Stomach cramps. Lower back pain. Tender breasts. Fatigue. Bloating. Anxiety. Depression. If you're a woman, you know what those symptoms add up to: premenstrual syndrome or PMS.

About 85 percent of women are believed to have at least one PMS symptom during their monthly cycle, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, but some experience more discomfort than others.

But you may not need to head to the pharmacy every month. Some studies have suggested that you can bypass the medications and seek alternative treatments that may help battle PMS.

Acupuncture

In a study of 43 women who were followed for a year, 90.9 percent of the participants who received real acupuncture (and not just the placebo which consisted of random acupuncture) showed improvement. About 41 percent of the women in the real acupuncture group reduced their use of medication. The National Institutes of Health also released a statement declaring there is clear evidence that acupuncture can help with menstrual cramps, lower back pain, and a slew of other ailments, indicates that acupuncture may be a PMS remedy worth trying.  

Aerobic exercise

Jumping jacks are usually the last thing on your mind when you're facing PMS. But, evidence shows that aerobic exercise can help reduce symptoms. One study that compared women who did aerobic exercise with women who did other forms of exercise concluded that those who did aerobics showed more improvement, especially when battling premenstrual depression. In another study, women who exercised regularly reported better concentration, a reduction in changes in behavior, and less pain.

Omega-3 fatty acids

If you don’t feel like dealing with needles or a treadmill, you might want to try diet-related remedies. Omega-3 foods, which should be in your diet anyway, have been shown to reduce menstrual symptoms over time. In a study of adolescent women, those who took omega-3 supplements for longer than two months felt the benefits.

Ginger

Another food-based remedy that’s easy to add to your diet is ginger. Between September 2006 and February 2007, 150 students who had PMS were divided into three groups. At the start of their periods, students in one group were given 250 milligrams of ginger rhizome powder four times a day for three days. The other groups were given typical pain medications, mefenamic and ibuprofen. The study concluded that ginger was just as effective a treatment option as the two over-the-counter pain relievers. And with so many other great benefits, why not add ginger to your diet?

woman doing a yoga cat poseYoga (cobra, cat and fish poses)

It appears that stretching out your body can be a great way to reduce PMS. One study that looked at specific poses (the cobra, cat and fish poses), found that yoga can reduce the intensity of the pain as well as the duration. If you're not familiar with these poses, look up the poses online and see if they help with your symptoms.

Dietary calcium and manganese

Who doesn't want to ease mood, concentration and pain issues during their period? How about your pain? This study suggests that taking calcium and manganese supplements can help the body in many ways when it comes to combating PMS. The two supplements also helped with water retention.

Try one or more of these scientifically tested natural remedies the next time your period arrives and see if you feel the benefits.

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Yoga photo: /Shutterstock