The Top Herbs for PMS — Cramping, Bloating, Headaches and More : Exclusive Renegade Health Article

Monday Jun 25 | BY |
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You don’t want to feel bad, but you really don’t want to take a pain reliever.
Is there another option?

Admit it. It’s that time of the month, and you need help! You’ve got a big presentation coming up, or a 5K run, or a big date, or your daughter’s first dance recital, and you want to feel good—really good! Not bloated, crampy, irritable, and tired, with a throbbing headache.

You’re tempted to reach for the ibuprofen, but you hate to take drugs for what is, after all, a natural bodily function. Is there something else you can do?

Fortunately, there are several natural herbs that have been shown to help ease the symptoms of premenstrual symptom. Give one or a few of these a try and see how you feel.

Irritability & Mood Swings
If you find yourself snapping at your kids or lost in a bout of road rage, try one of the following herbs to help combat stress.

  • Black cohosh: known to relieve stress and nervous tension that accompanies the menstrual period.
  • Vitex (also known as chaste tree berry): helps regulate the endocrine system and relieves irritability, mood swings, and other PMS symptoms. Has also been used for the treatment of painful menstruation and breast pain.
  • Motherwort: natural qualities of this herb help ease menstrual stress and tension.
  • Passionflower: another option for when you’re ready to bite someone’s head off.

Feel like you ate bad seafood last night? You’ve got menstrual cramps, and may benefit from one of the following.

  • Dong quai: this traditional Chinese medical herb is used for cramps, irregularity, and weakness related to the menstrual cycle.
  • Clary sage oil: this herb has natural antispasmodic properties to relieve pain and cramping. Use a clary sage blend to gently massage the abdomen.
  • Valerian: usually known as the calming herb, valerian is also an antispasmodic, and will relax smooth muscles to help relieve menstrual cramps.
  • Cramp bark (Viburnum opulus): also relaxes muscle tension and spasms in the uterus.

If you feel like you’ve gained 10 pounds during your period, it’s likely you’re suffering from water retention or bloating. Try the following.

  • Dandelion: perfect for water retention and bloating associated with PMS.
  • Corn silk: this herb is a potent diuretic, and is also used for kidney-related and urinary complaints. If you have swelling and water retention, try this one.
  • Stinging nettle: another herb that naturally releases water retention.
  • Peppermint: drink some peppermint tea to relieve bloating and eliminate gas.
  • Ginger: if you get to feeling nauseated as well as bloated, ginger will help ease your tummy.

Breast Tenderness
If you are sore after running or just during the day, try some of the following to ease breast tenderness.

  • Chasteberry: as mentioned above, this herb helps ease breast tenderness.
  • Evening primrose oil: this wildflower that grows across the U.S. is a good remedy for breast pain, and also for easing bloating and irritability.
  • Ginkgo biloba: you may be familiar with this one as a memory-booster, but it’s also known to help relieve breast tenderness.

Feeling the blahs or the blues during that time of the month?

  • St. John’s wort: the flowering tops are used to prepare teas and tablets often prescribed for depression. May help alleviate PMS moodiness, too.

Have a headache to go with all the other symptoms? Try these.

  • Sage: great for hormonally caused headaches.
  • Licorice: this one has a reputation for being a general headache reliever.
  • Peony: this one is better for tension headaches, so give it a try if you tend to get tense during your period.

Other herbs that have an overall beneficial effect on PMS include saffron, which was found to reduce symptoms when taken every day for two cycles (30 mg). Wild yam is also known as a general maintenance herb for women, and helps to normalize hormones to help ease PMS symptoms.

Do you have other suggestions? Please share!

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Photo courtesy kristinebelle via


Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


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  1. Lisa says:

    What about for menapause? Hot flashes, night sweat, not able to sleep, etc..

  2. kathy says:

    Make a tincture of chaste tree berry, Dong Qui and wild yam. 1/3 each of liquid for formula. If you take 1 or 2 droppers full every day you will have no PMS, most menapause symptomw will be gone, (i had to do 3 droppers full 3 times a per day to be completely free of menapause symptoms.) I have shared this with others who had such severe cramps they could hardly walk and the cramps were gone in 20 minutes and they had a good day.

