13 May 2022 / Caitlin Devlin
The best essential oils for relieving period cramps
These soothing, pain-relieving oils can make cramps more bearable.
Period cramps can be a particularly nasty kind of pain, and unfortunately they’re also incredibly common.
Among the most common PMS symptoms, cramps can make it difficult to focus, sleep, eat, and in some cases even to get up and walk. Luckily there’s plenty of things that can help to take the edge off the pain, one of which is aromatherapy. Certain essential oils have proven to be very effective in reducing the pain of menstrual cramps and more are being investigated all the time. Here are the oils we recommend for relieving period cramps.
An antispasmodic oil, bay laurel is able to reduce cramping in the uterine muscles by soothing the muscles and preventing spasms. It is also considered an analgesic, which means that it is able to relieve sensations of pain.
The component cineol in cajeput creates a feeling of warmth on the skin which distracts from the pain beneath. For this reason cajeput is often used to manage menstrual cramps and mask the intensity of the pain. The oil is such an effective pain-reliever that it has even been used in dentistry to relieve toothache. Cineol can be irritating on sensitive skin, however, so it is important to always patch test before use.
Cramps can sometimes be caused by obstructions in menstrual paths. Cassia oil has emmenagogue properties which allow it to stimulate menstrual flow, which in turn lets it open obstructed menstrual paths, relieving cramps. Cassia oil is also an analgesic, and its warming, pain-relieving properties can reduce tension in the body, allowing sore muscles to relax.
Traditionally used in China, India and Sir Lanka to relieve menstrual cramps, citronella oil has a long history with PMS symptoms. An anticonvulsant, citronella can relax muscles in the abdomen, soothing cramps.
Known as the ‘women’s oil’, clary sage has been used extensively to treat PMS symptoms. A study in 2012 found that clary sage oil was effective at relieving menstrual cramps in teenage girls when applied to the stomach, an ability which is thought to be due to the antispasmodic properties of the oil.
Use a soothing, easily-absorbing carrier oil to apply your essential oils.
Coriander seed is both anti-inflammatory and circulation boosting. This allows it to soothe the abdominal area whilst also warming it and increasing blood flow. These effects can reduce or mask pain whilst clearing obstructions, making it an effective remedy for cramps.
Lavender oil is anticonvulsant, able to relax constricted muscles, which has a positive effect on period cramps as shown in research from 2010. Lavender oil is a popular remedy for cramps and is a common ingredient in many heated cramp-relieving products.
Antispasmodic marjoram can relieve pain caused in the uterine region by muscle spasms, and as an emmenagogue it can also prompt menstruation and clear painful blockages. Marjoram also has the somewhat unique ability to regulate female hormones, thereby reducing PMS symptoms.
Rose geranium has been called the oil of female strength and is closely associated with femininity. It is also found to fight pain and relieve tension in the body, whilst its soft floral scent relaxes and de-stresses.
Vetiver oil has an impressive effect on the female hormone oestrogen, regulating and balancing it. This helps the oil to reduce the severity of cramps, as well as other PMS symptoms such as mood swings and bloating.
The best way to use these oils is to apply them topically. Add a few drops of your favourite oil to a carrier oil of your choice and massage into the abdomen to ease the pain of cramps. You may find that some of these oils work best in combination, and it may take some experimenting to find your favourite home remedy. Not sure where to start? Our Cramp Relief Pure Essential Oil Blend combines lavender, clary sage and rose geranium in a soothing and effective balm.