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Can Nutritional Supplements Help with PMS?

In our last post, we took a detailed look at the symptoms of PMS, their possible causes, and some ways to deal with them. Wondering if there are other options for managing symptoms? There is actually a wide range of nutritional supplements that can help to alleviate different symptoms of PMS.
 
natural supplements for pms
 
If you’re interested in adding to your supplement regimen, come in for a consultation with Dr. Tang. He can provide you with personalized advice on what supplements will best suit your needs and optimal dosing, as well as help to ensure that your supplements will not negatively interact with each other or with any OTC or prescription meds you might be taking. Here are some of the most recommended supplements for treating PMS:
 
Magnesium: Dr. Tang recommends taking 400-600 mg at night, preferably in glycinate or chelate form. Women experiencing PMS tend to have low magnesium. This mineral helps reduce headaches, anxiety, irritability, and breast tenderness, and can improve sleep. That said, it’s not for everyone. Patients with any history of kidney problems need to be careful since they have a more difficult time excreting magnesium. It may cause abdominal cramps and loose bowel movements, particularly if you are taking the oxide form.
 
Vitamin B6: Dr. Tang recommends looking for B6 in its active form, Pyridoxal-5-phosphate, and taking 50-100 mg daily. Vitamin B6 is a major multitasker — it’s a cofactor in over 100 different enzymatic reactions, helping with the production and activity of many reactions important to neurotransmitters that influence mood, anxiety, and cravings. Supplementation with B6 has been shown to decrease headaches, swelling, bloating, breast pain, and depression. It can also increase levels of progesterone, which can help protect against excessive estrogen levels (conversely, excess estrogen can impair the normal function of Vitamin B6). Vitamin B6 also supports your cells’ ability to accumulate magnesium.
 
Vitamin E: Taking 150-600 mg daily has been associated with reduced levels of anxiety, depression, and cravings.
 
Evening Primrose Oil: Taking 3-6 grams per day can help to balance levels of prostaglandins, which play a major role in regulating blood flow and reducing inflammation. Some patients have been found to have low levels of prostaglandins due to an inability to make gama-linolenic acid from linolenic acid. The preformed gama-linolenic acid (GLA) in evening primrose allows you to skip a step and keep prostaglandin levels balanced.
 
Fish Oil: In addition to its many other benefits, taking 4000 mg EPA/DHA of fish oil daily has been shown to help to decrease depression and menstrual pain.
 
Black Cohosh: Taking 20-40 mg of this standardized extract twice daily can help balance estrogen and increase serotonin levels, helping alleviate anxiety, tension, and depression. This is another supplement to be cautious of, however. Side effects to be aware of are gastrointestinal disturbances, headache, heaviness of legs, and weight gain. Patients with liver disease must use with caution.
 
Chasteberry: This is not only the most popular but also considered to be the most efficacious herb used to treat PMS. Dosing with 250-500 mg of the dried fruit or 20-40 mg daily of the extract should produce results. One German study of 1,500 women treated with chasteberry found that 33% of women had complete resolution of their PMS symptoms, while 57% of women had significant improvement. Another study comparing chasteberry to Prozac in treating PMS found that while Prozac was better at treating the psychological symptoms of PMS, chasteberry was better at treating the physical symptoms. What makes chasteberry so effective? Researchers believe it affects a follicle-stimulating, hormone-releasing hormone that decreases LH (luteinizing hormone) and prolactin (dopamine agonist). It raises progesterone and aids its effect so that estrogen becomes more balanced, acts as a diuretic to decrease swelling, and binds to opiate receptors to relieve pain. Possible side effects can occur though, including GI reactions, hair loss, headaches, tiredness, dry mouth, and increased menstrual flow.
 
St John’s Wort: Taken 3 times daily at 300-600 mg, a randomized, double-blinded, crossover study found that St. John’s Wort improved anxiety, irritability, nervous tension, mood swings, depression, feeling out of control, and pain in women experiencing PMS. Again, any time you’re considering tinkering with your supplement regimen, it’s important to consult a doctor first to check for any possible interactions. Patients taking any medications that affect the cytochrome P-450 CYP3A4 — including protease inhibitors, cyclosporine, and many prescription antidepressants — should not take St John’s Wort.
 
Lavender: This soothing flower has been shown to relieve anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and depression. The German Commission E suggests using it to treat mood issues, sleep disturbances, and restlessness that may be related to PMS.
 
Dandelion: Taking 4-10 g of the dried leaf 3 times per day by infusion or 200-400 mg capsules twice a day can help decrease swelling, as dandelion acts as a potassium-sparing diuretic.
 
Natural Progesterone: This is an extremely helpful way to manage PMS symptoms when used from day 13 to day 25 of your menstrual cycle. In addition to countering the effects of excessive estrogen, progesterone also acts helps to calm the brain. It binds to a GABA receptor in the brain, thereby relieving anxiety and improving sleep. Progesterone also acts as a natural diuretic relieving swelling. A medical doctor will need to check blood levels to confirm the need for progesterone and the exact amount taken will be decided by that level and clinical response.
 
Every individual’s body and needs are different, and Rejuvé offers vitamin testing and estrogen testing that can help to determine what supplements may be most helpful to you. If you want to reduce symptoms of PMS or simply want to support your overall wellness, come in to talk with Dr. Tang and get personalized supplement recommendations. Call us today at 408-740-5320 to learn more!

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