Premenstrual Syndrome

The causes of PMS are idiopathic (unknown), but hormonal changes and dysfunction of the cerebral subcortex and the autonomic nervous system appear to trigger the symptoms. No single PMS treatment works for everyone.

In Chinese medicine PMS is classified as Yu Zheng or liver depression syndrome caused by emotional injury, liver blood and yin injury leading to depression of the liver qi. Main symptoms of Liver Qi stagnation (depression) are: irritability, depression, over-emotional, easy to cry, breast distension, dizziness, headache, abdominal distending pain radiating to the chest under the ribs (the hypochondriac area).

PMS: Major TCM classifications

  • Liver Qi Invading the Stomach: nausea and vomiting
  • Liver Qi Invading Intestines and Spleen: Constipation or diarrhea
  • Liver Qi Stagnation with Liver Yang Rising: Headache, dizziness
  • Liver Qi Stagnation with Phlegm Stasis: Painful breasts that are swollen
  • Liver Qi Stagnation with Spleen and or Kidney Yang Deficiency: Edema, fluid retention
  • Deficiency of Heart and Spleen: Lower back pain before period, listless, fatigue, cold limbs
  • Fire due to Yin deficiency: Hot sensation palms and soles of feet, headache, irritable, tinnitus, bitter taste, night sweating

Acupuncture treatment is directed at harmonizing the liver to ease the liver depression, calm the mind (Shen), resolve phlegm stasis to relieve breast distension, clear heat, & activate the spleen and kidney yang to eliminate the edema/fluid retention. Herbal therapy for treatment of menstrual disorders treats both the symptoms and the cause of PMS effectively.

Dietary and lifestyle changes can be helpful. Daily exercise appears to be very beneficial. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen may help ease cramps, headaches, backaches and breast tenderness but these treatments do not address the root cause. Avoiding salt, caffeine and alcohol, exercising and getting enough sleep can also help.

Slowing down having some quiet time for you and meditate can be balancing of the emotional and physical sphere.

Having a partner that is supportive and understanding of your needs at this time is also very helpful. Remember to talk to your partner to help him or her understand what you are going through this communication will preserve the peace in your relationship.


  1. Advanced Modern Chinese Acupuncture Therapy By Gang Lin Yin, Zheng Hua Liu New World Press ©2000
  2. U.S. National Library of Medicine: PMS
  3. Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Revised Edition) By Cheng Xinnong, Cheng Kinnong Foreign Language Press, Beijing
  4. Obstetrics & Gynecology in Chinese Medicine By Giovanni Maciocia Churchill Livingstone © 1998