Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is estimated to affect as many as 30% of women – or around 800,000 women of childbearing age in the UK . It’s a condition that tends to begin and increase in severity at times of significant hormonal change, including during puberty, with starting or stopping the contraceptive pill, after pregnancy, with pre-eclampsia, and during postnatal depression or termination. Affecting women worldwide, its effects can be far-reaching, often taking a toll on work and relationships. With a limited number of effective treatment options aside from hysterectomy, is it time to consider the role of PMS supplements?
What is PMS?
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a collection of psychological and physical symptoms that can affect women in the two weeks leading up to their monthly period. Also known popularly as premenstrual tension (PMT), common symptoms can include bloating, headaches, insomnia, nausea, mood swings, breast pain and loss of libido in sufferers, resolving soon after your period starts. According to the NHS, nearly all women of childbearing age will experience some of these symptoms, but they are statistically more likely in women between their late 20s to early 40s .
What is PMDD?
One in every 20 women suffering from PMS has symptoms so severe that they stop them from doing everyday tasks – usually diagnosed as the more intense condition premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD). The symptoms are usually similar to PMS but may be more intense, with a higher risk of serious psychological symptoms, including persistent sadness or depression, feelings of despair, extreme anxiety and anger, loss of interest in activities, over-sleeping or chronic insomnia, low self esteem, and extreme irritability and tension. All of these symptoms can negatively affect your daily life and relationships.
What role does serotonin play in PMS and PMDD?
It’s not yet know what causes PMS and PMDD, but they are thought to be linked to changes in hormone levels that happen during the menstrual cycle. Lower levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin have long been connected by research to the symptoms of PMS , which is why women suffering from moderate to severe PMS and PMDD are often prescribed a type of antidepressant known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Serotonin is a brain chemical that acts as a messenger between nerve cells, having a notable effect on your mood, emotions and sleep. Once it has communicated a message, serotonin is reabsorbed by the closest nerve cells – known as “reuptake”. The theory goes that, by preventing the reabsorption of serotonin, more is then available to carry further signals in the brain, improving your mood and relieving the debilitating symptoms of PMS and PMDD.
Can you treat PMS/PMDD with 5-htp?
In a recent study, serotonin-boosting medications proved to be effective in relieving the cardinal psychological symptoms experienced by women with PMDD . Another study found that taking 5-htp seemed to help to lift the disabling mood conditions experienced by a group of women with PMDD . 5-htp is a chemical precursor to serotonin that can be taken in a simple, easy to swallow pill. Trusted by dietitians and doctors alike, it has been used to treat depression and related conditions for over 15 years. It works by delivering more serotonin into your body, which can help to regulate your sleep and mood, combating some of the most difficult symptoms associated with PMS and PMDD.
brain feed is the UK’s premium supplier of naturally derived 5-htp supplements. Our 5-htp is an isolated nutrient extracted from the griffonia seed and twice the strength of Holland & Barrett. We compress the 5-htp into the smallest and most nutrient-dense 5-htp tablets on the market (98% nutrient density) to make sure we don't use any unnecessary bulking agents.
5-htp works on the serotonergic pathway which regulates sleep, appetite and stress so it is more than simply an option for a depressed mood. It’s great for those wishing to maintain health and enhance performance. To find out more about 5-htp click here.