Uterine cramping during “that time” of your menstrual cycle is uncomfortable at best and debilitating at worst. (Get your heating pad ready.)
Period pain, bloating, back pain, mood swings, extra hunger, and food cravings are all PMS symptoms.
All of this happens thanks to changes in hormone levels and prostaglandins (lipid compounds with hormone-like effects), which signal your uterus’ muscles to begin contracting to expel the lining.
According to the Mayo Clinic, higher levels of prostaglandins are associated with more severe menstrual cramps. (1)
Other conditions that cause uterine cramps are endometriosis, uterine fibroids, clots, and inflammatory pelvic conditions.
Before you reach for the Motrin, though, you may want to try some home remedies for natural pain management.
Believe it or not, certain essential oils can act as Mother Nature’s Motrin without synthetic chemicals. (Worth a try, right?)
Essential Oils As Natural Remedies
Think of essential oils as highly concentrated plant extracts containing active chemicals that can naturally ease PMS symptoms.
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment involving essential oils to help manage a wide range of conditions from headaches, sinus infections, nausea, soothing arthritis symptoms, and skin conditions like psoriasis eczema.
Essential oils (EOs) can act as effective pain-relievers and antispasmodics (reduce spasms like uterine contractions).
Many also have strong anti-inflammatory properties.
The Best Essential Oils For Menstrual Pain & Discomfort
Clary sage essential oil is a great all-around option for women’s health because it supports hormonal balance and can regulate the female reproductive system.
Clary sage is a phytoestrogen essential oil, which means it can mimic estrogen function.
This is helpful for female libido issues, PMS, and menopause.
It’s a strong antispasmodic, so it can reduce uterine contractions and soothe menstrual pain and cramps.
Clary sage also has calming effects and can help to reduce tension and stress while improving sleep quality.
Peppermint essential oil is energizing, highly pain-relieving, and can even act as a local anesthetic.
It’s also anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic.
This makes it the perfect remedy for hormone fluctuation-related fatigue, tummy issues, headaches, and period cramps.
Lavender essential oil is such a versatile, useful oil!
It’s a muscle relaxer, pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, calmative, sedative, mood booster, sleep aid, and can also gently reduce fluid retention, which is always a plus when the bloat strikes.
Clove oil can provide significant pain relief and act as a local anesthetic.
It may also reduce bleeding, although everyone is different and may not experience the same benefits.
Other essential oils that might be helpful for PMS and cramps are:
- Ylang ylang
- Roman Chamomile
- Tea tree
Essential Oil Blends & Clinical Studies
There’s limited research on the effects of essential oils and menstrual symptom relief.
But here’s what we do know:
- A 2012 clinical trial studying the effects of abdominal massage using an essential oil blend on patients with primary dysmenorrhea and menstrual cramp pain found a blend of sage, marjoram, and lavender essential oils provided relief and reduced the duration of menstrual pain. (2)
- A 2013 randomized study found that abdominal massage using a blend of clove, rose, lavender and cinnamon oil diluted with sweet almond oil resulted in significantly lower levels of menstrual pain and bleeding. The duration of pain and bleeding was also noted. The study concluded that: “Aromatherapy can be provided as a nonpharmacological pain relief measure and as a part of nursing care given to girls suffering from dysmenorrhea, or excessive menstrual bleeding.” (3)
Essential oils are very potent – a little goes a long way.
You only need a few drops to reap the full healing benefits.
When used mindfully and safely, essential oils usually offer little to no harmful side effects.
Some people might experience skin irritation, so it’s crucial always to dilute essential oils with a carrier oil.
Perform a patch test on a small area and wait 24-48 hours before proceeding to larger areas.
Discontinue use immediately if you experience any adverse reaction or irritation.
Always choose certified organic, therapeutic-grade essential oils whenever possible.
This will ensure you experience the maximum healing potency of each oil.
It’ll also reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals and solvents.
If you experience increasingly painful menstrual cramps that impact your quality of life and ability to function, please consult with your doctor to explore your treatment options. (Heads up, it may include birth control.)
Essential oils aren’t a cure-all.
They function better when they’re a part of a holistic and well-rounded treatment plan.
How To Use Essential Oils For Menstrual Cramp Relief
The most direct and effective way to use EOs for menstrual symptoms like cramping is to apply them topically.
Always dilute your essential oils in a carrier oil like coconut oil or sweet almond oil.
Read up on the contraindications for each oil you’ll use as some oils aren’t suitable for babies, young children, pregnant women, or people with high blood pressure or epilepsy.
Discontinue the use of any essential oil that causes you discomfort or an adverse reaction.
Stick to 2-3 drops of EO per 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.
- Rub the mixture on your lower abdomen for a therapeutic massage.
- Add 10-15 drops of EOs to 1 cup of Epsom salts and 3 tablespoons of baking soda for a healing bath soak.
- Or mix 5-10 drops of EOs with a small bowl of hot water and wet a small towel or cloth to make a hot compress to place on your lower belly.
- The least concentrated but still very therapeutic option is to add 10-16 drops of EOs and fill your diffuser with water for an inhalation application.