6 Best Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps & PMS Symptoms (Updated April 2020)

With the use of essential oils for menstrual cramps, you'll be able to have natural remedies to the symptoms of PMS, or premenstrual syndrome. Millions of women around the world are slowed down or even left completely incapacitated whenever their period comes. This natural phenomenon can affect not just the woman herself but also the people around her, not to mention how it could have several negative impacts on the flow of her life as well.

We can write all about PMS -- the effects they cause, the pain they bring, and more, but what we truly want to relay is how you can get through that time of the month. This collection of six all-natural pure essential oils for menstrual cramps and other PMS symptoms is a definite must-have.

We did a side-by-side comparison with two of the world's biggest essential oil brands.


What Is Premenstrual Syndrome?

The most common physical symptoms of PMS that any female of childbearing age has experienced at least once include appetite changes, acne, bloating, breast tenderness, cramps, and fatigue. The emotional and psychological ones, on the other hand, include oversensitivity, depression, and irritability.

The symptoms start appearing at the end of each ovulation cycle and last until menstruation ends. For the unlucky women who have irregular cycles, it often means that this black stretch of time can last for more than two weeks or even for months. 

PMS can get quite bad for some sufferers. Premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) is what we call the more severe form of this condition. It is estimated that it occurs in 3 to 8 percent of menstruating women.

PMDD also shares a lot of the symptoms with PMS, except a lot more severe in many cases. The symptoms more closely linked to it include headache and nausea, panic attacks, heart palpitations, difficulty concentrating, and stomach upset. Psychologically, PMDD could also cause a sufferer to lose interest in everyday things, even in the people and objects she liked or loved before.

A woman may also end up feeling fatigued for no good reason, and when sleeping, she’d either have too little (insomnia) or too much (hypersomnia). All of these symptoms can also be found in clinically depressed patients.

Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps and PMS Symptoms

essential oils for menstrual cramps and pmsAccording to the US Department of Health and Human Services, about 90% of women claim to experience some of the symptoms of PMS. Photo via Pixabay.

 

Different kinds of medications and remedies already exist to help women battle the pain and discomfort of PMS. When you’re battling with nature, it would only seem fair that you also use weapons from nature’s own arsenal, and that’s exactly what essential oils are. 

The following is a list of six essential oils for menstrual cramps that can also help alleviate other symptoms of PMS.

 

1. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

ylang ylang essential oilThe ylang ylang tree can be found in the tropical wilderness of the Pacific archipelagos. Photo by Prenn, Wikimedia Commons.

 

Ylang ylang essential oil comes from a storied and highly useful tree. Popularly dubbed as the “flower of flowers,” ylang ylang is a flowering tree that’s indigenous to the tropical archipelagos of the Pacific, as well as in countries such as Madagascar that share a similar climate. In its native soils, the bewitchingly aromatic ylang ylang flowers, along with other parts of the tree, have been put to many traditional and medicinal uses.

The Science of Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

Once the ylang ylang has been processed using steam distillation into the increasingly famous ylang ylang essential oil, the health benefits one can expect from it multiply. One such benefit is its usefulness in managing many symptoms of PMS.

In addition to being a natural sedative, ylang ylang and its essential oil have analgesic and antidepressant properties. It can thus help relieve aches and pains associated with menstruation. Its known efficacy as a painkiller can lend itself to helping ease cramped abdominal muscles as well as body tensions and headaches.

In its function as a sedative, it can help stop spiraling negative thoughts and replace them with something a little less heavy, if not exactly happier. After all, ylang ylang essential oil can also be a reliable mood booster given how it can induce the production of dopamine in the brain when inhaled.

Lastly, applying ylang ylang essential oil to the skin can help treat acne, which would surely be a welcome effect for those whose monthly cycles won’t give their faces (and, at times, their napes and backs) a break.

 

ylang ylang essential oil

Using Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

The green or yellow ylang ylang blooms have been strewn across marriage beds in Malaysia because they were believed to be an aphrodisiac. Flower garlands made with the calming combo of ylang ylang and jasmine were used in the Philippines not just as a religious offering but also as a soothingly fragrant accent to homes.

