Evaluation of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: "a pilot trial"

Complement Ther Med. 2013 Jun;21(3):141-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2012.12.008. Epub 2013 Jan 16.


Introduction: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a cyclic appearance of somatic and psychiatric symptoms that affect some women. Finding an effective and safe method for the treatment of PMS has always been a serious concern, because approximately 40% of women report PMS, and in 2-10% of cases it is severe enough to affect their life style and job.

Objective: The purpose of the present study is to evaluate the effect of omega-3 fatty acids on the treatment of PMS.

Method: A randomized double blind controlled trial was performed on 184 eligible women. The eligible women were randomly assigned into two groups. The number of women who have finalized the study with us was 124. In the case group (omega-3 group = group A, n = 70), omega-3 in an amount of 2 g was prescribed for a one per day basis on a single dosage (two 1 g pearls), and in the control group (placebo group = group B, n = 69) 2 placebo soft gel, which were completely similar to omega-3 soft gels, were prescribed. The severity and duration of each of the symptoms were compared in both groups 1.5 and 3 months after the beginning of treatment.

Results: There were no significant differences between the two groups according to age, BMI, level of education, and the severity and duration of primary symptoms. After 45 days from starting omega-3, the mean severity of depression (P = 0.03), anxiety (P = 0.02), lack of concentration (P = 0.03) and bloating (P = 0.02) in the case group, were all significantly lower than in the control group. The duration of depression (P = 0.04) and bloating (P = 0.031) in the case group were less than in the control group. After 90 days from starting the treatment, the mean severity of depression (P = 0.007), anxiety (P = 0.004), lack of concentration (P = 0.009), bloating (P = 0.004), nervousness (P = 0.01) and the duration of depression (P = 0.01), nervousness (P = 0.02), anxiety (P = 0.03), lack of concentration (P = 0.02), bloating (P = 0.004), headache (P = 0.04) and breast tenderness (P = 0.02) were all lower in the case group.

Conclusion: It appears that omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the psychiatric symptoms of PMS including depression, nervousness, anxiety, and lack of concentration and may also reduce the somatic symptoms of PMS including bloating, headache and breast tenderness. These effects increased by longer duration of treatment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anxiety / drug therapy
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Attention / drug effects
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / etiology
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fats / therapeutic use*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Headache / drug therapy
  • Headache / etiology
  • Humans
  • Mastodynia / drug therapy
  • Mastodynia / etiology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / psychology
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3