The 6 Best Essential Oils for PMS Symptoms: Descriptions, Benefits, and Applications

Cursed with suffering symptoms of premenstrual syndrome each menstrual cycle? The good news, if you could really call it such, is that you’re not alone. Millions of women around the world are put down or even left completely incapacitated each day whenever their nasty friend visits. And this natural phenomenon could affect not just the person 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’ve been seeing a rise in society’s awareness about how debilitating PMS can be in some sufferers. The medical community has given it official recognition as a medical condition in 1931, and after further studies, it’s been consolidated into the body of symptoms we now call “premenstrual syndrome.”

Premenstrual Syndrome affects both physical and psychological well-being. Photo Source: Pixabay

In recent years, a growing number of companies has been allowing their female workers to take sick leaves whenever they’re near or on their periods, simply because they’ve seen how counterproductive it can be if they let women work when they’re not feeling well and cannot perform at their best. They’ve recognized that PMS is a sickness much like how the common cold or the flu is a sickness.

This is fantastic progress, but there are still instances when it’s not enough, especially since symptoms can last for days or even weeks at a time. This is where a clutch in the form of essential oils can prove very helpful, and we’ll explain how in a moment, but first, let’s take a closer look at what PMS is in order to understand how it can be dealt with.


  • Introduction
  • Essential Oils for PMS Symptoms
    1. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
    2. Lime Essential Oil
    3. Lemongrass Essential Oil
    4. Sage Essential Oil
    5. Cedarwood Essential Oil
    6. Lavender Essential Oil
  • Precautions
  • How to Use Essential Oils to Combat PMS Symptoms
  • Summary
  • Bibliography

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 lasts 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. If they’re prone to acne, you could just imagine the number that that length of time does on their skin. If they’re prone to depression… well, you get the picture.

Sadly, these scenarios aren’t even close to how much worse PMS could get 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. In a room of one hundred females on their periods, this means that up to eight of them would be on the floor, either writhing in pain or completely unresponsive.

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 objects she liked or loved before, including people. She 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.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, about 90% of women claim to experience some of the symptoms of PMS. Photo Source: Pixabay

And all of these are still in the realm of “pre.” That is to say, women can joyfully expect a truckload of other things when the actual period starts. Things like incapacitating abdominal cramps, hand in hand with extremely negative thought patterns that goes something like “Why am I a woman? No, forget that—why am I even alive?”

We hope that by this point, we’ve given you to understand just how serious and, at times, life-threatening PMS and it is more severe form PMDD can be. We tried to be upbeat about it because there’ll really be nothing left to live for if we can’t laugh in the face of life’s inescapable realities. But we also wanted to impart how much we understand what you (or someone close to you) are going through.

We’re also well aware that all sorts of medications exist to help sufferers at least manage their symptoms, but many have side effects that could cause more harm than good in the long run, especially since they’d need to be taken month after month. 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. Following is a list of six essential oils with properties that have been known to alleviate symptoms of PMS.

Essential Oils for PMS Symptoms

The ylang ylang tree can be found in the tropical wilderness of the Pacific archipelagos. Photo Source: Prenn, Wikimedia Commons

1. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil

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 green or yellow ylang ylang blooms have been strewn across marriage beds in Malaysia because of its peoples’ belief in its function as an aphrodisiac. Flower garlands made with the calming combo of ylang ylang and jasmine are used in the Philippines not just as a religious offering but also as a soothingly fragrant accent to their spaces. Both the Vietnamese and the Javanese peoples have used the dried flowers to help treat malaria and other similar diseases, while in the Polynesian islands, the tendril-like blooms have been made into paste to help ease respiratory complaints as well as to aid with stomach issues.

And these are only some of the traditional and medicinal purposes that the actual plant parts have been put to. 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. What does this spell for chronic sufferers of PMS? For one thing, it can help them 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 soothe away 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 could 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.

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. And we’ve only just started.

Learn more about ylang ylang essential oil.

Aroma Foundry's lime essential oil is extracted from Mexican lime, also called Key lime. Photo Source: Pixabay

2. Lime Essential Oil

As a citrus, lime shares many of its family members’ qualities, but there are also a few traits lime and its essential oil can boast of that its relatives cannot. 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 much 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 are found in much higher concentrations than the rest and are therefore considered its 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. And specific to women who also have problems with heavy blood flow during menstruation, lime essential oil’s property as a hemostatic can be especially helpful.

Hemostasis is a natural function that acts to promote 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.

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.

Learn more about lime essential oil.

Lemongrass is a fast-growing plant native to the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia. Photo Source: Obsidian Soul, Wikimedia Commons

3. Lemongrass Essential Oil

Lemongrass is more commonly associated with food, as is only proper because it’s darn delicious. But lemongrass in its tea and essential oil forms can also be put to purposes other than enhancing soups’ flavors. In many countries where lemongrass is abundant, it’s been used to aid women stimulate menstrual flow. As was mentioned in the introduction earlier, doing this much is often necessary because an irregular menstruation cycle often equals a prolonged PMS. And a prolonged PMS equals hell on earth.

