Fatigue, bloating, mood swings, aches and discomfort, anxiousness…common symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
Many women experience uncomfortable, even incapacitating symptoms during the luteal phase, or second half of their menstrual cycle.
Along with current research in finding the causes of PMS, researchers have made advancements in proving the safety and efficacy of a wide variety of treatments. Alternative therapies, supported by current research, could be a part of the solution we’ve been looking for.
PMS symptoms can be mental or physical, and may interfere with daily activities, relationships, and work/school performance. Symptoms can include:
- decreased energy
- low mood
- social inactivity
- aches and discomfort
- mood swings
- tender breasts
Alternative Methods to Address PMS
St. John’s Wort
St. John’s wort is an herb commonly used for low mood. St. John’s wort inhibits the reuptake of neurotransmitters such as serotonin, GABA, and dopamine, leaving more of these neurotransmitters available for potential use.
This herb can also increase neurotransmitter sensitivity. Better neurotransmission means there could be more potential for the mood regulation and calming effects of serotonin and GABA. 
Additionally, St. John’s wort has anti-inflammatory properties and may decrease swelling .
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
You may be aware of the numerous benefits omega-3 fatty acids provide for brain health, but did you know that omega-3s could improve PMS symptoms? Omega-3 EFAs have been shown to improve mood and reduce anxiousness. [2, 5]
Vitamins D and E
Research supports vitamin D and vitamin E supplementation in reducing the overall severity of PMS symptoms, including anxiousness. [2, 3]
Vitamin B6 has a variety of positive health effects, due to its involvement with neurotransmitters. B6 supplementation can increase serotonin and dopamine, thus increasing the calming, muscle-relaxing, and pleasurable effects of these neurotransmitters.
A vitamin B6 deficiency may decrease dopamine in the kidneys, which increases sodium excretion, leading to water accumulation. This water accumulation can account for bloating and abdominal pain in PMS. 
Vitamin B6 has been found to decrease the severity of many PMS symptoms, including:
- low mood
- aches and discomfort[4,9]
Vitamin B6 may be even more effective for PMS in combination with calcium or magnesium supplementation. [4, 8]
Magnesium supplementation may also be crucial for relieving PMS symptoms. Magnesium deficiency may cause or intensify PMS symptoms, as magnesium allows muscles to relax.
Magnesium supplementation may help:
- improve mood
- reduce anxiousness
- reduce water retention/bloating
and somatic symptoms such as:
- nausea 
Vitamin C may help reduce anxiety by acting as an antioxidant and inhibiting cortisol, a stress hormone. High doses of vitamin C may also improve mood. 
Theanine is an amino acid found in green tea. For PMS, it has been shown to have a calming effect, to reduce anxiousness, and to increase GABA and dopamine, neurotransmitters involved in relaxation, and pleasure. 
Lemon balm, or Melissa officinalis, may be useful in reducing a variety of PMS symptoms, including anxiousness. [1, 2] This herb can increase GABA and decrease cortisol.  Lemon balm binds to GABA-A receptors, and can inhibit the enzyme that breaks down GABA, therefore increasing GABA activity. 
L-tryptophan, 5-hydroxytryptophan, L-phenylalanine, and L-tyrosine
L-tryptophan and 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), the precursors to serotonin have also been studied in relation to PMS symptoms as have L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine, the precursors to the catecholamine pathways.
A deficiency in l-tryptophan or 5-HTP leads to low serotonin synthesis, as it is the building block for serotonin. Tryptophan/5-HTP deficiency is also associated with anxiousness. L-tryptophan and 5-HTP increase serotonin synthesis, providing an enhanced sense of wellbeing.
Additionally, an increase in L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine increases dopamine and norepinephrine, which may help increase energy and alertness. 
Neurotransmitter testing can reveal imbalances of serotonin, GABA, dopamine, and norepinephrine that may contribute to PMS symptoms. Knowing the levels of these neurotransmitters can help guide PMS treatment to the most optimal therapy for the individual.
These vitamins, herbs, essential fatty acids, and amino acids may help in reducing the severity of PMS symptoms that interfere with daily activities, performance, and relationships. They are safe and effective. Additionally, these elements are often found in accessible, affordable, and effective supplements. [3, 4, 6]
Don’t Let PMS Get in the Way of Living Life
The HPA-G Complete profile assesses both neurotransmitters and hormones involved in PMS. Prolent™ combines 5-HTP, theanine, and vitamin B6 to support serotonin and GABA.* These calming and relaxing neurotransmitters, along with hormones, are key in addressing the monthly PMS monster.
- Akbarzadeh, M., Dehghani, M., Moshfeghy, Z., Emamghoreishi, M., Tavakoli, P., & Zare, N. (2015). Effect of Melissa officinalis Capsule on the Intensity of Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms in High School Girl Students. Nursing and midwifery studies, 4(2).
- Alramadhan, E., Hanna, M. S., Hanna, M. S., Goldstein, T. G., Avila, S. M., & Weeks, B. S. (2012). Dietary and botanical anxiolytics. Medical Science Monitor, 18(4), RA40-RA48.
- Dadkhah, H., Ebrahimi, E., & Fathizadeh, N. (2016). Evaluating the effects of vitamin D and vitamin E supplement on premenstrual syndrome: A randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research, 21(2), 159.
- Ebrahimi, E., Khayati Motlagh, S., Nemati, S., & Tavakoli, Z. (2012). Effects of magnesium and vitamin B6 on the severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms. J Caring Sci, 1(4), 183-9.
- Grosso, G., Pajak, A., Marventano, S., Castellano, S., Galvano, F., Bucolo, C., … & Caraci, F. (2014). Role of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of depressive disorders: a comprehensive meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. PloS one, 9(5), e96905.
- Jang, S. H., Kim, D. I., & Choi, M. S. (2014). Effects and treatment methods of acupuncture and herbal medicine for premenstrual syndrome/premenstrual dysphoric disorder: systematic review. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 14(1), 1.
- Kennedy, D. O., & Wightman, E. L. (2011). Herbal extracts and phytochemicals: plant secondary metabolites and the enhancement of human brain function. Advances in Nutrition: An International Review Journal, 2(1), 32-50.
- Masoumi, S. Z., Ataollahi, M., & Oshvandi, K. (2016). Effect of Combined Use of Calcium and Vitamin B6 on Premenstrual Syndrome Symptoms: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of caring sciences, 5(1), 67.
- Wyatt, K. M., Dimmock, P. W., Jones, P. W., & O’Brien, P. S. (1999). Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: systematic review. Bmj, 318(7195), 1375-1381.
Clinical Support Specialist at Sanesco International, Inc.
Emily Harrill is our newest Clinical Support Specialist, and a graduate of UNC Asheville with a Bachelor of Science in Health and Wellness Promotion. Improving quality of life for others is her ultimate goal. She enjoys being a part of the team at Sanesco, exploring wellness through the HPA-T Axis and encouraging others to use holistic, integrative means to achieve balanced health. She loves participating in challenging, empowering, and fun activities – especially Olympic weightlifting and belly dance.