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Table of Contents > Articles > Banishing the PMS Blues
Banishing the PMS Blues

If you are a women who suffers from premenstrual syndrome (PMS) you know all about mood swings—and cramps, depression, headaches, bloating, food cravings, breast tenderness, and joint and muscle pain. While some women are affected only mildly, others experience a major monthly disruption in their social or work life. Because of the toll PMS takes on many women, scientists are continually seeking new treatment options.

The latest good news is about vitamin B6. Preliminary research indicates that 50 to 100 mg daily of vitamin B6 may be effective for treating depression and other symptoms associated with PMS. More rigorous testing is still needed, however, and women should be careful not to take high doses of B6—there is evidence that doses over 200 mg a day can cause a number of harmful side effects.

In addition to trying vitamin B6, consider taking daily calcium supplements. These have been shown to be quite effective with reducing the severity of symptoms. Here are some other tips that may relieve PMS symptoms:

  • Eat small meals throughout the day to stabilize energy. Eat low-protein, low-fat meals with plenty of grains, fruits, and vegetables. Limit sugar intake.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and salt to reduce bloating.
  • Take a daily multi vitamin and mineral supplement.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Consider herbal medicines, such as chasteberry and licorice root. Be sure to discuss taking these with your doctor.
  • Join a PMS support group.

You may need to experiment before you find what works for you. If these suggestions don't help and you have severe PMS, talk with your doctor about other treatments. You may be helped by an antidepressant such as Prozac or Zoloft, estrogen-containing birth control pills, or hormone therapy.

Suggested Resources

Once a Month: Understanding and Treating PMS by Katharina Dalton (Hunter House 1999)

The PMS & Perimenopause Sourcebook: A Guide to the Emotional, Mental, and Physical Pattern's of a Woman's Life by John E. Jones and Lori A. Futterman (Lowell House 1998)


Wyatt KM, Dimmock PW, Jones PW, Shaughn O'Brien PM. Efficacy of vitamin B-6 in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a systematic review. BMJ. 1000;318:1375-1381.

Review Date: December 1999
Reviewed By: Integrative Medicine editorial

Copyright © 2004 A.D.A.M., Inc

The publisher does not accept any responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein, including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied, is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use. This material is not intended as a guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information provided here with a doctor, pharmacist, nurse, or other authorized healthcare practitioner and to check product information (including package inserts) regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed herein.

Premenstrual Syndrome
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

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