Essential Oils For Menstrual Cramps
Menstrual cramps are no joke and while they vary in severity for all women, they are universally dreaded. This is something you have to go through every month which causes a lot of pain and discomfort while also potentially making you feel nauseous. Of course this also coincides precisely with when you’re feeling at your most emotionally vulnerable and volatile and when you’re losing a lot of blood in a very painful and unpleasant manner.
All in all this is a perfect storm of unpleasant effects that can leave you feeling rotten and prevent you from enjoying everyday activities or even getting to sleep properly.
With all this in mind, it’s important to find ways that you can cope and ways that you can make the discomfort as minimal as possible. Different things work for different people but something that many women find very useful is to use essential oils. Read on to see how these work and what they can do to make the experience a little more bearable.
How Essential Oils Help Menstrual Cramps
To understand how essential oils treat cramps, it can be helpful first to understand where those cramps come from in the first place.
Essentially, the body is trying to expel the lining of the uterus during this painful process. To do this, substances called prostaglandins are released which trigger pain and inflammation and cause the uterine muscles to contract. The higher your levels of prostaglandins, the more severe the menstrual cramps are going to be. Prostaglandins are essentially very similar to hormones and this is one of numerous hormonal changes in the body.
What’s more is that the most severe contractions can constrict the blood vessels which feed the uterus blood and nutrition. This in turn can cause pain that emanates into the chest.
Understanding all this, there are therefore a number of ways that you can try to combat menstrual cramps and reduce the pain. Typically, over-the-counter options will aim to reduce inflammation, which works by combating the production of prostaglandins. This can be achieved using NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) which include the likes of ibuprofen.
Likewise, we can also treat menstrual cramps by attempting to reduce and alleviate muscle contractions. This can be accomplished using a range of different over the counter substances that work in a variety of ways. Finally, we should also look at improving blood flow to prevent the uterus from being starved of oxygen and nutrition.
Finally, any essential oil that can reduce pain generally will also be useful in combating menstrual cramps.
The Best Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps
Peppermint oil is a great choice of essential oil for treating menstrual cramps. Peppermint oil contains menthol which gives it a very cooling and soothing effect, while the fragrance is highly refreshing and calming to many.
Another advantage of peppermint oil, is that it is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. Peppermint oil can help to reduce inflammation and this provides a safe and natural way to achieve similar ends to NSAIDs.
There are numerous ways to use peppermint oil but one of the best methods is to use a few drops of it in a warm bath (as directed by the packaging). The warm water in the bath can be highly soothing and helpful for addressing menstrual cramps in itself and the peppermint oil only encourages this further.
Lavender oil is an excellent essential oil that is used for a wide range of different purposes. This is an anti-inflammatory and anaesthetic essential oil that works well when applied directly to the skin.
Marjoram essential oil is a vasodilator. This means that it can help to widen the blood vessels to encourage healthy circulation and to ensure that the muscles and uterus alike are provided with an ample supply of blood, oxygen and nutrients. This is particularly effective for helping to treat cases where blood flow has been constricted to the uterus and can thereby reduce some of the most severe symptoms of cramps.
Additionally, marjoram is also antispasmodic. This means that it can help to reduce tension in muscles and cramping. It is popular for muscle cramps as well for this reason and can work well when applied directly.
Cypress oil is another antispasmodic oil that works well when applied directly to the affected area.
Clary Sage Oil
Clary sage oil can reportedly help to balance female hormones and thereby improve some of the symptoms associated with menstrual cramps and PMS in general. During this time of the month, a whole range of different hormones are released or subdued to trigger certain changes in the body. Of course this also has an impact on the mood and can likewise cause discomfort. While it’s not fully known how clary sage oil affects the hormones, it has been used traditionally as an aphrodisiac for many years which would seem to suggest some affinity for testosterone and other
Thyme oil was recently studied among five other essential oils and was found to be the most effective for its analgesic properties!
Lemon oil is another essential oil that promotes the promotes the release of specific neurotransmitters This time, the neurotransmitter in question is serotonin. At the same time, lemon oil provides a fresh scent and can help to raise levels of vitamin C when consumed.
The benefits of increasing serotonin are many meanwhile. When you raise serotonin levels, this will have the effect of improving your mood as serotonin is the ‘feel good’ hormone. At the same time, this is also going to help you to ease any pain or discomfort that you might be feeling. This is because serotonin is also the primary ‘natural analgesic’ in the body that eases discomfort.
And there are added bonuses here too. For one, using anything that can increase levels of serotonin will also increase levels of melatonin – the sleep hormone. That’s because serotonin is the natural precursor to melatonin. The body actually uses serotonin to make melatonin so when one goes up, the other is never far behind!
Another benefit of using anything that increase serotonin is that it of course also reduces stress. This is important for a number of reasons. For starters, feeling anxious and unhappy is one of the other most unpleasant side effects of PMS anyway. If you can make yourself relax and feel just a little happier – then that’s a great thing!
At the same time, stress actually causes muscle tension. When we’re very stressed, we will find ourselves unconsciously tensing muscles and this can make anything like cramp or muscle soreness worse. To prevent this, we just need to relax!
Bergamot oil is another essential oil that helps to increase serotonin. Bergamot oil happens to be particularly effective though when used in an oil diffuser for aromatherapy. This makes it a great option if you want to take some time out and some ‘you’ time. Perhaps add some peppermint oil to your bath and burn some bergamot oil meanwhile. The peppermint oil will help to numb the pain and give you that cool, refreshing sensation while the bergamot oil will help to feel at ease and relax. Burn some lavender too as a lot of people find this a particularly relaxing scent.
Valerian Root Oil
Finally, valerian root oil is one of the best essential oils available for combating menstrual cramps not to mention a host of other problems.
The biggest benefit of valerian root oil is that it encourages the production of GABA when inhaled or applied topically. GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that reduces the activity or neurons and nerves. In short, this acts as a sedative to quieten down the chatter in your brain and help you feel relaxed and at ease.What’s more though, is that this same process also helps to relax smooth muscle tissue. This is perfect for the cramping pain you’re feeling around your core as it helps it to relax and soften and reduces the associated pain. And just like some of the other oils on this list, it’s also perfect for helping you get to sleep for that reason.
Try these essential oils and combine them with rest, analgesics and a hot water bottle. If your cramping is very severe though, make sure to speak to your doctor who may be able to recommend stronger alternatives or check for complications such as polycystic ovaries.