From puberty to menopause, many women suffer from premenstrual syndrome (PMS), which occurs a week or two before the onset of menstruation and lasts until a few days before the period starts.
Symptoms can range from mood swings to serious cramping, and experts estimate that three out of four women experience PMS to some degree.
Believed to be triggered by the hormonal fluctuations that naturally occur during the menstrual cycle, specifically the sex hormones progesterone and estrogen, as well as varying levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, PMS can be pretty severe for some women, many of whom take to their beds until the worst of the symptoms have passed. 1
While some women may experience no noticeable symptoms of PMS, others have them all. Some common emotional and physical symptoms of PMS include:
- Anxiety or stress
- Changes in mood
- Irritability or anger
- Changes in appetite, including food cravings or binge-eating
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in libido
- Joint or muscle pain
- Breast tenderness
- Water retention that leads to bloating or weight gain
- Digestive problems
Essential Oils for Relieving PMS Symptoms
The mechanism behind many PMS symptoms is fluctuating serotonin levels during the menstrual cycle.
Serotonin is responsible for transmitting messages between nerve cells, controlling a wide range of functions including appetite, sleep, memory, cognition, mood, behavior, and other important functions.
Because serotonin levels fluctuate along with hormones during the menstrual cycle, these functions become unstable, leading to overeating, mood swings, anxiety, and more.
Serotonin also controls the body’s response to pain, which could play a role in menstrual cramps.
Luckily, essential oils offer holistic treatments to help balance hormones, protect against environmental toxins that help trigger those imbalances and boost levels of serotonin.
Some of the most effective essential oils for stress relief include:
Blue Chamomile Essential Oil
With active compounds including the monoterpene myrcene, which works in synergy with the terpene alpha-pinene to relieve symptoms of stress, blue chamomile, is especially effective at relieving the mood swings associated with PMS.
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A 2016 study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine found that chamomile helped reduce some symptoms of anxiety, including weight gain, suggesting that it could also help control the food cravings accompanying PMS. 2
Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil
The linalool in ylang-ylang can help relieve symptoms of anxiety, improving sadness and easing tension. It also acts as a sedative, consequently relieving stress.
Dill Seed Essential Oil
Dill seed contains the terpenoid carvone, which regulates the hormones that control emotions as well as stress and anxiety by preventing the release of blood glucose.
Wild Orange Essential Oil
Wild orange may be an effective stress reliever because it contains the terpene myrcene, which interacts with the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, both of which control feelings of well-being.
Basil Essential Oil
According to a study that appeared in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, basil essential oil helped relieve symptoms associated with stress, including insomnia, and fatigue in just over six weeks.
It is also considered an adaptogen and helps control hormone release by the adrenal gland, including the release of cortisol.
Lemon Balm Essential Oil
Cacao Essential Oil
Blue Cypress Essential Oil
This essential oil contains sesquiterpenes that can help relieve stress and anxiety by boosting the activity of serotonin, which plays a role in controlling mood and tension and tends to fluctuate during PMS.
Other essential oils that may help relieve symptoms of stress through aromatherapy include star anise, juniper berry, Douglas fir, and liquidambar, although there are many others that are also likely to be effective.
Try using these essential oils in a room diffuser or portable aromatherapy diffuser like Zen MONQ, add them to a bath, or smell them directly from the bottle.
Relieve Cramps and Muscle Pain
Many essential oils have compounds that relieve pain, including discomfort associated with the cramps and muscle aches that accompany PMS.
Lavender Essential Oil
In a 2012 Turkish study appearing in the journal Pain Management Nursing, nurses compared the results of massage using lavender oil and massage using a placebo oil on the pain associated with menstrual cramps. The lavender essential oil users reported better results. 3
Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil
Ylang-ylang can help relieve the pain of cramps associated with PMS because it acts as an analgesic and an anti-spasmodic, relieving pain and calming the spasms that lead to cramping.
Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil
The cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon leaf oil essential acts as a natural pain reliever, making it an effective option for relieving the pain associated with menstrual cramps. It works in synergy with eugenol, relieving both cramps and headaches, which can also occur as part of PMS. 4
Peppermint Essential Oil
Chamomile Essential Oil
Roman chamomile has also been shown to relieve the pain of cramps, as well as headaches and back pain that can accompany a period. It also offers antibacterial properties that can help reduce acne caused by hormonal fluctuations.
Try using some of the essential oils mentioned above topically after diluting them with a carrier oil or aromatically in a room diffuser or personal aromatherapy diffuser like Relieve MONQ.
Regulate Periods and Hormonal Imbalances
Some women, especially those who have a low body weight, are under chronic stress, are exposed to environmental toxins, or who exercise regularly, may have irregular periods.
Some essential oils, however, have been shown to promote healthy hormonal balance, allowing for a more regular cycle.
Motherwort Essential Oil
In addition to relieving the pain of menstrual cramps, motherwort can help regulate irregular periods. It has been used for this purpose in both European folk medicine and traditional Chinese herbal medicine.
Jasmine Essential Oil
Clary Sage Essential Oil
Geranium Essential Oil
Geranium helps regulate hormone levels by impacting the adrenal cortex, where hormones are generated, easing many of the symptoms associated with PMS and helping regulate periods.9 Try MONQ’s relieve blend to help with your aches and pains naturally.
Because menstruation is such an ever-present part of a woman’s life from puberty to menopause, finding the best ways to manage PMS symptoms is essential.
From relieving headaches to helping relieve aches and pains, essential oils can provide support and improve overall health and well-being.