Vitamin E and Fatty Acids May Ease PMS
Study Suggests Supplement May Provide Relief for Symptoms of
A supplement containing
and essential fatty acids may help reduce symptoms of
(PMS), Brazilian researchers report in Reproductive Health.
Of 120 women with PMS or the more severe premenstrual dysphoric disorder
(PMDD), those who took 1- or 2-gram capsules of vitamin E and a combination
of gamma linolenic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, and other
polyunsaturated acids daily showed marked improvements in their PMS
symptoms at six months, compared to women who received dummy pills.
The capsules were provided by the Brazilian supplement company Hebron
The women who received the higher 2-gram dose of the new supplement showed
greater improvements in PMS symptoms than those who received the lower
1-gram dose, the study shows.
PMS symptoms were assessed over six menstrual cycles using the Prospective
Record of the Impact and Severity of Menstruation (PRISM), a standardized
tool that measures PMS symptoms and their intensity.
Precisely how these
combat the symptoms of PMS is not fully understood. But the researchers
speculate that the essential fatty acids may affect production of chemicals
called prostaglandins, which, in turn, reduce the effects of the hormone
prolactin. Too much prolactin or an abnormal response to this hormone may
cause PMS symptoms.
The physical and emotional symptoms of PMS symptoms can range from the mild
to severe; they usually begin five to 12 days before menstruation and
disappear once menstruation starts.
"The results of the current study present some evidence in support of the
use of essential fatty acids in PMS patients," conclude researchers who
were led by Edilberto A. Rocha Filho, MD, of the Federal University of
Pernambuci in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil.
The new supplement was safe and the fatty acids did not raise women's total
Potential PMS Remedy
"A lot of women don't like to talk about PMS because it is the brunt of bad
jokes, but PMS symptoms are no joke and can range from the annoying, like
acne and bloating, to serious mood and sleep disruptions," says Donnica
Moore, MD, president of Sapphire Women's Health in Far Hills, N.J. "PMS is
a serious medical problem that affects a majority of women to varying
"This PMS remedy in the new study can't be interpreted as a cure, but it is
a very promising option for women with PMS," she says. "The only cure for
PMS is menopause."
Other PMS treatments include oral
which stop ovulation, exercise,
, calcium and vitamin D supplements, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications,
Moore says. "Some women respond to all of the above, and some don't respond
More PMS treatments are needed, agrees Samantha Meltzer-Brody, MD, director
of the perinatal
of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Center for Women's
"Currently available treatments only help half of women with PMS, which
means that the other 50% continue to struggle. So anything that shows a
promise, such as essential fatty acids, and has minimal side effects, would
be a useful contribution," she says.
Women who think they may have PMS should keep a daily mood-rating diary and
follow their moods for two months consecutively, she says. "Really track
how your mood fluctuates and correlate it with your menstrual cycle."
The first step is to make lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet
and taking a daily multivitamin, exercising, minimizing caffeine intake,
and getting good sleep, she says.
These may help minimize PMS symptoms. Also, "Talk to your doctor about
available options, which would include oral contraceptives and
antidepressants," Meltzer-Brody says.
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By Denise Mann
WebMD Health News
Jan. 19, 2011
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