Both the Vietnamese and the Javanese peoples used the dried flowers to help treat malaria and other similar diseases. Meanwhile, in the Polynesian islands, the tendril-like blooms are made into paste to help ease respiratory complaints as well as to aid with stomach issues. These are only some of the traditional and medicinal purposes that the actual plant parts have been used for.

When all these benefits are taken together, it’s fairly easy to see just how effective an essential oil like ylang ylang can be for dealing with PMS symptoms.

These essential oils can blend well with ylang ylang essential oil:

  • Patchouli
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon
  • Eucalyptus
  • Cedarwood
  • Bergamot
  • Lemongrass
  • Grapefruit

Learn more about ylang ylang essential oil benefits.

 

2. Lime Essential Oil

lime essential oilAroma Foundry's lime essential oil is extracted from Mexican lime, also called Key lime. Photo via Pixabay.

 

Lime essential oil, as a citrus essential oil, has a few traits that you won't find in other citrus oils. Thus, it's definitely an important essential oil to have for PMS symptoms.

The Science of Lime Essential Oil

For instance, one study has found that when administered to a subject taking obesity-inducing medication, lime essential oil can help curb cravings and hunger pangs which could eventually lead to facilitating weight loss. Though still in need of exploring, the results of this study are enough to make one wonder if the circumstantial appetite-suppressing effect could also be adapted to curb PMS-induced cravings.

In another study, essential oil made from Mexican-grown limes has been found to contain more than thirty previously unreported compounds. In other words, it packs many more potentially beneficial chemicals and functions than other essential oils made from limes grown elsewhere.

Of the 98 compounds identified in the essential oil of Mexican lime (which is also known as Key lime), 22 were found in much higher concentrations than the rest and were therefore considered the main active components. Individually or working in tandem with each other, these compounds offer numerous benefits not just for the body but also for the mind.

Women suffering from PMS typically look for that combo. Along with having antipyretic qualities, lime essential oil can also serve as an antidepressant. It could help cool down and soothe hot flashes that some menstruating women experience, as well as alleviate some of the tension and anxiety preying on their minds.

Lime essential oil’s hemostatic property can be helpful too, especially for women who also have problems with heavy blood flow during menstruation.

Hemostasis is a natural function that promotes blood coagulation in order to stop bleeding. There are cases where heavy menstruation is thought to be directly caused by a disorder of this function, so using something that could help bring it back up to speed would seem intuitive.

Please check with your health provider to find out if you have this disorder. Before putting lime essential oil to this application, consult a qualified aromatherapy practitioner on its proper use and dosage.

lime essential oil

Using Lime Essential Oil

Please also note that cold-pressed citrus essential oils, lime included, can be incredibly potent—unsupervised ingestion of even just a drop can have adverse effects. For topical use, less than a drop is often required to reap the desired benefit. Please see the Precautions section to learn more.

  • Patchouli
  • Lemongrass
  • Lemon
  • Grapefruit
  • Spearmint
  • Ylang ylang
  • Bergamot

Learn more about lime essential oil benefits.

 

3. Lemongrass Essential Oil

lemongrass essential oilLemongrass is a fast-growing plant native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia. Photo by Obsidian Soul, Wikimedia Commons

 

Lemongrass essential oil has a soothing and distinctive aroma, which might be helpful in dealing with the feelings of nausea and discomfort that sometimes comes with PMS.

As an herb, lemongrass is more commonly associated with food, as is only proper because it’s darn delicious. However, that's not all that lemongrass has to offer In many countries where lemongrass is abundant, it’s been used to aid the stimulation of menstrual flow. As was mentioned in the introduction earlier, doing this is often necessary because an irregular menstruation cycle often leads to prolonged PMS.

The Science of Lemongrass Essential Oil

Steam-distilled lemongrass essential oil is a highly concentrated substance that can go a long way even in small amounts. This is definitely a good thing, but it's especially so when you have a lot of PMS symptoms and menstrual issues to deal with.

Lemongrass oil can help with issues such as muscle aches, indigestion, gastrointestinal problems, exhaustion, and acne. These are all things that you might experience before and during menstruation, so lemongrass can definitely be helpful. It's also one of the best essential oils for menstrual cramps because of its ability to help relieve muscle pain.

