Premenstrual syndrome, or PMS, is a naturally occurring condition that likely happens due to those lovely little friends we call “hormones.” During a woman's menstrual cycle her hormone levels change, causing a range of symptoms that can include anything from cramps to the mood swings commonly associated with PMS. Other common symptoms include breast tenderness, skin breakouts, bloating, food cravings and fatigue. All in all, PMS can make a woman completely miserable. Learning how to use essential oils for menstrual cramps can be very helpful when dealing with PMS.

Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps: Does Every Woman Suffer from PMS?

Before we talk more about how to manage these symptoms with essential oils for menstrual cramps, it's important to note that no one can stop the hormonal shifting that happens during the menstrual cycle altogether. Those changing hormones are what cause fertility and menstruation, so they are a natural part of being a woman. That said, it's possible to use essential oils for menstrual cramps to calm many of the symptoms, so PMS does not have to derail your life every single month.

The severity of the symptoms also has a pretty big range. For some women, PMS symptoms are little more than an annoyance. For others, the symptom can stop normal life for a few days. They can also make conditions such as depression or affective mood disorder more pronounced.

With that said, many women do NOT suffer from PMS. According to MedlinePlus, it actually only affects one out of every four women during their menstrual cycle. (1) In spite of what you hear, it's important to recognize that – although quite common – monthly menses doesn't have to be down-right miserable for you.

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Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps: Is it PMS or Something Else?

Many women confuse more serious health conditions (or even pregnancy) for symptoms related to PMS. This has caused many to undergo necessary medical treatments – particularly for depression – when many of these more concerns can be tackled naturally.

So what, exactly, are the symptoms of PMS?

Some common symptoms include:

  • Breast tenderness
  • Skin breakouts (acne)
  • Bloating
  • Food craving
  • Fatigue
  • Menstrual cramping
  • Mood swings
  • Headaches and migraines

As you can imagine, a combination of these symptoms can wipe a woman out for a few days easily, which is why help is needed. Most, if not all, of these symptoms can be managed with essential oils for menstrual cramps.

Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps: Managing PMS Symptoms

Oftentimes, medical professionals tell women to use anti-inflammatory medications and heating pads to manage menstrual cramping, leaving them to manage mood swings and other symptoms on their own. Women should note that several essential oils for menstrual cramps, including lavender, peppermint and orange oils, have anti-inflammatory properties. (2) Others boost mood and improve sleep. Combined, a number of essential oils for menstrual cramps can make PMS symptoms much easier to live with. For women who suffer from serious symptoms during their menstrual cycles, a natural, effective solution is great news!

Which is the most effective? That answer has not yet been found, and in fact sometimes a combination of oils is the best choice. That said, here are the 10 most popular essential oils for PMS symptoms.

10 Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps and Other PMS Symptoms

1. Lavender

Lavender oil is an often-studied oil that has been linked to a number of health benefits, including improved sleep and lessened pain. (3) This makes lavender an excellent choice for managing PMS symptoms, because cramps and muscle aches are a common symptom of the condition, and some women experience insomnia when they are uncomfortable and agitated during PMS. Lavender essential oil can help with both of these. Some women experience migraine headaches during their menstrual cycles, and inhaling lavender essential oil has been found in at least one scientifically controlled study to be an effective and safe treatment option to help manage migraines. (4)

Application: Massage lavender oil on the skin or inhale it to enjoy the improved mode and reduced inflammation of this essential oil.

2. Eucalyptus Oil

Considered one of the most popular of the essential oils sold on the global market today, eucalyptus can be found in everything from antiseptic to insect repellent. Medicinally it can help with cough and cold symptoms, stimulate the immune system and provides anti-inflammatory benefits, as concludes a study published on PubMed.gov. (5) The anti-inflammatory benefits help women suffering with PMS, because it can help lessen the severity of cramps and other aches and pains.

Application: Rub eucalyptus oil on the abdomen to help relieve menstrual cramping.

3. Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil (Melalueca) is highly useful for its antiseptic and antimicrobial properties, that help keep your skin clean and clear. And because it's so gentle, you can use it on acne breakouts to help clear up pimples as a spot treatment.

In fact, a clinical trial was conducted comparing tea tree gel against the use of a placebo and tea tree gel was 3.5-5.75 times more effective in clearing up acne! (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17314442)

Application: Use diluted tea tree essential oil, or products containing it, to manage acne breakouts related to PMS.

