It’s no secret essential oils are good for more than creating a scent-filled space. They’ve been tied to a number of health claims—improving digestion, sleep, stress, energy levels, skin, and even premenstrual syndrome, or PMS. But while dabbing essential oil on the skin or running the diffuser can be helpful, one clinical study took it a step further. It proved there’s a way to reduce the physical and emotional symptoms of PMS with geranium oil and an easy-to-do self-message technique. Read on to learn about the science behind it and how you can do it at home.
The study behind geranium oil + massage and PMS
In 2018, researchers set out to discover if geranium aromatherapy and massage could have a measurable effect on PMS. One hundred fifteen (115) women with at least 5 symptoms of PMS were included in the 8-week study, Effects of geranium aromatherapy massage on premenstrual syndrome: a clinical trial.
At the start of the study, all women had a similar frequency and severity of symptoms. They were divided into three groups: 1. the control group didn’t change their routine at all, 2. one group performed self-massage for 30 minutes a week using only almond oil, and 3. the last group used diluted geranium oil and self-massage for 30 minutes per week.
By the end of the study, researchers found statistical differences between the severity of symptoms in each group. While massage did reduce PMS symptoms, massage with geranium essential oil did an even better job. Women reported relief from pain, emotional instability, and other symptoms. And the data backed up those findings. It showed greater blood flow to the brain, better metabolic balance and mood, and lowered instances of headaches and bloating. (Where do we sign up?)
How you can do aromatherapy massage for PMS
Want to give it a go and see if geranium essential oil helps your PMS symptoms? Here’s what to do at home.
Dilute geranium oil in sweet almond oil
Women in the study used a 2% concentration of geranium oil to sweet almond oil. Note: If you’re allergic to tree nuts, ask your doctor about using argan or coconut oil as a substitute. Even though it comes from a tree, argan oil rarely causes reactions. (The same goes for coconut oil.) Also, be sure to check ingredients on any essential oils you use.
For each massage, get a small clean container. Measure out 2 teaspoons of sweet almond oil (or your substitute). Add 4 drops of essential oil, and mix with a clean stirrer or softly shake to combine.
Just a heads up: pure essential oils are very concentrated. Some oils have different uses and safety levels. Please don’t forget to use a carrier oil.
Start effleurage massage
It sounds fancy (maybe because it’s French?), but effleurage is just a massage technique that uses circular strokes. Sometimes, a masseuse starts with effleurage to warm up your body before going into deeper massage techniques. The benefits include: relaxation, improved circulation, and better lymph flow.
After your shower, put a little essential oil mixture onto your hands. Use the pads of your fingertips to make gentle circular strokes over the skin of the lower belly. You can even include the arms.
Time plus things to look out for
Women felt best when they did aromatherapy massage for 30 minutes a week. Aim for the same, or about 5 minutes a day. Geranium oil is usually well tolerated when diluted in a carrier oil. But, if you have sensitive skin and get a rash, stop right away.
Tips for choosing the right brand of oil
Ever see someone staring blankly at the shelf in the essential oil section? Talk about mind-numbing. There are so many brands to choose from. That’s why we’re big fans of checking into products before you go and having an idea of what you want. Love doing your own research? Here’s what to look for in a brand (and our favorites, too).
What to look for
Try to stick with reputable sources of 100% pure essential oils. There aren’t any organizations who govern essential oils, so quality’s up to the company. Go for a brand with strict rules and protocols in place. Even better? Choose one that enlists third parties to test for purity.
Our favorite brands
Many well-known companies like doTerra, NOW Foods, Edens Garden, Aura Cacia, and Young Living offer reputable essential oils, maintain quality controls, and are good (and safe!) choices. One brand we especially love? Plant Therapy. They’re affordable, accessible, third-party tested, and disclose testing results right on their site.