Every woman does suffer from menstrual cramps at some point of her life. In fact, in some young women, menstrual cramps may be so severe and comes with debilitating pain and much discomfort. Most often, these women are forced to resort to prescribed painkillers to help reduce the pain. However, these chemical-laden, toxic over-the-counter medications have received medical criticisms due to their side effects and low efficiency. Some sites also recommend switching to natural hygiene options, such as using the Diva Cup or cloth pads as a chemical-free alternative to avoid the adverse reactions to the chemicals in pads and tampons. And, as much as these hygiene substitutes work, there are more natural, safer alternatives – the use of Thyme essential oil.
Origin and history of Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme Oil is extracted from leaves and flowers of Thymus vulgaris (also known as Thymus zygis), an evergreen herb of the Labiatae family. The powerfully warm, spicy-herbaceous aromatic perennial herb is medicinally known for its disinfectant and antiseptic properties. In ancient Egypt, thyme oil was used for embalming, to purify of rooms and to as food additives to add an aromatic flavor to cheese and liqueurs.
The ancient Greeks and Romans used thyme in their births and burnt it as incense in their temples, as they believed an emblem of courage and bravery. An old adage has it that thyme was one of the many herbs that formed the fragrant bed of the Holy Virgin Mary. In ancient England, thyme was smeared on sleeping pillow to help repel nightmares.
When blended with bergamot, eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary, honey or grapefruit, thyme oil is very effective in fighting fatigue, combating whooping cough, treating skin conditions and even as remedy for nightmares. Thyme has also been used as an inhalant to treat septic sore throat from scarlet fever and ringworm. The oil also has very powerful disinfectant properties that as believed to be as high as over 10 times that of carbonic acid. Down through the centuries, the use of thyme oil has evolved and it has been prescribed – by both herbalists and professional health care providers, for gastrointestinal ailments, intestinal worms, bronchial problems, diarrhea and menstrual cramps and menopausal problems.
Physical properties and chemical composition of thyme oil
Additionally, thyme oil is a very sweet concoction that tastes like Italian bread. This of course is besides its rather strongly herbal smell.
Therapeutic properties of thyme oil
Its antiseptic qualities make it useful for mouthwash, to combat tooth decay and in cases of anemia and bronchial ailments. Its antifungal properties make it useful for treating athlete’s foot while its anti-parasitic properties are known to make it a cure for scabies, lice and crabs. Thyme is also known as a natural antibody, antimicrobial, antispasmodic, antibacterial, anti-rheumatic and an expectorant used to loosen and expel mucous. The oil is a strong home remedy used to treat wounds, sores, arthritis and bites. It is also a strong hair product used to prevent hair loss, treat scalp and is often one of the main component of shampoos and other hair products. Its warming qualities are great for rheumatism, gout and sciatica.
Other therapeutic properties of thyme include bactericidal, carminative, diuretic, hypertensive, stimulant, bechic, vermifuge, cicatrisant, tonic and emmenagogue.
Thyme Oil for menstrual cramps
A number of clinical studies have provided evidence that Thyme oil is a very powerful anti-inflammatory herb that helps to decrease the production of prostaglandin, thus relieving menstrual cramps. Many menstrual cramps are caused or exacerbated by imbalance of hormones, especially excess production of hormone estrogen. When this happens, thyme helps restore the problem by triggering an equal production of progesterone to balance the estrogen level.
The most vital properties of Thyme oil in the fight against menstrual cramps are its antispasmodic and analgesic effects. Carvacrol – the main constituent of the oil, inhibits a cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) enzyme. COX-2 is the part of the body’s inflammatory process that produces pain, particularly primary dysmenorrhea, a painful cramping often accompanied by other symptoms, including nausea, dizziness, backache and headache.
Researchers from Babol University of Medical Sciences in Iran, in a triple-blind study (published in the Caspian Journal of Internal Medicine), confirmed that thyme oil is far better than ibuprofen in reducing pain caused by difficult menstruation. In the same study, thyme performed better in the second monthly cycle, producing a greater pain relief than ibuprofen and placebo. The main reason for this is that as much as the body builds tolerance to NSAIDs, it does not build up the same tolerance to thyme oil.
Thyme Essential Oil vs NSAIDs tolerance
Not only is Thyme Oil the most effective in eliminating cramping, it also reduces the risk of toxic shock syndrome associated with the prescribed pain relievers like Tylenol, ibuprofen and other acetaminophens/NSAIDS (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs). Recent studies have shown that overusing these conventional medications to treat menstrual cramps could cause very scary side effects, such as increased risk of leaky gut syndrome, ulcers, inflammation in the small intestine, holes in the stomach and cardiovascular diseases.
Experts say that this makes sense because our bodies have a tendency to build up tolerance to drugs. Body cells often become resistant to the chemicals contained in the drugs, as the receptors that were initially their access points are modified. This, researchers believe, causes receptor down-regulation, which in turn necessitates an increase in dosage to achieve the same effect.
Other health benefits of thyme oil
- Strengthens the nerves
- Enhances cognitive function and concentration
- Combats depression and provides extra muscle strength
- It speeds up birth and very helpful in expelling afterbirth
- Useful in treating cellulite, obesity, anorexia, edema and leucorrhoea
Direction of use
When using thyme oil for cramps, the recommended quantity is a 2% dilution rate, that is 12 drops in 1 fl. ounce bottle. You can dilute it using any carrier essential oils such as jojoba or sweet almond oil. Then, you can apply the oil around your abdominal area. However, it is important that you consult your doctor if you feel unwell.