PMS and Essential Oils

 

 

 

PMS and Essential Oils

 

 

by Sandra Beatty, CCA, BA, AAS

CERTIFIED CLINICAL AROMATHERAPIST

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STUDY

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This article was originally published in the [June 2019] issue of AromaCulture Magazine (www.aromaculture.com) and has been adapted for use here with permission from the publisher.

During a woman’s life, there are a number of natural hormonal transitions from the onset of menses, to child bearing and then the cessation of menstruation at menopause.  This constant changing environment has a profound effect upon a woman’s day to day health and comfort. The use of plant medicine predates recorded history. It has been used effectively to comfort and balance the female endocrine system throughout the ages.

As in the past, we see a continued need for support to ease fluctuating hormones and the natural consequences on the female body. Some of the concerns that affect the majority of women include Premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

PMS  is a combination of symptoms that affect many women about a week or two before their period. According to the Office of Women’s Health, about 90% of all women experience mild to moderate PMS. 1

In 2012, a study was conducted with 408 women to determine the prevalence of menstrual pain and other PMS symptoms.2  This study concluded that menstrual pain is a very common problem along with other discomforts.  Details of the study include:

  • 1% of women experience menstrual pain
  • 1% reporting that pain occurred during every period
  • Associated symptoms 7%
    • Depression 7%
    • Headache 7%
    • Acne 5%
    • Nausea/vomiting 8%
    • Lack of appetite 10%
  • Use of medicines 6%
  • School performance reduced 8%
  • Social performance reduced 6%
  • Absenteeism 9%

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BASICS

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Along with physical expressions of PMS most women at some point report emotional and stress related reactions such as: irritability, depression, anxiety and cognitive processing. Studies are indicating particular coritsol profiles are connected with these reactions during PMS. 3

On average a woman has about 450 menstrual cycles in the course of her lifetime.  The repetitive nature of the female endocrine system makes it important to utilize natural tools to help reduce the impact of oscillating hormones. Along with basic health conscious choices like diet, exercise and sleep, there are a number of plant based options to help manage this constantly changing environment. With the resurgence and current mass appeal of essential oils, this plant medicine can be highly effective in reducing the number of symptoms and discomforts associated with fluctuating female hormones.

As with all plant medicine it is important to remember that herbs and oils are supportive therapy and it is crucial to continue to encourage the client to work with their health care provider to find the source of the imbalance or pain. The analogy I use with my clients is that if they have a thorn in the palm of their hand, I can make a number of salves, balms and oils that will help reduce the inflammation and provide some comfort.  However, the only real solution is to pull the thorn out of the palm. At that point the salves, balms and oils will be of great value in helping the skin to heal completely.

When developing an essential oil blend for PMS and the related symptoms it is beneficial to start with a base of essential oils that help balance hormones in general.  After this base is determined then choose oils that comfort or address the main symptoms experienced by the client; pain, cramps, anxiety, headache etc. Often times the base hormone balancing oils will also address the main symptoms as well.

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HORMONE BALANCING OILS

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BASIC SUPPORT INCLUDES:

  • Clary Sage( Salvia sclarea) – even though it contains sclareol which is structurally similar to human estrogen there is no evidence to suggest it has an estrogenic effect However, a 2014 study indicates that inhalation of Clary Sage reduced cortisol levels 36% and improved thyroid hormone levels.4 Both of these hormones have an impact on PMS symptoms.
  • Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) – 2017 study indicates an increase of salivary estrogen concentration induced by inhalation of Geranium.5 This can be beneficial when low estrogen symptoms are presenting: anxiety, depression and fatigue.
  • Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) also reduces coritsol levels and blood pressure. A 2012 study indicates that a mixture of 20 parts lavender, 15 parts ylang-ylang, 10 parts marjoram, and 2 parts neroli showed significant decreases in the concentration of salivary cortisol.11

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ANALGESIC OILS

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FOR HEADACHES | CRAMPING:

