I’ve shared my favorite remedies for PMS and cramps before, but I’ve gotten a lot of questions about essential oils for hormone balance lately and wanted to share some experience with this as well.
Essential oils can be very powerful and effective when used correctly, but because of their power they also carry their share of risks. Check with a qualified health practitioner before using essential oils or any other remedy, especially if you are pregnant or have a health condition.
What is PMS?
Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, is a name that refers to a combination of symptoms that women can suffer from in the week before menstruation. It is estimated by The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that nearly 85% of women suffer from some PMS symptoms. (1) These symptoms can include:
- Tension or anxiety
- Mood swings or depressed mood
- Appetite changes and food cravings
- Difficulty sleeping
- Change in sex drive
- Joint or muscle pain
- Fluid retention
- Breast tenderness
- Digestive problems like constipation or diarrhea
Thankfully, the symptoms of PMS begin to dissipate once menstruation begins. The problem is that often times this begins a whole other set of menstrual symptoms such as abdominal cramping, nausea, diarrhea, back pain and more headaches.
Essential Oils for Hormone Balance
Many women have great success with using essential oils for hormone balance and to alleviate cramping, PMS and other symptoms. In many cases, using an essential oils safely (topically and diluted) can help alleviate the struggles of PMS and even helping hormones balance over time.
It is important to note that many of these oils should not be used during pregnancy (and no oil should be used during pregnancy without consulting a healthcare practitioner). Some essential oils can cause uterine contractions and cramping during pregnancy.
In researching essential oils for women’s hormone issues, there were several essential oils that were often recommended, especially clary sage, lavender, and peppermint. There are many others (including geranium, fennel, roman chamomile, bergamot, grapefruit, rose, ylang ylang, cypress, and rosemary) but I’m going to focus mostly on these 2 oils (and peppermint) because they seem to be the most well researched for providing relief of hormonal symptoms for women.
Most of the big name essential oil companies carry their own brand of hormone balancing oil blends for women. Almost all of them include clary sage as their primary oil for PMS and women’s hormone imbalances and with good reason. Clary sage is a powerhouse when it comes to helping women. It’s wonderful for alleviating pain, reducing the feeling of stress, and improving hormone balance (that about sums all of our pms/menstrual problems up right there).
How does clary sage work for hormone balance?
Clary sage has unique hormone like components that help to balance out estrogen production in the body. Studies show that clary sage reduces pms and menstrual cramps.(2,3) In fact, it is so effective at relieving pain, another study showed clary sage to be quite effective in also relieving pain in childbirth (again, check with a healthcare practitioner).(4)
Lavender is one of the most well researched essential oils. It has so many beneficial properties including helping balance hormones, offering pain relief (particularly abdominal cramps associated with PMS and menstrual symptoms), as well as decreasing feelings of stress and depression, calming the stomach, and relieving headaches.
One of the most frustrating symptoms of PMS or hormone imbalance is feeling emotional or sometimes suddenly depressed, often for no apparent reason. Research shows that inhalation of lavender can alleviate some of the depression and emotional symptoms of PMS.(5) Simply inhaling lavender for 10 minutes can begin to lessen these symptoms.(6,7)
Personally, I prefer to use essential oils aromatically by diffusing them into the air. Not only is this typically much safer than using topically or internally, but it can provide many of the same benefits (and it often smells wonderful). I reviewed some of the best oil diffusers found to disperse essential oils into the air in this post.
Using a diffuser would be a perfect way to inhale lavender in order to relieve PMS symptoms. Clary Sage and lavender are a wonderful combination to diffuse into the air to relieve stress or they can also be used individually.
While peppermint isn’t a typically used oil for PMS or menstrual issues, many women suffer from headaches during the premenstrual or menstrual periods of their month. Peppermint oil is known to significantly reduce the intensity of headaches.(10)
In fact, in one study, peppermint oil was found to be as effective in relieving headache pain as 1,000 mg of acetaminophen but without any adverse reactions.(11) It can also help to lift the brain fog that many of us have during some of our more hormonal times of the month (12).
Many oil manufacturers sell peppermint oils in a roll on applicator that can be applied to the forehead. I prefer to make my own headache roll on stick so I can control the strength of the essential oils and make sure they aren’t too strong for my skin.
How I’ve Used Essential Oils for Hormone Balance
As I mentioned, I prefer to use essential oils topically (diluted) or aromatically for hormone related issues or for any other purpose. Essential oils can be so powerful that this is often all that is needed to get the benefits and it reduces the risk of allergic reaction and other problems that can happen when essential oils are used undiluted or taken internally.
These are some of the ways I like to use essential oils for hormone balance…
PMS Bath Blend
I add 3 drops of clary sage, 2 drops of chamomile, 2 drops of geranium and 2 drops of lavender to a warm bath. Mixing these oils with 1/4 cup Epsom salt before adding to the bath will help keep the oils from floating on top of the water and will include the benefits of magnesium.
PMS Hormonal Balance Blend
PMS is largely influenced by the imbalance of hormones and neurotransmitters that is caused by hormone fluctuations before menstruation. Because of this, improving the balance of hormones and neurotransmitters can help alleviate the symptoms of PMS and other female hormone issues.
A simple aromatherapy formula is 2 drops of clary sage oil, 1 drop of geranium oil and 1 drop of ylang ylang oil.
“Clary sage oil can promote the release of dopamine in the brain and, therefore, help lift your mood. It also modulates the level of estrogen in the body. Geranium oil influences the release of adrenal hormones and also reduces fluctuations in hormone levels.”(13)
Menstrual Massage Blend
I use 6 drops of lavender, 3 drops each of clary sage and 3 drops of rose oil. Combine these with 4 teaspoons of a carrier oil such as coconut, sweet almond, or jojoba oil. This oil blend can then be rubbed on the abdomen, back, or all over the body.
Essential oils have been used therapeutically for centuries but we are just beginning to see published data on what many civilizations have already known. Hopefully, more studies will be done in the future and so that we’ll be able to gain more knowledge of the best ways to use these oils in our daily lives.
Do you use oils to help manage PMS or menstrual pain? What oils have you found to be effective and how do you use them?