Additionally, this essential oil’s properties as a soothing sedative can also aid with insomnia, often a PMS symptom. Lemongrass is also an antidepressant, which means it can also help deal with the moodiness and irritation that may come with PMS as well.

lemongrass essential oil

Using Lemongrass Essential Oil

Simply rubbing a few drops of properly diluted lemongrass essential oil over the abdomen, neck, and/or temples can do a world of good. Make sure, however, that you dilute the essential oil sufficiently in a carrier oil so it won't cause skin irritation.

You can also diffuse lemongrass oil, either by itself or with a couple of other essential oils.

These essential oils blend well with lemongrass essential oil:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Cedarwood
  • Patchouli
  • Ylang ylang
  • Lime
  • Lemon
  • Tea tree
  • Spearmint
  • Rosemary
  • Bergamot

Learn more about lemongrass essential oil benefits.

 

4. Sage Essential Oil

sage essential oilSage essential oil is known to be a natural emmenagogue or inducer of menstrual flow. Photo via Pixabay.

 

Sage essential oil has deep roots in history. As an herb, sage was held to be sacred by the Ancient Greeks and Romans. It was also used in purifying ceremonies by Native Americans, who burned the aromatic herb in preparation for sacred rituals. During Medieval Times, thieves also burned sage to avoid catching the bubonic plague while robbing houses.

The Science of Sage Essential Oil

Similar to lemongrass oil discussed earlier, sage essential oil is also a natural emmenagogue, or an inducer of menstrual flow. Aside from this primary purpose, however, emmenagogues have also been known to facilitate the release of hormones such as estrogen. These hormones will then aid in promoting a smoother menstrual course with less pain and fewer PMS symptoms.

Sage essential oil works effectively in this way likely because it works on a deeper level on the body. Hormonal imbalance is one of the main culprits for why women suffer so much when on their periods. Fortunately, sage essential oil can help the body release the right hormones that can help prevent cramps and discomfort.

sage essential oil

Using Sage Essential Oil

While essential oils are typically diffused, sage essential oil might also work just as well -- if not better -- when applied topically to ease pain and discomfort. Make sure to dilute it properly in a carrier oil before application.

Dilution makes sure that the highly concentrated essential oil won't irritate your skin. The carrier oil also ensures that the essential oil will stay longer on your skin, since pure essential oils evaporate quickly when exposed to air.

These essential oils can blend well with sage essential oil:

  • Bergamot
  • Lemon
  • Rosemary
  • Tea tree

Learn more about sage essential oil benefits.

 

5. Cedarwood Essential Oil

cedarwood essential oilCedarwood essential oil can help alleviate PMS symptoms through topical application or as inhalants. Photo via Pixabay.

 

Cedarwood essential oil can help regulate and, perhaps eventually, stabilize a woman’s menstrual cycle. It can also be put to use in helping remove skin blemishes like acne, relieve muscle aches and internal spasms, induce restful sleep, clear toxins from the body, and improve mental and emotional balance. Thus, it's one of the most effective essential oils for menstrual cramps and PMS.

The Science of Cedarwood Essential Oil

As with other essential oils, cedarwood oil works its wonders through two main pathways.

One is through topical application, wherein the beneficial molecules of the essential oil seep into the skin and are absorbed into the bloodstream. If there’s an infection within the body, the essential oil contains compounds that can help thwart the progress of that infection. Of course, you should not rely on essential oils alone to deal with infections, especially when these infections are severe.

The second pathway is through inhalation, which is what aromatherapy through diffusion is all about. The scent of essential oils is made of microdroplets of the very same material. As such, it also contains most of benefits, if not the full range of benefits.

These microdroplets often give a more immediate and readily perceivable effect because they enter the body through the limbic system. This system is not just in charge of processing smells, it is also directly responsible for regulating emotions. If you’ve ever felt a deep sense of nostalgia after getting a whiff of a familiar scent, this is the main reason.

Of course, after passing through the nose, the microdroplets of the essential oil would then reach the lungs. Similar to how this organ can process nicotine out of cigarette smoke and then send that chemical throughout the body, the lungs can convert the components within the essential oil microdroplets into materials that the body can make use of. 

cedarwood essential oil

Using Cedarwood Essential Oil

Cedarwood essential oil is full of beneficial properties -- anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antidepressant, and more all at once. It can help improve not just your body’s health but also your mind’s balance.