When made into tea, lemongrass can also serve to relieve cramping and nausea in women already menstruating. To get this same benefit from lemongrass essential oil, simply rubbing a few drops of properly diluted oil over the abdomen, neck, and/or temples could do just as well. Lemongrass essential oil’s properties as a soothing sedative can also aid with insomnia, often a PMS symptom. And as with ylang ylang essential oil, lemongrass’ other properties, like being an antidepressant and an astringent, can also work in tandem to help deal with the diverse symptoms of PMS like moodiness, irritation, and acne.

Although some would recommend making tea out of lemongrass oil itself, please bear in mind that oil, by nature, is not water-soluble. Essential oils will need to be processed further to be put to such a purpose, which as often as not isn’t worth the trouble. Also, ingesting essential oils in their pure state can be dangerous because its highly concentrated form can burn or damage the sensitive linings of the mouth and throat. Please exercise due caution and consult a qualified professional before putting essential oils into uses for which they’ve not been originally intended.

Learn more about lemongrass essential oil.

Sage essential oil is known to be a natural emmenagogue or inducer of menstrual flow. Photo Source: Pixabay

4. Sage Essential Oil

Sage has deep roots in history. It was held to be sacred by the Ancient Greeks and Romans, the latter of which gave it the name “salvere,” meaning “to save.” It’s also been used in purifying ceremonies by Native Americans, who burned the aromatic herb in preparation for sacred rituals. During Medieval Times, thieves also burned sage, not in order to pray but in order to avoid catching the bubonic plague from the stricken households they’re in the middle of robbing blind.

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, which would then aid in promoting a smoother menstrual course with less pain and fewer PMS symptoms.

A likely reason for why this component of sage essential oil (which is also shared by lemongrass and a few others) can prove effective for this is that it works on a deeper level on the body. Hormonal imbalance is one of the main culprits for why women suffer so when on their periods, which means that helping the body settle the waves inside it might go a long way into providing smoother sailing in daily life as well—even on days when that water flows red.

Learn more about sage essential oil.

Cedarwood essential oil can help alleviate PMS symptoms through topical application or as inhalants. Photo Source: Pixabay

5. Cedarwood Essential Oil

Here’s another natural emmenagogue for you. Also similar to sage, cedarwood essential oil’s use is steeped in history and is widespread across many cultures. And as with other essential oils, cedarwood works its wonders through two main pathways.

One is through topical application, wherein the beneficial molecules of the plants’ essence seep into the skin and are absorbed into the bloodstream. They then work their way naturally towards the areas that they deem to be in need of fixing. If there’s an infection within the body, the components within the oil that are designed to help thwart it would zero in and attack. Of course, they might not be able to defeat it in one go, but repeated application should be able to help eliminate the infection and other such issues.

The second way of getting essential oils’ bounty 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 materials. As such, it also contains the full range of benefits that the heavier oil still in the bottle—or being absorbed by the skin—carries. 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 would process nicotine out of cigarette smoke and then send that chemical throughout the body, the lungs would convert the components within the essential oil microdroplets into materials that the body can make use of. As they’re chock-full of beneficial properties (what with being an anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antidepressant, and more all at once), you can just imagine the range of possibilities they could offer in terms of improving not just your body’s health but also your mind’s balance.

Similar with ylang ylang essential oil and the others on this list, it isn’t just one or two symptoms of PMS that cedarwood essential oil can help alleviate. In conjunction with helping to regulate and, perhaps eventually, stabilize a woman’s menstrual cycle, it could 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.

If these potential benefits doesn’t quite tick off every checkbox in your personal list of PMS woes, however, you might be better-served to try the art of essential oil blending. Later, we’ll assist you in getting started on that path. For now, see this last in our list of six essential oils for PMS symptoms.

Learn more about cedarwood essential oil.

Lavender essential oil is known to help relieve anxiety and stress. Photo Source: Pixabay

6. Lavender Essential Oil

Even a complete layman in the world of essential oils has probably heard about lavender before. In fact, lavender has become so universally famous, we could start calling it the high ambassadress for all essential oils and no one would call us out for exaggerating. Probably.

Lavender and its essential oil are most famous for those baby commercials tinted all purple, advertising its powerfully soothing and incredibly fragrant scent. These properties are so well-known, they’ve completely overshadowed the other things that lavender essential oil could be good for. Helping manage symptoms of PMS… is NOT one of those ignored uses, which is actually saying something about its relative effectiveness to that end. It would take a lot to stand up to those lavender baby commercials, wouldn’t you agree?

When it works its way to your body either by being rubbed topically or by being diffused into the air you breathe, lavender essential oil facilitates a smoother flow of blood not just to all your limbs but also within your uterus. Severe cramping can also sometimes be caused by clotted blood that cannot easily be expelled. Similar to how a river with strong currents doesn’t freeze even in winter, this property of lavender would also help keep menstrual blood from congealing, allowing it to flow freely out when it should and thereby helping eliminate the pain you might otherwise feel. And this isn’t the only way lavender can offer you a break from nature’s loving torture.

