A pill containing a mix of essential oils has been shown to significantly reduce the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Researchers writing in BioMed Central’s open access journal Reproductive Health tested the tablets by carrying out a randomised, controlled trial in 120 women.
Edilberto Rocha Filho worked with a team of researchers from the Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil, to conduct the tests. He said, “The administration of 1 or 2 grams of essential fatty acids to patients with PMS resulted in a significant decrease in symptom scores. Furthermore, the administration of the dietary supplement did not result in any changes in the total cholesterol in the patients evaluated”.
Women who were given capsules containing 2 grams of a combination of gamma linolenic acid, oleic acid, linoleic acid, other polyunsaturated acids and vitamin E reported significantly eased PMS symptoms at both 3 and 6 months after they began the treatment.
Few adverse events were recorded and these were mild, insignificant and did not appear to be directly related to the medication. Speaking about the results, Rocha Filho said, “The negative effect of PMS on a woman’s routine activities and quality of life may be significant, in addition to the repercussions on economic costs resulting predominantly from a reduction in productivity. Essential oil capsules can now be said to show much promise as a treatment”.
Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a group of symptoms that start one to two weeks before your period. Most women have at least some symptoms of PMS, and the symptoms go away after their periods start. For some women, the symptoms are severe enough to interfere with their lives. They have a type of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD.
Common PMS symptoms include
* Breast swelling and tenderness
* Bloating and weight gain
* Pain - headache or joint pain
* Food cravings
* Irritability, mood swings, crying spells, depression
No one knows what causes PMS, but hormonal changes trigger the symptoms. No single PMS treatment works for everyone. Over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, aspirin or naproxen may help ease cramps, headaches, backaches and breast tenderness. Exercising, getting enough sleep, and avoiding salt, caffeine, and alcohol can also help.
National Women’s Health Information Center
Exactly what causes premenstrual syndrome is unknown, but several factors may contribute to the condition:
* Cyclic changes in hormones. Signs and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome change with hormonal fluctuations and disappear with pregnancy and menopause.
* Chemical changes in the brain. Fluctuations of serotonin, a brain chemical (neurotransmitter) that is thought to play a crucial role in mood states, could trigger PMS symptoms. Insufficient amounts of serotonin may contribute to premenstrual depression, as well as to fatigue, food cravings and sleep problems.
* Depression. Some women with severe premenstrual syndrome have undiagnosed depression, though depression alone does not cause all of the symptoms.
* Stress. Stress can aggravate some of your PMS symptoms.
* Poor eating habits. Some PMS symptoms have been linked to low levels of vitamins and minerals. Other possible contributors to PMS include eating a lot of salty foods, which may cause fluid retention, and drinking alcohol and caffeinated beverages, which may cause mood and energy level disturbances.
Contact: Matt McKay