Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s). We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to over-the-counter (OTC) medication.
Midol is a popular OTC medication that claims to relieve period symptoms such as cramps, bloating and fatigue. It’s manufactured and sold by Bayer, which is one of the largest international pharmaceutical companies.
Many consumers turn to Midol when they’re experiencing uncomfortable period symptoms, but are its ingredients actually proven to work based on medical research? Are there any questionable additives in the product? And where is the cheapest place to buy Midol online?
In this article we'll answer all of these questions and more as we review both the active and inactive ingredients in Midol based on medical studies to give our take on whether the product is likely to be effective and if it contains any questionable additives.
We'll also share a price breakdown detailing the cheapest way to buy Midol online.
Midol Complete Active Ingredient Analysis
The most popular Midol product is Midol Complete, which claims to provide six hours of symptom relief. Midol Complete contains three active ingredients: acetaminophen, caffeine and pyrilamine maleate.
Acetaminophen is a pain reliever that’s included in many OTC drugs. As we documented in our recent DayQuil ingredients article, acetaminophen is proven in many clinical trials to reduce pain significantly, and it's effectively dosed in this product at 500 milligrams (mg).
Caffeine is the second active ingredient, at a dosage of 60 mg. This is around two-thirds of the caffeine content in a cup of coffee.
We're assuming that this is the ingredient included to reduce fatigue. Caffeine is one of the most well-studied energy supplements in the world, and clinical research has shown that this compound can improve subjective energy levels at a dose similar to that in Midol.
Pyrilamine maleate is an antihistamine. This ingredient appears to be particularly effective for treating premenstrual syndrome (PMS)-related pain as documented by a clinical trial published in the Medwave journal.
Antihistamines may also reduce other symptoms of PMS such as headache and fatigue.
Overall we consider this to be a well-formulated drug that’s likely to reduce the severity of period symptoms and provide pain relief. We're unsure which ingredient is supposed to be effective for bloating and can't locate much medical evidence to back that claim, but there does appear to be substantial research backing the other health claims.
Midol Complete Inactive Ingredient Analysis
Midol Complete contains two inactive ingredients that we consider questionable from a health perspective.
FD&C Blue #2 is an artificial food dye, which is a class of compounds with questionable health effects and no nutritive or functional benefits.
A medical review on the toxicology of food dyes, published in the International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, concluded the following: “The inadequacy of much of the testing and the evidence for carcinogenicity, genotoxicity, and hypersensitivity…indicates that all of the currently used dyes should be removed from the food supply and replaced, if at all, by safer colorings.”
Titanium dioxide another food coloring agent which is banned in the European Union (E.U.) for use as a food additive due to toxicity concerns.
Where to Buy Midol for the Best Price
Midol is sold at many online retailers at a variety of different serving sizes. To simplify the price comparison, we'll be comparing price-per-pill for Midol Complete:
CVS: $0.29 (link)
Walgreens: $0.27 (link)
Target: $0.20 (link)
Walmart: $0.18 (link)
Amazon: $0.17 (link to official Amazon listing)
Can Natural Supplements Relieve PMS?
There are several natural supplements shown in clinical studies to provide relief from PMS symptoms.
Ginkgo biloba was tested in a clinical trial published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine over the course of one menstrual cycle. 24% of the participants taking ginkgo supplements experienced a decrease in physical and psychologic PMS symptoms compared to only 9% of those taking placebo pills.
A 2011 medical review on herbal treatments for PMS analyzed data from 17 clinical trials spanning a vast number of botanical compounds, and ginkgo biloba was one of the few herbs shown to be effective.
Illuminate Labs sells a Ginkgo Biloba Extract Supplement which is third-party tested to ensure label accuracy, potency and purity, and which contains no questionable additive ingredients. The subscription price for our ginkgo supplement is only $15.
The combination of magnesium and vitamin B6 may also be effective for relieving PMS.
A clinical trial found that this combination decreased PMS scores by over 55%.
Our top pick for a magnesium supplement is Vegan Chelated Magnesium from Future Kind because it's effectively dosed and free of questionable additive ingredients. Our top pick for a vitamin B6 supplement is Nutricost Vitamin B6 because it's effectively dosed, free of additive ingredients and extremely affordable.
We're not suggesting that these supplements should be used to treat any medical condition or that they are more effective than Midol; rather, just sharing research that may be valuable for consumers who prefer natural options.
Can Men Take Midol?
Because Midol treats a number of discomforting symptoms like bloating and headache that either sex can experience, male consumers are often curious if they can take this OTC drug to relieve those same symptoms.
According to Midol’s FAQ page, it’s safe for men to take Midol if they’re experiencing similar symptoms to women with PMS. The brand notes that the formulation was created specifically for women.
While we don’t believe that Midol is likely to be harmful to men, we wouldn’t recommend that men take this drug because there are other products used to treat headache and bloating that aren’t formulated specifically for painful periods, and which free of artificial dye and titanium dioxide.