Many women with PMS and PMDD ask about herbal remedies for the treatment of their symptoms.  WebMD recently reviewed this topic. The supplements most commonly mentioned for the treatment of PMS include chasteberry, evening primrose oil, Gingko biloba, St. John’s wort, and dandelion leaf.  Some important things to remember:

  • There is no conclusive scientific research to support the effectiveness of herbals supplements for treating PMS symptoms. In the U.S., herbal supplements aren’t required to prove their efficacy and aren’t regulated by the FDA.
  • Just because herbal supplements are “natural” doesn’t mean that they don’t have side effects.  Evening primrose oil has been associated with increased risk of bleeding.
  • Herbal supplements may interact with other medications.   For example, both chasteberry and St. John’s wort may decrease the effectiveness of oral contraceptives.

While the efficacy of herbal supplements is not yet proven, there is evidence to indicate that calcium and magnesium supplements may help relieve PMS symptoms.  For women with PMDD, there is ample data to support the use of SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD

What’s popular — and what the research shows — about herbal remedies for PMS (WebMD)

Also good to know:  WebMD has an excellent site for information on Vitamins and Supplements, which includes information on drug interactions and side effects.