For many women, menopause can be a frustrating phase of life that’s often accompanied by uncomfortable physical symptoms caused by the changes in hormone production. Luckily, the plant kingdom has provided several solutions for women who want to lessen their discomfort during this life transition: using essential oils for hot flashes, to restore emotional balance, and to increase energy are just a few ways aromatherapy can help address the symptoms of menopause.
Triggered by the body’s decrease in the production of estrogen and related feminine hormones as a woman enters middle age, menopause can cause symptoms such as headaches, confusion, mood imbalances or depression, decreases in bone density, vaginal tenderness or dryness, and of course the infamous hot flash—a sudden feeling of being uncomfortably hot that is not caused by any external increase in temperature . These and related symptoms are thought to be caused by the erratic or insufficient hormone production that occurs during menopause .
So, how can pure plant essential oils help decrease hot flashes and ease the transition through menopause? Treatments with essential oils for hot flashes work in three main ways: by delivering plant compounds called phytoestrogens into the body that mimic estrogen , the main female hormone; by directly inducing feelings of coolness; or by inducing mild perspiration to help bring the body’s temperature down.
Essential Oils with Phytoestrogens: Essential oils that contain phytoestrogens include angelica, anise, basil, clary sage, coriander, cypress, fennel, hop, and sage . Other essential oils with balancing effects on feminine hormones are lavender, geranium, and rose: alone or in combination with the essential oils above, these oils can do much to reduce the occurrence and severity of hot flashes, as well as to reduce other dysphoric symptoms of menopause, such as generalized pain and headaches .
Essential Oils as a Direct Cooling Agent: the most popular cooling essential oil used to treat hot flashes is peppermint oil, which contains menthol, a compound that induces feelings of coolness when it contacts the skin or mucous membranes . Peppermint oil is generally non-irritating and safe for use on skin once it has been diluted in a carrier oil. Other essential oils containing a significant amount of menthol are spearmint, eucalyptus, and radiata. Used sparingly in a blend or as a hydrosol, these oils can go a long way to helping you feel cool and comfortable again!
Essential Oils to Induce Sweating: A few essential oils can also reduce hot flashes by inducing perspiration. Essential oils with this effect are called diaphoretics, and the most popular diaphoretic essential oil for hot flashes is lemon oil . With a gentle therapeutic effect and a bonus lift to the mood from its lemony fresh scent, lemon oil is definitely the diaphoretic to start with when working to relieve hot flashes resulting from menopause.
Essential oils can combat hot flashes and other menopause symptoms in a massage, warm bath, or when added to a moisturizing lotion. To amplify and speed up their beneficial effects, essential oils should be massaged into areas of the body with fat stores, as hormones are manufactured primarily in these areas . The heat of a warm bath can also speed absorption and be quite soothing in itself, especially in cases of pain or inflammation. Finally, essential oils can also be added to a moisturizing cream with vitamin E—almond oil also works well—for topical application. Lavender and geranium, with their cell-regenerating effects, work especially well in this preparation!
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