5 Essential Oils on the Journey to Menopause
A woman’s ability to adjust emotionally during the climacteric can be greatly influenced by how much of her life is lived in alignment with her inner values and her identification of self. So, although there is no denying the hormonal changes that take place within a woman’s body, how she copes with the menopause physically will be largely determined by the strength of her emotional well-being.
Knowing that some of the key psychological symptoms experienced during the climacteric are depression and anxiety, which are often fuelled and aggravated by stress and insomnia, I wanted to share with you some of the essential oils that could support women to work through these symptoms. It's important to bear in mind there are many essential oils that can be considered and I would encourage women to initially work with an aromatherapist who can create a unique and individualised programme suited specifically to their needs. However in lieu of that, here are my top 5 essential oils that can best support women through the climacteric.
1. Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia)
Anxiety is a common symptom listed by women during the climacteric and ester-rich oils are known to have significant rebalancing action on the sympathetic nervous system. The main constituents of Lavender are linalyl acetate and linalool, which are important components in the calming and soothing quality of Lavender and have been rapidly detected in plasma after a topical application, reaching peak levels within 19 minutes. In addition, several studies have been conducted on the effects of aromatherapy in sleep-related disorders showing that inhalation of Lavender during bedtime can improve sleep quality. With insomnia being another common symptom of menopause leading to increased irritability and mood-swings, and with additional studies showing Lavender’s ability to help with mood changes and instability during this time (Holmes, 2016), Lavender could provide extra support to women during the climacteric who are suffering from insomnia.
2. Neroli (Citrus aurantium var: amara)
Dominated by linalool, Neroli is known for its “uplifting, anxiety-relieving and calming actions that are of value in both aiding sleep and counteracting fatigue” (Rhind, 2014) making it useful for the climacteric woman. In fact, a specific study on menopausal women investigating the effects of inhaling Neroli essential oil concluded that it improved their quality of life in relation to their symptoms. Gabriel Mojay describes Neroli as being particularly good for ‘hot, agitated conditions’ and can help ‘ease mental and emotional tension, nervous depression, and both chronic and acute anxiety.’ He also talks about how Neroli can assist in the release of repressed emotions through the energetic reconnection of our conscious and subconscious worlds (Mojay, 1994).
In her book, ‘The Wisdom of Menopause’, Christiane Northrup says, “if emotional issues in their lives are not attended to, if their midlife losses are not fully grieved and released…they may end up with full-blown depression”, so using Neroli essential oil to support working through any blocked emotions could be helpful during this time.
3. Rose (Rosa damascena)
Called “the Queen of flowers” by Greek poet, Sappho, the effect of Rose on our Central Nervous System (CNS) is extensive. A study by Hongratatanaworakit (2009) showed that Rose produced a state of relaxation and calmness through transdermal absorption, supporting its use in aromatherapy for the alleviation of stress, depression, anxiety, mood-swings and irritability (Rhind, 2014). A clinical test on the effects of aromatherapy for anxiety and depression in postpartum women who were treated with rose and lavender essential oils twice weekly for a month found that their postnatal depression was lessened with significant improvements. Another study looking at the effects of olfactory stimulation on prefrontal cortex activity found that Rose can induce physiological and psychological states of relaxation.
4. Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
An essential oil known to reduce premenstrual tension and ease menstrual pain, Clary Sage is also effective for calming the mind and easing tension, with an antipressant-like effect. According to Peter Holmes in Aromatica (2016), on an energetic and emotional level, Clary Sage ‘excels in those whose irritability, scatteredness, emotional confusion and stagnant, distressed feelings arise from weakness and a lack of centre.’ It is said to ‘bring awareness within, allowing one to come from one’s deeper emotional and energetic core’ by ‘uncannily stirring up long-lost feelings and half-buried dreams.’
5. Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum)
In Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit (1997), Gabriel Mojay describes the emotional and energetic quality of Geranium as one that ‘helps to reconnect us to our feeling-life – to our emotional sensitivity, relaxed spontaneity, and healthy thirst for pleasure and enjoyment.’ For women in the throes of the climacteric who might argue there is too much emotional sensitivity, Christiane Northrup suggests, “if we strive to work in active partnership with that organic energy, trusting it to help us…we will find that we have access to everything we need to…move joyfully into the second half of our lives.”
Geranium essential oil has also been shown to reduce anxiety, and a clinical trial comparing the efficacy of massage and aromatherapy massage with Geranium on depression in postmenopausal women found that the aromatherapy massage was more beneficial.