Vitamin E Treats Painful Periods
May 5, 2005—Short-term supplementation with vitamin E can help relieve painful menses, according to a double-blind study published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.1
One hundred high school girls who reported having pain when menstruating (dysmenorrhea) were recruited by the researchers. Each girl was randomly assigned to receive either 500 IU of vitamin E per day or a placebo for five days, beginning two days before the start of menstruation. The same five-day treatment schedule was administered again during the next menstrual cycle.
Each girl was then asked to rate how painful her period was two months after taking the vitamin E. Girls who took the vitamin E experienced a significantly greater reduction in menstrual pain, compared with those given the placebo. The researchers did not report on the effect of vitamin E during the first month of treatment.
Dysmenorrhea is a very common condition, with symptoms occurring in up to 72% of menstruating women.2 Conventional treatments for painful menses include anti-inflammatory medication and hormonal agents. Dysmenorrhea can sometimes be caused by other conditions, including endometriosis. Women with painful menstrual periods should consult a medical professional before beginning any self-treatment.
Experts in nutritional medicine may question the long-term effect of such a brief intervention with vitamin E. Usually, treatments involving vitamin E require prolonged and consistent supplementation. In fact, an older study found that vitamin E treatment for dysmenorrhea becomes more effective with each successive month of use.3 The authors did not specifically address why they chose such a brief period of supplementation. Nevertheless, this new study will be welcome news to millions of women who suffer from dysmenorrhea.
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1. Ziaei S, Faghihzadeh F, Sohrabvand M, et al. A randomized placebo-controlled trial to determine the effect of vitamin E in treatment of primary dysmenorrhoea. BJOG 2001;108:1181–3.
2. Andersch B, Milsom I. An epidemiologic study of young women with dysmenorrhea. Am J Obstet Gynecol 1982;144:655–60.
3. Butler EB, McKnight E. Vitamin E in the treatment of dysmenorrhea. Lancet 1955;i:844–7.
Matt Brignall, ND, is in practice at the Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center and at the Evergreen Integrative Medicine Clinic in Kirkland, WA. He specializes in integrative treatment of cancer. He is a contributor to Healthnotes and Healthnotes Newswire.
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