4. Peppermint Oil

Insomnia and fatigue are difficult to manage, especially for a busy woman who is building her career or raising her family. You simply don't have time to spend taking a nap simply because it's “that time of the month.” Peppermint oil has an almost instant affect on energy levels, energizing you and giving you the energy to go about your day. As an added bonus, peppermint has been linked to reduced appetite, so you'll be less likely to give in to those chocolate cravings during PMS. (6)

Application: Inhale peppermint for an instant jolt of energy and to reduce food cravings and appetite.

5. Orange Oil

Orange oil, as well as other citrus essential oils for menstrual cramps, have a proven psychological effect, boosting the mood and creating a more relaxed state, as one study of 20 young university women. (7) Since women suffering from PMS often feel increased anxiety, stress or depression, this relaxing effect is particularly beneficial. The relaxing effect of orange oil is best experienced through inhaling the oil.

Application: Add orange essential oil to your aromatherapy routine while dealing with PMS symptoms. 

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6. Neroli Oil

Neroili essential oil comes from orange tree blossoms. It has powerful relaxation properties just like orange oil. However, it may be even more effective for PMS symptoms, because studies have found that it is particularly beneficial during times when hormones are the trigger for anxiety or stress. (8)

Application: Use neroli oil in aromatherapy to reduce anxiety and stress associated with PMS.

7. Ylang Ylang Oil

Ylang Ylang oil is a double-sided coin when it comes to PMS benefits. Not only does it serve as an antiseptic, fighting the bacteria that can cause acne, but it also has been used traditionally as an aphrodisiac. (9) Any oil that can be an aphrodisiac must have mood-boosting potential! In one study in particular, ylang-ylang aroma was found to reduce blood pressure, a sign of stress, significantly. (10) Reducing stress and potentially reducing acne means ylang-ylang needs to be part of your PMS-fighting routine.

Application: Add ylang ylang oil to a topical mixture to reduce cramping and to your favorite floral diffuser blend improve mood.

8. Rose Essential Oil

Rose essential oil can help regulate irregular menstrual periods, which can reduce PMS symptoms by making the entire cycle more balanced, including the hormones that trigger menstruation. It also supports good uterine health. (11) Rose Oil also can provide menstrual cramp relief and has strong antidepressant properties, helping boost the mood during menstruation. (12)

Application: Inhale rose essential oil and add it to lotions to apply topically to improve several symptoms of PMS.

9. Clary Sage Essential Oil

Clary sage essential oil both improves peace of mind and reduces muscle cramping, a winning combination for those suffering from PMS symptoms. It also has antiseptic properties, so it could help reduce acne breakouts, though more study on this particular effect is needed. (13)

Application: Add clary sage oil to a topical mixture to reduce cramping and improve mood.

10. Marjoram Essential Oil

Finally, consider adding marjoram essential oil to the mix. It helps reduce pain and inflammation by limiting muscle spasms, which can lead to menstrual cramping, and also provides antibacterial properties. (14)

Application: Make marjoram another addition to your PMS-fighting topical blends. 

Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps: Essential Oil Blend for PMS

During PMS, you will want to both inhale and diffuse essential oils for menstrual cramps and apply them topically for the ultimate benefit. As an article at the University of Maryland Medical Center said, “The ‘smell' receptors in your nose communicate with parts of our brain that serve as storehouses for emotions and memories. When you breathe in essential oil molecules, the stimulate these parts of your brain and influence physical, emotional and mental health.” (15) During PMS, physical, emotional and mental health is all a little precarious, and essential oils for menstrual cramps can provide a significant benefit.

To use essential oils for menstrual cramps prevention and relief, create a PMS Relief Blend in a 5ml bottle that includes:

  • 33 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 17 drops of clary sage essential oil
  • 50 drops of marjoram essential oil

Combine around 10 drops of this mixture to a tablespoon of liquid castle soap and add to your bath water. You can use it in your diffuser to help relieve brain dog and emotional distress caused by PMS symptoms as well.

For topical applications, add 6 drops of the PMS Relief Blend to 2 teaspoons of a carrier oil, and massage over the abdomen, lower back, feet and ankles. Reduced pain, increased energy and reduced anxiety will all make PMS symptoms a little easier to cope with.

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