  3. Jeannie says:

    I’ve been learning a lot recently about how helpful Dandelion is… and sure enough, it’s on this list as well. Think I’ll have to give that a try 🙂

  4. Linda says:

    This is an excellent list!

    I have almost all of those ingredients growing in my garden and if not on my shelf. I am starting to make truly homemade Vitex and another remedy for the spiritual side of it.

    Thanks for the offering of good news for women who suffer with PMS.

    Next, Take a deep breath Kevin! I had natural childbirth in a garden and it is mandatory that all participants keep their cool. I actually had to eliminate one person from our birthing experience because of her vibe.

    Love to you and Annmarie and all will flow like the river! Linda

  5. violet says:

    I take a vege capsule filled with several drops of therapeutic grade fennel oil and the rest of the capsule filled with organic coconut oil and the pain associated with cramps (endometriosis for me) abates within about 10 – 20 minutes

  6. Jeannie says:

    Hey Violet, what’s the name of the vege capsules you use— they sound great!

  7. For me taking krill oil (omega-3) every morning really prevents the symptons before and during my periods! May not work as well for everyone of course, but worth a try I would say!

  8. Katherine says:

    I have relied on Agnus Castus tincture for a while and my symptoms are greatly reduced.

  9. Sarah says:

    Great article. Can I just mention that evening primrose oil CAN act as an inflammatory mediator in SOME women. I have first hand experience of this. It made my breast cysts horrendous. I don’t think there’s any way of knowing if it can affect you in this way without taking some and seeing. Please be careful ladies. I was not happy for several months.

  10. Take Evening Primerose Oil every day – that will help menstrual cramp symptoms dramatically – plus add to your over all wellbeing and body health and clear skin.

    Its hugely important to eat an alkaline based diet and regulate stress.

    Stop taking Vitex for the full week after your flow ends. After that week – you can begin again.

    If your flow lasts more than 5 days – try a cleanse to get it down to 3 to 5 days. Lemon juice consumed often tends to help. As well a colonics.

    Pumpkin Seed Oil is also amazing to your female health. Donna Gates always speaks to Pumpkin Seed Oils benefits. Andrea’s Seed Oil Co has the best I have found.

    Read ‘The Multi-Orgasmic Women’ by Rachel Carlton Abrams for in depth understand and tools for female health and well being. Such a valuable book.

    Read ‘Taking Charge of Your Fertility’ by Toni Weschler. Another invaluable book I dearly love!

    Cheers to great female health, wellbeing and joy 🙂

  11. Kris says:

    Love using herbs, Raised 9 kidos on them. They only went to the Dr for their sports physicals and a couple of broken arms. I now have 15 grandkids too. About the parenting thing, I am sure you will be good parents however be forewarned, kids have a way of humbling you to the very core but also bringing the most JOY amidst the chaos ever.

  12. liz says:

    Good article genrally, but DO read contraindications before you take ANYTHING. For example, liquorice should not be taken by those with a tendency to high blood pressure.

  13. Hannah says:

    These suggestions are all marvellous! As far as getting off all pain killers – I used to pop ibuprofen religiously – but until I was 100 percent committed to *never* taking them again for my menstrual cramps – I would take them off and on again. I threw out my last bottle of Advil almost 3 years ago and I haven’t looked back since. For cramps, a hot water bottle and some hot herbal tea goes a very long way!

  14. Xtine says:

    I notice big differences in my PMS when I’m not taking care of myself right, ie not taking my supplements. I take dong qui throughout the cycle except when menstruating. I take evening primrose everyday. And if I do get cramps I find a generous dose of magnesium citrate or two puts a stop to it

  15. LuAnn says:

    Hey Kevin and Annmarie,
    We would LOVE to see a current pic of Annmarie in all her pregnant glory. Please post one on Renegade Health.

  16. joe says:

    pms may also be coused by candida systemic also couse high colesterol.evoid sweets and starches. Joe

  17. Kira says:

    I’ve tried with 25mg of zinc (zinc gluconate) in my main meal during 10 days before my period and it deleted all of my PMS/bloating/painful breasts/menstrual cramps/heavy flow…

  18. Melissa says:

    what about menapause? Being hot ALL night. No flashes, just hot. Thanks for the info

  19. Em says:

    Krill oil helps me with mood swings and extreme emotions.

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