Maternity and gynecology researchers have determined that abdominal massage with essential herbal oils will decrease pain and excessive bleeding in difficult menstruation.
Managing a painful menses with heavy bleeding is a common issue for women – especially when during periods of additional stress, early menstruation, and during pre- and peri-menopausal years. Conventional medicine has provided an array of pain medications to help temporarily alleviate pain – but some of these also come with liver-damaging and other side effects.
The researchers, from the Faculty of Nursing at Egypt's Mansoura University, studied 95 female nursing students between the ages of 17 and 20 years old. Before the treatments began, the students were randomized and assessed during one complete menstrual cycle.
After the initial assessment, for seven days prior to each student's menstruation period, the researchers – nursing faculty - gave each student a 10-minute abdominal massage once per day. On one group the researchers used either a blend of essential oils in an almond oil base. On the other group, they used an almond oil base without the essential oils.
The essential oil blend was made up of one-and-a-half parts Cinnamon oil, one-and-a-half part Clove oil, one part Lavender oil and one part Rose oil. These were diluted in sweet Almond oil at a 5% dilution.
The researchers used the standardized VAS-pain scale – VAS = visual analog scale – to assess the pain of each student during menstruation. The VAS uses a 0 to 10 pain scale with 0 signifying no pain. They also timed pain in hours and measured the amount of bleeding by the number of saturated pads. Each student was assessed on the first, second and third day of menstruation bleeding.
After one cycle of massage treatment, the two groups were switched – also called a crossover – and the group given the essential oil massage was given the placebo oil massage and vice versa.
In both treatment series, the researchers found that those given the essential oil massages had significantly less pain and less bleeding than the placebo group.
During the first treatment phase, the essential oil-treated group had 17% less pain than the untreated group on the first day, 20% less pain on the 2nd day, and 28% less pain on the third day tested compared to the group massaged only with almond oil. The crossover treatment phase resulted in similar pain reductions, except that the third day's pain was 57% less than the pain scale of the placebo group.
Meanwhile the duration of pain in the first phase averaged 23.1 hours for the placebo group and only 18.6 hours for the essential oil-treated group. During the crossover treatment, the pain duration was 24.5 for the placebo group and only 19.3 for the treated group.
During the initial assessment, over a third of the students had excessive menstrual bleeding. The 75% to 95% of the essential oil-treated group that had excessive bleeding initially had average bleeding by the third day.