You can use cedarwood oil topically, and you can also diffuse it and utilize it in aromatherapy.

The following essential oils blend well with cedarwood essential oil:

  • Patchouli
  • Basil
  • Tea tree
  • Grapefruit
  • Rosemary
  • Eucalyptus
  • Ylang ylang
  • Bergamot
  • Lemongrass
  • Lemon

Learn more about cedarwood essential oil benefits.

 

6. Eucalyptus Essential Oil

eucalyptus essential oil
Eucalyptus oil has a lot to offer, from helping you maintain hygiene to repelling insects. Photo via Freepik.

 

Eucalyptus essential oil comes from the eucalyptus, an evergreen tree that’s perhaps best-known as the major source of sustenance for koalas and other marsupials. The expedition led by the British explorer John Cook in 1770 paved the way for Australia's eucalyptus to be introduced into other places around the world. Since then, studies have discovered that eucalyptus has a wide range of benefits.

The Science of Eucalyptus Essential Oil

The bark, leaves, and timber of eucalyptus trees are all considered to be useful in many ways. The leaves in particular produce eucalyptus essential oil, which offers a wide variety of health benefits that can help manage a range of health issues and other problems you might encounter, such as menstrual cramps.

Menstrual cramps can vary in severity; some women feel only a slight discomfort, while others experience severe pain that can become difficult to deal with. These cramps are caused by a number of factors, such as endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease, cervical stenosis, and adenomyosis. Of course, the uterus also contracts during menstruation in order to shed lining, which can cause cramps as well.

Anti-inflammatory medications have been proven to be helpful in managing menstrual cramps and pain. A study on the causes of period pain suggests that inflammation might be the culprit, though there’s still more to be looked into.

Fortunately, eucalyptus essential oil works well as an anti-inflammatory, and can thus help you with menstrual cramps. Eucalyptus also works as an analgesic and can help soothe muscles.

Additionally, eucalyptus oil can help lift your mood, relieve stress, and remove feelings of tiredness and fatigue. This can be great for the exhaustion that you might feel during menstruation.

eucalyptus

 

Using Eucalyptus Essential Oil

While you can certainly diffuse eucalyptus essential oil on its own, you can also blend it with other essential oils to build a great aroma blend. Other essential oils can also provide benefits and properties that eucalyptus essential oil might lack.

Another way to use eucalyptus is topical application. Make sure to dilute any essential oil first in a compatible carrier oil before you put it on your skin.

You can blend eucalyptus essential oil with the following essential oils:

  • Rosemary
  • Lemon
  • Cedarwood
  • Ylang ylang
  • Bergamot
  • Lemongrass
  • Tea tree
  • Spearmint

Learn more about eucalyptus essential oil benefits.

Precautions

Do not ingest essential oils. Only a few essential oils can be classified as non-toxic and safe for internal consumption, but they must be processed further—by placing drops of it inside veggie capsules, for instance—and ingestion should only be done under the recommendation and direct supervision of a qualified professional. Swallowing even just a few drops of an undiluted essential oil, especially citrus-based ones, can burn the linings of your mouth and throat.

Please exercise due caution as well when applying essential oils topically. Before any extensive application, perform a patch test first to check for irritation or an allergic reaction. Only use the recommended number of drops for each essential oil during every use, and properly dilute it in carrier agents like fractionated coconut oil or virgin/extra-virgin olive oil.

Some of the milder essential oils may be diluted in a 1:1 ratio of drop/tsp. For some, like cold-pressed citrus oils, less than a drop must be diluted in a tablespoon of carrier agent. “Less than a drop” is what you’d get if you dip a toothpick into the oil bottle’s opening.

Cold pressing produces essential oils from citruses straight from the rind or peel, and these oils are especially powerful, concentrated, and acidic. When applied to the skin, not only is ample dilution required beforehand, sun exposure must also be avoided for at least 12 hours afterwards.

