Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) (cont.)
Certain herbs have been evaluated for use in PMS. Many over-the-counter herbal preparations combine various herbs with certain vitamins to create a PMS formula. Although preliminary reports have been promising, more scientific research is needed to evaluate herbal treatment of PMS, and none have been proven to be of benefit. Furthermore, since botanical or herbal therapies are not regulated, it is difficult to determine the actual dosage and quality of any dietary supplement. Consult a health care professional before using any herbal supplement to treat PMS.
- Black cohosh: Black cohosh has been shown to positively impact the serotonin pathway and may have a beneficial impact for some women, especially those with vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes). Black cohosh does not affect estrogen levels or function.
- St. John's wort: This herb may help elevate serotonin levels, possibly helping PMS symptoms. Studies do not agree on its effectiveness. St. John's wort interacts with many medications, and should never be used if a person takes prescription antidepressants.
- Evening primrose oil: Gamma-linoleic acid (GLA) is the active agent found in evening primrose oil. Much like mefenamic acid, GLA blocks prostaglandin synthesis, resulting in decreased breast tenderness, bloating, and weight gain. The standard dose is 3 grams per day, and it should be started less than one week before the onset of the patient's period. This agent is available without a prescription at health food stores and certain pharmacies. A scientific review of the studies on evening primrose oil showed no proven effect on the symptoms of PMS.
- Ginkgo biloba: Shown to reduce the symptom of breast pain but not other PMS symptoms.
- Chasteberry (Vitex; agnus castus fruit extract): Limited studies have shown a benefit for the use of agnus castus fruit extract to help relieve symptoms of PMS. This should not be used in combination with birth control pills.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/10/2014
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