Aromatherapy can be very helpful in relieving the pain and distress of menstrual cramps. Dysmenorrhea (painful menstruation) can also include symptoms such as headache, fatigue, bloating, and even nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
Dysmenorrhea can be treated with a variety of drugs, including pain relievers, sedatives, antispasmodics, prostaglandin inhibitors, and oral contraceptives. However, these drugs can and do produce many unacceptable side effects. Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of essential oils obtained from plants. When properly used, essential oils are very safe therapy for menstrual cramps without harmful side effects.
In a randomized, placebo-controlled research conducted in Korea and reported by Han, Hur, Buckle, Choi , and Lee in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 67 female college students were eligible for the study if they reported a menstrual pain score of 6 or higher on a 10-point scale, had no systemic or reproductive diseases, and were not taking oral contraceptives. The women were randomly assigned to an experimental group, a placebo group, or a control group.
The experimental group received aromatherapy containing essential oils of lavender (Lavandula officinalis), clary sage (Salvia sclarea,), and rose (Rosa centifolia,) daily beginning 1 week before the start of menstruation and ending the first day of menstruation. The aromatherapy consisted of 2 drops of lavender oil, 1 drop of clary sage oil, and 1 drop of rose oil mixed with 5 ml of a carrier of sweet almond oil.
Subjects in the experimental group received 15 minutes of aromatherapy provided in the form of abdominal massage in a quiet room. The placebo group received 15 minutes of abdominal massage using only almond oil in the same setting and for the same duration as the experimental group. The control group received no therapy. All subjects continued their usual routine and reported the menstrual cramp intensity and dysmenorrhea severity assessments on the first and second days of menstruation. None of the subjects reported adverse side effects during the trial.
The intensity of menstrual cramps on both the first and second days of menstruation was significantly lower by a little more that 50% in the aromatherapy group than in the placebo group or the control group.
The authors concluded that aromatherapy with topically applied lavender, clary sage, and rose oils is effective in reducing the severity of menstrual cramps and dysmenorrhea. They recommend that aromatherapy be offered as a safe, cost-effective, and viable part of care for women experiencing dysmenorrhea.
There are other essential oils also known to be excellent for relieving the pain associated with menstrual cramps, but what a lovely combination selected for this research study. Should you decide to try this combination, or any other, be certain that the oils you select are only therapeutic-grade essential oils of the highest quality.
This article is written for informational purposes only and is not meant to diagnose or treat medical problems. The advice and care of a physician is recommended for your health concerns. Aromatherapy is intended as complementary care with health care providers, not as an alternative to care.