Acupuncture for PMS
PMS, or premenstrual syndrome, refers to the physical and emotional feelings that are brought on before a woman’s period. Symptoms typically involve tiredness, bloating, acne, and irritability. The majority of women experience frequent PMS due to natural hormone changes related to the menstrual cycle, with up to 75% of menstruating women affected by PMS symptoms.
In itself, PMS can be fairly difficult to deal with. While taking over-the-counter medications can absolve some physical symptoms, treating the mood swings that are associated with PMS is much harder. Some womens’ symptoms are worse than others, with womenshealth.gov estimating that 5% of women experience a more severe form of PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder. This can cause extreme mood swings, including increased irritability and intense anger.
The diversity of PMS symptoms also makes it difficult to acknowledge all symptoms as a whole with a single treatment. It’s clear that we need to look towards preventing the cause of PMS in the first place, rather than treating its after-effects – and that’s where acupuncture comes in.
How Acupuncture for PMS Works
According to traditional Chinese medicine, PMS is caused by an energetic imbalance in the body. Acupuncture is used to restore this balance and provide substantial relief from PMS symptoms. Regular acupuncture combined with other Chinese herbal treatments is said to stabilize hormonal function and the central nervous system for effective long-term management of PMS.
During acupuncture treatment for PMS, a therapist will insert long, thin needles into the skin in various locations in the body. The therapist will focus on acupuncture points on the lower abdomen, the lumbar sacrum (the bottom of the spine), the “third eye” point between the eyes, and the webbing between the thumb and the finger, to offer relief from PMS symptoms.
The acupuncture process stimulates the nervous system, which communicates the brain, triggering the release of chemicals that are linked to feelings of happiness and wellbeing. They can affect how we respond to pain, and, in the case of PMS, reduce signs of stress and anxiety, irritability and sadness.
Proven Benefits of Acupuncture for PMS
Studies into acupuncture for PMS are limited, but the information that has come to light is encouraging. The 19 studies that have been carried out so far all reported significantly improved results regarding PMS and PMDD.
One study found that acupuncture produced an initial positive affect on PMS symptoms, and that participants experienced a 77.8% reduction in symptoms compared to a 5.9% reduction for the placebo group. The study concluded that as a holistic approach, acupuncture “should be suggested to the patients as a method of treatment.”
The Future of Acupuncture for PMS
As the medical understanding of acupuncture continues to grow, it’s likely that it will soon become one of the predominant treatments for PMS, especially when more studies are carried out into the therapy’s positive effects on PMS symptoms.