Herbs & Natural Remedies:
Vitex (Vitex agnus-castus), black cohosh, vitamin B6 and reflexology.
Vitex and black cohosh: tincture. Vitamin B6: tablets or capsules. Reflexology: acupressure foot massage.
How it Works:
Vitex berries increase the secretion of luteinizing hormone and reduce secretion of follicle-stimulating hormone, which shifts the estrogen-progesterone balance away from estrogen—and away from PMS. Vitamin B6 is a natural diuretic that helps treat bloating. German researchers gave PMS sufferers either vitex or B6. Both groups reported significant improvement. Black cohosh has hormonal effects similar to vitex. It’s not clear how reflexology works, but Los Angeles researchers gave PMS sufferers either weekly thirty-minute foot massages focusing on true acupressure points or on placebo points. Those who had true reflexology enjoyed significantly greater relief.
Vitex: 40 drops of tincture daily in water or juice, or follow package directions. Black cohosh: follow package directions. Vitamin B6: 50 mg per day, working up to 100 to 200 mg per day over a few cycles if needed.
In large doses, B6 can cause numbness and tingling in the fingers and toes (peripheral neuropathy). The effect clears up when you stop taking it.
Eliminate caffeine and alcohol. Try eliminating meat and dairy foods. Limit sugar. Get plenty of sleep. Get regular moderate exercise.
San Francisco health writer Michael Castleman is the author of 11 consumer health books. Visit www.mcastleman.com .