To discover ways that essential oils could best ease some of the symptoms you may be experiencing, it is a good idea to have a basic understanding of exactly what menopause is, how it affects your body as a whole, and what physical symptoms you may experience throughout the process.
What is Menopause
Menopause is scientifically defined as the cessation of monthly menstruation in women. Generally, it is not quite such an abrupt event, but more of a gradual process. Many women experiencing years of ‘pre-menopausal’ symptoms before the actual end of monthly menstruation occurs. It is by no means a disease, but merely a natural stage in the aging process for all women. It is simply the body’s way of signaling that the end of fertility has been reached. The clearest indicator is the absence of all menstruation for a period of 1 year. The process can take several years for most women, during which time usual symptoms can range from mild to full blown.
As women reach their 30’s and 40’s, normal ovarian function slows. The normal production levels of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone are gradually reduced. As these hormone levels fluctuate, various physical and hormonal changes begin to occur throughout the body. Various organs and tissues rely on these hormones to be at certain levels to maintain normal functioning. As levels drop, they begin functional changes and will develop various symptomatic conditions. These organs include the vagina, vulva, uterus, bladder, breasts, bones, heart, hair, skin and mucus membranes. One of the most obvious visible changes is that with the menstrual cycle regularity and consistency. Some woman may begin to have longer, heavier periods, while others may miss periods completely. Cramping, spotting, and passing blood clots is not uncommon.
These will vary from woman to woman, and may even vary from month to month in the same woman. Some very common symptoms you can expect during this change in reproductive aging include:
• Hot flashes
• Night sweats
• Mood swings/irritability
• Memory/concentration problems
• Hair and skin changes
• Urinary changes/Vaginal dryness
• Weight gain
Essential Oils for Menopause
Several therapeutic-grade essential oils have shown to have positive results in combating the severity and frequency of many of these difficult symptoms. They offer a safe, natural alternative to traditional medical treatment, which generally involves treatment with man-made hormone replacement. Many medication therapies have a long list of adverse side effects which are almost as troublesome as the menopause symptoms themselves.
Most essential oils can safely be used topically on the fatty areas of the skin, when diluted in a carrier oil. NEVER apply pure essential oils directly to the skin, as they can cause skin irritation in their concentrated forms. Application to these areas is important, as this is where hormones are naturally stored. This allows for a more rapid absorption and faster results. Using them in a bath, in aromatherapy diffusers or as direct massage treatments will also allow their healing affects to be obtained.
From the mint family, it has a relaxing effect on smooth muscle, which can ease menstrual cramps and reduce hot flashes. Also shows beneficial effects as an aphrodisiac, to aid low libido.
Contains naturally-occurring Phyto-estrogens which can ease headaches, balance hormones, and reduce hot flashes occurring from drops in estrogen levels. Also has pain reducing effects, to ease cramps.
Derived from leaves of the peppermint plant, has beneficial properties for improving memory, relief of anxiety, and headache relief. It can also be used to reduce swelling and cramps.
Excellent to reduce fatigue, insomnia, and to improve the appearance of dull, dry skin conditions. Can stimulate mood and invigorate with depression and low energy.
Beneficial for the balancing of hormones, relaxation, insomnia, and ease anxiety by reducing the production of stress-causing cortisol from the adrenal gland. Can also reduce pain and help improve dry skin and hair condition, which is common in menopause.
Anxiety and nervousness relief, as well as can help balance hormone levels. Shows benefit to dry skin and inflamed skin conditions such as dermatitis and eczema. Reduces excess oily conditions.
Helps reduce stress, anxiety, aids insomnia, and when consumed as a tea, helps aid digestion and stomach complaints.
Can have beneficial effects on lowering blood pressure, as well as increasing libido, which in turn can improve vaginal dryness during intercourse.
Helps reduce swelling and water retention, improve blood flow, and muscle relaxation. Also aids detoxification of the lymphatic system, and can decrease irritability.
Well known for helping to balance hormones, tone sagging skin, and improve concentration and memory.
A “feel good” oil, it’s sweet scent will help relax, boost moods, and stimulate libido. Used on the skin, can help rehydrate and nourish dry, irritated skin conditions. Can also ease muscle tension and reduce hot flashes.
Used as an ‘anti-anger’ aid to uplift mood, and ease anxiety and tension.
Helps stimulate vaginal secretions and stimulate sex hormones, increase libido. It can also help relax and improve mood, calming anxiety and tension.
