Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a disorder characterized by a battery of hormonal changes triggering disruptive symptoms in a significant number (between 50% and 70%) of women in for up to two weeks prior to menstruation. Of the estimated 40 million sufferers, more than 5 million require medical treatment for mood and behavioral changes. The symptoms tend to taper off with menstruation, with most women remaining symptom-free until approximately two weeks prior to the next menstrual cycle.
It is believed that there are about 150 physical and emotional symptoms that women may experience, with abdominal cramps, breast tenderness, generalized aches and pains, intense cravings, bloating, fatigue, headache, and emotional instability and vulnerability being some of the most commonly reported. The number, type, and severity of symptoms can vary from woman to woman, and from month to month. The most severe form of PMS, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) occurring in about 2-5% of all women is associated with debilitating symptoms that greatly interfere with normal daily activities.
There are various theories as to the cause of PMS, including hormonal changes triggered by estrogen and progesterone; inability to properly metabolize fatty acids; calcium deficiency, or a combination of diet, stress, and mineral and vitamin deficiencies. Constant physical and emotional demands, exacerbated by the hectic pace of modern life and combined with environmental and societal factors can offset a woman's equilibrium and leave her experiencing symptoms of PMS.
From the Chinese Medical perspective, the basic energetic imbalance at the root premenstrual syndrome is the stagnation or blockage of in the flow of qi in the body. Regular acupuncture and herbal treatments along with some changes to diet and lifestyle help to free and regulate the flow of qi and balance hormonal function and the autonomic nervous system, making them an extremely effective approach to the long-term management of PMS, and often completely eliminating the symptoms.
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