Depending on the person experiencing them, menstrual cramps can cause mild to severe pain. When it’s that time of the month, cramps are par for the course for a whopping 85% of women, according to a June 2019 survey of over 43,000 women. What’s more shocking is that menstrual cramps can get in the way of day-to-day tasks. In fact, about four out of 10 women have said that they’re forced to skip some daily tasks because of menstrual cramps.
For women who experience cramps in the days leading up to their periods or throughout their flow, reaching for medication may not always be the best solution. There are many over-the-counter anti-inflammatories that help ease the pain. Perhaps the goal is to choose something a little more natural. If this is the case, essential oils may be the right alternative to help ease the pain of menstrual cramps.
According to an October 2021 review, aromatherapy may trigger neurotransmitters that decrease activity of the nervous system. This means that they help you calm down and relax. Additionally, certain scents may encourage the release of endorphins and other pain-neutralizing chemicals. An additional review from 2018 found that aromatherapy massage was superior to regular massage at reducing pain from cramps. Continue reading to learn which essential oils may provide the best relief.
Rose Essential Oil
This is your friendly reminder to stop and smell the rose essential oil, especially if you experience menstrual cramps. A 2021 review found that rose essential oil has powerful pain-relief potential. Researchers identified that rose essential oil contains nerol, geraniol, and kaempferol, all of which are aromatic compounds that may decrease menstrual cramp pain. Other research found that rose essential oil was more effective at reducing pain than some non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medications.
Geranium Essential Oil
Geranium has a fresh, floral aroma that works to improve mood and relieve stress. According to folkloric medicine, herbalists used it to ease pain during childbirth. A 2018 study monitored 120 women, who were divided into three groups. One group was controlled, one received massaged, and one received aromatherapy massages with geranium essential oil. All of the participants who received massages experienced pain relief from cramps. The group that received massages with geranium essential oil experience even more pain relief. Make sure to dilute geranium essential oil in a carrier oil of your choice for abdominal massages.
Lavender Essential Oil
Diluting lavender essential oil in a carrier oil and massaging the abdominal area can help reduce pain from menstrual cramps. A 2012 study monitored nursing students who used either lavender oil or a placebo paraffin product. The goal was to determine whether or not the essential oil had any benefit. The students who used lavender oil reported less cramping. A meta-analysis from 2017 found that a massage with lavender essential oil effectively reduced pain from menstrual cramps. Other studies found that inhaling lavender oil’s aroma also helped decrease the sensation of cramping.
Palmarosa Essential Oil
Palmarosa is related to lemongrass, giving off that sweet and citrusy aroma. Some people think that the essential oil smells floral, though. According to a 2016 review of different essential oils, palmarosa stood out for its ability to lessen pain signaling. There are no studies about palmarosa oil’s ability to directly relieve pain from menstrual cramps, but it may relieve pain and soreness. Aromatherapists commonly use this essential oil to help boost mood, which may be beneficial during your menstrual cycle.
Vitex Essential Oil
Coming from the vitex tree or chaste tree, vitex essential oil is one of the most underrated essential oils. It combines the tree’s leaves and berries, so it has a naturally sweet, minty aroma. Vitex essential oil is one of the best for relieving cramps, as it exhibits anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Researchers have studied vitex essential oil as a potential aid for menstrual cramps for many years. The consensus is that vitex essential oil may help reduce cramping by 30-40%.