Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) usually pops up in the week before your period and lasts until a week or so after menstruation begins. As the sisterhood of the world knows all too well, it can come with a variety of physical and psychological symptoms.
Weight gain, abdominal cramps, headaches, back pain, appetite changes, nausea, and anxiety are just some of the experiences around 75% of women worldwide face each month. For 20%, these symptoms are so troubling that they have a severe impact on our daily lives.
What’s worse is the societal expectation that women should keep calm and carry on, as if they aren’t transitioning through what feels like rock bottom on a monthly basis. Each woman's body is complex and different, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach for dealing with the impact of PMS.
PMS occurs due to the hormonal and neurological changes that take place during the ovarian cycle. Although there is still some debate around what physiological changes are at the root of PMS symptoms, scientists are pretty set on progesterone and estrogen fluctuations being the culprits.
PMS isn’t something the women of the world have figured out how to eradicate completely, but there are tried and tested methods to help you manage the symptoms and find relief.
Popular PMS approaches
Most women are advised to make use of over-the-counter painkillers. It’s also recommended to maintain healthy habits such as getting enough sleep; exercising regularly; fueling the body with a balanced diet, and drinking plenty of water. If your PMS symptoms are severe, you might even turn to prescription pharmaceuticals such as antidepressants and hormonal contraceptives in a bid to stabilize the emotional experiences and ease any physical distress.
If you feel as though medication isn’t the right fit, there are other ways to deal with the monthly blues. Healthy lifestyle habits combined with herbal medicines go one step further than symptom management. Instead, they have the potential to get to the root cause of PMS by regulating the underlying hormonal and physiological responses.
Which Herbs Help with PMS, and What Exactly Do They Do?
Mother nature has an army of herbs at her disposal. Many have been easing PMS symptoms and their underlying causes for centuries.
Living up to its name, this herb's superpower is its ability to soothe and tone the pelvic area, due to its mild sedative abilities. Cramp bark has been found to effectively ease painful cramps and spasms that often accompany menstruation. Research has found that cramp bark supports the relaxation of muscles and blood vessels, giving it pain-relieving qualities.
How to add cramp bark into your PMS routine: This herb is ideal for teas and tinctures. It can also be applied topically on areas of pain and tenderness.
A sibling to Mint, Skullcap was first used by Native Americans for its antispasmodic capabilities. This means it relieves tension, soothes the nerves, and reduces stress. Skullcap reduces spasms and can work miracles for the nervous system. It’s recommended for both emotional stress such as anxiety, as well as to ease tension headaches and provide all-around relief for PMS due to its nervous-system supporting properties and mood-enhancing qualities.
How to add Skullcap into your PMS routine: Traditionally Skullcap was consumed as a tea. It can now also be taken in herbal capsules and applied topically.
Ginger has an array of comforting properties. Most importantly for PMS, it stimulates circulation and reduces inflammation. Turn to Ginger as a tried and tested way to balance hormones, ease nausea and provide relief for indigestion. Ginger has been deemed effective in the reduction of the severity of psychological and physical symptoms of PMS.
Best way to consume: Steeped Ginger teas are ideal for PMS relief. You can also apply Ginger essential oils topically to promote blood flow and ease pain by warming sensitive areas.
Melissa Officinalis (aka Lemon Balm), is another relation to the Mint family. With a sweet, lemony aroma, this wonder herb has been hailed as significantly effective at reducing the severity of overall PMS symptoms and the intensity of menstrual cramps. Lemon Balm’s effectiveness doesn’t stop there; another study concluded Lemon Balm is effective at improving both anxiety and depression.
Adding Lemon Balm to your PMS routine: Continued use is said to reduce PMS symptoms over time, so it’s best to consume this herb regularly throughout your cycle in the form of herbal supplements and teas.
A flowering plant native to Europe and western Asia, Chamomile’s therapeutic use dates back to 500BC. This herb is capable of relieving anxiety, insomnia, digestive issues, and skin conditions related to PMS, and has been found effective as an all-around PMS treatment due to its anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and anxiety-relieving properties.
The best way to add chamomile into your PMS routine: In a calming cup of tea.
Maybe the most beautiful of the PMS remedies, Rose Petals boasts an impressive amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory capacities. Studies have found Rose to be effective at reducing PMS pain and bloating, as well as promoting emotional regulation and balance.
Adding Rose Petals to your PMS routine: Take in tea form; drink daily throughout the month, and increase consumption to 3-5 cups daily during menstruation for best results.
Lavender efficiently relaxes the body and mind via its ability to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (AKA your body's natural relaxation response). Lavender has been found to significantly reduce experiences of PMS-related depression and confusion and can act as a therapeutic remedy in alleviating PMS’s emotional symptoms.
Adding Lavender to your PMS routine: An all-rounder, make use of Lavender in teas, capsules, use topically in oil form, or enjoy via aromatherapy.
Zen Maitri products you can rely for support during your next cycle
If you’re interested in integrating plants and herbs into your routine for a holistic approach to managing PMS, we have created two perfect products
Turn to this balm for relief during both the build-up and peak of your menstrual cycle by massaging into the lower abdominals, the pelvic area, and upper thighs (basically, any and all areas that are painful during the time of the month), as a natural but effective way to alleviate cramps and pain. This balm will not only bring comfort from the physical symptoms of PMS, but its sweet scent and blend of mother nature's finest will ease anxiety, and stress from the outside in.
This balm contains a blend of oils including jojoba; coconut and castor, to nourish and soothe the skin, calm inflammation, and ease pain. These are blended with some of the powerhouse herbs we discussed earlier: cramp bark, jamaican dogwood, chamomile, and rose petals. We’ve added in a few extras for good measure. Rosemary, clary sage, peppermint, cypress, ginger, and lavender essential oils come together to further soothe inflammation and pain, reduce stress, promote mental relaxation and improve blood flow for cramp relief.
Get the kettle on and sip on this tea throughout your cycle.This tea boasts a blend of some of the most effective herbs earth has to offer when it comes to PMS relief; Cramp Bark, Skullcap, Ginger, and Lemon balm assemble for a tea that will soothe pain, relieve stress, reduce inflammation, and nausea, improve mood and support physiological and mental relaxation.
Our gentle and soothing Menstrual Support Tea combines hormone-balancing and pain relieving herbs to provide comfort and relief throughout your period.
Don’t forget Adaptogens
Named for their ability to support the body to adapt, Adaptogens support the body and mind and provide stability in times of stress. balance throughout the hormonal and neurochemical fluctuations Women's bodies experience each month.
Adaptogen blends offer a powerhouse of rejuvenation effects, and can effectively regulate cortisol levels and support the parasympathetic nervous system. For an additional or alternative natural approach to PMS management, adaptogens offer many benefits.
You can read more about adaptogens and our herbalist's recommendations here.