Extra Virgin Olive Oil More Effective than Ibuprofen in Treating Menstrual Pain

Daily doses of extra virgin olive oil taken two weeks prior to the menstrual cycle is more effective at reducing pain severity than common NSAID ibuprofen.

May. 2, 2016
By Jedha Dening

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Moderate to severe men­strual pain, oth­er­wise known as pri­mary dys­men­or­rhea, is a com­mon prob­lem for women of all ages. However, it is more com­mon in the teenage years than among women 25 years of age and over.

Menstrual pain results in loss of school and work hours, along with per­sonal and social rela­tion­ship issues. Therefore, chem­i­cal treat­ments such as the oral con­tra­cep­tive pill and non-steroidal anti-inflam­ma­tory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibupro­fen are com­monly used to relieve pain symp­toms. Unfortunately, chem­i­cal treat­ments do come with side effects, which some peo­ple can­not tol­er­ate and which may not be a viable long-term option for young women.
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In a sin­gle-blinded crossover trial, pub­lished in Scholars Research Library, sixty female stu­dents between 17 – 30 years who suf­fered mod­er­ate to severe men­strual pain, with a pain sever­ity above four on the VAS score, were eval­u­ated over six con­sec­u­tive peri­ods. The first month estab­lished the base­line VAS score, with each group under­go­ing two dif­fer­ent inter­ven­tions for a period of two months, with a four-week washout period in the mid­dle of the trial.

Group one took 25 mLs of extra vir­gin olive oil (EVOO) for two months, start­ing the dosage two weeks before the begin­ning of each men­strual cycle. After the four-week washout cycle, they were given 400 mg ibupro­fen three times per day dur­ing the first three days of men­stru­a­tion. Group two received the same treat­ment but in oppo­site terms, ibupro­fen dur­ing the first two cycles, then EVOO for sub­se­quent cycles after the washout period. Pain sever­ity data was logged for the first three days of each of the men­strual cycles.

There was no dif­fer­ence in pain sever­ity between groups at base­line, an aver­age 6.7 VAS score. However, the dif­fer­ence in pain sever­ity was sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent dur­ing the inter­ven­tions, decreas­ing to 3.8 for the ibupro­fen group and 1.1 for the EVOO group. There was also a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence between the groups for the first two cycles. The group tak­ing ibupro­fen dur­ing the first two cycles had a pain sever­ity score of 4.7 for month one and 3.8 for month two. While the group tak­ing EVOO dur­ing the first two cycles had a pain sever­ity score of 2.4 and 1.4 for the two con­sec­u­tive cycles.


Extra vir­gin olive oil is well known for its anti-inflam­ma­tory capac­ity. Previous stud­ies have shown that oleo­can­thal, a polyphe­nol in EVOO, sup­presses prostaglandin (an inflam­ma­tory mol­e­cule) pro­duc­tion along the same path­ways as ibupro­fen at a rate of approx­i­mately 10 per­cent the capac­ity. It has also been shown that daily EVOO intake does have a cumu­la­tive effect on the pro­duc­tion of pro-inflam­ma­tory mol­e­cules.

Until recently no other stud­ies have explored if EVOO could be a viable alter­na­tive to ibupro­fen in treat­ing men­strual pain. As this study shows, tak­ing 25 mL EVOO two weeks before the men­strual cycle does appear to sig­nif­i­cantly decrease pain. This is won­der­ful news for women who suf­fer with such pain because EVOO is a safe, nat­ural alter­na­tive that can be used by a major­ity of indi­vid­u­als with­out ingest­ing chem­i­cals and hav­ing to suf­fer the accom­pa­ny­ing side effects, yet still pro­vid­ing much-needed pain relief.

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