Research & Your Health is a series of articles written in accessible, everyday language, focused on the latest scientific research of natural health products.
On May 1, 2015
Background: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is common among millions of women around the world and symptoms can be both psychological and physical. The cause is thought to be the reaction between the neuroendocrine system, mineral and vitamin deficiency, increased aldosterone, reduced serotonin levels, genetic background and other factors. Herbal medicines are commonly used to treat the symptoms of PMS. The positive effects of some of the components found in wheat germ, namely vitamin B6, vitamin E, magnesium, calcium and essential fatty acids have been found to alleviate some of the symptoms of PMS. It is thought that wheat germ extract could be implemented as a treatment for PMS symptoms.
Objective: The purpose of the study was to investigate the effectiveness of the use of wheat germ extract to alleviate PMS symptoms.
Methods: This was a triple blinded study in which the control group received a placebo. The 100 participants were all hospital workers who had been diagnosed with PMS. Symptoms were recorded daily by the participants for two months prior to the study to confirm this. Once participants passed the screening, they were assigned to either a placebo or experimental group. Any possible confounding factors were controlled for by matching the groups by age and other demographic variables. All participants took 400 mg capsules three times per day from day 16 of their current menstrual cycle until day five of the next menstrual cycle. They took these supplements for two months.
Results: Eighty-four of the initial 100 participants completed the study as required. Wheat germ extract significantly reduced physical symptoms by 64 per cent, psychological symptoms by 66 per cent and general symptoms by 65 per cent. The placebo reduced physical symptoms by 14 per cent, psychological symptoms by 27 per cent and general symptoms by 21 per cent. Severity of psychological and general symptoms decreased significantly in both the placebo and wheat germ extract group, but the decrease was greater in the wheat germ extract group. Physical symptoms decreased significantly only in the wheat germ extract group.
Conclusion: Wheat germ extract aids in reducing physiological, psychological and general symptoms of PMS without negative side effects or complications.
Findings in Perspective: Wheat germ has a number of nutritional and therapeutic benefits which may be helpful in the treatment of the symptoms related to PMS. Although the study did use a placebo, it could have benefited from including a group which supplemented with vitamins and minerals to see how that compared to the wheat germ extract. The placebo group did not see as significant of a reduction in physical, general and psychological symptoms as the wheat germ extract group, therefore, this data would suggest that wheat germ extract aids in relieving some symptoms of PMS. Wheat germ can be added to foods like cereals, soups, breads, and smoothies. Click here to read the complete scientific abstract.
Maryam Ataollahi, Sedigheh Amir Ali Akbari, Faraz Mojab and Hamid Alavi Majd. Iranian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research (2015), 14 (1): 159-166.