If you are experiencing menopause symptoms like hot flashes or anxiety you are probably looking for a solution. Many women are drawn to essential oils because they seem like a more natural solution than hormones and it is easier than making changes to diet or exercise. This article looks at the safety and effectiveness of essential oils for women going through menopause.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are made by combining a carrier oil with a plant essence. The essence is obtained by steam, water, or mechanical methods. If the essence is obtained by a chemical process they are not considered essential oils.
- Essential oils can be used in several ways:
- Inhaled from a bottle or a diffuser.
- Applied to the skin (usually after diluting with a carrier oil).
- Used to scent lotions or bath oils.
- Believed to be beneficial when absorbed into the skin or when inhaling the aromas.
Why are they called essential oils?
They are called essential because they contain the essence of the plant, not because they are actually essential. Coming from a nutrition background, I found this confusing because we refer to nutrients that you need to survive and thrive as essential.
Are essential oils proven to work?
Essential oils are not regulated. With regulated medications and treatments rigorous testing must be completed using double blind studies so there is no bias. Double blind means that the subjects and the testers don’t if they are in the group using the treatment or in the control group not using the treatment. This is because of the well known placebo effect.
Because essential oils have an aroma, there is no way to do a double blind study. So it is difficult to actually prove that they work (or not). The results of studies to test essential oils are mixed
It doesn’t help that the essential oil industry tends to over-inflate claims about the benefits of essential oils. Sometimes that comes from the vague language used by the company itself, or it can come from distributors who make false claims or use testimonials to show how well it works.
But some women swear by them
Many women use essential oils and see benefits. They have moved from a hippy product to the mainstream. I was prompted to investigate them further after hearing many women talk about how much they helped them get relief from many symptoms.
Do they help with menopause symptoms?
Here are the recommended essential oils for different menopause symptoms. Some of these benefits have been found in studies on humans or animals, but as mentioned earlier, human studies are difficult to do with essential oils. It may be worth trying these oils to see if they help you with the symptoms you experience.
Hot flashes – the cooling effects of peppermint essential oils can be helpful for hot flashes. Rose oil may also help to reduce hot flashes.
Anxiety – Lavender oil may be useful to help you relax and to sleep better.
Depression – Lavender, clary sage and fennel oils may help to reduce depression.
Mood swings – Jasmine oil may help to balance mood swings.
Sleep – Neroli oil and lavender oil may help to improve sleep
Acne – Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties making it useful in treating menopausal acne.
How to choose essential oils
Oils should be purchased from a reliable source. The ingredients should be pure and the essence should not be chemically processed. If you are applying it to the skin make sure the carrier oil is safe to use on the skin.
If the price of the essential oil is low, then chances are they are not real oils, but synthetic. The oils should also have the botanical name and its source. Ideally, the extraction method should be listed.
How to use them safely
Essential oils are natural. That doesn’t mean they are safe in all situations. Essential oils are potent and There are several precautions you should take when using essential oils:
- Do not use a diffuser if you or anyone in your household has asthma. Make sure there is nobody around with a scent sensitivity when using a diffuser. Diffusers should not be left on too long. 30 minutes is probably enough.
- If applying to the skin, the oil should be diluted with a carrier oil or lotion. Try a small patch test before applying the diluted oil to your skin. Even diluted oils are potent and will be absorbed into the skin, and can have adverse effects.
- Studies have shown that lavender and tea tree oils can affect hormones of pre-pubescent boys.
- Some oils like citrus oils can cause the skin to be more sensitive to sunlight.
- Essential oils should not be taken internally.
- Essential oils may interact with some prescription medications. If you are taking any medications, search for interactions with any essential oils you plan on using.
- Keep the oils out of the reach of children and pets.
- Do your research. Don’t rely on the person selling the essential oils to you to provide you with reliable information. They are often untrained agents of multi-level marketing companies that may be inflating benefits or even supplying false claims in the interest of making money.
Research into the safety and effectiveness of essential oils is still young. There is some promise that they can help to provide relief from several menopause symptoms and many women swear they help. If proper precautions are used they can likely be used safely and may be worth trying. If you suffer from hot flashes, download this free guide to find other ways to get relief.