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About 80 percent of women will experience premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms at some point in their lives, and it is estimated that 20 to 30 percent of women have clinically significant PMS. Yet medications to treat PMS have varying degrees of effectiveness and can come with side effects.

Some botanicals have been shown to provide relief of PMS symptoms. Curcumin was evaluated in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial published in 2015. In this study, 70 women age 18 to 34 were split into two groups: placebo or 100 mg of curcumin every 12 hours (2 capsules daily) given 7 days before until 3 days after the onset of menstrual bleeding. The curcumin powder was provided by Darou Pakhsh Pharma Co. (Tehran, Iran). A total of 63 women completed the trial with 7 of the women (4 in placebo and 3 in curcumin) not completing the trial for various reasons not including toleration issues. DMS-IV was used to evaluate PMS symptoms.

In the placebo group, PMS physical symptom scores decreased but behavioral and mood symptom scores did not change. In the curcumin group, physical, behavioral, mood, and overall PMS symptom scores decreased significantly (P<0.0001). In this study, curcumin out-performed the placebo in reducing PMS symptoms, specifically behavioral and mood symptoms associated with PMS (P<0.0001).

The dose of curcumin used in this study was low. In many human clinical trials, curcumin is typically given in gram versus milligram doses.  Nonetheless, these results attest to the potential benefit of curcumin in the management of PMS. The authors surmise that the mechanism may be due to curcumin’s ability to increase serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine levels as well as to its anti-inflammatory effects (specifically COX-2 inhibition).

More research is needed to confirm the effect of curcumin on PMS symptoms; however, this preliminary data is promising. From a clinical perspective, it would be interesting to see data using a higher concentration of curcumin in this patient population.

Khayat S, Fanaei H, Kheirkhah M, et al. Curcumin attenuates severity of premenstrual syndrome symptoms: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Complement Ther Med. 2015;23(3):318-324.

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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.