Premenstrual syndrome or PMS is often chalked up to one of those things that go along with womanhood. The topic itself is either considered taboo or left to old jokes about “Aunt Flo” coming to town. But when it comes to the physical discomfort, food cravings and mood swings, it’s no laughing matter. To alleviate those symptoms, there are plenty of natural remedies that can make your time of the month a lot easier.

Acupuncture

According to traditional Chinese medicine, stagnant chi or energy in the liver can contribute to PMS as well as a host of other problems. Acupuncture can stimulate liver energy and get your chi moving along the body’s meridians to alleviate breast tenderness, bloating and cramping.

To alleviate those symptoms, there are plenty of natural remedies that can make your time of the month a lot easier.

Aromatherapy

Never underestimate the power right under your nose. The essential oils used in aromatherapy can help with mood swings and even be used in a compress to relive cramps. Citrus and sage are great mood boosters, while lavender and sage can be used in conjunction with a carrier oil like olive and made into a warm compress applied to the lower abdomen.

Black Cohosh

Useful for premenstrual insomnia and depression, black cohosh herbal supplements also aid during the transition into menopause. Do not take this herb if you are pregnant, have endometriosis, liver disease, cancer or are taking birth control or blood pressure medications.

Calcium

Studies have found that PMS symptoms are lower in women who have adequate calcium levels. Increase your calcium intake before your period by eating more high calcium foods like dark leafy greens, almonds and dairy products. You can also supplement with calcium carbonate.

Chaste Tree Berry

This is a popular herbal remedy in Europe. It helps to raise progesterone levels, which can alleviate headaches, mood swings and breast tenderness. As with all herbal supplements, be sure to check for interactions with medications or other remedies. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid this herb.

Dietary Changes

One of the simplest ways to combat PMS is to make some dietary changes. Reducing your intake of sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol can make a huge difference in terms of bloating, headaches, breast tenderness and mood swings. Instead, increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables, nuts and oily fish.

Exercise

As much as we may hate to do it, exercise is extremely beneficial for PMS symptoms. The key is to have a regular routine. Luckily it doesn’t have to be intense. According to one study, moderate exercise like brisk walking a few times a week can decrease symptoms.

Magnesium

You know those chocolate cravings you get at that time of the month? You aren’t suffering from a chocolate deficiency, but rather from a lack of magnesium. Dark chocolate is very high in magnesium; so don’t feel guilty if you have a few pieces. Also be sure to eat plenty of other magnesium rich foods like pumpkin and sesame seeds, leafy greens, halibut fish, avocados and figs.

Red Raspberry Leaf

Red raspberry leaf has often been used as a natural remedy to induce labor, but it can also help aid cramps. It stimulates uterine contractions and makes them smoother. It is also naturally high in calcium. You can purchase it in capsule form, but it makes a delicious hot or cold tea.

Vitamin D

Science continues to discover more amazing benefits of Vitamin D every day. In actuality, Vitamin D isn’t really a vitamin; it’s considered a pre-hormone. It can help balance your body’s hormones including the ones that cause PMS troubles. While you can supplement with D3 capsules, the best form is healthy and sensible sun exposure. As little as 15 minutes a day or can make all the difference.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.