Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) plagues millions of women. According to the National Women's Health Information Center, at least 85 percent of menstruating women have at least one symptom of PMS, and about 3 to 8 percent have a more severe form known as premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). With so many women suffering from symptoms associated with PMS and PMDD, many physicians prescribe antidepressant medications to help them cope. Those medications may have unpleasant side effects, leading many to wonder whether natural remedies may be more effective with fewer drawbacks.
Relieving PMS Symptoms
Michael Mooney, Director of Research and Education for SuperNutrition Life Extension Research discussed how vitamins, minerals and natural substances may be able to help curtail many of the symptoms of PMS. Mooney is the author of Built to Survive, a health handbook. He is also the scientific advisor for medical research and frequently appears on radio and television as a nutritional expert.
According to Mooney, six different natural substances may help reduce the symptoms of PMS, including:
Treating PMS with Anti-Depressants
LoveToKnow (LTK): Why do physicians provide antidepressant drugs to treat PMS? What does research say about their efficacy in treating the condition?
Michael Mooney (MM): Doctors are trained to favor drug treatments that address symptoms while not considering the core to this problem.
Studies with SSRI drugs show about 50% effectiveness in the reductions in PMS symptoms while women dropped out of one detailed study because of side-effects at double the rate of the placebo group. Side effects include decreased sex drive and reduced potential for orgasm. Another study noted one miscarriage, but the authors couldn't be sure it was caused by the SSRI drug.
LTK: What problems do you see inherent in treating PMS with antidepressants?
MM: The side effects listed in the package inserts are some of the same problems one experiences with PMS. Why take something that might cause the problems you're trying to solve? Additionally, antidepressant drugs don't address the core nutrient deficiency problems, they just mask the symptoms by dulling down overall sensitivity. SSRI's dull things down, which is why they can reduce sex drive and make having orgasms more difficult.
Nutritional Solutions to PMS
LTK: Do nutritional deficiencies contribute to PMS symptoms?
Dr. Susan Thys-Jacobs, M.D., practicing endocrinologist and a leader in the study of PMS says, "PMS is not a disease or psychiatric condition, but a manifestation of a nutritional deficiency."
Nutrients are used at an accelerated rate during hormonal changes in PMS. If you don't have enough of these nutrients, or a person has inborn errors of metabolism, perhaps their body has poor absorption of some nutrients that cause them to need higher potencies of these nutrients, then deficiency symptoms can manifest as PMS discomfort. Taking these nutrients in high enough potencies helps reduce the problems. Additionally, the herb we feature, called Vitex, improves progesterone's "calming down" of estrogen-stimulated problems, sometimes called estrogen dominance, like water retention, mood/emotional changes and breast tenderness.
LTK: Talk a little about your Women's Blend Multivitamin. How can it help reduce PMS symptoms?
MM: Women's Blend contains full research-level potencies of six ingredients (listed above) that quality published studies have shown reduce PMS symptoms. To make our claim of reducing PMS we are required to submit these studies to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and this is the first time any vitamin company has registered a claim of reducing PMS for multivitamins.
LTK: What does research suggest about the ingredients in the Women's Blend Multivitamin and how they relate to PMS?
MM: The six ingredients each reduce different PMS symptoms, from 27 to 79 percent. It might be assumed that taking all six can cause a tremendous reduction in PMS symptoms, with some women even having no PMS symptoms when they take all six, which is what our customers tell us. However, the studies that are available look at only one of the ingredients per study. It would be interesting to do a study on Women's Blend to see how much reduction women get with all six.
Helpful Lifestyle Choices
LTK: Along with supplementation, do you recommend other lifestyle choices to help control symptoms?
MM: Exercise and a healthy natural foods diet can help, too.
LTK: Anything else you'd like the readers to know?
MM: Our website has a zip code locator that shows stores that sell Women's Blend and the distance they are from you. It also gives you an easy-to-understand summary of what the studies say about PMS. Or you can click through to read the study abstracts, if you want to read the medical journal text.
Talk to Your Physician
In addition to giving women the full potencies that reduce PMS, Women's Blend also gives women full research-level potencies of ten bone building nutrients, not just the three that most good products contain: calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. Talk to your doctor to see if this vitamin supplement could be beneficial to you.