PMS the Miracle Cure?; Kiss Goodbye to Monthly Mood Swings and Crying Fits. A New Drink from the US Alters Brain Chemistry in Just 30 Minutes Transforming You into a Sweet-Tempered Angel

Article excerpt

Byline: HELEN CARROLL

IT sounds too good to be true. A simple drink which will end the monthly mood swings and misery that accompany severe premenstrual syndrome.

The new treatment, said to get rid of symptoms in just half an hour, has gone on sale in Britain. And the claims are not mere hype.

Clinical trials have proved that the drink banishes tears and anger leaving you calm and happy.

The science world is so impressed with the trial results that they have been published in two US medical journals. It was shown that three quarters of PMS sufferers taking PMS Escape were much less angry and tense before their period. Made from the humble potato mixed with fruit, the drink increases levels of an amino acid called tryptophan. This makes the brain produce more of the feel-good compound serotonin.

It is known that low levels of serotonin cause the unpleasant symptoms, so if you can raise serotonin levels back up, your PMS disappears.

It is the complex carbohydrate in the potato drink which boosts tryptophan, the fruit juice is just for taste. So you may ask why you couldn't just eat a potato, brown bread or brown rice.

Well this is exactly what the National Association for Premenstrual Syndrome advises.

"We tell sufferers to have a carbohydrate snack, such as a crispbread, every four hours," says Christine Barker from the association. "Personally I can't see any point buying a potato-based drink when you could just have a potato."

But the scientists who developed PMS Escape dispute this. First, being in drink form, the potato carbohydrate goes straight into the blood stream. It would take around two hours for solid carbohydrate (such as a baked potato) to be digested.

Second, you couldn't eat your potato with cheese or tuna because protein interferes with tryptophan getting into the brain. This also means you'd have to eat your bread and rice dry too. And finally, the amount of carbohydrate in the drink has been precisely measured to give the maximum tryptophan boost.

For eight months the drink's inventor, research scientist Dr Wurtman and her colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, gave the women taking part in their trials drinks made with differing doses.

As well as assessing the effect on the women's moods, they took blood tests to show the levels of tryptophan in the brain.

"What we've ended up with is a mixture which gives the greatest improvement," says Dr Wurtman. "We can guarantee that if you're sitting in your office crying simply because it's that time of the month you'll feel better within 30 minutes."

PMS Escape comes in powder sachets that you mix with 9oz of water. Dr Wurtman recommends taking one before breakfast and another in the afternoon on the days you expect PMS. Available in the US since 1995, it has just been licensed for sale in Britain.

AND with up to 50 per cent of the female population affected for as long as two weeks every month, it will be a welcome addition to many bathroom cabinets. It should, says Dr Wurtman, help all but one per cent of extreme sufferers. Dr Wurtman and her team discovered that carbohydrate can not only help ease bad moods but also PMS cravings.

"Our studies showed that if women added a certain amount of carbohydrate to their diets their brains made more serotonin and their symptoms eased. …