Research Reveals the Best Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps

Women are often told that menstruation is a natural, normal process, and the excruciating, gut-wrenching pain that accompanies it should be merely “put up with”.


You don’t have to deal with monthly discomforts. You don’t have to put your life on hold for a week, or more, because you’re locked in at home rolling on the floor.

And, you don’t have to miss out on important business or social appointments.

You can have your monthly period, but without crushing menstrual cramps. How can that be achieved? Research has revealed some of the best essential oils for menstrual cramps that are worth exploring.

But first, let’s talk about why you should use essential oils for PMS cramps.

Why Use Essential Oils for PMS Cramps?

Pills designed for menstruation do provide relief against premenstrual cramps, but many women are against popping pills several times a day, for several days every month their cycle comes around.

Is that you?

With a lot more research being done on essential oils, women can now investigate using essential oils for menstrual cramps and feel confident they’ll get relief.

So, why should you use essential oils for PMS cramps? In a nutshell, research and experiential data show that plant extracts work.

In a randomized, double-blind clinical trial, the power of essential oils containing eucalyptol (1, 8 cineole), linalyl acetate, β-caryophyllene, and linalool provided relief for a group of outpatients who struggled with primary dysmenorrhea. The duration of menstrual cramps felt by these women greatly reduced.

Since we do know that essential oils work for premenstrual and menstrual cramps, let’s identify what options you can tap into.

6 Best Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps

Before delving into the best essential oils for menstrual cramps, I’d like to mention that you will have different reactions to an essential oil from another person.

What this means is, if this essential oil works for me, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have the exact same results. Several factors will determine the effects you get from an essential oil, including dilution ratios, the route of administration, and whether it’s combined with other essential oils with similar therapeutic actions.

With that said, let’s jump into the list of the best essential oils for premenstrual cramps.

Note: Premenstrual and menstrual cramps are mentioned synonymously.

1. Lavender Essential Oil (Lavandula angustifolia)

This slightly sweet, floral aromatic is hands down a woman’s best friend. Its versatility in the aromatherapy kingdom is unmatched, and there are so many ailments for which lavender essential oil can be used to soothe.

This includes menstrual cramps. As a matter of fact, this is probably one of the best essential oils for menstrual cramps, whether used within an aromatherapy blend or on its own.

According to results from a triple-blinded randomized clinical study, some 200 female students, between the ages of 20 and 30, participated in a trial to determine lavender essential oil’s therapeutic effect on menstrual cramps. As this was a triple-blinded randomized trial, the participants, individuals who administered the treatment, and those who analysed the findings did not know what intervention(s) was prepared in advance.

In this case, the participants were given lavender essential oil to inhale for at least 30 minutes each day, for the first 3 days of their menstrual cycle. In my experience, inhalation coupled with an abdominal massage, and when used in a blend is more effective. Another research using lavender substantiated this claim.

In this research, lavender was combined with:

  • Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
  • Rose (Rosa x centifolia)

These essential oils were diluted using almond oil and massaged at the abdomen. Results from this study were positive.

To close this study, I want to mention that different people react differently to essential oils. If you hate the aroma and can’t get any relief from cramps using lavender, try something else.

To continue this series about the best essential oils for menstrual cramps, I focus more about why clary sage and rose essential oils worked alongside lavender.

2. Clary Sage Essential Oil (Salvia sclarea)

Like lavender essential oil that’s rich in linalyl acetate and linalool, clary sage oil wears these chemicals beautifully. The chemical profile of the oil can be seen below:

  • Linalyl Acetate 16.9%–60.8%
  • Linalool 12.8%–38.6%
  • Alpha-Terpineol 1.8%–14.3%
  • Germacrene D 1.3%–13.3%
  • Geranyl Acetate 3.8%–12.1%
  • Sclareol 1.3%–11.5%
  • Epimanoyl oxide 0.0%–8.6%
  • Beta-Caryophyllene 3.2%–5.1%

Although the chemical profile of clary sage essential oil isn’t set in stone (the percentage of each chemical will fluctuate), it’s solid where effecting sedative and analgesic-like actions are concerned.

As a matter of fact, as an absolute is produced using the flowering leaves and tops of the clary sage plant, some yields may contain up to 66% linalyl acetate, according to Tisserand & Young. As a result of these 2 evident phytochemicals in clary sage oil, a similar action may be produced, as was the case with the lavender essential oil research.

When coupled with lavender, clary sage essential oil’s ability to soothe and relieve pain, in this case, menstrual cramps, is further enhanced.

Note: As clary sage essential oil (and clary sage absolute) has similar dominant phytochemicals to lavender, the oil may be used as a standalone against premenstrual syndromes and menstrual cramps.

