The cognitive symptoms and severity of PMS or premenstrual syndrome are different for every woman. However, in general, many experience issues with focusing, mood swings, brain fog, low energy, irritability, sleep trouble and anxiety. Nootropics for PMS may help reduce the severity of these cognitive symptoms associated with premenstrual syndrome. Lets take a closer look at the best research-backed nootropics for PMS.
Hormone Fluctuations During The Menstrual Cycle
Mental symptoms of premenstrual syndrome are likely caused by hormone and brain chemical fluctuations during the female menstrual cycle.
For starters, vital hormone and chemical levels tend to rise and drop during the week(s) before menstruation, as pictured below. This may cause imbalances in the female brain, which can lead to various negative symptoms.
Cognitive PMS Symptoms
You see, the menstrual cycle lasts about 28 days. Women begin menstruation around day 28. However, ovulation and therefore symptoms of PMS tend to occur starting around day 14. Symptoms can reside quickly or linger until after the cycle is over depending on your body.
As we mentioned above, the common cognitive symptoms of PMS include problems with:
- staying awake and alert
However, nootropic supplements have shown to counteract these annoying and sometimes debilitating issues.
PMDD is a menstrual disorder characterized by severe irritability, depression, and/or anxiety in the weeks before menstruation. Basically, it's a more severe form of PMS in which mental symptoms are much worse.
Just like with PMS, nootropic supplements may help women dealing with PMDD. However, more research should be done to confirm their efficacy for such severe symptoms.
How Can Nootropics Help Relieve Symptoms of PMS?
Moving forward, we'll explain the research on nootropics for each cognitive symptom of PMS. Ultimately, we're looking to find out whether brain boosters really work for PMS and how they do, if so.
Nootropics for PMS Fight the Following Cognitive Symptoms:
Focus, attention, concentration: no matter what you want to call it, brain boosters have been helping us concentrate better for centuries. But what does the research say about nootropics for focus, specifically for issues with concentration linked to PMS? Well, it looks pretty promising to us.
Nootropics may improve attention and productivity during PMS in several different ways.
For example, some nootropics may help with concentration during PMS by mediating stress hormones in the brain. In other words, nootropics that regulate hormones like cortisol can mediate our reactions to stress and reduce anxiety.<1> This may help women focus and sleep better during premenstrual syndrome.
Specifically, one study showed the nootropic phosphatidylserine lowered cortisol levels during menstruation and ultimately increased productivity. Thus, nootropics may be especially helpful for women who tend to multitask throughout the day.
Mood Imbalance and Anxiety
Mood imbalance and anxiety are some of the most common symptoms of PMS in women. Not to mention, stress and genetic predisposition for anxiety can heighten these sometimes crippling symptoms.
Moreover, mood imbalance from PMS is intimately linked to stress and stress reactions. For example, one study suggests that measuring levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the brain is the best way to gauge mood issues during the menstrual cycle.<2>
So, we can speculate that moderating cortisol and thus, stress reactions may help relieve symptoms of mood imbalance linked to PMS.
Incidentally, there is a ton of evidence supporting the efficacy of nootropics for mood regulation and anxiety relief. Certain nootropics have proven to regulate the mood in a couple of different ways.
For example, some nootropics can help balance the mood by initiating the production of relaxing neurotransmitters. These include serotonin and GABA, which can decline with estrogen during PMS.
So, consuming nootropics that elicit these inhibitory chemicals may counteract the release of hormones like cortisol in response to stressors. Ultimately, this may relieve anxiety and balance the mood during premenstrual syndrome.
Sleep deprivation is another common, pesky symptom of PMS. But it can also exacerbate other symptoms. Here's how it works.
Hormonal and chemical imbalances tend to occur during PMS. These imbalances can cause stress and anxiety, which can negatively affect our sleep cycle.
As a result, treating chemical imbalances that cause stress and anxiety may help women sleep better during PMS.
