Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS)

Around 40% of all women in the reproductive years suffer from PMS at some time. For 10% of sufferers the condition is serious and debilitating… and in some cases even life threatening. Women with severe PMS are more likely to commit suicide or have a life threatening accident. While PMS can effect any reproductive age woman, it has been my strong observation that it is more common and severe in women leading already pressured and stressful lives.

Suspect PMS if you suffer from physical or emotional symptoms that appear cyclically, occurring in the 2 – 14 days before the onset of your period, and disappearing with the onset of menstruation.

While there is still much to be learned about the intricacies of female hormone imbalance, one thing is for sure…. PMS is about hormonal imbalance, and is NOT just “all in your head”!


Symptoms of PMS are diverse, and different from woman to woman, or sometimes from month to month. The most commonly occurring symptoms include:

  • mood issues – anxiety, depression, tearfulness, anger, irritability
  • poor concentration and forgetfulness
  • clumsiness and lack of coordination
  • fatigue
  • headaches or migraine
  • breast tenderness
  • abdominal bloat
  • weight gain and fluid retention
  • sugar cravings and increased appetite
  • abdominal cramping
  • acne


PMS can be treated extremely effectively with a combination of naturopathic lifestyle and dietary change, and Traditional Chinese Acupuncture.
Dietary modification may include: a low glycemic index diet; changing the type of dietary fats you eat; eliminating alcohol and coffee; increasing fruits and vegetables and high fibre foods; reducing dietary salt.

TCM understand PMS as resulting from several possible energy (qi and blood) imbalances. These include:

Liver Qi Stagnation (with emotional stress, anger and frustration as a key causal factor).

Symptoms usually include: Pre menstrual mood issues including anger, irritability and depression; breast tenderness and/or lumpiness; abdominal distention; migraine or headache

Deficiency of Heart blood (often as a result of excessively heavy periods, or chronic illness).

PMS symptoms include: heart palpitations, feeling of faintness, insomnia, sadness, fatigue, poor memory and concentration, pale complex.

Spleen qi deficiency (as a result of overwork, over exertion of the mind, worry, and poor diet).

PMS symptoms include: fatigue, feelings of heaviness, fluid retention in ankles and lower legs, dragging feeling in the abdomen, pale complexion, shallow breathing and loose stools.

Kidney qi deficiency (often resulting from extreme exhaustion and adrenal fatigue, or long term anxiety and fear).

PMS symptoms include: lower back soreness, dragging and stiffness before period; fatigue; feelings of cold; diarrhea at onset of period; cramping after period begins; watery menstrual blood.

Acupuncture is given once or twice weekly for a variable number of sessions depending on the individual picture. Some women experience marked improvement after only one cycle of treatment. For others it may take three menstrual cycles before a clear improvement is noticed.