Managing Pre-menstrual Syndrome With Chinese Medicine

Managing Pre-menstrual Syndrome With Chinese Medicine

You might be here because you’ve resigned yourself to putting up with the symptoms of pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).

You might even think PMS is something you have to put up with.

PMS is a common reason for women to visit my office because Acupuncture and Chinese medicine tend to be a safe and effective option for most women.

What is PMS?

PMS is described as irritability, anxiety, oedema, breast tenderness and or headache 7-10 days before and ending a few hours after menses begins.

Symptoms can last a few hours to up to ten days and can also include insomnia and fatigue.

Depression, fluid retention, pelvic heaviness, back pain and headaches are common. Heart palpitations, constipation, nausea, skin and allergy flair ups can also be seen.

Western Medical View

PMS is thought to be caused by:

  • Changing levels of estrogen and progesterone.
  • Abnormal responses to estrogen and progesterone.
  • Excessive aldosterone or ADH and more


Western medical treatment is symptomatic. Rest, sleep and exercise are recommended.

Regular exercise can help irritability, anxiety and insomnia. Decreasing sodium and taking a diuretic before symptoms appear can help fluid retention. However may have no effect.

SSRI drugs such as fluoxetine are used to reduce anxiety if stress can’t be managed.

Hormone manipulation such as oral contraceptives, progesterone and oral progestin 10-12 days before menses are sometimes used but come with side effects.

Chinese Medical View  


Generally symptoms appear 7-14 days before menstruation and become worse 2-3 days before and retreat after menstrual bleeding.

Two Common Causes of PMS in Chinese Medicine

  1. Poor Blood circulation through the liver lead to symptoms of PMS. In this scenario, symptoms include distension under the ribs, emotional flare ups and frustration, constipation, and poor appetite. Acupuncture or Chinese herbal medicine can be used to regulate circulation through the Liver.
  2. Poor Blood circulation leading to ‘phlegm’. This leads to ‘internal heat’ which causes irritation and disturbs the mind resulting in symptoms of PMS. This is termed ‘Surging Phlegm Heat’Patients may have symptoms such as headache, restlessness, red complexion, irritability, chest distension and a rapid, thick radial pulse. Chinese herbal medicine aims to ‘clear heat’ and resolve ‘phlegm’ to restore natural function,

7 Steps That Help Manage PMS

The modern diet is enough to create problems for female health, including hormonal imbalances and weight gain.

  1. Firstly, switch to organic food free from added hormones
  2. Secondly, keep the abdomen warm and avoid exposure to cold weather
  3. Thirdly, eliminate cold/raw food and drinks from the diet.
  4. Eat calcium and vitamin D rich food
  5. Begin a regular exercise program
  6. Magnesium can help women who are deficient
  7. Finally, apply for an assessment here

David L. Edwards is an author, herbalist and licensed acupuncturist. He is the author of The Body Fat Formula and The Pocketbook guide to Chinese medicine and painless cures (available on amazon). David is the creator of Barefoot Health and Wellness health programs.

Apply for an assessment with David here

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  1. Porter, Kaplan (editors). The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, 19th ed. Merck Sharp & Dohme Corp., Whitehouse Station, N.J. pg. 2516-2518. 2011
  1. J Cui, C Xue, R Chen, X. J. Liu, Z Zheng. Lecture notes for COTH2126 Clinical Chinese medicine 2 (Gynaecology) pg. 70-73. 2014
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