Specifically, certain brain supplements can counteract stress hormones like cortisol in reaction to stress by increasing inhibitory chemicals like GABA and serotonin. Not to mention, serotonin is a precursor to melatonin, which induces sleep.
On the other hand, some studies show it the other way around.<3> They suggest a drop in melatonin production occurs during PMS, which causes sleep deprivation, which ultimately leads to stress and anxiety during PMS.
Which is it?
So, which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Well, it could be either one depending on your unique brain and body.
But despite which comes first, nootropics for sleep deprivation can balance brain chemicals and hormones linked to both sleep and anxiety. Thus, the right nootropic stack may help reduce anxiety and sleep deprivation simultaneously.
If you really can't get to sleep during PMS, you may need a sleep aid to balance your brain.
Tryptophan, specifically, is a precursor to melatonin, the natural sleep chemical. And research shows a lack of tryptophan during menstruation can significantly intensify PMS symptoms like irritability.
However, tryptophan is not produced in the body, so it must be ingested in the diet. Thus, you may want to try a natural sleep aid containing tart cherry and tryptophan to increase melatonin and initiate sleep.
Oppositely, fatigue is another symptom of PMS.<4> Many women report feeling extra tired in the weeks before their period.
Why? Well, again, it may be due to hormone and chemical fluctuations during PMS. Not to mention, mood imbalance and sleep deprivation can lead to exhaustion and vice versa. However, researchers aren't exactly sure what causes fatigue during premenstrual syndrome.
Regardless, though, certain nootropics can reduce fatigue without caffeine or stimulants. They do so by supplying brain chemicals like dopamine that work to counteract energy loss.
Last but not least, many women also experience memory problems during PMS.<5><6> We can speculate these problems may be caused by a combination of other cognitive declines and brain chemical fluctuations during PMS.
To be more clear, we think memory loss during PMS might be caused by stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation and energy loss, which are all linked to fluctuations in the brain during PMS. However, more research should be done to explain exactly how it works.
The best multivitamins for women are formulated with calcium and iron to combat the loss of these vital nutrients during menstruation.
Taking a clean, high-quality multivitamin (we recommend Performance Lab® Whole-Food Multi for Women) is a good nutritional starting point for soothing cognitive PMS symptoms.
Mind Lab Pro® Nootropics for PMS
After reviewing the research, we can speculate that optimizing cognition with nootropic pills and brain booster compounds may be a smart way for women counteract symptoms of PMS.
Below, we've put together a short list of brain boosters available to buy individually or in brain stacks that appear to be linked to cognitive PMS symptom relief. We've also outlined some of the research behind these ingredients for PMS.
One study on Pyridoxine or Vitamin B6 for PMS in women confirmed it can help relieve symptoms of PMS in women. The study examined sixty-three women ages 18-49. They were given 50 mg of vitamin B6 per day for a term of seven months.
- These women had all experienced moderate to severe symptoms of PMS throughout the previous year.
Each woman kept a daily menstrual diary where they wrote down their symptoms and severity each day. However, about half of the women ended up only carrying out the diary for six months. In the end, the study concluded there was a "significant beneficial effect" on cognitive symptoms of PMS including mood imbalance, irritability and fatigue.
There is no current research on the effects of citicoline for women during PMS specifically. However, this supplement has shown big potential for improving focus in healthy adult women. So, we can speculate it may have positive effects during PMS.
- One study suggests citicoline can "improve attentional performance in middle-aged women and ameliorate attentional deficits associated with central nervous system disorders."<7>
In other words, it can boost focus in women, thereby assisting with a troublesome PMS symptom.
Additionally, general studies on patients including women and men confirm it has promise for mild memory impairment. Thus, we think citicoline may also help enhance memory during PMS.
This may be because it's a rich source of choline, which is a vital nutrient for brain health, memory and focus.<8> However, we need more research on women during PMS, specifically, to determine the true efficacy of citicoline.
