Managing PMS with PCOS: Exploring Natural Alternatives
Managing a turbo cocktail of hormones is enough to deal with when you have PCOS. But the added burden of PMS can make you feel like your emotions are even more heightened: you might be feeling tearful, a little more agitated or particularly low. Sadly, there’s no magic potion to zap away PMS, but thankfully there are steps you can take to make it a hell of a lot easier. One route is natural supplementation. Whilst they won’t all work for you, they can be a great tool to combat PMS and PCOS together.
Although little heralded, magnesium may be one of the most important health-promoting minerals. As well as restoring some harmony to your insulin secretion, magnesium works as brilliant pain reliever for PMS. In one study, a supplementation of 250mg was given to a group of female participants aged 18-45 over a 3-month period. The results were pretty amazing, indicating that magnesium helped diminish many of the physical symptoms caused by PMS like cravings, insomnia and bloatingi. Another study illuminated the positive impact magnesium had on the emotional implications of PMS too, such as alleviating mild anxiety and reducing fatigueii.
You can obtain magnesium from a range of foods including spinach, Swiss chard, dark chocolate, cashews, almonds and Brazil nuts. However, to properly safeguard against a deficiency and bolster the body’s natural reserves, we would advise adding a high-strength, quality magnesium supplement to the diet – provided, of course, it contains an easily absorbed form of the mineral.
Vital vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of serotonin – your ‘feel-good’ hormone that supports mood and fills you with that get-up-and-go sensation. A controlled trial highlighted that taking 50-100mg of vitamin B6 each day significantly reduced the depressive symptoms triggered by PMSiii. This study further concluded that women who supplemented their vitamin B6 intake with magnesium reported a greater reduction in their emotional PMS symptoms, than simply taking magnesium alone.
Rich food sources of vitamin B6 include organic meat, potatoes, starchy vegetables, non-citrus fruits and chickpeas. However, if you struggle to meet your requirements through food alone, we suggest taking 100mg per day in supplement form. Learn more about the benefits of vitamin B6 and PCOS here.
Renowned for its far-reaching and promising health properties, zinc plays a key role in regulating your menstrual cycle. Interestingly, levels of zinc are considerably lower in PMS patients compared to healthy groups of womeniv. In fact, studies have shown that supplementing zinc in the last 2 weeks of your menstrual cycle can be very beneficial for PMS4. Just 50mg of taking zinc daily can contribute to a marked decrease in PMS symptoms – namely anxiety and depression, and there was a significant improvement in their quality of life too.
Taking 15mg (30mg on doctor's advice) of zinc for 2 weeks before your period may help keep pesky PMS symptoms at bay. Red meat, oysters, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, and cashews are all excellent, natural sources of zinc.
In the days leading up to your period, does your ravenous alter ego make an appearance, tempting (and successfully convincing) you to eat your bodyweight in ice cream, chocolate, pizza, crisps, pasta, bread, sweets - whatever takes your fancy. Cravings are a natural part of PMS – that’s nothing new. One explanation for this is that the changes in your hormone levels require more calories. Research now suggests that myo-inositol holds the power to stabilise insulin levels, thereby curbing your cravingsv. Even better news: myo-inositol is also thought to reduce acne and anxiety, which are additional PMS annoyancesvi.
The most prevalent sources of myo-inositol are unprocessed whole grains, citrus fruits, dried prunes and brewer’s yeast, however you’d have to eat huge quantities to get your daily dose. The simpler (and infinitely more convenient) option is to take 2 to 4 grams of myo-inositol in powdered form each day.
Go crazy for calcium
Research indicates that calcium levels tend to be lower in those experiencing PMS, which may contribute to headaches, depression, sleep issues, appetite changes, and joint painvii. But one study highlighted that supplementing with 100mg to 120mg could decrease these debilitating and painful symptoms. It’s also worth noting that low levels of magnesium are associated with poor calcium levels, so it’s wise to up your intake of both minerals to supercharge your natural reserves. Learn more about the benefits of calcium for PCOS women here.
You may think that scoffing your face with milk and yoghurt is the answer here. Sadly, it’s not the case. These foods have a high glycaemic index (the rate at which your body breaks down carbs for energy), and will cause a spike in your insulin and androgen levels, exacerbating your other PCOS symptoms – it’s a double-edged sword, really. You can meet your calcium requirements by filling up on spinach, leafy greens, salmon and cheese. Or, to ensure you meet the 100mg mark, you can take a high-strength, quality calcium supplement.
PMS can be totally and utterly debilitating, period. And while most women will experience their fair share of moods swings, headaches and stomach cramps, PCOS can make this monthly affair even more problematic and painful. Unfortunately, there are no quick fixes. But by upping your intake of the nutrients we’ve mentioned above, you should be able to manage the symptoms and live a happy and fulfilling life.
Did you find this article useful? Browse the rest of our hub to learn even more ways to reclaim the reigns over your PCOS.
Boyle, N.N., Lawton, C., Dye, L. (2016). The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 9(5).
Quaranta, S., Buscaglia, M.A., Meroni, M.G., Colombo, E., Cella, C. (2007). Pilot study of the efficacy and safety of a modified-release magnesium 250 mg tablet (Sincromag) for the treatment of premenstrual syndrome. Clin Drug Investig. 27(1): 51-8.
Fathizadeh, N., Ebrahimi, E., Valiani, M., Tavakoli, N., Yar, M.H. (2010). Evaluating the effect of magnesium and magnesium plus vitamin B6 supplement on the severity of premenstrual syndrome. F Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 15(1): 401-5.
Fathizadeh, N., Amani, R., Haghighizadeh, M.H., Hormozi, R. (2015). Comparison of serum zinc concentrations and body antioxidant status between young women with premenstrual syndrome and normal controls: A case-control study. International Journal of Reproductive Biomedicine. 14(11): 699-704.
Pintaudi, B., Di Vieste, G., Bonomo, M. (2016). The Effectiveness of Myo-Inositol and D-Chiro Inositol Treatment in Type 2 Diabetes. Int J Endocrinol.
Pezza, M. and Carlomagno, V., et al. (2017). Inositol in women suffering from acne and PCOS: a randomized study. Global Dermatology. 4(1): 1-4.
Shamberger, R.J. (2003). Calcium, magnesium, and other elements in the red blood cells and hair of normals and patients with premenstrual syndrome. Biol Trace Elem Res. 94:123–129.
Akhlaghi, F., Hamedi, A., Javadi, Z., Hosseinipoor, F., et al. (2004). Effects of calcium supplementation on premenstrual syndrome. Razi Journal of Medical Sciences. 10:669-675.
Disclaimer: The information presented by Nature's Best is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications.
Olivia Salter has always been an avid health nut. After graduating from the University of Bristol, she began working for a nutritional consultancy where she discovered her passion for all things wellness-related. There, she executed much of the company’s content marketing strategy and found her niche in health writing, publishing articles in Women’s Health, Mind Body Green, Thrive and Psychologies.