Essential oils and menstrual pain could be a relieving combination! Gentle floral essential oils like lavender, rose, and neroli have shown effectiveness with both topical massage and inhalation. This blog gives a quick overview of four human studies, and easy at home recipes to try based off each study.
A gentle 5-10 minute massage in the abdominal area may help relieve pain associated with menstruation. Below are two human studies with at home recipes.
In a randomized, double blind clinical trial of 48 outpatients with menstrual pain, an essential oil blend in a 3% dilution was prepared. Essential oils included a 2:1:1 ration of lavender, clary sage, and marjoram. Patients rubbed it on their lower abdomen from the time that their last menstrual cycle ended, to the time that their next menstrual cycle began. As a result, pain and duration of their menstrual cycle was significantly reduced (1). The related recipe below has been reduced to a 2% dilution for more appropriate daily use.
In another study of 48 nursing students, an aromatherapy abdominal massage (with rose, lavender, clove, and cinnamon) was effective in alleviating menstrual pain and bleeding heaviness. Participants received a ten minute abdominal massage once daily for one week, just prior to their menstrual cycle. The blend used in the study was in a 5% sweet almond oil dilution. It had 1.5% clove, 1.5% cinnamon, 1% rose, and 1% lavender (2). The recipe below has been more heavily diluted to 2% dilution, with a lower ratio of the hot essential oils of clove and cinnamon. Further, since rose essential oil is extremely expensive, the recipe is made in a rose hydrosol spray instead.
Inhalation of calming aromas can help reduce pain and anxiety. Catching a whiff of a pleasing aroma sends a message to the brain via the olfactory receptors in our nose. Our brain’s limbic system then triggers a secretion of certain neurotransmitters, like endorphins. These neurotransmitters aid in reducing the perception of pain by bonding to our body’s opioid receptors to inhibit the delivery of the pain signal (3).
Below are two more at home aromatherapy ideas based off the research.
Neroli comes from the orange tree’s blossom. The smell is floral and lightly sweet and citrussy. Neroli aromatherapy reduced premenstrual syndrome symptoms in a study with 62 college students (4). At home, you can add 5 drops of neroli essential oil in a cool mist diffuser. Then, run it for about 30 minutes per day. Or, try blending neroli with other calming essential oils such as clary sage, lavender, geranium, patchouli, or chamomile. Some essential oils, such as clary sage, may be inappropriate during pregnancy. Further, cool mist diffusers should be turned on in moderation, such as 30 minute intervals, with excessive aroma not being good for small children and pets. Click here to read more about the different types of diffusers and using them safely: Essential Oil Diffusers.
Read more about Neroli: Neroli Monograph
Rose has been used for centuries as a folk remedy to reduce pain related to menstrual cycles. In a recent human study of 100 women with dysmenorrhea, inhaling rose aroma reduced pain (5). Try buying a quality rose hydrosol (rose water) to spray on the face. Skin patch test a low visible area first, especially for those with sensitive skin. Discontinue use if any irritation occurs. Click here to try this simple Rose Water Astringent recipe.
Read more about rose: Rose Monograph
Got those moods a swinging, tears a slinging, nothing fits me, when it hits me, ranting, raving, misbehaving, PMS blues.
Post by: Kathy Sadowski, MS in Aromatherapy, RA (ARC), Professional NAHA and AIA Member, LMT