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Herbal therapy for premenstrual syndrome

HUTTENBERG, GERMANY. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is characterized by irritability, aggression, tension, anxiety, and depression and may also involve fluid retention, breast tenderness, headaches, weight gain and a bloated feeling. PMS affects pre-menopausal women and usually lasts from one week before to a few days after the start of menstruation.

German researchers now report that a dry extract of agnus castus fruit (Vitex agnus castusL) also known as chaste berry is highly effective in reducing PMS symptoms. Their randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial involved 170 women (mean age of 36 years) who were assigned to receive one tablet daily of agnus castus extract or a matched placebo for three full menstrual cycles. They were asked to assess the extent of their symptoms for the previous three cycles at baseline and after three cycles of supplementation. The results were very convincing – 52 per cent of the women in the agnus castus group felt that they had improved more than 50 per cent as compared to only 24 per cent in the placebo group. The reductions in irritability, anger, mood changes, headaches, and breast fullness were particularly impressive. The self- assessment scores were corroborated through evaluation by the participating physicians. The researchers conclude that agnus castus is well tolerated and effective for the treatment of PMS.
Schellenberg, R., et al. Treatment for the premenstrual syndrome with agnus castus fruit extract: prospective, randomised, placebo controlled study. British Medical Journal, Vol. 322, January 20, 2001, pp. 134-37

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