Most cold-pressed citrus essential oils are highly photosensitive, which means that the oils react strongly to the sun even when they’re in their own bottles. When that oil is already on your skin and it comes in contact with sunlight, it can cause serious burns, irritation, and/or pigmentation. If going out in the sun cannot be avoided, make sure to wear ample layers of sun-protective clothing.

essential oil bottlesEssential oils offer much-needed help when going through difficult premenstrual periods. Photo via Pixabay.

 

Additional Precautions

Essential oil bottles are typically made from amber-colored glass that offer some measure of protection from harmful rays. If you’re blending substantial amounts of essential oil, make sure to store them in airtight and light-filtering glass bottles to prevent them from oxidizing or otherwise losing their potency and effectiveness. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: Most of the six essential oils for PMS discussed here are emmenagogues. Please check if the symptoms you’re experiencing are not actually those of the early stages of pregnancy, as they can be similar. Emmenagogues are not typically strong enough to induce a miscarriage, but they may cause serious complications.

If you’re pregnant, lactating, and/or taking medication for any kind of condition, please refrain from using essential oils.

Unless directed and supervised by a health provider or a qualified aromatherapy practitioner, essential oils are not recommended for use on very young children.

Avoid contact with eyes and other mucous membranes as this would cause severe irritation.

In case of undiluted contact with skin, wash away with olive oil or other such carrier agents. Do not use water. Lastly, keep essential oils away from the reach of children and pets.

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How to Use Essential Oils to Combat PMS Symptoms

The beauty of alternative treatments like using essential oils is that they pose very little danger. Whatever danger there is usually has something to do with misapplication. As long as you’re careful about their use, the benefits could be limitless, and you won’t have to worry about negative side effects like addiction, increased tolerance, or overdosing.

In this section, we’ll give you the basic examples of how you can use the six essential oils we listed and packaged to help manage chronic PMS symptoms.

 

1. Aromatherapy Blends

aromatherapyEssential oils can be used as fragrancing elements for candles. Photo via Pixabay.

 

Although loaded in their own right with healing properties, there are times when using just one essential oil for a particular combination of conditions just wouldn’t do the trick. The solution? Blend together several types of essential oils into cocktails too—in a mixture that’s specifically designed to target any and all of your ailments, leaving no holes unplugged.

For use in aromatherapy, simply pop several drops of your blend into a diffuser and, for a few minutes up to an hour, deeply inhale your way into feeling better. The exact amount of drops would largely depend on the oils you choose to add. If there’s cold-pressed citrus in there, make sure your diffuser is intended or safe for its use and add fewer drops.

Heavier oils like cedarwood typically also require fewer drops as they are “base notes” whose fragrances last a long time. For flowery middle notes, more drops of oils like ylang ylang can be appropriate. Citrus oils are usually used as top notes as their scents are the first to dissipate.

Of course, you can also group these essential oils together based on the similarities of the benefits you could expect from them and not just for the delights of their combined scents. Note too that in aromatherapy, these blends would work best as a preventive measure in the days leading up to your period. (For quicker relief during PMS, see the next subsection.)

The following are some blends you could try that target specific groups of PMS symptoms.

Fatigue

    • Lime essential oil
    • Sage essential oil
    • Cedarwood essential oil

Depression

    • Lime essential oil
    • Lemongrass essential oil
    • Ylang ylang essential oil

Dysmenorrhea*

    • Eucalyptus essential oil
    • Ylang ylang essential oil
    • Sage essential oil
    • Cedarwood essential oil
    • Lemongrass essential oil
    • Lime essential oil

You can blend any and all six essential oils for relief from your personal PMS bag of symptoms. We encourage you to try mixing and matching essential oils in order to come up with the formula that suits your condition best.

For added convenience, Aroma Foundry pulled all six into a collection so you won’t have to scour and browse for each one and pay for the full price, especially if you find after experimentation that you won’t require all of them.

 

2. Massage Oils and Salve Blends

salve recipesAdding essential oils to massage oil and cream blends is a creative way to reap their benefits. Photo via Pixabay.

 

If you find that daily aromatherapy sessions aren’t your thing, or if you’re simply seeking faster relief from your PMS pains, blending essential oils with carrier agents suitable for massage use might be the better option for you. As with the aromatherapy blends, group any or all of these six PMS-relieving essential oils according to your needs.

