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Some women experience debilitating premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms that interfere with daily functioning every month. Common symptoms include headache, bloating, anxiety, mood swings, and depression. With such a wide range of effects, PMS can be hard to treat. No single treatment is universally effective and every woman is different. Many women seek alternative options to drugs or hormone therapy. Fortunately, there are many natural PMS remedies that can be very effective. Research has shown that Gingko biloba, Vitex agnus castus (chasteberry), and Crocus sativus (saffron) provide relief from PMS better than placebo.
3 Natural PMS Remedies You Should Know About
#1. Gingko Biloba
Gingko biloba has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 1,000 years. The seeds and leaves of the plant are usually used, and it has been found to be safe and well tolerated in human studies. It is often used to treat PMS symptoms, and many studies have confirmed its effectiveness.[1,2,3] A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine on university-aged women found that 40 mg three times daily for two menstrual cycles was more effective than placebo in reducing overall severity of symptoms, as well as physical and psychological symptoms alone.
Researchers think that gingko biloba increases the release and decreases the reuptake of certain neurotransmitters, which improve mood and symptoms of depression, both characteristic of PMS. Further, it contains bioflavanoids, which modulate stress and help relieve anxiety. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect and improves blood circulation, both mechanisms to help PMS symptoms.
Try supplementing with 40 mg three times per day to treat your PMS symptoms.
Chasteberry is the dried, ripe fruit from the plant Vitex agnus castus. One study found that chasteberry was as effective as fluoxetine, one of the most effective pharmaceuticals used to treat PMS, for reducing both physical and psychological symptoms of PMS. A systematic review concluded that in all studies, chasteberry was superior to placebo in alleviating symptoms.
Some symptoms of PMS may be associated with elevated levels of the hormone prolactin, which occurs before menstruation. Chasteberry effects the activity of dopamine, an important neurotransmitter, and in doing so can inhibit prolactin activity. Chasteberry may also effect the opiate system, which regulates pain perception, mood, and appetite. A reduction in opiate activity is often seen in PMS. A recent study found that chasteberry can interact with certain opiate receptors in the brain, helping to increase opiate activity.
Take 20 and 40 mg daily for best results.
#3. Crocus Sativas
Crocus sativas is a flower from which the spice saffron is derived. In a study in 2008, researchers gave 50 women with PMS either 15 mg of C. sativus extract twice daily or placebo. A significant reduction in symptoms was seen in the treated group over the two menstrual cycles that followed. Although more research is needed to understand the effects of this plant extract, researchers do know that it has an antidepressant capability, due to its ability to effect serotonin activity.
A dose of 30 mg of C. sativus, also called saffron extract, can be used to treat PMS symptoms.
Share Your Experience
Share your favorite natural PMS remedies in the comments section below. Do you use any of these natural plant products to find relief?
For related reading, visit these posts:
- 10 Natural Ways to Ease the Discomfort of PMS
- Inositol Benefits Include Beating Depression Associated with Severe PMS
- Experiencing PMDD Symptoms? Inositol Is a PMDD Treatment
This article was originally published in 2014. It is regularly updated.