Premenstrual syndrome, PMS, is a condition that occurs about 5-11 days before menstruation and normally ends when the woman begins her period. An imbalance in hormones (usually low progesterone levels in relation to estrogen levels) is believed to be the cause. Irritability is one of many symptoms a lot of women experience during this time. Besides eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly, certain herbs can be helpful in treating this uncomfortable symptom, such as phytoestrogen-containing herbs that help improve hormonal balance and herbs that have a calming effect. Below are some of the best herbal teas for PMS irritability.
The berries from the chaste tree, Vitex agnus castus, have long been used for treating female complaints. The chaste tree is native to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. In Germany, chasteberry is a very popular herbal treatment for PMS. It appears to have a profound effect on the hypothalamus and on pituitary function, lowering the estrogen-to-progesterone ratio. According to the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, more than 1,500 women participated in studies using chasteberry and 90 percent of the the women reported resolution or improvement of their symptoms: 33 percent had complete resolution and 57 percent had significant improvement.
To prepare a cup of tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of ripe berries, cover and steep for 10-15 minutes. When treating PMS symptoms like irritability, it is best to start drinking the tea, three times a day, on day 14 of your menstrual cycle (day 1 is the day bleeding begins) and continue till menstruation.
Dong quai, Angelica sinensis, grows in the mountains of China, Japan and Korea. It is a member of the celery family and has been used for over a thousand years as a medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is often used to treat women’s reproductive problems. It has been shown to have phytoestrogenic activities and is said to be particularly helpful in women who suffer from PMS symptoms and dysmenorrhea (painful periods).
To prepare a cup of this herbal tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of dried root, cover and steep for 10-20 minutes. Start drinking three cups a day on day 14 of your cycle and stop when your period begins. If you suffer from painful periods, continue drinking it till menstruation stops to help treat uterine cramping.
Valerian, Valeriana officinalis, is believed to have similar effects as benzodiazepine drugs like Valium, which increases a chemical in the brain called gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). To prepare a cup of valerian tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 teaspoon of dried root, cover and steep for 5-10 minutes. Drink up to three cups a day as needed. May cause drowsiness.
German chamomile, Matricaria recutita, has been used as an herbal remedy to calm frayed nerves for many years. To prepare a cup of tea, pour 1 cup of boiling water over 2 teaspoons of dried flowers, cover and steep for 5-10 minutes. Drink three to four cups a day as needed. May cause drowsiness.
Chasteberry, dong quai, valerian and German chamomile are some of the best herbal teas for PMS irritability. The first two herbs help by balancing hormones, which can also help treat other PMS symptoms, and the last two help by providing a calming effect. Before using any herbs, consult your health care provider if you are taking medications or have a medical condition. Avoid use if you believe you may be pregnant.
Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. “Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine” Prima Publishing 1998
University of Maryland Medical Center:
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