“PMS” Pretty Much Sucks
As a Naturopathic Doctor that has a special interest in women’s health, I often see patients seeking support for symptoms associated with their menstrual cycle. For some women, premenstrual symptoms can be a short and mostly insignificant blip on the radar; nothing more than a gentle reminder of what’s to come. However, for many women PMS can be caused by a fairly significant hormonal imbalance, which can lead to symptoms including depression, anxiety, cramps, mood swings, fatigue, breast tenderness, water retention and weight gain. The severity and length of these symptoms can vary, however in certain cases they have been known to appear for as long as two weeks before menses begins.
Chaste Tree to the Rescue!
Vitex agnus-castus, commonly referred to as Chaste Tree or Chasteberry, is a short, berry-producing shrub that grows naturally in the Mediterranean and parts of the Middle East. Historic use of Chaste Tree berries dates back to Egyptian culture, 1500-2000 BC, and can be traced through history from that era to the Roman Empire to Medieval Europe to present day. Today, extracts of this herb are commonly prescribed as a unique hormone balancer, which can help relieve many of the common issues brought on by PMS, including bloating, fluid retention, breast tenderness, headaches, as well as some areas of emotional lability.
Through laboratory testing, a Naturopath may find that a number of the symptoms a woman experiences as “PMS” is the result of having low amounts of progesterone in relation to estrogen. It is thought that Chaste Tree has a dopaminergic effect in the brain, which impacts the amount of prolactin and thereby progesterone produced (1). This action results in a more natural hormone balance, with reduced symptoms in the premenstrual period.
The benefits of Chaste Tree for PMS have been extensively studied over the years for its safety and efficacy, which is why it is regularly recommended in Naturopathic practice. In fact, a 2017 systematic review which looked at 43 studies on Chaste Tree concluded that this herb is not only helpful in the treatment of PMS, but also reduces symptoms of premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), premenstrual migraine headaches, post-menopausal concerns, and may have a role in improving fertility (2).
For more information on the benefits of Chaste Tree, and whether or not this is an appropriate treatment option for you, please consult your local Naturopathic Doctor.
To book an appointment with a Naturopathic Doctor at Juniper Family Health please call 778-265-8340 or book online here.