There’s no gentle way to put this: PMS sucks. And it sucks a lot. Leading up to your period, your fluctuating hormones can create a host of unpleasant symptoms including bloating, breakouts, irritability, headaches, fatigue, mood swings, tender breasts and more. For many women, PMS is a frustrating monthly cycle. For those seeking relief, supplements might just be the answer.
But why do you experience PMS?
PMS has a lot to do with your hormones, chemicals made by your endocrine system and are vital for managing many bodily functions. Your levels of estrogen and progesterone, two female reproductive hormones, change throughout your menstrual cycle. Both drop the week before your period, leading to the symptoms of PMS. And those symptoms can get even worse if there are other hormonal imbalances in the bloodstream caused by stress, poor diet, environmental toxins, lack of exercise, obesity, or other health conditions.1 If you think any of these apply to you, certain supplements can help beat the worst of your symptoms.
Saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, is a trusted ally for PMS relief. It’s a powerful spice rich in antioxidants that help relieve symptoms of fatigue, cramps and irritability.2 It’s also believed to lift your mood by preventing serotonin reuptake, meaning it blocks serotonin from being reabsorbed by nerve cells, which then raises levels in the brain.3 Higher levels of serotonin translates to better mood.
Borage oil is one of the richest sources of Gamma linoleic acid (GLA), an essential fatty acid that helps regulate the reproductive system. Though more research is needed, GLA is thought to ease PMS symptoms by promoting a healthy inflammatory response, regulating hormone levels, and stimulating the adrenal glands.1
Taken together, these two nutrients can make a potent combo.
We all know calcium is essential for bone health, but it might surprise you to know it’s also vital to the everyday work of your muscles, heart, nerves and other cells. Women who experience PMS often don’t get enough calcium in their diet. Adding a daily calcium supplement may help reduce symptoms like bloating, fatigue, mood swings and sadness, according to a 2017 clinical trial.4
3 & 4. Ginger and Magnesium
Struggling with monthly cramps? Ginger and magnesium may just be the superheroes you need. The culprits behind menstrual cramps include prostaglandins, compounds that trigger muscle contractions to help the uterus shed its lining.5 Ginger root appears to block these compounds, providing some relief.
Magnesium offers similar benefits by helping muscles to relax. It also regulates certain hormones, helping to calm the nervous system and ease the headaches and poor mood that come with PMS.6 It can be hard to get enough magnesium from food alone. Adding a supplement can help prevent a deficiency and improve how you feel before and during your period.
Yes, we can get emotional before starting our periods. And that’s okay; your hormones are fluctuating. But managing your stress and emotional wellbeing can be incredibly important to your menstrual health. If you’re stressed, you might have noticed that your period is irregular—coming too soon or too late. This is because long-term stress can make your body produce more cortisol and less progesterone, a shift that can disrupt your cycle and worsen PMS.
Ashwagandha is a super root that can help with this. If you take it consistently, it can lend a hand to your adrenal glands, keeping cortisol production under control,7 helping to normalize hormonal imbalances caused by stress and supporting a healthy monthly cycle. It also has calming and relaxing effects to provide immediate relief for PMS symptoms like mood swings.
6. Gingko biloba
PMS can be a legit strain on life, both physically and mentally. Brain fog and trouble focusing are common effects. But one of the oldest living trees, gingko biloba, may be able to help. It’s been used for thousands of years to support brain health with its powerful antioxidant properties and its ability to increase blood flow to the brain—which may in turn reduce PMS-related brain fog and fatigue.8
Need help with supplements?
When it comes to supplements for women’s health, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. If you’re not sure where to start, take Persona’s free nutrition assessment, and learn exactly what you need to take your wellness to the next level.
*It’s important to note that PMS is different than PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder). If you’re struggling with PMDD, it’s best to talk with your healthcare provider for treatment options.
Gabby is a nutritionist with a master’s degree in strategic communications. She loves using her nutrition-fluency with storytelling to encourage positive change. Before Persona, she worked at a mental health clinic helping clients manage stress, anxiety and other mental health issues through diet.
Gabby is just one of Persona’s team of qualified nutritionists. Do you have questions about nutrition? Reach out. Our experts would love to help.