Menstrual cramps are one of most common menstrual related problems that women face. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDS) are the most common self-treatment that women use, but they don’t always work adequately or at all, and some women have side effects from them. I have written previous blogs on natural solutions for menstrual cramps, including ginger and valerian. This double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial investigated the use of fenugreek seed powder during menses, in women with moderate to severe menstrual cramps.
Iranian women of similar age, body mass index (BMI) and pain level of menstrual cramps were enrolled in this study and given either ground fenugreek seed capsules at 900 mg three times per day or placebo for the first 3 days of menses and for two consecutive menstrual cycles. If the woman felt she needed pain medication, she was instructed to take this 1 hour or more after consumption of the study medicine/placebo.
Patients reported additional medications used for pain, pain severity, and any other menstruation symptoms. A visual analog scale (VAS) was used to assess pain during the first 3 days of menstruation in addition to the time of day the pain was most prominent. A score of 1-2 indicated mild pain, 3-7 was moderate, and 8-10 was severe.
A total of 106 patients were enrolled and 101 completed the study. There were 51 in the fenugreek group and 50 in the placebo group. At study entry, there were no significant differences in age, age of menstruation, menstrual pain, pain severity, or BMI. At the end of the study, the severity of pain significantly decreased in both groups after the second menstrual cycle as compared to baseline (fenugreek group=3.25 vs. 6.4, placebo group=5.96 vs. 6.14). After each cycle, pain severity in the fenugreek group was significantly less as compared to placebo (cycle 1=4.32 vs. 6.03, and cycle 2=3.25 vs. 5.96). The duration of pain was significantly decreased in the fenugreek group and the average use of pain medication in the fenugreek group significantly decreased by the end of the study compared to the placebo group.
Commentary: The results of this study point to a meaningful response of fenugreek seed powder compared to baseline at 900 mg three times daily the first 3 days of menses for women with moderate to severe menstrual cramps. The use of fenugreek was more effective than placebo in reducing severity of pain, duration of pain and a decrease in the use of pain medications. This approach to moderate to severe menstrual cramps is easy and safe to try as an alternative treatment for menstrual cramps.
Younesy S, Amiraliakbari S, Esmaeili S, Alavimajd H, Nouraei S. Effects of fenugreek seed on the severity and systemic symptoms of dysmenorrhea. J Reprod Infertil. January 2014;15(1):41-48.