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
Eat small meals throughout the day to stabilize energy. Eat
low-protein, low-fat meals with plenty of grains, fruits, and vegetables. Limit
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and salt to reduce bloating.
Take a daily multi vitamin and mineral supplement.
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.
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.
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guide to self-medication. The reader is advised to discuss the information
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regarding dosage, precautions, warnings, interactions, and contraindications
before administering any drug, herb, or supplement discussed