In addition to using pure essential oils, there are other natural remedies available to help you get through the difficult menopausal years. These natural options and lifestyle changes offer a good choice for symptomatic relief for most women, as well as overall health benefits. As with anything, trial and error may be a good way to see which ones work best for your personal situation. Although most are completely safe and have little to no side effects, caution should always be taken when trying anything new.
Some examples are:
Black Cohosh – Derived from the buttercup plant family, it can be taken in capsule, tablet or mixed in water, and has shown to reduce hot flashes. It is thought to behave similarly to serotonin in the brain, and can affect body temperature regulation, as well as ease depression.
Vitamin D – Taking 600IU daily, followed by at least 15-20 minutes of sun exposure, can lessen the effects that menopause has with regards to loss of bone density. Vitamin D is also a major component in cell regrowth, and a major contributor to overall healing of tissue structures. Fish and fortified foods such as milk and eggs are good sources.
Acupuncture – Used for thousands of years in the Middle East, it has been found to be of benefit to many women during menopause. Administered by a licensed, trained therapist, acupuncture can effectively reduce pain, muscle tension, and improve depression, as well as reduce hot flashes.
Meditation and Deep Breathing Exercises – Can have a major effect on overall calmness, ease nervous anxiety, decrease mood irritability and help give control over hot flashes. Mindfulness of the rate and rhythm of breathing can help center the mind, and improve focus, which can better control mood swings.
Ginseng – Available in powder, tea, extract and whole root forms, it has been used for thousands of years to help reduce stress, stimulate metabolism, and energize. This can be of good benefit to help combat the risk of unnecessary weight gain, very common in menopause.
Yoga – Although it is beneficial to overall good health, it can specifically have positive effects on several menopause symptoms. These include muscle tension relief, provide mood elevation, and work to strengthen the bones, muscles and ligaments. These benefits are particularly helpful regarding urinary and vaginal changes, and overall strengthen of the reproductive organ support structures.
Soy & Soy Extracts – Soy and its extracts contain plant-based Phyto-estrogens. These have been shown to mimic human estrogen hormone, having a similar effect on the body. They can have an impact by the reduction of hot flashes, and improvement with vaginal dryness has been experienced.
Optimal Nutrition – Consuming a diet which provides the essential nutrients, minerals and vitamins to support your body’s changing needs is high on the list for menopause relief. Getting your daily supply of good fats, lean protein, complex carbs, and plenty of fruits and vegetables is vital. Increased water intake is important, and decreasing caffeine consumption. Reduce sugar intake, which limits your body’s ability to metabolize estrogen. These will help improve many overall symptoms, such as dry skin and hair, reduced vaginal lubrication, fatigue and the occurrence of headaches related to dehydration.
Going through menopause can be a trying time for even the most prepared woman. The physical and emotional roller coaster can be a rough ride, and is certainly one that we long to get off of, well before the ride comes to an end. The frustrating body changes that seem to dominate our every waking moment, coming out of nowhere when we least expect or need them. Family, friends, and co-workers bearing witness to these abrupt changes within our bodies, minds and emotional state that sometimes leave us appearing less than sane, and putting forth an image we would never want to show the world.
But thankfully, the days of suffering in silence are no more. As research from the medical community combines forces with the myriad of natural remedies available from alternative practitioners, women have begun to recognize that there are numerous ways to cope with, and even thrive, during this difficult life stage. Being able to speak out about your needs is the first step to finding reliable, effective symptomatic treatments. By staying open minded and willing to try new ideas, you may just be pleasantly surprised at what can actually improve the struggle, and how much better you can feel. What works wonders for one woman, may have no effect for the next.
The most important part of dealing with the trials of menopause is to stay positive, determined and be willing to try different alternatives. Think outside the box. But no matter where your personal journey leads you, always be sure to consult a respected, certified health provider. They can help you make well-informed, safe decisions on how to best approach your individual situation. As women, we can choose to age gracefully – readily embrace each change as it comes, and know that we have many options to actively take control of our lives, bodies and wellbeing throughout menopause. Whether it be with essential oils, alternative therapy, or diet changes, just remember – this too shall pass!
1) Jessica Parker Gordon; (Reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson,PhD,MSN);
“Essential Oils for Menopause”; 13-Oct.-2016;
2) Zawn Villines; (Reviewed by Debra Rose Wilson,PhD,MSN);
“Essential Oils and Menopause: Can They Help?”; 14-June-2017
3) Aromaweb Directory; “Essential Oils Guide”;