PMS Remedy Works

An alternative remedy for the relief of premenstrual syndrome has been shown to be effective in a clinical trial that compared it to a placebo (inactive pill). Nearly 350 women with PMS were randomly assigned to take either agnus castus (from the fruit of the chaste tree) in capsule form or a look alike placebo. At the end of the study, which lasted through three consecutive menstrual cycles, over half of the women taking agnus castus reported a 50% or greater improvement in their symptoms. Other studies have shown similar rates of efficacy for the antidepressant drugs like Sarafem (a repackaged version of Prozac) and Zoloft, which are standard prescriptions for PMS.

PMS is notoriously difficult to treat. And little is known about the causes of this condition which involves a constellation of symptoms in the latter part of the menstrual cycle, including irritability, mood alternation, anger, headache, breast fullness, and bloating.

The new study was conducted at the Institute for Health Care and Science in Huttenberg, Germany, and published in the BMJ (British Medical Journal, 1/20/01). The extract of agnus castus given to the study participants can be purchased in capsules or as a tincture without a prescription at stores that sell herbal remedies. No adverse events were reported in the women taking agnus castus.

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By Maryann Napoli, Center for Medical Consumers, New York, NY

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