5 Types of PMS – Which One Are You?

By Denise Galbraith 

Every woman experiences physical and emotional changes as a result of hormonal fluctuations. They tend to occur a week or so prior to actual menstruation then diminish as flow begins. Normally these should be mild and tolerable, but for many they are quite disruptive. Severe symptoms may be indicative of a serious underlying disorder, be sure to rule that out first. The types of symptoms we have provide valuable clues as to what is going on and can be used to plan effective treatment.

In 1980 Dr. Guy Abraham, at UCLA, developed a classification system which grouped more than 150 reported symptoms of PMS into types. Most will find that there is a tendency towards one type or another.

PMS A: The A stands for the prevalent anxiety. There can be weepiness, paranoia, mood swings and irritability. These feelings are felt due to a relative drop in progesterone, how it breaks down, and possibly high prolactin. Periods tend to start suddenly and may be heavy with clots. Chaste tree, Maca root, or Dang quai are perfect for you. These are normalizers that work to bring balance to hormone production in general. Do not use if you are on the pill or HRT. Follow the recommendations for de-stressing below.

PMS C: Some women experience strong food cravings, especially for chocolate or sweets, and increased appetite. It is believed due to abnormal carbohydrate synthesis causing high blood levels of insulin. Other symptoms associated with fluctuations in blood sugar levels are headache, fatigue, moodiness and irritability. You folks really have to eat frequently and follow the food suggestions below.  Supplement with chromium and magnesium and try herbs like Cinnamon, Mulberry leaf, and Gymnema Sylvestra.

PMS D: The key symptoms include depression, forgetfulness, insomnia, confusion, tearfulness, clumsiness, withdrawal, and in severe cases, risk of suicide. Low estrogen and/or serotonin are known contributors to PMS D. You must get exercise; even if it is only a brisk 30 min walk three times a week, you will notice a difference. Phytoestrogens are your friends, so try organic and fermented soy, ground flax seeds, and fennel. Herbal suggestions include Black Cohosh, Liquorice (avoid in hypertension), Red clover, Chaste Tree berry, and Dang quai. Supplement with extra vitamin D, vitamin B3, and the omega oil EPA.

PMS H: Hyperhydration is the hallmark here. Symptoms might include water retention, swelling, breast tenderness, bloating, and weight gain. Breast tenderness may be due to overproduction of prolactin. Theories include: increased levels of ACTH, impaired potassium absorption, abnormal lymphatic function, or high levels of serotonin. Careful detective work can narrow down the cause. It is important to eliminate alcohol at least during this time, and avoid excess sodium. Eat potassium-rich foods like bananas, avocados, apricots, and broccoli, or supplement. Good herbs for you are Dandelion leaf, Parsley, Nettles, Couch grass, and Cleavers

PMS P: Pain is the predominant symptom for you gals, especially in the joints, lower back, abdomen or head. It is caused by pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. To reduce inflammation in the body, stick to the diet and supplement guidelines below. Try omitting nightshades (potatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatoes), and include an Omega 3 oil blend high in EPA. Use herbs such as Turmeric, Ginger, Cayenne, White willow bark, Feverfew or Devil’s claw.

Solutions for Everyone

Eat Well: This may be your most important step. Increase your vegetables, especially broccoli, eat raw nuts and seeds, lean proteins like legumes, tofu, eggs, chicken, fish, turkey, and tempeh, and eat only whole grains. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, sugar, processed food, red meat, pork, cured meats, peanuts, hydrogenated oils, high fat dairy products, and fried foods. Do not eliminate fats! They are needed for normal hormone production, appropriate inflammatory response, brain function, and, in short, the healthy functioning of every cell in the body.

Get a good multivitamin; add extra magnesium, calcium, mixed vitamin E, vitamin B6, and folic acid. Take Primrose, Borage, or Blackcurrant oils.

De-stress: Reduce stress as best you can; it depletes progesterone, serotonin and dopamine and raises the hormone aldosterone which contributes to water retention and magnesium loss. This is important, so get sufficient sleep, find time to be alone, hike, meditate, whatever works. Get regular exercise, it’s been proven to often work better than antidepressants. Breathe deeply and slowly. Wonderful herbs for the nervous system include Lemon Balm, Chamomile, St. John’s Wort, Skullcap, and Valerian, to name a few.

Hydrate: Drink 1 to 2 liters of water a day, even if you are type H.

Detox: Avoid foods that contain hormone mimickers: pesticides for pest control, non-organic meats, and never, never eat or drink anything heated in plastic! Use herbs like Dandelion root, Milk Thistle, and Artichoke. The liver is responsible for removal of excess hormones, including the mimickers, so do what you can to aid this invaluable function.

Ensure proper bowel function: Among other things, constipation causes many chemicals to be reabsorbed, and contributes to bloating. Take a probiotic supplement.

Suffering for a week every month adds up to 3 months of the year! Take your life back and try these steps for two months (two full cycles) and see if you don’t enjoy a big improvement!

This article was first published in the May/June issue of the Herbal Collective. Get your copy today or read online.