Curcumin may help symptoms of premenstrual syndrome

Curcumin could be a low-cost and safe option to try with patients suffering from PMS

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a very common issue, affecting nearly all women at some point during their reproductive years.

The condition, which occurs during the luteal phase of the menstrual cycle, is marked by mood swings, anxiety, aches and cramps, appetite changes, food cravings and decreased interest in activities normally found enjoyable. Symptoms range from moderate to severe.

Integrative medicine offers a number of ways to manage PMS. One botanical intervention, curcumin, was the subject of a study published in the journal Complementary Therapies in Health and Medicine in 2015. Curcumin is a component of the spice turmeric, a member of the ginger family (Zingiberaceae).

Previous research has shown curcumin to have a number of physiological effects, including reducing prostaglandin synthesis. This may be relevant to PMS, because prostaglandins are known to play a role in the physical symptoms of PMS. In addition, curcumin has been shown in animal studies to modulate the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine — all implicated in the mood and behavioral symptoms of PMS.

This current study, a double-blind clinical trial, evaluated the effects of curcumin on the severity of PMS symptoms. The study included 70 participants who suffered from PMS. They were randomly assigned to receive either placebo capsules or curcumin powder capsules (provided by Darou Pakhsh Pharma. Co., Tehran, Iran) twice daily (dose was 100mg/12h) for 7 days before menstruation and 3 days after menstruation. This continued for three successive cycles. Participants recorded the severity of their symptoms using a daily questionnaire.

After three consecutive cycles of taking curcumin, the treatment group saw a mean reduction in total severity of PMS score 59.59, whereas the placebo group’s mean reduction was 14.45. That represents a significant difference in mean changes between the two groups.

This study was the first to show curcumin’s possible benefits in lessening severity of PMS symptoms. Other studies would be needed to confirm the effects, but it does suggest that curcumin could be a low-cost and safe option to try with patients suffering from PMS.