When it comes to healing my body, I have one rule: try natural remedies first. A slew of essential oils “are analgesic, antispasmodic, circulatory [stimulating] and sedative in nature, which helps to alter pain perception and pathways. For centuries, people have used essential oils to treat a variety of conditions ranging from headaches to heartburn. Today, these potent plant oils are gaining popularity once again as more and more people are turning to non-traditional treatments.
Women today have a lot of different things that they need to focus on when promoting their health and wellness. And while a healthy diet and regular exercise will lay the foundation for a happier, healthier you, the reality is that once a month, a big challenge will approach – dealing with the symptoms of the menstrual cycle.
To effectively tame cramp-related pain, it’s important to realize why you get cramps during your period in the first place to see if essential oils can be a go-to home remedy. When you’re not pregnant, your uterine lining sheds. If the uterus contracts too strongly, it can press against nearby blood vessels and cut off the supply of oxygen to the muscle tissues in the uterus. When the oxygen supply is cut off, pain results.
Most women experience cramps in the lower abdomen, although the pain can also radiate to the lower back, groin, or upper thighs. Menstrual cramps tend to be the worst at the beginning of a period and become less uncomfortable as the days go on. Combating the pain often involves things like over the counter pain relievers. But those pain relievers can have significant side effects and be expensive. Focusing on natural treatment is much better and can really help.
For heavy flow days, the best essential oils for heavy periods are lavender and clove. Especially clove, research shows that clove in a massage oil blend decreased pain and menstrual bleeding. Studies show that by applying these calming and sedative oils help to lessen the stress and anxiety experienced during PMS.
For anger and irritability, she says studies show that lavender, clary sage, and geranium provide relief.
For anxiety or fluid retention: lavender and geranium. For sadness: rose, geranium, or clary sage.
To treat multiple symptoms at once, consider making a custom essential oil blend.
Each of the essential oils below should be applied with a carrier oil onto the lower abdomen for quick relief of pain and cramping.
1. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender essential oil is one of the best all-around oils out there. It can help to improve blood flow and thus reduce cramps, but it’s the calming, relaxing mental effects that the oil has that makes it so instrumental for combating PMS. Lavender oil used as an inhalation has been shown to effectively reduce cramps and menstrual bleeding when compared to a placebo. Lavender is thought to effect the prostaglandins that mediate pain and uterine contractions. Lavender oil’s ability to lessen contractions makes it one of the best essential oils for menstrual cramps.
2. Rose Essential Oil
Rose essential oil helps to stimulate proper hormone levels and can help regulate menstrual cycles. This can help reduce cramping pain, and the calming nature of the oil helps to improve PMS symptoms. It can help with so many things—from acting as a natural laxative (the hormone progesterone is the main culprit here) to containing emmenagogues (a substance that triggers menstruation, which is great if your periods are irregular). Rose essential oil can also help treat cramps, fatigue, and nausea, making it a menstruation must-have.
3. Clary Sage Essential Oil
Not only is clary sage one of the best essential oils for menstrual cramps, it might also help with PMS. Some reviewers report pain relief in as little as 10 to 20 minutes. This is one of the most popular essential oils for menstrual cramps because it’s easily found and widely believed to be an antispasmodic agent, meaning it reduces uterus spasms during cramps.
4. Clove Essential Oil
Not only does this essential oil smell like Christmas, it’s super effective at alleviating menstrual pain. Clove oil gives fast relief from menstrual cramps and shortens the duration of menstruation. It can even help stop excessive bleeding, known as menorrhagia. Clove is an anti-inflammatory spice as it contains eugenol, which is quite beneficial to ease the symptoms of the period. It also helps to lower high blood pressure. Pretty amazing, huh?
5. Ylang-ylang essential oil
If you’re stressed AF during your period, this one’s for you. This essential oil is widely regarded as an excellent antidepressant. This can help calm the mood swings of PMS, and the oil even has sedative properties that can calm down the mind entirely and fight anxiety. It can also help to reduce cramps thanks to its antispasmodic qualities. Ylang-ylang oil soothes the brain and central nervous system, making it easier to cope with stress and period-induced anxiety and depression.
Cinnamon may be most famous for its culinary uses, but the aromatic spice has been used for centuries in alternative medical treatments. Cinnamon is known to reduce inflammation in the body. Cinnamon oil alone has been studied as a treatment for menstrual cramps and was found to be very effective at reducing uterine contractions. Massaging your lower abdomen with cinnamon essential oil may help reduce inflammation and symptoms of menstrual cramping.
7. Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil has so many uses, it’s no wonder this oil is a staple but it can also calm the spasms that cause muscle cramps. Commonly used to relieve digestive problems, peppermint oil can also be used to soothe painful menstrual cramps. In 2016, an Iranian study recommended that mint be used as an aid to relieve the intensity of menstrual cramps and the symptoms associated with them.
8. Frankincense Essential Oil
Of all the essential oils for cramps, this one probably evokes the most festive flair thanks to the scent also a hit at holiday times. Frankincense essential oil is one of the oldest essential oils used for its various health properties. It has a host of different benefits. It can regulate your menstrual cycle, take care of the symptoms of PMS, and also help prevent uterine cancer in post-menopausal women. Frankincense can be used in a warm bath, diffuser, or applied topically when diluted with other oils to help relieve pain associated with inflammation.
9. Chamomile Essential Oil
This essential oil is often used to help calm the body and mind, and it can relieve stress, anxiety, and irritability. But it also has strong anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce premenstrual pains and relax muscles. Chamomile oil is a pain-fighting gem that is full of anti-inflammatory properties that can ease menstrual cramps and relax your muscles. Imagine all of that pain and stress that comes with your period just floating from your body whenever you enjoy the familiar and soothing scent of Chamomile.
How to use essential oils for period pain
If you’re ready to try using essential oils to soothe your period pains, there are a couple of great ways to do this.
Essential oils are beneficial when massaged into the part of your body that is achy. When I use lavender oil for cramps, I mix it with a carrier oil (I use jojoba oil) and rub it onto my lower abdomen and back. This is the most direct route.
When you hop in the shower, sprinkle a few drops of essential oil—or a combination of a few—into the tub. The steam from the water will mix with the essential oils and act as an all-natural vaporizer.
You’ll want to make sure you get food grade essential oils for this. You can put them in your tea, a batch of brownies, or even into rice (love lavender rice, so good).
You don’t have to wait until cramps strike to enjoy the benefits of essential oils. In fact, oil therapy can be a part of your plan for physical and mental wellness all month long. Using oils to stay in balance can help you to start working on minimizing the pain of cramps before cramps even begin.