L-theanine has been used by Monks for centuries to induce a state of mindful relaxation for meditation. But can it help with cognitive symptoms of PMS? Well, possibly.
To be clear, there are no studies on Theanine for PMS specifically, similar to citicoline. However, L-theanine's powers seem like they might be very beneficial for women experiencing problems with anxiety and focus during PMS.
- For example, one study shows L-theanine can increase Alpha wave activity in the brain, ultimately influencing arousal and alertness.<9>
In other words, it may increase energy and focus by influencing Alpha waves during PMS. However, we need more research to determine if this is true.
Another calming nootropic, Rhodiola rosea may also help relieve cognitive PMS symptoms. While there are no formal studies on it for PMS, we can speculate it helps soothe anxiety and mood issues during the menstrual cycle. Here's why.
Rhodiola rosea can help women without PMS, so we think it may help those with it as well. This natural nootropic has shown to reduce stress and balance the mood by manipulating brain chemicals.
- Specifically, one study shows Rhodiola rosea can reduce anxiety, stress, anger, confusion depression and overall mood.
However, more research should be done to determine the effects of Rhodiola rosea during the menstrual cycle.
Best Single Nootropic for PMS: Phosphatidylserine (PS)
Research confirms phosphatidylserine can reduce PMS symptoms in women. Specifically, one study examined forty women ages 18-45 who were told to take either a phosphatidylserine complex or a placebo on each day of four menstrual cycles.
- The complex included 400 mg of phosphatidylserine and 400 mg of phosphatidic acid.
Results concluded that the group who took the phosphatidylserine complex experienced a consistent reduction in cognitive PMS symptoms including mood imbalance, sleep problems and fatigue.
Specifically, it showed that cortisol levels decreased throughout the study with the consumption of phosphatidylserine. It also increased productivity during PMS. As such, we can classify PS as a safe, effective nootropic for PMS.
Mind Lab Pro® supplies the most effective natural nootropics for PMS in one clean, vegan-friendly stack supplement.
Our all-natural Universal Nootropic™ contains 11 clean and research-backed ingredients combined to implement 100% Brainpower. These nootropics address all aspects of cognitive PMS symptoms, including focus, mood, energy, memory and sleep.
- Nootropic ingredients may help women soothe symptoms of PMS by addressing specific some cognitive symptoms associated with PMS.
Not to mention, Mind Lab Pro®'s nootropic stack comes packed in synthetic-free, vegan-friendly NutriCaps® containing absolutely no caffeine or stimulants. So, you don't have to worry about negative side effects.
**Head over to our ingredients page for more information on each ingredient present in our quality brain booster. And be sure to check out our guide on nootropics for women to learn more about how nootropics can help women enhance cognition and improve productivity in 2018 and beyond.
- Pistollato F et al. Associations between Sleep, Cortisol Regulation, and Diet: Possible Implications for the Risk of Alzheimer Disease1,2. Adv Nutr. 2016 Jul; 7(4): 679–689.
- Huang Y et al. Premenstrual syndrome is associated with blunted cortisol reactivity to the TSST. Stress. 2015;18(2):160-8.
- Shazia, J et al. Sleep and Premenstrual Syndrome. J Sleep Med Disord. 2016; 3(5): 1061.
- Reid RL. Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (Formerly Premenstrual Syndrome). Endotext. 2017.
- Souza EG et al. Neuropsychological performance and menstrual cycle: a literature review. Trends Psychiatry Psychother. 2012;34(1):5-12.
- Slyepchenko A et al. Subtle persistent working memory and selective attention deficits in women with premenstrual syndrome. Psychiatry Res. 2017 Mar;249:354-362.
- Erin McGlade et al. Improved Attentional Performance Following Citicoline Administration in Healthy Adult Women. Food and Nutrition Sciences. 2012;3(6).
- Choline. National Institutes of Health.
- Nobre AC et al. L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2008;17 Suppl 1:167-8.