Let’s jump to another hit aromatic on the best essential oils for PMS cramps chart.

3. Rose Otto Essential Oil (Rosa × damascena)

Although rose absolute (Rosa x centifolia) was the intervention combined with lavender oil in the initial study shown above, I chose to talk about rose otto essential oil because it’s the main choice for aromatherapists. Rose absolute is mainly used in high-class perfumery.

For this intervention, rose essential oil seemed to enhance the blend, as the study was done using a mixture of clove, cinnamon, and lavender oils. This isn’t to say that rose oil is useless as a standalone, pain-relieving therapy.

As a matter of fact, in another study, although focus wasn’t on relief during premenstrual cramps, rose oil combined with almond oil reduced pain intensity in pregnant women with lower back pain.

Considering the floral oil’s analgesic-bearing effect, it’s a worthwhile oil to consider when making blends for PMS cramps.

4. Thyme ct. Linalool Essential Oil (Thymus vulgaris ct. linalool)

Thyme essential oil wears a sharp aroma and is deeply stimulating. Its warmth is especially therapeutic when used in a massage.

In a study pitching thyme essential oil and ibuprofen against each other for menstrual cramp relief, both treatments showed promising results, as each reduced pain severity and “spasms in primary dysmenorrhea”.

While thyme essential oil has pain-relieving properties, this study was a bit vague. There are more than 5 different chemotypes of thyme essential oil produced for commercial use, but the specific one used wasn’t mentioned.

However, by analysing the different dominant compounds of thyme chemotypes, a logical conclusion can be met. Using the chemical profile below, I concluded that thyme ct. linalool may be more beneficial for women struggling with menstrual cramps.

  • Linalool 73.6–79.0%
  • Linalyl acetate 3.4–8.6%
  • α-Terpineol + borneol 1.4–4.8%
  • Thymol 1.0–3.8%
  • p -Cymene 1.5–3.3%
  • β-Caryophyllene 0–1.5%
  • Camphene 0.2–.2%
  • Carvacrol 1.0–1.1%
  • β-Myrcene 0.3–1.0%

As shown by the thymus vulgaris ct. linalool chemical profile, the dominant compounds are linalool and linalyl acetate. These are compounds found in essential oils with sedative and analgesic properties.

Make no mistake, other chemotypes of thyme do provide pain relief, including thymol and carvacrol, but these are rich in strong dermal irritants called phenols.

Another worthwhile mention from the study is the route of administration of the essential oil. Oral administration was used. While many have observed tremendous results from essential oil ingestion, caution should be exercised. Never ingest essential oils without supervision from an aromatherapist who’s trained in the oral administration of essential oils. Also, instead of considering oral use, always explore other external treatments with essential oils that are just as therapeutic.

5. Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oil (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)

Cinnamon leaf essential oil is warming and energizing. It’s a superb aid during wintry months when you need to warm things up and boost sluggish circulation.

This isn’t the only form of comfort cinnamon leaf oil brings to the table.

Women who participated in a study using this beautiful warming oil was able to experience fewer painful periods, a reduction in nausea, and menstrual bleeding. While this study explored cinnamon essential oil in capsules, massaging the oil on to the abdomen in a blend of other soothing oils may provide pain relief.

6. Geranium Essential Oil (Pelargonium graveolens)

This cheerful, exquisite aromatic ought to be a girl’s best friend. As an unrelenting advocate of women’s health, geranium essential oil can be used to cosset menstrual cramps.

A clinical trial span across 8 weeks demonstrated how geranium oil was used as a massage oil to soothe premenstrual syndrome. Each participant was given guidelines on how to massage the abdomen for 30 minutes each week. The results showed that both emotional and physical symptoms improved after a period of 8 weeks.

Other Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps

Various other clinical trials have demonstrated positive results of other essential oils for PMS cramps. However, I chose not to expound on these because they included essential oil ingestion, which I’m not recommending on this blog.

Essential oil ingestion is a choice, but I do believe it’s important for people to make educational choices, rather than blindly doing so.

For educational purposes, if you’re interested in looking at additional research on essential oils for menstrual cramps, please find the links below:

  1. Fennel Seed Essential Oil
  2. Melissa Essential Oil
  3. Sage Essential Oil

Best Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps, Conclusion

Essential oils for PMS cramps are plausible options to consider if you’ve had enough of conventional remedies. Using this list of best essential oils for menstrual cramps to choose a remedy can be a safe alternative once used within reason and in appropriate dilutions.

You may choose to use essential oils like lavender, clary sage, rose otto, thyme ct. linalool, cinnamon leaf, and geranium to soothe menstrual cramps and experience less discomfort during your period.


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