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Natural Awakenings Spokane WA/Coeur d'Alene ID

Essential Extracts for Managing PMS

May 07, 2018 10:43PM
by Toby K. Hallowitz

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is characterized by the cyclic occurrence of physical, behavioral and psychological symptoms during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle disappearing within a few days of the onset of menstruation. PMS is one of the most common health issues in women of reproductive age and symptoms including irritability, anxiety, aggression, depression and changes in concentration are thought to be primarily due to changes in neurotransmitters and prostaglandins.

The normal progesterone and estradiol decline at the end of the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle results in withdrawal of the hormonal effects on serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Generally, symptoms are mild, but 5 to 8 percent of women suffer from severe PMS. Apart from conventional drugs, like serotonin reuptake inhibitors and oral contraceptives, complementary and alternative medicines such as chasteberry and curcumin extract from turmeric are effective at combating the symptoms of PMS.

Chasteberry Extract Chasteberry has been used for centuries to support women with hormone-related gynecologic complaints. Chasteberry is well-known for its balancing effect on female hormones, prompting more regular cycles. Modern research has validated this traditional use by showing that various preparations of chasteberry demonstrate positive effects in women with PMS. The German Commission E, the German equivalent of the Food and Drug Administration, approves the use of chasteberry to support menstrual cycle regularity, breast tenderness, and PMS; and it is widely recommended by family physicians and gynecologists in Germany for these issues. Extracts called iridoids and flavonoids are thought to exert their benefits through indirect effects on various hormones, especially prolactin and progesterone. Chasteberry essentially decreases the effects of estrogen while increasing the effects of progesterone, while also easing the common, transient symptom of mild breast tenderness. Curcumin Extract

Curcumin, the potent anti-inflammatory extract from turmeric, has been extensively researched and shown to have potent anti-inflammatory effects in the body. While curcumin has not traditionally been used for PMS, newer research and clinical experience supports its important role in relieving PMS symptoms. Studies have demonstrated an action of curcumin in modulating serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, thus exerting an antidepressant effect. In addition, curcumin reduces the inflammation associated with many PMS symptoms such as pain, swelling and inflammation such as breast pain and engorgement, headaches, extremity edema and others.

A recent study on curcumin was conducted to evaluate the effects on the severity of premenstrual mood, behavior and physical symptoms. This randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was in healthy 21 to 35 years old women with regular menstrual cycles who had at least five symptoms of 19 on a PMS questionnaire. Group one received 100 milligrams of curcumin every 12 hours from seven days before and until three days after the onset of menstrual bleeding for three consecutive menstrual cycles. Group two received placebo in the same regimen. Total severity of PMS score reduced from 102.6 to 42.47 with a mean change of 59.59 in the curcumin group, thus verifying the beneficial effects of this healthy extract.

PMS is a very common and disruptive illness for many women. Chasteberry, a traditional herbal solution, and curcumin, a new modern approach, are two potent natural methods to relieving the symptoms of what can often be a quite severe and debilitating syndrome.

Toby K. Hallowitz, ND, MSOM, LAc, practices at CDA Acupuncture & Holistic Healing, located at 225 E. Locust Ave., in Coeur d’Alene, ID., 208-665-2293 as well as Healing Waters Holistic Center, located at 101 N. Evergreen Rd., in Spokane Valley, 509-228-3528. For more information, visit or

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