PMS is a term used to represent a collection of both physical and emotional/mental symptoms which affect many women for anything from 2-14 days leading up to and duing a period. Social implications of PMS are significant in that incidence of anti-social aggressive behaviour towards partners, children, neighbours and friends often increase as do absenteeism from work around the period time. Both these issues can lead to feelings of not being in control of oneself causing sufferers to feel increasingly guilty about their behaviour and isolated in their unhappiness.
Causes of PMS are varied, however according to Lockie and Geddes (2000) there are metabolically four ‘sub types’ of PMS, depending upon the symptoms experienced.
Symptoms are nervous tension, mood swings, anxiety and irritability. This is the most common type affecting 65-75 percent of PMS sufferers.
Symptoms are fluid retention, weight gain, breast heaviness and swelling and abdominal bloating. This affects 65-75 percent of sufferers with PMS and appears to be due to excess aldosterone production, which produces salt and water retention.
Symptoms are sweet craving, increased appetite, dizziness and fainting. This affects 24-35 percent of premenstrual women, and is due to decreased carbohydrate tolerance.
Symptoms are depression, crying, confusion, forgetfulness and insomnia. This affects 25-35 percent of women, and is more commonly found combined with PMS A, which occurs first and is followed by PMS D symptoms a few days before the onset of a period. It is characterised by high progesterone and low oestrogen.
Lockie and Geddes give 14 remedies as suitable for consideration of treatment for PMS.
- Minerals: causticum; sulphur; phosphorus; causticum; graphites; natrum mur; kali carb; silica
- Plants: lycopodium; pulsatilla; nux vomica; belladonna
- Animals: sepia; lachesis
Of all the remedies the minerals show the greatest coverage for symptoms which denote a degree of internal structural instability. Imbalance is seen through bodily discharges indicating deterioration within the maintenance of the system, and breaking down of the skin where secretions meet the external location. Sankaran confirms this finding in believing the common characteristics of the mineral kingdom to be structure and organisation with problems arising from a break or loss of this action. When Sankaran is talking of breakdown he is talking of an emotional standpoint of breakdowns in relationships and friendships.
Mineral remedies can be further classified into their different groups within the periodic table. Sulphur, phosphorus, silica and graphites all belong to the Anion group. This group, along with the cations, is unable to stand alone and must therefore combine with other minerals in order to be stable. The manner in which this group combine is in their acceptance of electrons from another substance making Anions very active in their efforts to keep hold of other elements. Sankaran looks at Anions’ main characteristic as the effort to maintain or keep a relationship, carbon and silica share a non-reactive common feature of group 4; phosphorus shows characteristics common to group 5 remedies of feeling unloved and alone, with sulphur showing expectation from others and of making an effort, common to remedies within group 6.
Natrum, kali carb and causticum belong to the salt group and have already combined with the complementary qualities needed for survival, therefore attaining chemical stability. The issues within the salts therefore centre on their interpretations of these relationships and the interplay between them. In each the cations need to form the relationship, with the anions often repelling it whilst at the same time expending a great deal of work trying to maintain it. Natrum mur has a main characteristic of feeling disappointed or betrayed by the other person in their relationship often with a history of disappointment in love. Kali carb shows a main characteristic of fear and reactivity from a lack of group or family support with a forsaken feeling when they do not receive the support they need. Causticum, a kali salt, retains the dependence on group or family support but the feeling is deeper in that causticum feels the group upon whom they depend will not survive from outside danger, which leads to great anxiety for others.
The plant remedies concern being structured and organised and show more movement towards the emotional side of symptoms. According to Sankaran, sensitivity is the key issue in plant remedies and the people needing them will experience their symptoms very intensely. Their sensitivity may be expressed in their demeanour, speech, dress etc. and come across in their own feelings and their relationships or contact with others. According to Sankaran, sensitivity is a key issue in plant remedies therefore patients will experience the symptoms very intensely. Their sensitivity may be expressed in their demeanour, speech, free etc. and come across in their own feelings and their relationship or contact with others.
The Lycopodiaceae family is a family of primitive vascular plants which bear spores on specialised structures at the apex of a shoot resembling a tiny battle club. This club feels synonymous with lycopodium’s characterised struggle and constant competition with self, often creating alternate worlds in which to feel strong and hide their inherent lack of confidence. There is cowardice regarding being able to do what they are capable of and an inadequate capacity to face stress which results in over-reaction and increased activity in order to cope.
Pulsatilla belongs to the Ranunculaceae family of flowering herbs, shrubs and trees. Much like the delicate singular flower spikes which arise from a cluster of supporting leaves. The remedy shows a mild, yielding ad sensitive disposition desiring company and support with a need to bend to circumstance and environment in order to survive. Puls commonly show a tearful tendency and crave consolation due to their affectionate, sympathetic and warm constitution however they can be prone to jealousy.
Nux vomica of the flowering loganiaceae family is largely concerned with occupation, is very jealous and quarrelsome and is as irritable as lycopodium, but is more forceful and expressive, therefore not so cowardly. It is characterised by feeling shocked, shattered, and beside oneself with sadness which leads to impatience. Nux views stress critically and tries to get over it quickly.
The solanaceae are a family of herbs, shrubs and tress to which the plant belladonna belongs. Most plants within this family group are poisonous though many bear edible fruits. Characteristic symptoms of the remedy belladonna show a tendency to wanting to strike oneself and others due to a strong sense of being threatened. Belladonna acts instinctively in an often violent reactive manner to perceived outside threats; with a belief that the stressor is at fault.
Remedies from the animal kingdom presented by Lockie and Geddes only cover sepia and lachesis. According to Sankaran the main theme belonging to the animal kingdom is that of survival of the fittest and the competition that this fight for survival implies for all living creatures. Their fears therefore surround failure and loss in an aggressor/victim dichotomy which illustrates a sense of duality within the animal kingdom remedies and may lead to jealousy and an amount of deceit to achieve their desired ends.
This jealousy and deceit can be seen beautifully in lachesis, who uses egotistical talk to maintain advantage, having perceived an outside competitive threat. Often lachesis will see themselves as lacking, having an internal weakness which must have attention in order to win the competition and will shut off from work in order to confront this. The main emphasis is on competition and the quick witted cruel lachesis will expressively use sarcastic and slanderous communication to gain the upper hand.
Sepia on the other hand is sensitive to domination from a stronger force and, unlike lachesis who may walk away from the work, will overcome this by being industrious and independent. There is a need for company and relationships, a desire to be attractive and pleasing; but sepia feels disfigured, hopeless and rejected, being prepared to give in to pressures of a career and being independent to compensate for not having the desired relationship. Sepia will reject rather than be rejected and this shows through in marked indifference and sometimes aversion to loved ones. The physical dragged down feeling illustrated above is marked in sepia’s mental/emotional state.
Dr Andrew Lockie & Dr Nicola Geddes (2000) The Women’s Guide to Homeopathy
R Sankaran the substance of homeopathy
R Sankaran The sensation of Homeopathy