By: Carly Raffiek
Menstrual cramps are an unfortunate fact of life for many women, and while there are medications available to help ease the discomfort, some prefer a more natural route. There are all kinds of home remedies available to ease cramps, including heat packs and exercise, though one of the oldest natural remedies for menstrual cramps is the use of essential oils. Continue reading to learn how to use essential oils for menstrual cramp relief, as well as the risks and recommendations associated with different oils and applications.
Menstrual cramps symptoms and causes
Menstrual cramps in older women can sometimes be caused by pre-existing conditions such as uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or pelvic inflammatory disease, as well as the increased production of prostaglandins that induce the contraction of the uterus during a woman’s period. Along with this discomfort, women may also experience headaches, dizziness, heavier flow, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, and lower back pain.
Essential oils for menstrual cramps
Essential oils have been found to help ease the pain associated with menstrual cramps. Some of the best oils to treat this condition are:
Marjoram essential oil
Marjoram oil can help dilate the blood vessels and aid in muscle relaxation, allowing blood flow to increase and blood pressure to decrease. This reduces inflammation in the uterus, while the analgesic properties of the oil can help soothe the pain.
Clary sage essential oil
Clary sage is especially helpful in the regulation of a woman’s menstrual cycle and has also been linked with relieving symptoms associated with menopause.
Lavender essential oil
Lavender functions as an effective anti-inflammatory that improves blood flow and reduces cramping, and can also help ease headaches associated with menstruation.
Geranium essential oil
Geranium oil is known for its soothing qualities and can help alleviate uncomfortable symptoms of menstruation, as well as those associated with menopause.
Ylang-Ylang essential oil
This oil has antispasmodic properties that reduce blood pressure and relax muscles to help soothe cramps.
Ginger oil is great for circulation, works as an analgesic, and has anti-inflammatory properties that make it one of the best home remedies for treating menstrual cramps.
Cinnamon essential oil
Cinnamon is a natural anti-inflammatory with analgesic properties that can relieve pain and bloat associated with menstruation.
Yarrow essential oil
Yarrow is well known for its ability to slow bleeding and can help control a heavy menstrual flow. It is also an analgesic and anti-inflammatory, meaning it can help relieve discomfort caused by cramps.
How to use essential oils for menstrual cramps
While there are a variety of essential oils available to help relieve menstrual cramps, there are also different methods in which they can be used to reap the benefits. The two main uses of essential oils are through massage and aromatherapy.
For this method, your oil of choice is used as a topical agent and gently rubbed into the lower abdomen where cramps appear. Add a few drops of your essential oil to a carrier oil such as avocado, coconut, or olive oil, and massage it into your skin. Multiple oils may be mixed to relieve different symptoms, and studies have shown that this method can help reduce the pain of menstrual cramps by up to 50 percent.
Adding your favored essential oil into a diffuser will release the oil into the air. As you inhale the fumes, the oil will help you relax and relieve cramping. If you do not have a diffuser, you can always sprinkle a few drops into your hands and inhale the aroma slowly.
Essential oils usage risks
As these oils are natural products, they do not come with many risks. However, before applying any oil to your skin, test a small patch and wait for 24 hours. If there is no reaction, the oil should be safe to use. This is especially important if you have very sensitive skin, as some oils may cause irritation. Also, ensure you inform your doctor if you use any natural health treatments including essential oils, as it is possible these methods may interact with any medications you may be taking.
Menstrual cramps treatment options
While essential oils are a good option, there are other methods available for treating menstrual cramps that may be more effective if your cramping is severe. Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen can help relieve pain associated with cramping, while prescription drugs like hormonal birth control can help regulate menstruation and prevent cramps. As previously mentioned, applying heat to the abdomen can help relieve cramping, as can the endorphin rush experienced when you exercise.
Essential oils for menstrual cramps recommendations
If you are interested in looking into essential oils as a treatment for menstrual cramps, it is important to do some homework. Find a trustworthy supplier. Also, keep in mind that the FDA does not have strict guidelines in regards to essential oils. After selecting a quality essential oil from a trustworthy supplier, we recommend you speak with your doctor or an aromatherapist about proper usage and storage of the oil. Make sure to test your skin if you plan on using it as a topical treatment, as you may have a reaction to the oil.
While menstrual cramping is an uncomfortable condition that almost all women experience at some point in their lives, there are ways to soothe this discomfort and its associated symptoms. Medications like ibuprofen and hormonal birth control can help, though if you prefer a natural alternative, there are many essential oils that have been linked to reduced pain due to menstrual cramps. Ensure you check with your doctor before using any essential oils as there is the possibility that they may interact with medications you may currently be taking.