Showing menopause who’s the boss is made easy once you’ve made a few critical choices. I’m talking about putting yourself first with self-care; focusing on your health with diet, exercise, and a team of healthcare professionals; and taking the right treatments such as hormone replacement therapy. But, if managing menopause becomes spikes-your-blood-pressure stressful, consider starting with a fast, easy, and natural support aid that may help reduce those mood swings and may give those hot flashes a chill pill. I’m talking about going au naturale with essential oils for menopause.
Before we dive into the natural world of essential oils, let me share this caution about natural remedies from HealthlinePlus: “Many people believe that products labeled ‘natural’ are always safe and good for them. This is not necessarily true. Herbal medicines do not have to go through the testing that drugs do. Some herbs, such as comfrey and ephedra, can cause serious harm. Some herbs can interact with prescription or over-the-counter medicines. If you are thinking about using herbal medicine [including essential oils], first get information on it from reliable sources. Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any herbal medicines you are taking.” We here at PauseMeNot always say “knowledge is power,” and knowledge about essential oils is, well, essential! So let’s dive in, and let’s power-up your knowledge AND your relaxation.
Do Essential Oils Cure Menopause?
Wondering whether natural solutions like essential oils will end your menopausal woes? If you’re looking for a cure, then the short answer is no. Essential oils are not proven to prevent, treat, or cure human disease. But, they can support your body’s efforts to reclaim good feelings. In fact, MedicalNewsToday states, “Aromatherapy is a complementary therapy. It does not provide a cure for diseases, rashes or illnesses, but it can support conventional treatment of various conditions.” It goes on to say that: “It has been shown to reduce menopausal symptoms … but not all of the uses are supported by scientific evidence.” In other words, aromatherapy may not end your hot flashes, but they could help with stress relief, which, as stated in other posts, helps in reducing excessive sweating. And when would we ever say “no” to some stress relief?!
Now, even though we know that menopause is not a disease but rather a life stage, it can bring about lots of ailments. And if you’re reading this post, it’s likely because you are looking for support for said struggles. And oof, do I get the need for support from menopausal struggles. If you think of treatments for menopause like a pie divided up into many pieces, essential oils are a supportive aid (as opposed to medical treatments), making up only one super small slice of this big and diverse menopausal dessert. As such, they should not be used in lieu of the other treatments or without professional input. But, they can help you during this life stage. How? Well, essential oils can help your menopause journey become more of a fun road trip than a stuck-in-traffic commute complete with no air conditioning and nothing to do but wait and endure. You’re used to improving a road trip with a great soundtrack; essential oils improve your menopausal journey with a great smell track!
The best news about starting your menopausal remedy regimen with natural aids? There’s no guarantee, but you may skip many of the pesky side effects that more synthetic meds can yield and instead, you may reap nature’s side benefits. Now, I’m not saying that alternative medicines don’t have any side effects. As always, educate yourself, read labels, and, as the caution above from Healthline Plus recommended, check with your health professionals before combining natural solutions with prescribed or OTC meds into your healthcare regimen. But, once you’ve taken those steps, essential oils and other natural solutions are a great first step to supporting menopause’s many symptoms. My friend, Victoria (who, by the way, is a fellow menopausal maven but is not a scientist), shares her experience:
“My menopausal journey started with severe hot flashes. The night sweats made it impossible for me to sleep through the night, which dramatically impacted my energy during the day. My work started to suffer and honestly? I didn’t even want to be around me. I wasn’t the same fun and lively person I had always been. So, I saw an herbalist who recommended a natural approach. I started with the supplement black cohosh and some essential oils. And wow! They did the trick, supporting my sleep struggles for a whole year. And then, just like that, they stopped working. So, I met with my doctor and turned to hormone replacement therapy, which immediately worked like a charm. The combination of estrogen with progesterone returned my good sleep patterns by reducing my night sweats.
