Herbal and Dietary Treatment for Period Pain

Prepared by Dr Margaret Taylor, General Practitioner, specialist in nutritional and herbal medicine.

A body that is nourished by a healthy diet is better able to heal itself and cope with the medications or surgery that you may need to treat your endometriosis.

While a natural therapist can provide you with a more complete assessment of your individual needs, you may find the following herbs and vitamins useful.

Vitex Agnus Castus (Chasteberry).

Vitex is a herb that helps period pain by increasing the effect of progesterone from the ovary. It is probably not effective if used with the oral contraceptive pill. The recommended dose is 1000mg, taken every day in the morning. Women with premenstrual syndrome may also find vitex useful. Vitex should not be taken in pregnancy.

Vitamin E tablets

Vitamin E tablets are particularly useful for teenagers with pain on the first one or two days of their period. It has also been shown to make periods lighter in some women.

The correct dose is 400-500 iu of natural Vitamin E taken daily from 2 days before a period is expected and for the first 3 days of a period.

Zinc tablets

Zinc deficiency is common in Australian women. Apart from period pain, zinc deficiency may also cause:

  • White spots on your nails
  • Poor wound healing or wound infection
  • A poor appetite
  • Poor resistance to infections like colds and flu
  • Acne

Zinc is found naturally in oysters, meat, fish, nuts, dried peas and beans. The recommended dose for period pain is around 40mg of zinc daily for the first month, then a lower dose of 20mg of zinc daily if it is used long term.

Do not take higher doses of Zinc, because these can:

  • Prevent your body absorbing copper, manganese and molybdenum in food
  • Cause nausea, stomach irritation and fatigue

Zinc in tablets is labelled in different ways, so you could start treatment with either:

  • 220mg of ‘zinc chelate’ twice a day,
    Or,
  • 20mg of zinc (as chelate) twice a day

Magnesium tablets

If vitex agnus castus, vitamin E or a zinc supplement have not been enough to prevent your period pain, you can take magnesium tablets every 2 hours during the first one or two days of your period.

The correct dose is between 100 and 200mg taken every 2 hours, but for no longer than 2 days. Magnesium is sold in health food shops as magnesium chelate. 500mg of magnesium chelate contains 100mg of magnesium.

Magnesium is found naturally in green vegetables, whole grain foods (wholemeal bread and pasta), nuts and seeds.
Apart from period pain, low magnesium can cause:

  • Restless legs
  • Anxiety
  • Poor sleep
  • Leg cramps
  • Twitches in small muscles
  • Palpitations

Possible side effects of magnesium tablets include diarrhoea or bowel cramps
Vitex, vitamin E, zinc and magnesium tablets are all available from the Adelaide branch of ECCA

More information


Herbal and dietary therapies for endometriosis, PMS and Period pain are explained in more detail by Dr Margaret Taylor in our book ‘Endometriosis and other pelvic pain’. Dr Taylor is a general practitioner who has worked for 20 years combining herbal and dietary therapies with conventional medicine.

Endometriosis and Other Pelvic Pain is published by Lothian Books and sells for $29.95. The special number that makes it easy for your bookshop to order is ISBN 0 7344 0825 0

You can order the book by fax or mail from www.drsusanevans.com

Remember that if herbal and dietary treatments do not help your period pain, you may have endometriosis. Talk to your endometriosis specialist.