July 28, 2013
Fennel Seeds Could Help Relieve PMS Symptoms
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
The licorice-flavored seed of the fennel plant could be used to help women deal with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), according to new research presented last week at the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.
The researchers gave drops made from fennel seeds to young women suffering from PMS symptoms. They found those individuals said they felt less depressed, had an easier time doing their jobs, and had less difficulty getting along with others, said Fiona Macrae of the Daily Mail.
The researchers believe fennel helps to rebalance some of the female sex hormones blamed for some symptoms of PMS, Macrae added. The condition affects approximately three out of every four women, and up to 40 percent of them report the condition damages their quality of life. In extreme cases, PMS can even cause women to become violent and/or suffer from severe depression, the Daily Mail reporter noted.
"Scientists in Iran, where fennel already has a variety of medical uses, looked [at] the affect it had on 36 women who were split into three groups," said Hayley Dixon of The Telegraph. "One group took a fennel extract from three days before their period until three days afterwards, the second exercised regularly and the third did nothing differently."
While those who were in the exercise group reported some easing of symptoms, the biggest impact was among those taking the fennel supplement, the researchers discovered. In fact, study author Dr. Hassan Pazoki of Urmia University said after two months, "the severity of symptoms had reduced so much that they could do their jobs and have... normal relationships with their friends and family."
Dr. Pazoki asserts combining exercise with the fennel extracts could further enhance the benefits. However, some experts -- including Professor John Studd of the London PMS and Menopause Clinic -- dismissed the findings, according to Dixon. Studd said any impact was most likely psychological in nature, telling Macrae that using drugs to shut down a woman's monthly cycle was the best way to treat PMS.
Earlier this year, a US research team discovered women who consumed broccoli and other types of foods that were rich in non-heme iron were less likely to report suffering from PMS. According to Telegraph Medical Correspondent Stephen Adams, the link between iron and PMS likely involves the mood-regulating brain chemical serotonin.
"Their study looked at the health of about 3,000 nurses, who were followed for a decade," Adams said. At the start of the study, none of them reported having PMS, but after a 10-year period one-third of them had been diagnosed with the condition and the remaining two-thirds had not, he added.
"When researchers at Massachusetts University and Harvard analyzed their diets, they found a link between high intake of non-heme iron and a lower chance of developing [PMS]," Adams said. "Specifically, those whose intake exceeded 20mg a day, were 30 to 40 per cent less likely than those with low intakes to suffer from [PMS]. The recommended daily amount for women is 18mg."
The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, and according to the authors it was the first to discover a link between iron and PMS. They also noted there was "some indication" high zinc intake was associated with a lower risk of PMS, but emphasized that their work did not prove a diet rich in either mineral would help prevent premenstrual syndrome.