Aromatherapy is typically associated with complementary and alternative medicine. It uses essential oils and other scented compounds from plants for the purpose of affecting a person’s mood or health.
Aromatherapy can be used to heal symptoms of physical, psychological and emotional discomfort when women move into the perimenopause and menopause years. This phase of life can represent more than half of their adult life if she lives to be 80 years old. So, we need all the menopause relief we can get!
Menopause is typically defined as the time when a woman’s menstrual cycle stops for at least 12 months. But what about the years leading up to that final stopping point? There are many reported symptoms of what physicians now refer to as perimenopause that can begin as early as 30 for some women, but typically starts after 45.
Symptoms seem to vary in degree based on numerous other factors in a woman’s life including diet, sleep and exercise habits, emotional well-being, relationships as well as other psychological factors. Things such as irritability, anxiety, memory lapses, or mood swings, night sweats and hot flashes are commonly reported – all due to the hormonal shifts happening because of our biological clocks changing.
About 75% of all women experience hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain, an increase in cholesterol levels, decreased libido which may last for years; as well as long-term effects that can include vaginal dryness and urinary problems.
Fortunately, these unpleasant symptoms can be prevented, reduced and relieved by:
- Finding the right diet, eliminating sugar and caffeine
- Getting the right kind of sleep
- Performing stress relief practices such as meditation
- Drinking plenty of water (at least 64 oz per day)
- Taking high-grade nutritional supplements
- Possibly supplementing bioidentical hormones
- Regular exercise, and
- Adopting some complementary therapies such as yoga, tai chi, spa therapy or holistic aromatherapy
This is a time in life when achieving balance is critical to a woman’s health. All of these things will also help to reduce the risk of age-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease, breast cancer, osteoporosis and diabetes.
Aromatherapy has been practiced for over 2,000 years and uses distilled essences obtained for the leaf, stem, flower, fruit peel, bark and/or root of a tree.
When the essential oils release their aromatic molecules into the air they not only carry a pleasant fragrance to the olfactory bulb in your nose, they also cause a response from the limbic system of the brain. This area of our brain works in conjunction with the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus region to regulate a person’s hormonal activity.
These scents can trigger the production of hormones that govern your appetite, body temperature, insulin production, overall metabolism, as well as stress levels and sex drive.
Essential oils can positively affect all of these functions through your sense of smell which is your most complex and sensitive sense. For example, your sense of smell is over 10,000 times more sensitive than taste and researchers have shown that aroma can cause a brain reaction.
Stress, anxiety and psychosomatic-induced problems are particularly helped by aromatherapy. Other symptoms such as muscular and rheumatic pains, digestive disorders, PMS and postnatal depression are also highly improved by these aromatic scents.
Essential oils are very concentrated and their properties are potent. They contain molecules small enough to enter your skin.
These oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil (except lavender and tea tree) before applying directly on the skin. You can also use a vaporizer, spray; put them in a bath, cold or hot compress, or use in a perfume. Essential oils are also fantastic in a massage.
Some recommended essential oils for menopausal women:
Bergamot: uplifts mood and reduces anxiety and depression
Chamomile: calming effect; eases tension, anxiety and headaches
Geranium: balances hormones and reduces stress
Juniper: regulates period and relieves water retention
Rose: relieves pre-menopause and post-menopause symptoms
Ylang Ylang: aphrodisiac that relaxes the nervous system
Sandalwood: promotes vaginal secretions and stimulates sex hormones
Lavender: fantastic sedative properties that aid in sleep
Jasmine: euphoric and eases tension and anxiety
Frankincense: helps psychosomatic problems and anxiety
Clary Sage: eases hot flashes and night sweats as well as PMS