Research estimates that about 70 percent of all women in their reproductive years experience some form of physical discomfort like abdominal bloating, breast tenderness, fluid retention and weight gain every month, before their period. For many this discomfort is also accompanied by emotional symptoms like irritability, depression, tearfulness, anxiety, fatigue and food cravings.
This combination of physical and psychological symptoms that occurs a week or two before menstruation, is called Pre-Menstrual Syndrome (PMS).PMS is highly individual—some women sail through this difficult part of the month with hardly any symptoms, but for some the discomfort is so severe that it adversely affects their quality of life.
A 1991 study by the Journal of Psychosomatic Research revealed that more than 60% of chronic sufferers had experienced symptoms for five years or more.
To make PMS and its symptoms easy to understand, Dr Guy Abraham, M.D., former clinical professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at University of California-Los Angeles, divided PMS symptoms into the four distinct categories:
• PMS-A (anxiety) mood swings, irritability, crying jags
• PMS-H (hyper hydration) bloating, weight gain, water retention, breast tenderness, constipation
• PMS-C (cravings) symptoms of hypo-glycaemia (low blood sugar), fatigue, sweet cravings, ‘binging-out’, palpitations, headaches and migraines.
• PMS-D (depression) crying bouts, insomnia, confusion, depression.
Most women do not fit exclusively into one category, but experience an overlap of imbalances.
Many women rely on strong pain killers in the days preceding their period. A recent study has also found that Prozac, an anti-depressant, can remove the psychological symptoms of PMS.  Women in Europe have been taking the natural route to relief by using Chasteberry. One of the other ways to relieve symptoms of PMS is to add magnesium to your diet. In the article ‘Foods That Fight PMS’, the site places magnesium right at the top. And it is no surprise! Various studies have linked low levels of magnesium with women who experience menstrual problems. Intracellular magnesium levels vary with the menstrual cycle, and women with premenstrual syndrome have low levels of this mineral.
Fabio Facchinetti et al from the Universities of Modena and Pavia, Italy studied the role of oral magnesium supplementation in the treatment of PMS. In a two-month trial, 32 women with PMS received 360 mg/day of magnesium or placebo from the 15th day of each menstrual cycle to the beginning of the next menstrual period. Women who were given magnesium supplements showed a significant reduction in a number of common menstrual complaints. 
In his research Dr Guy E. Abraham found that 26 PMS patients’ ages 24 to 44 had decidedly low levels of magnesium in their red blood cells. He noted that the stress of PMS rapidly depletes body stores of magnesium, aggravating the condition. 
Since magnesium is involved in the activity of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, as well as in vascular contraction, neuromuscular function and cell membrane stability, there are many possible ways it might influence PMS. Three randomised, double-blind trials evaluated the effect of magnesium supplementation on various premenstrual symptoms. The studies have been small, but results have been promising.
In 1998, a study by Walker AF et al conducted at Hugh Sinclair Unit of Human Nutrition, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Reading, U.K used 200 mg of magnesium or placebo for two menstrual cycles. Published in The Journal of Women’s Health, this study found that 200 mg a day of magnesium reduced PMS fluid retention, breast tenderness and bloating by 40%. Magnesium was found to significantly reduce weight gain, swelling of the hands and legs. 
Magnesium is an important mineral that helps form bones, relax muscle spasms, activate cellular enzymes, and regulate nerve and muscle function. There are many ways in which magnesium helps provide relief to symptoms associated with PMS.
Magnesium is a good muscle relaxant. This makes it especially important for women who suffer from menstrual cramps (dysmenorrhoea). Cramps are caused by strong contractions of the uterus and magnesium helps to relax the uterine muscles.
• Magnesium deficiency can cause blood vessels to go into spasms, so if you suffer from menstrual migraines, magnesium can be useful in preventing these spasms. Magnesium’s muscle-relaxing powers also help relieve the menstrual headaches.
• Menstrual fatigue is another complaint of women that magnesium can help relieve.
• Magnesium is ‘nature’s tranquilliser’ and can easily treat pre-menstrual symptoms which relate to anxiety, tension, irritability, depression, confusion, etc.
• Magnesium is a diuretic and therefore helps ease the pressure caused by fluid retention. Magnesium also reduces constipation, water retention and bloating, breast tenderness.
• Symptoms such as headache, dizziness, and cravings for sweets are also reduced or eliminated when magnesium intake is increased.
If you suffer from PMS, taking about 300-400 mg of magnesium daily, starting two weeks before a period, may improve symptoms.  Look for a magnesium citrate supplement like Mag365, which is easier to absorb than magnesium oxide. Some doctors even recommend combining your magnesium intake with Vitamin B6 to increase magnesium absorption.
Another effective alternative is Magnesium Rub or Magnesium Gel. Magnesium Rub is a sea water concentrate, with the sodium removed. When applied to your skin, it absorbs much the same way magnesium sulphate or Epsom salt does (transdermal). Apply a little of the Magnesium Rub or Magnesium Gel on your hand and rub directly to the painful areas for maximum benefit.
The information in this article is meant for information purposes only and is not prescriptive. We recommended that you consult with your doctor before you introduce magnesium in your diet, especially if you have a severe kidney or heart disease or are taking hypoglycemic drugs. If you do take a magnesium supplement, then be aware that it can inhibit the absorption of iron, so avoid taking within two hours of an iron supplement.