Menopause is a period of transformation requiring changes in the levels of hormones. It is not a disease, but at this time, characteristics such as hot flashes are common. It can help to make lifestyle decisions and medical care, but some people still find aromatherapy useful.
The evidence that supports the use of menopause aromatherapy is not consistent, but people can feel it contributes to their well-being.
Many women experience symptoms during menopause, such as hot flashes, sleep difficulties, anxiety, forgetfulness, vaginal dryness, and diminished libido.
There is some proof that essential oils can help mitigate some of these features. Find out which oils can aid, what they can do and how to use them in this article.
Can essential oils help?
Hormonal variations are responsible for the changes and symptoms that occur during menopause, but lifestyle pressures and aging may lead to discomfort.
Essential oils are plant-based, though phytoestrogens are present in others. These are plant-based substances that behave in a similar way to the hormone estrogen.
Some researchers agree that phytoestrogens-containing essential oils can help regulate hormones and alleviate symptoms during menopause, such as mood changes and hot flashes.
According to study, hormonal balance can be supported by the following oils:
- Clary sage acts as an antidepressant in rats and lowers blood pressure in some people.
- Fennel reduces depression and anxiety in rats.
- Juniper (J. phoenicea and J. oxycedrus) may relieve pain through anti-inflammatory action in rats and mice.
- Angelica reduces anxiety in rats, according to an older study.
- Geranium relieves depression.
- Rose oil brings relaxation and pain relief.
- Neroli reduces anxiety and improves sleep.
- Lavender reduces stress, depression, and anxiety and helps improve sleep in rats.
- Jasmine relieves depression and uplifts mood.
Many of these experiments have been carried out on animals. Although some of these oils may benefit individuals, there is little evidence to support many of these claims in humans and for menopause in particular.
During menopause, decreased libido, vaginal dryness, and other sexual changes are normal. This can make it less fun to have sex.
“A 2018 review and meta-analysis concluded that treatment with neroli or lavender or a combination of lavender, fennel, geranium, and rose “enhanced human sexual function significantly.
Sexual desire, arousal, discomfort during sex, and trouble achieving orgasm are areas that saw improvement.
The writers, however, note that further studies with tighter criteria need to be carried out by researchers to validate these results.
Anxiety, stress and fatigue
For stimulation, and to relieve anxiety, many people use aromatherapy to help them relax. Many individuals experience menopausal anxiety, depression, exhaustion, and mood changes.
Research has indicated that during this time of transition, aromatherapy oils may enhance symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Oils to try
Some research has indicated that during menopause, the following oils can help relieve a variety of symptoms.
A common condition in which the bones become less dense and more likely to crack is osteoporosis. When levels of estrogen decrease in the body during menopause, the risk of osteoporosis increases.
Researchers administered pine oil to rats without ovaries in one earlier study. They concluded that pine oil compounds could decrease bone loss and help prevent osteoporosis.
Vitex agnus-castus oil
From the chaste tree comes Vitex agnus-castus oil. It is also known as chasteberry, or Abraham’s balm.
Research shows a number of menopausal symptoms can be treated by oils from both the berry and the herb.
To promote feelings of relaxation and help healthy sleep, people use lavender.
Researchers found in a 2007 report that massage therapy with different oils, including lavender, tended to alleviate certain people’s menopausal symptoms, such as hot flashes, headaches, and heart palpitations.
Scientists looked at the effects of lavender aromatherapy on hot flashes in 2016. Twice a day for 12 weeks, 50 participants enjoyed the scent of lavender for 20 minutes. Another 50 inhaled a placebo.
A substantial reduction in hot flashes was reported by those who obtained the lavender care. By reducing stress levels, the researchers proposed that lavender could have decreased hot flashes.
Some studies have indicated that rose oil protects the womb, possibly resolving concerns with the menstrual cycle. During menopause, through balancing hormones, rose oil can boost mood and reduce hot flashes.
Geranium can have similar advantages to rose oil, including hormone regulation, perimenopausal menstrual cycle regularity support, and mood improvement.
Using the oils
Ways in which oils are used include the following:
Sprinkle the water with 3-5 drops of essential oil and allow it to spread throughout the room. This can help support relaxation throughout the day, depending on the oil.
Roll-on or spray
Essential oils are also available in products which can be directly applied to the skin by people. Individuals should verify that the product comes from a reputable source and that the ingredients are healthy, since essential oils are not controlled by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Dilute the oil, such as coconut, jojoba, almond or evening primrose oil, with a carrier oil. Either apply all or part of the body to pulse points or massage.
In a 2007 review of many essential oils, people who were experiencing menopause had a weekly massage of the abdomen, arms and back for 8 weeks. Improvements in hot flashes, depression, and pain were recorded.
Essential oils are natural, but in every form and dose, this does not mean they are safe.
In traditional medicine, essential oils have long played a role, but there is little research into their impact on specific conditions.
This has led to uncertainty over:
- how much to use
- whether oils are safe for everyone
- the best way to use them
People should take the following precautions:
- Obtain oils from a reliable source and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use only the recommended dosage.
- Perform a small skin test before using any essential oil for a massage to check that there is no reaction.
- Introduce one oil at a time to assess each product for an allergic reaction.
- Avoid an oil if you have an allergy to the plant that it comes from, as it may trigger a reaction.
- Take additional precautions if you have asthma as a diffuser may trigger an asthma attack.
The FDA does not regulate essential oils because they do not regard them as a remedy. This means that individuals are unable to know for sure what their oil contains, whether the quality is good or how it could affect them.
When using oils, people should:
- Always mix essential oils with a carrier oil before use, especially for application to the skin.
- Apply a little to the skin first to check for an allergic reaction.
- Keep oils away from children.
- Obtain oils from a reputable source.
- Never swallow or consume an oil, as it is likely to be toxic.
Anyone wanting to use essential menopausal oils should talk to their doctor first.
Before applying them to the skin, people should often dilute the oils with a carrier oil.
A doctor can prescribe medical treatment if people have severe symptoms during menopause.
However for many, lifestyle remedies are enough to offer relief.
Lifestyle tips include:
- eating a healthful, balanced diet and getting regular exercise
- limiting caffeine and alcohol intake
- quitting or avoiding smoking
- maintaining a moderate weight
- adopting stress management techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing
Results of a small study published in 2018 indicated that weekly acupuncture could help to relieve hot flashes and other symptoms from mild to serious.
Some individuals are taking or increasing their consumption of soy containing phytoestrogens with black cohosh or DHEA supplements. The National Institute on Aging, however, points out that there is insufficient evidence to show that they are safe or successful.
Aromatherapy may help improve the sense of well-being of a person during menopause, and particular symptoms may be improved by certain essential oils.
Used wisely, it can help to alleviate anxiety and other symptoms linked to stress. Experts note, however that there is insufficient evidence to support the use of aromatherapy as a standalone treatment.
It is best to talk to a doctor before taking an alternative medicine for menopause symptoms to ensure they are safe and worthwhile.