You can make enough massage oil for a single use or a larger quantity for storage. You can also create your very own healing salve that you can use whenever you need to.

Massage Oil Blend

Ingredients:

    1. Carrier agent: This can be any skin-friendly oil of your choice, but the ones used more often are coconut oil (fractionated), olive oil, avocado oil, or jojoba oil.
    2. Essential oils: Use your blend of essential oils for menstrual cramps and PMS.
    3. Glass bottle: Even if you only plan to blend enough for a single use, you’ll need at least a small-sized glass bottle where you could blend your essential oils.

Instructions:

Add the essential oils together first and let them combine thoroughly for a time before adding the massage oil. The standard is 1:1 drop/ml of essential oil and carrier oil, to be adjusted accordingly for cold-pressed citruses. If you’re blending more for long-term use, store in a dark glass roller bottle  for ease of use and to preserve its effectiveness for longer.

Homemade Salve

Ingredients:

    1. Beeswax: This is to serve as the salve base. You’ll need about 15 ml worth of beeswax, which is roughly equivalent to 0.5 fl oz.
    2. Carrier agent: Same as with the massage oil.
    3. glass jar for long-term storage.
    4. Your choice of essential oils for PMS. To start with, we recommend the essential oils of eucalyptus, sage, ylang ylang, and cedarwood.

Instructions:

Mix 20 to 30 drops each of the essential oils. Allow the mixture to blend for a time. Meanwhile, using a saucepan, heat your massage oil of choice with the beeswax pellets until everything is melted and mixed smoothly, then transfer the mixture to the jar.

Allow the mixture to cool for at least ten minutes before incorporating your blend of essential oils. When you incorporate the oils, stir carefully but thoroughly.

The massage oil blend in your roller bottle can also be applied to your pulse points, including the ankles, for an invisible shield against pain or mood swings. The salve, meanwhile, can help you relieve body pains associated with PMS by rubbing ample amounts in the affected areas.

As a bonus, you’ll also be able to inhale the wonderful mixture of soothing scents that you came up with yourself.


Check out our special pack containing all the oils mentioned here in Our Shop.

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Summary

Being a woman is difficult enough at the best of times. Monthly struggles with PMS can definitely compound that difficulty.

Here on Aroma Foundry, we understand that PMS and other menstrual woes can be complicated to deal with. With that in mind, we offer a convenient 6-pack bundle of essential oils for menstrual cramps and PMS. Ylang ylang, cedarwood, sage, lemongrass, lime, and eucalyptus — any of these essential oils on its own can give you some measure of relief from PMS. wholesale essential oils

References

  1. "DIY PMS Essential Oil Blend: Eliminate Your PMS Mood Swings." The Pistachio Project. February 09, 2017. https://pistachioproject.com/2017/02/eliminate-pms-mood-swings.html.
  2. Stöppler, Melissa Conrad. "What Is PMS (Premenstrual Syndrome)? Symptoms, Signs & Treatment." MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/premenstrual_syndrome/article.htm#can_exercise_help_relieve_some_of_the_symptoms_of_pms_premenstrual_syndrome.
  3. Stöppler, Melissa Conrad. "Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder Symptoms & Treatment." MedicineNet. https://www.medicinenet.com/premenstrual_dysphoric_disorder_pmdd/article.htm#how_is_pmdd_diagnosed.
  4. Study suggests that inflammation is behind period pain - https://www.nhs.uk/news/neurology/study-suggests-that-inflammation-is-behind-period-pain/
  5. Menstrual cramps - https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menstrual-cramps/symptoms-causes/syc-20374938
  6. "Health Benefits of Eucalyptus Essential Oil" Organic Facts, https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/essential-oils/health-benefits-of-eucalyptus-essential-oil.html
  7. “Eucalyptus Oil: Essential Oil Extraordinaire” Mercola, http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/eucalyptus-oil.aspx
View all resources

 

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  1. Background
  2. Essential Oils for Menstrual Cramps and PMS Symptoms
    1. Ylang Ylang
    2. Lime
    3. Lemongrass
    4. Sage
    5. Cedarwood
    6. Eucalyptus
  3. Precautions
  4. How to Use Essential Oils to Combat PMS Symptoms
  5. Summary
  6. References