pMS - About pMS and pMS Escape

About pMS and pMS Escape

About pMS and premenstrual Syndrome

Judith Wurtman, ph.D is a research scientist at MIT (Massachussetts Institute of Technology), and the founder and director of Harvard University's TRIAD Weight Management Centre. She received her ph.D. in cell biology from MIT and took additional training as an NIH postdoctoral Fellow in nutrition and obesity. Dr Wurtman has written 5 books including "The Serotonin Solution" and "Managing Your Mind through Food". Her scientific research has been published in over 40 peer-reviewed journals.

She is married to Richard Wurtman, M.D, a professor in MIT's Department of Brain & Cognitive Sciences. He has written or co-authored 950 articles in peer-reviewed journals, edited or written 17 books, and been the inventor in 49 United States patents.

The Low-Serotonin Theory
There now exists a considerable body of scientific evidence demonstrating that levels of a natural chemical in the brain called serotonin have a major influence on the regulation of mood and appetite. Much of the initial research was conducted at MIT by Judith and Richard Wurtman, described in the Encyclopaedia of Natural Medicine as "pioneers in brain chemistry that have made many valuable contributions that further our understanding of how amino acids affect mood and behaviour".

Tryptophan and Serotonin
Tryptophan is an amino acid which acts as a precursor to Serotonin, an important neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger responsible for transmitting information from one nerve cell to another). A diet low in Tryptophan leads to low brain serotonin levels; as a result the brain senses it is starving so it stimulates the appetite control centres in a powerful way, causing carbohydrate cravings. It is believed that serotonin levels drop during the two weeks prior to menstruation, and that this causes irritability, anger mood swings and junk-food cravings.

Foods that can help mood
Not only are low levels of serotonin responsible for mood disturbances during menstruation, it can also be the underlying cause of more serious depression. prozac is handed out almost routinely for both depression and pMS without any guidance on which foods can help increase serotonin, the 'feel-good factor'. Eating more tryptophan containing foods such as chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, rolled oats, lentils, kidney beans, and chick peas can help overall but for specific times of the month, a more convenient, rapid and sustained result can be provided by pMS Escape.

History of the Syndrome
As early as 1927, Dr Celia Mosher wrote "During the periodical recurrence there is apt to be more or less discomfort and nervous irritability: the woman is not quite herself". Dr Celia Mosher was clearly ahead of her time. It wasn't until 1953 that pMS was formally recognised by Drs Raymond Greene and Katherine Dalton. Dr Dalton co-authored the first medical paper on pMS and shortly thereafter opened the world's first pMS clinic in London. Despite these breakthroughs, pMS was not openly discussed.

In 1963 the term "premenstrual Tension" was admitted into the Medical Subject Heading, a tool used by the National Library of Medicine to index medical terms. The index term was later changed to "pre-menstrual Syndrome" in 1986.

Clinical Trials

What is pre-menstrual Syndrome
pre-menstrual Syndrome (pMS) describes a broad cluster of mood, behavioural and physical symptoms that are distressing to large numbers of women (and their partners). The psychological symptoms share many features of clinical depression and/or anxiety and are often accompanied by appetite changes.
Recently, serotonin reputake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as prozac, have been shown to alleviate the mood and behavioural changes associated with pMS. However, for patients with mild to moderate pMS symptoms who do not want to use drug therapy, non-drug treatments such as pMS Escape, a unique new and patented food supplement, could be a welcome alternative.

It is well known that many women with pMS crave carbohydrates during the premenstrual period. This is because carbohydrate increases plasma levels of tryptophan (an amino acid) that increases brain serotonin levels.

Clinical Trials - detail and abstracts
In a study where the subjects were placed on a high carbohydrate diet for five days preceding menstruation, the control group were given a placebo drink which contained 188 calories of sucrose, vitamins, citric acid and flavourings and the active group were given the pMS Escape drink which contains 180 calories of a proprietary blend of complex and simple carbohydrates.

The study tested for 7 mood symptoms:

  • confused, trouble concentrating;
  • angry, tense, irritable;
  • agitated;
  • mood swings;
  • impaired or withdrawn socially or at work;
  • feeling depressed, sad, down or blue;
  • feeling out of control or overwhelmed;

The study tested the 5 days prior to menstruation. More subjects on pMS Escape reported significant improvement in mood (29% vs 5%) but the most statistically significant improvement was on the anger/tension/anxiety factor. In the day preceding menstruation, results were 73% for pMS Escape versus 38% placebo.

In a second, double-blind, crossover study on 24 women with confirmed pMS conducted over three menstrual periods and designed to test the efficacy of pMS Escape versus two other isocaloric products, again, the most robust improvements were in reducing both anger and depression. Results also showed that pMS Escape had a significant treatment effect on suppressing cravings for sweet and starchy carbohydrates 90 minutes after consumption and was found to be significantly more effective than the other two drinks.


  1. pre-menstrual syndrome: treatment with a carbohydrate-rich beverage. Obstetrics & Gynaecology, University of pennsylvania, paul Spiers, ph.D
  2. The Effect of a Carbohydrate-Rich Beverage on Mood, Appetite and Cognitive Function in Women with premenstrual syndrome, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 86:520, 1995. Raya Sayegh, MD, Isaac Schiff, MD, Judith Wurtman, MD, paul Spiers, phD, Janine McDermott, BA and Richard Wurtman, MD.

Clinical Trials - Abstracts
Sayegh, Schiff, Wurtman, et al
The Effect of a Carbohydrate-Rich Beverage on Mood, Appetite, and Cognitive Function in Women with premenstrual Syndrome
Obstetrics & Gynecology 86:520, 1995

Twenty-four women with confirmed pMS took pMS ESCApE or placebos for 3 menstrual cycles after a 1-month placebo run-in period, in a double-blind placebo-controlled study. patients were tested for mood, cognition, and food cravings, using an interactive computer-telephone system, during the Luteal phase of the menstrual cycle. pMS ESCApE, but not the placebos, significantly decreased self-reported depression, anger, confusion, & carbohydrate craving, and improved memory word recognition.

Wurtman, Brzezinski, Wurtman, et al
Effect of Nutrient Intake on premenstrual Depression
Am. Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology 161:1228, 1989

Assessed mood and food intakes in 18 women with pMS and nine control subjects, using the Hamilton Depression Scale and direct measurements of calorie & nutrient consumption. Intakes of calories and of carbohydrates & fats, and Hamilton test scores, all increased significantly in pMS patients, but not normal controls, during the luteal phase. Consumption of a carbohydrate-rich, protein-poor test food during the late luteal phase improved depression, tension, anger, confusion, sadness, fatigue, alertness, and calmness scores (p less than 0.01) in pMS patients, but had no effects on normal controls.

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