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Understanding your premenstrual signs : PMDD edition

Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is a condition that affects a significant number of women, causing severe physical and emotional symptoms during the premenstrual phase of their menstrual cycle. While conventional treatments for PMDD exist, many individuals are seeking alternative approaches that focus on nutrition and herbal medicine. In this blog post, we will delve into what PMDD is, explore its symptoms, and discuss various treatment options within the realms of nutrition and herbal medicine.

PMDD is a more severe form of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and is characterized by intense physical and emotional symptoms. These symptoms typically appear in the week or two before menstruation and subside shortly after menstruation begins. While the exact cause of PMDD remains unclear, hormonal fluctuations, neurotransmitter imbalances, and genetic factors are believed to contribute to its development.

Common Symptoms of PMDD

The symptoms of PMDD can vary from person to person but often include:

  1. Mood swings, irritability, and feelings of sadness or hopelessness.

  2. Anxiety, tension, and feeling on edge.

  3. Fatigue, lack of energy, and changes in sleep patterns.

  4. Difficulty concentrating and decreased productivity.

  5. Food cravings or appetite changes.

  6. Physical symptoms such as breast tenderness, bloating, and joint/muscle pain.

Nutritional Strategies for PMDD: While there is limited scientific research specifically focused on nutrition and PMDD, certain dietary modifications may help alleviate symptoms:

  1. Balanced Diet: Aim for a well-rounded diet consisting of whole foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Such a diet can help stabilize blood sugar levels and support overall hormonal balance.

  2. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: Reducing or eliminating caffeine and alcohol consumption may help manage symptoms like anxiety, irritability, and sleep disturbances. These substances can exacerbate hormonal imbalances and mood swings.

  3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fish (salmon, sardines), flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts. Omega-3s possess anti-inflammatory properties and may help alleviate mood-related symptoms.

  4. Vitamin B6 and Magnesium: Adequate levels of vitamin B6 and magnesium are essential for neurotransmitter function and mood regulation (Retallick-Brown et al., 2020). Include foods rich in these nutrients, such as bananas, spinach, avocados, and legumes.

Herbal Medicine for PMDD

Herbal remedies have been used for centuries to manage various health conditions, including menstrual-related symptoms, as they have a unique ability to influence hormonal balance aswell as neurotransmitter balance. Here are some herbal options that may offer relief for PMDD, however ensure you speak with a qualified Naturopath before taking.

  1. Chasteberry (Vitex agnus-castus)

  2. St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

  3. Saffron (Crocus sativus)

Important Considerations

While nutrition and herbal medicine can be valuable components of a comprehensive PMDD management plan, it's crucial to consult with a Nutritionist or Naturopath before self prescribing. They can provide personalized guidance, assess potential interactions with medications, and ensure the chosen approach aligns with your specific health needs and prioritises what needs to be addressed. If you would like to explore this further, Monica's mental health package is a great option to save, learn more about it here.


Retallick-Brown, H., Blampied, N., & Rucklidge, J. J. (2020). A Pilot Randomized Treatment-Controlled Trial Comparing Vitamin B6 with Broad-Spectrum Micronutrients for Premenstrual Syndrome. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 26(2), 88–97.

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