Women Turn To Acupuncture For PMS Relief
by Reporting Mallika Marshall, MD
Millions of women suffer from severe PMS symptoms, and more and more of them are turning to the ancient technique of acupuncture, looking for relief. Patty Gift remembers the severe pain of pre-menstrual syndrome, before she tried acupuncture. “I was not functional. So, I was irritable. I was very fuzzy in my thinking.”
She tried everything from dietary changes to over the counter medications. Even the things that typically work, didn’t work for Patty. “I was exercising, which I had read would really help. At one point I was working with a gynecologist and taking birth control pills.” Patty was beginning to lose hope until someone suggested the ancient Chinese treatment acupuncture.
Acupuncturist Dr. Frank Lipman says the number of women seeing him for PMS is increasing. While there are no major clinical studies on PMS and acupuncture, Dr. Lipman knows what he sees in his patients. “At least 75 percent of women get better with acupuncture for PMS,” Dr. Lipman said.
A practitioner will insert thin needles into specific parts of the body. Dr. Lipman says this releases blocked energy, easing symptoms like bloating and sweating. “They feel like this load has been released or this pressure that they were holding in has been released,” Lipman said. Patty felt better after just one session. “I feel much more clear-headed. My mood is much better.”
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has no stance on the treatment, but some members believe it can work. “Acupuncture probably affects the hormones of the brain called endorphins, which make people feel better,” explained Dr. Veronic Ravnikar. Dr. Ravnikar says she would never deter a patient from trying it, but stresses it’s important for women to see a doctor prior to any type of alternative treatment. “Along with the treatments, I always suggest lifestyle changes: exercise, good nutrition, and multi-vitamins.”
Acupuncture for pre-menstrual syndrome typically lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour per session. Most experts recommend regular treatments in order to maintain the best results.