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Big Pharma Tests New Drug for PMDD

Symptoms of premenstrual syndrome vary widely, from acne and trouble sleeping to upset stomach, headache and irritability. Hormone fluctuations that occur during the menstrual cycle are thought to be a primary cause of PMS, although chemical changes in the brain may also play a role. Low levels of certain vitamins and minerals are associated with PMS, while stress and depression may make symptoms worse. PMS may affect women of any age, although it's most common among women between their late 20s and early 40s.


Often confused with PMS, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is similar to PMS, but it causes more severe anxiety, depression and irritability. It’s estimated that PMDD affects 2-10% of women. While there are natural ways to help balance female hormones and stave of symptoms of PMS and PMDD, a drug trail is under way for PMDD-specific treatment.

Asarina Pharma is trialing the drug, called Sepranolone. It works by blocking a steroid believed to cause PMDD — allopregnanolone. Scientists say the brain-steroid molecule is responsible for 80% of PMDD symptoms. The trial is the largest of its kind, including 250 women who suffer from PMDD. Researchers say the drug is still a long way off from being available. If the trial goes well, they estimate that Sepranolone could be available to patients between 2024 and 2025.

Natural treatment options to help combat PMS symptoms include herbs, plants and essential oils. Research has shown that fennel and ginger are as effective as NSAID pain-relieving medications when it comes to addressing PMS symptoms such as menstrual cramps. Essential oils believed to have positive effects on PMS include clary sage, geranium, lavender, pine, rose and vitex agnus-castus. Plant remedies include cramp bark, black cohosh, dong quai, valerian root and chaste tree berry.

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