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Magnesium and PMS

Do not let symptoms of PMS ruin your quality of life. Take Magnesium supplements to rid worrying symptoms like cramps, irritability, fatigue, depression and water retention

Millions of women around the world suffer the effects of Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS) every month a week or 10 days before the start of their menstrual period.

The symptoms of PMS can range from anxiety and irritability to headaches or joint and breast pain. Not all women show all symptoms, and some do not show any symptoms at all. However for some the discomfort is so severe that it adversely affects their quality of life. Much research has been done to understand the impact of PMS on quality of Life. In fact, one of the presentations at the 2009 Annual Clinical Meeting of American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) presented a 6-question survey instrument to accurately measure the effect of PMS on women's health-related quality of life created by Dr Min Yang, MD, PhD.

Understanding PMS

Dr Guy Abraham, M.D., former clinical professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of California-Los Angeles, divided PMS symptoms into four distinct categories:

  • PMS-A (anxiety) mood swings, irritability, crying jags
  • PMS-H (hyper hydration) bloating, weight gain, water retention, breast tenderness, constipation
  • PMS-C (cravings) many symptoms of hypo-glycemia (low blood sugar)--fatigue, vertigo (dizziness), sweet craving, ‘binging-out’, heart palpitations, headache, migraines
  • PMS-D (depression) crying bouts, insomnia, confusion, depression.

Most women do not fit exclusively into one of the categories, but experience an overlap of imbalances., a federal government source for women’s health has a helpful PMS symptom tracker ( which you can download to record your symptoms each day and understand your specific situation.

Magnesium Deficiency a Cause of PMS

Medical experts have not deciphered all the mechanisms involved in PMS. Some research points to an imbalance in hormones or serotonin (a body chemical thought to be involved in mood). Some researchers speculate it may be a result of malfunctioning pituitary gland which controls the body’s release of hormones. Low thyroid function (hypothyroidism) has also been mentioned as a cause of PMS, as is eating junk food.

Fabio Facchinetti et al from the Universities of Modena and Pavia, Italy found that low levels of magnesium are prevalent in women who experience menstrual problems. In a two-month trial, 32 women with PMS received 360 mg/day of magnesium or placebo from the 15th day of each menstrual cycle to the beginning of the next menstrual period. Women who were given magnesium supplements had lesser menstrual complaints. [1]

Dr Guy E. Abraham and Joel T. Hargrove, M.D, after successfully relieved PMS with Vitamin B6 investigated magnesium’s role in PMS. They found that PMS patients had low levels of magnesium in their red blood cells. He noted that the stress of PMS rapidly depletes body stores of magnesium, aggravating the condition. [2]

Oral Magnesium as a Natural Remedy for PMS

In 1998, a study by Walker AF et al conducted at Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Reading, U.K used 200 mg of magnesium or placebo for two menstrual cycles. Published in The Journal of Women’s Health, this study found that 200 mg a day of magnesium reduced PMS fluid retention, breast tenderness and bloating by 40%. Magnesium was found to significantly reduce weight gain, swelling of the hands and legs. [3] Alternative remedies like oral magnesium supplementation keep you physically and emotionally well—a crucial component of well being that can get disrupted at the time of menstruation, and can’t be easily restored by usual painkillers.

Magnesium for PMS Relief

Magnesium supplementation can help alleviate many symptoms of PMS including cramps, irritability, fatigue, depression and water retention.

  • Magnesium is a good muscle relaxant. This makes it especially important for women who suffer from menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhea). Cramps are caused by strong contractions of the uterus and magnesium helps to relax the powerful uterine muscles.
  • Magnesium deficiency causes blood vessels to go into spasms. If you suffer from menstrual migraine, magnesium can be useful in preventing these spasms.
  • Menstrual fatigue is another common complaint of women that magnesium can help relieve.
  • Magnesium is ‘nature’s tranquillizer’ and can easily treat symptoms related to anxiety, tension, irritability, depression, confusion, etc
  • Magnesium functions as a diuretic and helps ease the pressure caused by fluid retention. Magnesium also reduces constipation, water retention and bloating, breast tenderness.
  • Cravings for sweets are also reduced or eliminated when magnesium intake is increased.

Magnesium Therapy for PMS

If you suffer from PMS, taking about 300-400 mg of magnesium daily starting two weeks before a period may improve symptoms. [4] Look for magnesium citrate supplement like Natural Calm, which is easier to absorb than magnesium oxide. Some doctors even recommend taking magnesium with Vitamin B6, as that appears to increase magnesium absorption.

Another effective alternative is Magnesium Rub or Magnesium Gel. Magnesium Rub is a sea water concentrate, with the sodium removed, and when applied directly to your skin, it absorbs much the same way magnesium sulphate or Epsom salt does (transdermal). Apply a little of the Magnesium Rub on your hand and rub directly to the painful areas for maximum benefit.

The information in this article is meant for information purposes only and is not prescriptive. We recommended that you consult with your doctor before you introduce magnesium in your diet, especially if you have a severe kidney or heart disease or are taking hypoglycemic drugs. If you do take a magnesium supplement then be aware that it can inhibit the absorption of iron, so shouldn’t be taken within two hours of an iron supplement.


  1. Oral magnesium successfully relieves premenstrual mood changes. Facchinetti F, Borella P, Sances G, Fioroni L, Nappi RE, Genazzani AR.
  2. Abraham GE, Lubran MM. "Serum and red cell magnesium levels in patients with premenstrual tension." Am J Clin Nutr. 34:2364-6, 1981.
  3. Magnesium supplementation alleviates premenstrual symptoms of fluid retention. Walker AF, De Souza MC, Vickers MF, Abeyasekera S, Collins ML, Trinca LA.
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