Is there a link between PMS and Serotonin?

Is there a link between PMS and Serotonin?

Pre-menstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a common disorder among women in their menarche years (13-45 years). There are two phases of the menstrual cycle, firstly, the follicular which is followed by the luteal. PMS begins during the luteal phase, post-ovulation.

It is a very common disorder which affects 70-90% of women in their lifetime. A little known fact is that PMS is an umbrella term for four sub-syndromes. They are:

  • PMS-A, the “A” stands for Anxiety. This is characterized by anxious feelings, mood swings, depression, tension and moderate depression.
  • PMS-C, the “C” stands for Cravings. This is characterized by symptoms such as, binge eating, cravings for sweet foods, increased appetite and lethargy.
  • PMS-D, the “D” stands for Depression. This is characterized by general symptoms of depression, low mood, mood swings, lack of interest, confusion and crying spells.
  • PMS-H, the “H” stands for Hyper hydration. This is characterized by symptoms such as, water retention, breast tenderness, abdominal bloating and weight gain. [1]

One statistic suggested that up to 40% of women with PMS suffer symptoms such as migraines, depression, breast pain and water retention induced swelling [2].

What is the cause?

The direct cause is unknown, for many years it was thought that fluctuations in the hormones oestrogen and progesterone were responsible for Pre-menstrual Syndrome. However, modern thinking is that Pre-menstrual Syndrome may be linked to neurochemistry, particularly Serotonin. It has been found that women that suffer from PMS have lower than average levels of Serotonin. Serotonin is known as the “happy” hormone which is also responsible for sleep cycles and food intake. Hence, why mood, fatigue and appetite are so greatly affected during Pre-menstrual Syndrome [3,4].

Other explanations with far less research include the links between PMS and obesity, high salt diets and low vitamin intake. However, these are experimental and far less official claims [3].

How can PMS be improved?

There is is no conclusive way on how to improve Pre-menstrual Syndrome symptoms, but there are dos and don’ts to improve symptoms.


To best optimise nutrition you should concentrate on balancing hormones through diet. You are advised to eat rich wholegrains, soy, legumes (Lentils, Chickpeas), plant and omega rich oils, fruit and vegetables. The foods to avoid are those that will generate a large peak in glucose, these include refined carbohydrates (processed foods, desserts), hydrogenated and saturated fats, low fibre, caffeine, and high salt food [1].

Exercise and Stress

It is important to get regular exercise, taking in more than two hours of moderate exercise or 1 hour of vigorous exercise, as a minimum. Stress can also aggravate symptoms, concentrate on relaxation and finding time to pamper yourself. A good suggestion is to take up yoga because it functions both as stress relief and exercise [3].


There has been a mass of evidence to support the use of supplements for PMS sufferers, these include:

If we trace back to what the believed root cause of PMS is, Serotonin levels, we believe that the best way to reduce these symptoms is to actively boost Serotonin. The best supplement for this is 5-HTP. 5-HTP is the precursor molecule of Serotonin. The body usually makes Serotonin from essential amino acid Tryptophan, which is converted to 5-HTP using cofactors such as Magnesium and Vitamin B6. 5-HTP is then converted to Serotonin using cofactors Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin B6 [5,6]. Studies have shown that women’s bodies with PMS have a problem processing of Tryptophan which means they are unable to produce enough 5-HTP nor are they able to to make large quantities of Serotonin. It’s simple ‘Low Serotonin=PMS symptoms”. Thus, naturally supplementing it with Griffonia Simplicifolia derived 5-HTP can lead to improved symptoms [6].

The best dosage of 5-HTP for PMS sufferers is 50-200mg per day, however studies have shown effective use up to 1800mg to also be effective and non-harmful [4].

PMS is a debilitating syndrome that is invisible to the outside world but can be a monthly struggle for most women. 5-HTP is a natural supplement that can easily undo the symptoms of PMS. Try it today!

  1. Moore. J. (2013). Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). Available:
  2. Escott-Stump.S. (2015). 1: Normal Life Stages. In: Joyce, J and Malakoff-Klein, E Nutrition and Diagnosis-Related Care. 8th ed. Philadelphia: Walters-Kluwer. Pg . 48.
  3. WHC. (2012). Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Available:
  4. Murray.M. (2016). Seven Secrets for PMS Relief. Available:
  5. Alban, D. (2016). 5-HTP Benefits for Anxiety, Depression, Sleep.Available:
  6. Progressive Health. (2016). L-Tryptophan it boosts Serotonin and may help PMS. Available:
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