  • Lavender (Lavandula officinalis) – abdominal massage using two drops of lavender (Lavandula officinalis), one drop of Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea), and one drop of Rose (Rosa centifolia) in 5 cc of almond oil is effective in decreasing the severity of menstrual cramps.6
  • Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – a German study indicated there was no significant difference between the efficacy of 1,000 mg of acetaminophen and Peppermint (Mentha piperita) in the reduction of tension headaches. A 10% solution was spread across forehead and temples which was repeated after 15 and 30 minutes. Also, the essential oil group reported no side effects.7

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EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

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ANTI-ANXIETY | MOOD ELEVATING | STRESS REDUCING OILS – This is where essential oils really shine. Inhalation of essential oils can be very effective for enhancing mood, emotions and reducing stress.  As we inhale the essential oil molecules stick to the olfactory membrane in our nose. The molecules fit into receptor cells that instantly send a message to the limbic portion of the brain.  The limbic portion of the brain governs our emotions and stress response.

  • Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – 15 minute inhalation of Bergamot essential oil in 41 women demonstrated improved mood, reduced negative emotions, reduced fatigue and reduction in salivary cortisol levels.8
  • Clary Sage ( Salvia sclarea) – reduces coritsol levels 36%. See HORMONE BALANCING reference.
  • Lavender ((Lavandula officinalis) – 10 min inhalation of Lavender essential oil reduced stress by improving parasympathetic nervous system activity.9 The main components of Lavender, linalool and linalyl acetate, work synergistically  to make Lavender an effective anti-anxiety agent.10

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CRAMPING

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ANTISPASMODICS – help reduce uterine contractions associated with menstrual cramping

  • Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) – A blend of Lavender, Clary Sage and Marjoram essential oils provided relief for primary dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps). The reason for its effectiveness is due to the fact that 80% of this blend contains four significant analgesic components: linalyl acetate, linalool, eucalyptol, and ?-caryophyllene.11
  • Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana) essential oil contains 16-32% terpinen-4-ol. Studies indicate terpinen-4-ol markedly inhibited the production of pro-inflammatory mediators such as cytokines which are responsible for inflammation and pain.12
  • Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile) is considered to be one of the most effective anti-spasmodic oils. Its high concentration of esters make it a perfect oil to calm uterine contractions and mood.13

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DIY RECIPES

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Here are a few simple recipes to help comfort normal hormonal fluctuations and common PMS symptoms.

CRAMP MASSAGE OIL / ROLLER

  • 3 drops Clary Sage( Salvia sclarea)
  • 3 drops Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
  • 6 drops Lavender (Lavandula officinalis)
  • 2 drops Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
  • 2 drops Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
  • 2 drops Roman Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile)
  • 1 ounce Arnica Infused Oil (or Tamanu or Castor oil)

Combine ingredients. If using a roller fill with blend. Gently apply the oil by hand or with a roller. Massage into lower abdomen and lumbar area morning and evening.

MOOD ELEVATING ROLLER

  • 1 drop Clary Sage( Salvia sclarea)
  • 1 drop Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
  • 1 drop Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)
  • 2 drops Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) – Bergaptene Free
  • 3 drops Lemon (Citrus limon)

Fill 1/3 oz (10ml) roller with jojoba.  Add essential oils.  Insert ball and add cap.  Apply to wrists and neck for irritability and mood swings as needed.

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SELF CARE

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Women continue to need options for self care. The use of natural therapeutic essential oils to balance and comfort female hormone fluctuations is highly effective.  The resurgence in the use of essential oils is helping to reach women, giving them non-drug options to manage their own health.

Safety – these oils and suggestions are not for use while pregnant, nursing or with a history of estrogen-dependent cancer.

