Taking supplements containing gamma-linolenic acid and a mix of other healthy dietary fats can significantly reduce symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS), according to a study by Brazilian researchers.
Edilberto A. Rocha Filho, MD, of the Federal University of Penambuco School of Medicine, and his colleagues treated 120 women who had experienced a variety of PMS symptoms. The supplements contained either 1 or 2 grams of fats or placebos, and they were taken daily for six months.
Each 1-gram capsule provided 210 mg of gamma-linolenic acid, 175 mg of oleic acid, 250 mg of other polyunsaturated fats, and 20 mg of vitamin E. The 2-gram dosage had twice these amounts.
Women in the study recorded the intensity of 23 PMS symptoms, including anxiety, depression, headache, and water retention. The 1- and 2-gram supplements led to significant improvements after three and six months, with the 2-gram supplement providing the greatest benefits. The placebos led to improvements after three months, but their benefits wore off after six months.
Gamma-linolenic acid is obtained from plant oils, and it is the precursor to prostaglandin E1, a hormone-like substance that has analgesic properties.
Reference: Rocha Filho EA, Lima JC, Pinho Neto JS, et al. Essential fatty acids for premenstrual syndrome and their effect on prolactin and total cholesterol levels: a randomized double blind, placebo-controlled study. Reproductive Health, 2011: doi:10.1186/1742-4755-8-2.