Back by popular demand: The supplement that could nix your bad PMS

Back by popular demand: The supplement that could nix your bad PMS

listenI like to keep things fresh and write about new topics every day. However, sometimes there’s a tip that just resonates so much with Hormonology readers that I feel many of you will benefit if I repeat it one more time.

Today the topic I’d like to revisit is how to use chromium to treat severe premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Since I first wrote about chromium–an essential trace mineral that’s found naturally in foods like onions, tomatoes, whole grains and potatoes–a bunch of you with intense PMS symptoms have tried it to ease pre-period depression, anxiety, anger, crying spells, fatigue, food cravings and other problems that pop up premenstrually.

And an astounding 100% of those who’ve written to me about it have said chromium worked to significantly reduce these symptoms–many in the very first cycle of trying it.

Now, that’s not to say there were others who tried it and didn’t have positive results. They may simply not have felt it was worth writing to me about.

However, when I see email after email and post after post lauding this tip, well, it seems to have merit.

So, let’s talk about chromium and the research behind it:

In a small 2013 study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 11 women with premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD)–a very intense version of PMS–were given 200 mcg. of chromium twice daily or an identical-looking placebo during the second half of their cycle (Week 3 and Week 4) either alone or in conjunction with antidepressants they were already taking.

In the cycles when they were taking the chromium, the women experienced dramatic relief in premenstrual symptoms. In fact, a few said they were actually surprised when they got their period because their premenstrual phase was so easy, they didn’t even realize they’d gone all the way through it.

Contrast that to cycles when the women were taking placebos and they experienced little to no improvement in symptoms.

As the researchers discovered, chromium provided relief on its own, but also improved the performance of anti-depressants, resulting in more of an improvement than either the chromium or anti-depressants alone–even in women who’d had difficulty finding relief in the past.

So, how’s it work? Chromium affects insulin, glucose and serotonin in ways that balance mood and appetite.

The most common side effects experienced by women in this study were vivid dreaming and slight jitteriness similar to drinking coffee.

If you want to try it for yourself, the dose used in the study was 200 mcg. (micrograms) twice daily during Week 3 and Week 4, which start right after ovulation in the middle of your cycle.

Also, opt for chromium picolinate, which is a more readily absorbable form of chromium. You can find it in health food stores and online at vitamin retailers.

And, just to remind you, I’m not a doctor–just a health journalist reporting on these (great, useful and often hidden away in dusty medical journals) hormone-related studies. So, always ask your health care provider first before taking any new supplement. And check for any interactions between chromium and other supplements or medications you’re currently taking.

While chromium is safely tolerated in most people, it can have adverse effects if you have diabetes, pre-diabetes, liver or kidney disease or if you are pregnant or are trying to get pregnant. So, again, talk to your doc.

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