Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
Millions of women experience troublesome physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms during the two weeks before menstruation. These symptoms are called premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, and can interfere with day-to-day activities. A severe premenstrual condition closely related to PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), can impact a woman’s life as much as major depressive disorder. Vitamin B6 and saffron, among other integrative interventions, can greatly help reduce these irritating and debilitating symptoms.
Common Signs and Symptoms of PMS
- Bloating, weight gain
- Breast tenderness
- Mood swings
- Food cravings
- Angry outbursts
- Decreased motivation
Possible Causes of PMS/PMDD
- Estrogen and progesterone are high when PMS occurs
- Deregulation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis
- Altered serotonin levels
Risk Factors for PMS/PMDD
- Smoking and alcohol consumption
- High-fat, high-sugar diet
- Traumatic stress or having post-traumatic stress disorder
Conventional Medical Treatments
- Medications for symptoms: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, naproxen), mefenamic acid, and spironolactone
- Medications to regulate mood: SSRIs, drugs to treat anxiety
- Medications to suppress ovulation and regulate hormones: oral contraceptive pills, gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists
Note: Some newer contraceptive formulations contain the progestin drospirenone, which may increase the risk of life-threatening blood clots known as venous thromboembolism.
- Bioidentical hormones for hormone regulation
Dietary and Lifestyle Considerations
- Avoid high-sugar and high-salt foods, caffeine, and alcohol
- Exercise improved physical and psychological symptoms in women with PMS
- Stress management
- Chasteberry: This has been found through many research studies to be “one of the most effective therapeutic options for PMS.”
- Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 has been shown to improve symptoms of bloating, headache, breast pain, depression, and irritability.
- Magnesium: Research has found that supplementation with magnesium significantly reduced weight gain, bloating, and breast tenderness in women with PMS.
- Saffron: Supplementation with saffron reduces symptoms of depression and overall premenstrual symptom severity.
- Fish Oil: Compared with placebo, daily treatment with omega-3 fatty acids led to significant reductions in depression, anxiety, lack of concentration, bloating, nervousness, headaches, and breast tenderness.