can be used for various symptoms of PMS and the right combinations typically work instantly. I use 2 types of the Viburnum and Wild Yam for pain, Vitex and Burdock for acne and herpes, Blue cohosh for mastalgia, Angelica sinensis for blood stasis and blood deficiency, Helonias for congestion of pelvic content and my favorite Avena sativa for anxiety, depression, and tension.
If you want to feel better instantly or tried everything and nothing has worked, I look forward to hearing from you.

Alex Strande, M.Sc., Ph.D., is a naturopath and microbiologist in Santa Monica, California. He can be contacted for questions and appointments at (310) 907-4424. Simply Healing Clinic. 720 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 205, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Visit: www.simplyhealingclinic.com