Multiple studies on lavender essential oil has shown that it has a high degree of effectiveness when it comes to relieving body pains like muscle soreness, migraines, and stomach pains. Its calming effect can also serve to reduce the feelings of anxiety brought on by PMS. Soothing nerves that have been frazzled and tattered for no good reason could go a long way into decreasing the persistent feelings of misery that PMS sufferers feel.

Learn more about lavender essential oil.

You can see a whole range of pure and all-natural essential oils from this collection.

Precautions

Due to the highly concentrated nature of essential oils, it is not recommended to ingest them directly, if at all. 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 it 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 citrus-based oils which are more often than not extracted using the cold pressing method, less than a drop must be diluted in a tablespoon (not a teaspoon) of carrier agent. Note that “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 twenty-four hours afterwards. 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’s already on your skin and it comes in contact with sunlight, it could cause serious burns, irritation, and/or pigmentation. If going out in the sun cannot be avoided, please wear ample layers of sun-protective clothing.

Essential oils offer much-needed help when going through difficult premenstrual periods. Photo Source: Pixabay

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. Whether they were made through cold pressing or standard steam distillation, essential oils that have oxidized are no longer viable for use.

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 and can be life-threatening.

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 in 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, please treat essential oils like any other type of medication and keep them away from the reach of children and pets.

How to Use Essential Oils to Combat PMS Symptoms

The beauty of alternative treatments like using essential oils is that it poses very little danger, most of which have 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, upped tolerance, or overdosing. All of which are things that cannot be said about synthetic drugs. In this section, we’ll give you the basic examples of how you could use the six essential oils we listed and packaged to help manage chronic PMS symptoms.

Essential oils can be used as fragrancing elements for candles. Photo Source: Pixabay

1. Aromatherapy Blends

Although loaded in their own right with healing properties, there are times when using just one essential oil for a particular cocktail 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 fragrance last a long time. For flowery middle notes, more drops of oils like lavender and ylang ylang could be used. Citrus oils are usually used as top notes as their scents are the first to dissipate.

Of course, you could also group together these essential oils 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 these blends’ use for aromatherapy would work best as a preventive measure in the days leading up to your courses. (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

Depression

Dysmenorrhea*

*Notice how we didn’t make things easy for you. The fact of the matter is, 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 to ease your personal brand of misery.

Adding essential oils to massage oil and cream blends is a creative way to reap their benefits. Photo Source: Pixabay

2. Massage Oils and Salve Blends

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 could also create your very own healing salve you could reach for whenever you need it.

Here are some things for you to gather; for a massage oil:

    1. Carrier agent: This could be any skin-friendly oil of your choice, but the more often used are coconut oil (fractionated), olive oil, avocado oil, or jojoba oil.
    2. 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 oils together first and let them meld thoroughly for a time before adding the measure of 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-time use, store in a dark glass roller bottle for ease of use and to preserve its effectiveness for longer.

For making a salve, you’ll need:

    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. A glass jar for long-term storage.
    4. Your choice of essential oils for dealing with PMS. But to start with, we recommend the essential oils of lavender, sage, ylang ylang, and cedarwood.

Instructions:

Mix 20 up to 30 drops each of the essential oils, the allocation depending on which essential oils have the properties you’ll need more of. Allow the mixture to blend and meld 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 to the jar. Allow it to cool for at least ten minutes before incorporating your blend of essential oils. Stir carefully but thoroughly.

And you’re ready! The massage oil blend in your roller bottle could also serve to anoint your pulse points, including the ankles, for an invisible shield against pain or mood swings you could carry with you all day. The salve would serve best to help you relieve body pains associated with PMS by rubbing ample measures in the affected areas. As a bonus, you’ll also be able to inhale the wonderful mixture of healing scents that you came up with yourself. Congratulations! And may your lady friend always play nicely from here on.

Overcoming premenstrual syndrome enables women to be more productive and to freely enjoy life. Photo Source: Pexels

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

Summary

Aroma Foundry PMS Essentials Collection

Being a woman is difficult enough at the best of times. When monthly struggles with PMS compound that difficulty, it can become so easy to say “Screw it all, I’m done” that you might even scare yourself for having such a thought once you’re back on your feet. And no, it’s not just in your mind. Here at Aroma Foundry, that’s what we want you to take away, if nothing else. The struggles are real, and if you could do something to make all these life-interfering stuff go away, you’d do it, no questions asked.

We understand, and that’s the entire reason we came up with not just our line of high-quality essential oils but also with a convenient 6-pack bundle that seeks to give an answer to all your PMS problems. Ylang Ylang, Cedarwood, Sage, Lemongrass, Lime, and Lavender—any of these essential oils on its own can give you some measure of relief from PMS. But if they’re blended and used together? We rest our case.

Bibliography

  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.
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