8 Essential Oils That May Help Menstrual Cramps
It turns out the suggested essential oils for cramps are some of the ones you may already have in your arsenal for soothing and energizing.
Essential oils could be just what your body needs
If you’re dealing with awful period cramps there comes a time where you’ll try whatever you can for some relief. That might mean changing your diet or looking into other unusual treatments worth trying. And essential oils are a remedy you might want to consider adding on, too. Research suggests essential oils and aromatherapy may help stress and anxiety. (Two issues you may also deal with during your period.) Other research backing these oils for treating different issues like cramps, however, is lacking. Still, there’s enough mild support to consider giving these oils a shot for menstrual cramp pain, just don’t count on them as your only defense. If you want to give these oils a try, opt for using a diffuser, or mixing them with a carrier oil and applying it to the skin. Here are the most promising options.
“Lavender oil used as an inhalation has been shown to effectively reduce cramps and menstrual bleeding when compared to a placebo,” shares Jennifer Stagg, MD, a naturopathic physician and founder of the Whole Health Wellness Center in Avon, Connecticut. “Lavender is thought to affect the prostaglandins that mediate pain and uterine contractions.” Lavender oil’s potential to lessen contractions makes it one of the best essential oils for menstrual cramps. (Find out the 9 secrets your period is trying to tell you.)
“Cinnamon oil alone has been studied as a treatment for menstrual cramps, and was found to be very effective at reducing uterine contractions,” explains Dr. Stagg. Try massaging your lower abdomen with cinnamon essential oil since it’s an anti-inflammatory. Check out these other cinnamon uses that’ll help the rest of your body, too.
A spicy blend
“A blend of essential oils of lavender, clove, cinnamon, and rose was studied as a topical oil applied to the abdomen for seven days prior to menstruation, and was found to reduce the amount of pain and duration of cramps and even the amount of menstrual bleeding when compared to a placebo group,” says Dr. Stagg. She suggests these essential oils for cramps because they may balance prostaglandin levels to ease pain. Try using this blend as an accompaniment to some of these other period pain busters.
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, says the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA). Still unsure about essential oils? Check out our reference guide for essential oils for everything you need to know.
“Archaeologists tell us aromatherapy was used for pain management by the ancient Egyptians, and one of their go-to oils was Roman chamomile,” says Ryan Neinstein, MD, of NYC Surgical Associates. “Adding a few drops to a foot bath can help diminish the intensity of cramps, according to ancient wisdom,” he says.
Of all the essential oils for cramps, this one probably evokes the most festive flair thanks to the scent that is also a hit at holiday times. Frankincense can be used in a warm bath, diffuser, or applied topically when diluted with other oils to help relieve pain associated with inflammation. Here are some surprising benefits of frankincense.
This aromatherapeutic scent is best when inhaled—either by diffuser, heat, or candle. It may improve circulation and relax muscles, per the NAHA. Relaxed muscles may help reduce your menstrual cramps.
This oil is regarded as a mood enhancer, PMS-calmer, and mild sedative to help take the edge off pain associated with cramping, according to the NAHA. It also is thought to fight anxiety, which may be a welcome bonus when you’re already uncomfortable. Now that you know about these essential oils for cramps, check out these 11 things you need to know before buying essential oils.
- Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine: "Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review"
- Jennifer Stagg, MD, a naturopathic physician and founder of the Whole Health Wellness Center in Avon, CT
- Pain Management Nursing: "Effect of Aromatherapy Massage on Dysmenorrhea in Turkish Students"
- National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy: Most Commonly Used Essential Oils
- Ryan Neinstein, MD, of NYC Surgical Associates
- International Journal of Nutrition, Pharmacology, Neurology Diseases: Medicinal properties of frankincense
- Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal: "The Effect of Cinnamon on Menstrual Bleeding and Systemic Symptoms With Primary Dysmenorrhea"
- Pharmaceutical Biology: "Anti-inflammatory activities of essential oils and their constituents from different provenances of indigenous cinnamon (Cinnamomum osmophloeum) leaves"
- Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "The Effect of Aromatherapy Abdominal Massage on Alleviating Menstrual Pain in Nursing Students: A Prospective Randomized Cross-Over Study"