When you’re feeling a little PMS symptoms, the relief you need may be found in Mother Nature’s medicine cabinet. Many plants contain compounds purported to help alleviate PMS symptoms. In fact, herbs have long been used as botanical remedies that are prevalent throughout Europe and Asia.
Numerous pills, herbal teas and tinctures are marketed to help ease PMS. If you decide to try supplements, read labels carefully, take as recommended, and consult your health care professional. In many cases, you may have to consume a product beyond a single menstrual cycle before you begin to notice an effect. Also, keep in mind that every woman is unique, therefore not everyone responds to herbal remedies in the same way. Effectiveness and potency can vary greatly between brand names.
Here are six of the better-known female-friendly herbs and plants that may help you feel better.
Chasteberry or chaste tree berry (Vitex agnus castus)
This fruit of the chaste tree is considered the premier herb for premenstrual syndrome and is widely used as a general PMS remedy. It’s been reported to relieve painful menstruation and breast pain by regulating and normalizing blood flow and balancing hormonal fluctuations. The German Commission E—a European scientific council that reviews herbal medical studies—lists chasteberry as an approved herb for PMS.
Evening primrose oil (Oenothera biennis)
Evening primrose is a wildflower that grows across the U.S. and has long been used as a botanical remedy. The oil comes from the plant’s seeds and is a rich source of an essential fatty acid called gamma linoleic acid (GLA). Women with PMS can be deficient in GLA making it a possible factor in their symptoms. Evening primrose oil is purported to alleviate breast pain, bloating, irritability, mood swings and anxiety associated with PMS.
Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
While peppermint is often used to flavor foods, it can also be helpful for the relief of bloating, gastrointestinal upset and headaches. Drinking peppermint tea can help relieve indigestion and eliminate gas, which contributes to bloating. Peppermint oil is also used for irritable bowel syndrome and could prove helpful with PMS-related bowel conditions. Additionally, rubbing peppermint oil on temples relaxes muscles and helps soothes headaches.
Black cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
Generations of Native American women have used the root of the black cohosh plant to treat various female conditions, most notably, the relief of PMS discomfort, menstrual cramps and especially, symptoms of menopause.
Dong quai or angelica root (Angelica sinensis)
This Chinese herb made from the root of a carrot-like plant is often referred to as the “female ginseng” because of its use as an overall tonic for women’s health in Chinese medicine. Dong quai has developed a reputation for helping with fatigue and premenstrual irritability.
St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum)
The flowering tops of St. John’s wort are used to prepare teas and tablets containing concentrated extracts. Often prescribed for mild depression, St. John’s wort may aid in alleviating the “blues” and moodiness that can accompany PMS.