Essential oils and the fatty acids found in vegetable oils, have long been reputed to have therapeutic health benefits, but only recently have been subjected to serious scientific scrutiny. A recent study reported in e! Science News showed that a mixture of essential oils and fatty acids reduced the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) significantly. According to the head of the study, Edilberto Raocha Filho of Brazil's Federal University of Pernambuco, these essential oil-containing capsules "show much promise as a treatment" for PMS.
What is PMS?
PMS is a term that refers to a broad range of symptoms that occur between 5 to 11 days before a woman's menstrual period. The symptoms can be physical, emotional or both and vary in their intensity between individuals. A few of these symptoms include:
- Bloating and/or a sensation of abdominal fullness and gas
- Breast tenderness
- Diarrhoea or Constipation
- Irritability and/or uncontrollable mood swings
Although PMS is a well documented and studied condition, the exact cause of the disorder is not yet fully understood.
What Was Uncovered in the Study?
The researchers carried out their study using a randomised control group of 120 women. The women who were administered capsules containing 2 grams of a mixture of gamma linolenic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid and other polyunsaturated fatty acids together with Vitamin E showed a "significant decrease in symptom scores" 3 months and 6 months after beginning treatment. The few adverse events that occurred did not appear to have a direct connection to the medication and were "insignificant". Also, the cholesterol levels in the subjects did not change after the dietary supplements were administered.
This study goes a long way towards scientifically validating the use of essential oils and fatty acids as therapeutic treatment for PMS and other disorders. Much of the evidence in the past has been anecdotal and not considered valid by the medical and scientific community. Women who suffer from PMS welcome any treatment that appears to relieve their symptoms and should be encouraged by the results of this study.
Other Treatments for PMS
Lifestyle changes can have a significant beneficial affect on the symptoms of PMS. They recommend dietary changes, including more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and up to six "mini-meals" per day in place of 3 main meals. In addition, they recommend quitting smoking altogether and cutting back on caffeine and alcohol 2 weeks before menstruation. Regular exercise, including during menstruation is also recommended.