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REFERENCES

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  1. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) “OFFICE ON WOMEN’S HEALTH (US Department of Health & Human Services) Retrieved from https://www.womenshealth.gov/menstrual-cycle/premenstrual-syndrome
  2. Giovanni Grandi, Serena Ferrari, Anjeza Xholli, Marianna Cannoletta, Federica Palma, Cecilia Romani, Annibale Volpe, and Angelo Cagnacci (2012) Prevalence of menstrual pain in young women: what is dysmenorrhea? J Pain Res. 2012; 5: 169–174. PubMed Central – NIH/HLM (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3392715/
  3. Jana Hoyer, Inga Burmann, Marie-Luise Kieseler, Florian Vollrath, Lydia Hellrung, Katrin Arelin, Elisabeth Roggenhofer, Arno Villringer, and Julia Sacher  (2013) Menstrual Cycle Phase Modulates Emotional Conflict Processing in Women with and without Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) – A Pilot Study  PLoS One. 2013; 8(4): e59780. PubMed Central – NIH/HLM (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3634788/
  4. Lee KB, Cho E, Kang YS (2014) Changes in 5-hydroxytryptamine and cortisol plasma levels in menopausal women after inhalation of clary sage oil. Phytother Res. 2014 Nov;28(11):1599-605. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5163. Epub 2014 May 7. PubMed Central – NIH/HLM (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24802524
  5. Shinohara K, Doi H, Kumagai C, Sawano E, Tarumi W (2017) Effects of essential oil exposure on salivary estrogen concentration in perimenopausal women Neuro Endocrinol Lett 2017 Jan;37(8):567-572 PubMed Central – NIH/HLM (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28326753
  6. Han SH, Hur MH, Buckle J, Choi J, Lee MS (2006) Effect of aromatherapy on symptoms of dysmenorrhea in college students: A randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial J Altern Complement Med. 2006 Jul-Aug;12(6):535-41 PubMed Central – NIH/HLM (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16884344
  7. Göbel H, Fresenius J, Heinze A, Dworschak M, Soyka D. (1996) Effectiveness of Oleum menthae piperitae and paracetamol in therapy of headache of the tension type Nervenarzt. 1996 Aug;67(8):672-81 PubMed Central – NIH/HLM (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8805113
  8. Watanabe E, Kuchta K, Kimura M, Rauwald HW, Kamei T, Imanishi J. (2015) Effects of bergamot ( Citrus bergamia (Risso) Wright & Arn.) essential oil aromatherapy on mood states, parasympathetic nervous system activity, and salivary cortisol levels in 41 healthy females. Forsch Komplementmed. 2015;22(1):43-9. doi: 10.1159/000380989. Epub 2015 Feb 19. PubMed Central – NIH/HLM (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25824404
  9. Matsumoto T, Asakura H, Hayashi T (2013) Does lavender aromatherapy alleviate premenstrual emotional symptoms?: a randomized crossover trial Biopsychosoc Med. 2013 May 31;7:12. doi: 10.1186/1751-0759-7-12. eCollection 2013. PubMed Central – NIH/HLM (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23724853
  10. Takahashi M, Satou T, Ohashi M, Hayashi S, Sadamoto K, Koike K. (2011) Interspecies comparison of chemical composition and anxiolytic-like effects of lavender oils upon inhalation. Nat Prod Commun. 2011 Nov;6(11):1769-74. PubMed Central – NIH/HLM (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22224307
  11. In-Hee Kim, Chan Kim, Kayeon Seong, Myung-Haeng Hur, Heon Man Lim, and Myeong Soo Lee (2012)  Essential Oil Inhalation on Blood Pressure and Salivary Cortisol Levels in Prehypertensive and Hypertensive Subjects. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012; 2012: 984203. PubMed Central – NIH/HLM (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3521421/
  12. Nogueira MN, Aquino SG, Rossa Junior C, Spolidorio DM. (2014) Terpinen-4-ol and alpha-terpineol (tea tree oil components) inhibit the production of IL-1?, IL-6 and IL-10 on human macrophages. Inflamm Res. 2014 Sep;63(9):769-78. doi: 10.1007/s00011-014-0749-x. Epub 2014 Jun 20. PubMed Central – NIH/HLM (online) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24947163
  13. Jane Buckle (1997). Clinical Aromatherapy in Nursing p.211