When it comes to PMS relief, it might just be a case of what’s old is new again. The word is out that some ancient remedies just might help alleviate the symptoms. And since they come with the added benefits of renewing mind, body and spirit…so worth a try!
Among today’s most popular alternative remedies are meditation, yoga, tai chi and acupuncture. All are mind-body practices dating back more than 2,000 years and rooted in traditional Chinese medicine or Ayurvedic medicine. Mind-body practices focus on the interactions between the brain, body and behavior to positively affect physical functions and promote improved health. PMS symptoms may be successfully remedied with these various options.
Meditation has been used for centuries to increase calmness, establish relaxation and restore psychological balance. Learning the relaxation techniques can be helpful for relieving the anxiety, tension and irritability that often accompanies PMS. Techniques such as finding a quiet space, assuming a comfortable posture, building an awareness of your breathing and maintaining a focused attention are used to change the flow of emotions and thoughts.
Yoga is a triple threat against PMS—it’s exercise, relaxation and stress management, all of which help alleviate PMS symptoms. Yoga’s origins are in ancient Indian philosophy and people use it to achieve both fitness and relaxation. It typically combines physical postures, breathing techniques and meditation, and many yoga poses are great for combating cramps.
Additionally, yoga can improve your mood, counteract stress and greatly reduce a range of PMS symptoms. In fact, a study in the Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology found that practicing yoga can cause a significant drop in both psychological and physical symptoms of PMS.*
Sometimes referred to as “moving meditation,” tai chi offers relaxation plus stretching movements that can soothe the muscles aches brought on by PMS. Developed in ancient China, tai chi involves slow, relaxed, graceful movements, each flowing into the next. Individuals put aside distractions and breathe in a deep, relaxed and focused manner. Tai chi also provides benefits typically associated with low-impact, weight-bearing, aerobic exercise—and as we know, exercise is great for PMS relief!
One of the oldest healing practices in the world, acupuncture is part of traditional Chinese medicine and many women rely on it to alleviate their PMS pains. In acupuncture, practitioners stimulate specific points on the body by gently inserting small, very thin needles through the skin. This is intended to release blocked energy (qi, pronounced “chee”) and improve the flow of vital energy to ease PMS symptoms like cramps, bloating, headaches and low-back pain.
Acupuncture should be performed by an experienced practitioner using sterile needles. And it’s generally considered effective for PMS. A study in the medical journal Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics showed the success rate of acupuncture in treating PMS symptoms was 77.8%.** The placebo group was shown as only 5.9% effective. Other reports note that acupuncture affects the menstrual cycle by releasing hormones responsible for regulating the cycle.
Natural approaches that help women stay healthy have been around for ages and trying one for your PMS symptoms can be worthwhile. Keep in mind, you should always tell your health care provider about any complementary or alternative practices you use. Doing so will give them a full picture of how you’re managing your PMS to ensure your overall care and safety.