What does modern medicine have to offer the woman with severe PMS? The one suffering with low mood, irritability, tearfulness, and even suicidality accompanied with a side dish of bloating, breast tenderness, and cramps? Antidepressants and oral contraceptives. The former has no biological basis for efficacy and comes with a litany of short and long-term side effects, and the latter shuts down a woman’s reproductive system while further promoting nutrient depletion and inflammation. Theories about the root cause of PMS have explored the role of pregnenolone, a precursor hormone that modulates NMDA and GABA receptors, progesterone deficiency/estrogen dominance, and now, with the publication of a paper entitled Association of inflammation markers with menstrual symptom severity and premenstrual syndrome in young women, we add inflammation to the list.
After assaying women during their luteal phase (14 days before their period), they found, often linear, correlation between symptoms and blood levels of inflammatory markers such as (IL)-2, IL-4, IL-10, IL-12 and interferon (IFN)-γ.
This finding likely supports the efficacy of interventions that regulate stress response as well as those that stabilize blood sugar as the stress hormone cortisol can be dysregulated by these chronic exposures. The brain is the ultimate master of hormonal response cycles, and bodily inflammation can influence brain reactivity leading to further hormonal disarray.
In my practice, I offer these suggestions to those looking to resolve PMS (and prevent postpartum depression and anxiety!).