Due to some of the side effects I read about from long-term HRT use, I’m glad I went au naturale for a year. And, I’m equally happy that I later found a prescription that worked for me when alternative solutions no longer gave me the support I needed. What I’ve learned on my menopausal journey is that you have to make the best choice based on your symptoms so they don’t interfere with your life. For me, exploring natural options and progressing to prescribed treatments was the right path.”
So why not give essential oils a try if they come with low risk and have helped others? That’s just common scents!
What Essential Oils Are and Aren’t
Before I share essential oils that may support your menopausal maladies, first, let’s talk about what essential oils are and are not. Like the supplements and vitamins for menopause we talked about in previous posts, essential oils—which are concentrated oils distilled from plants—have been used by indigenous peoples around the world to alleviate all kinds of symptoms for nearly 6,000 years. However and only recently, modern science has begun documenting their effectiveness against certain specific issues.
Important note! While there is a fair amount of research done, let me be honest. Far more studies need to be completed with much larger test groups, including test groups with humans, to more fully prove which oils are most effective for what symptoms and why. I can’t say it enough because many people think “natural” means “no side effects.” To play it safe, before adding natural solutions to your healthcare regimen, run your plans by your doctor.
Second, while essential oils are natural, some oils do have cautions (e.g., photosensitivity), specific ways to use and not to use them (e.g., some are for internal use and others are not for ingestion), and dosages that you should keep in mind. In other words, educate yourself. Essential oils are not the kind of oil you can cook your pasta in or lather all over your body before you get a tan. One, because that’d cost you a lotta chedda (save the chedda for your pasta!), and two, because a little bit goes a long way.
Another important note! Before using essential oils in any way, read the bottle or the label for any cautions, use guidelines, and dosage amounts.
Third, the quality of essential oils differ dramatically from brand to brand, so use that brilliant brain of yours to get educated. A quick rule of thumb? Less potent oils mean less help for you. So, watch out for diluted or substandard oils. When researching essential oils for menopause, ask yourself these questions to determine how potent the oils you buy are:
- Does the company you’re buying them from disclose where each essential oil was sourced? If they came from the middle of Manhattan, for instance, they might not be as reliable as those that came from Madagascar or Australia. Just sayin’. (Although if they do come from Manhattan, they’re bound to have plenty of attitude. Forgeddabouddit.)
- Are the plants harvested at peak times to ensure the highest-quality product? Most plants have a certain window during which the constituents that make them so great are at their optimal combination.
- Are quality testing procedures utilized to ensure potency and purity? Does the company perform both gas chromatography and spectrometry tests to make sure that only the highest quality of essential compounds are present in the essential oil and that no harmful impurities exist? Speaking of which, does the company test for microbial properties?
- Does the company communicate the results of said testing? In other words, are they transparent, allowing consumers to get information about the process from sourcing to testing?
- Do partnerships exist between growers and harvesters for a mutually beneficial relationship?
Fourth, although essential oils can help balance your emotions, most of them can’t become, mimic, or make your body produce hormones. That would be too easy, and we’ve gotta keep this menopause thing interesting, right? However, some contain phytoestrogens, which are plant-based substances that behave in a similar way to estrogen. So, if you’ve had your blood tested and could use a little extra help in that area, consider leaning more into those. All essential oils are “adaptogenic,” which means they can help our bodies adapt to internal and external stressors. They do this by supporting your cells. They can calm, uplift, ground, or energize. In other words, that peppermint oil you’ve been wondering about? Think of it as your little cheerleader in a bottle! Lavender? That’s like your personal little crooner, singing your nose a calming little lullaby!
Top 15 Most Recommended Essential Oils for Menopause
Now that you’re up to your eyeballs in warnings and watch-outs and possibly unwanted advice (sorry to go all mom on you!), check out these 15 most recommended essential oils for menopause. For 100% transparency, we’re calling out not only the possible supportive benefits for your Big M maladies, but also the studies and sources where we gathered our information.
Tip! As always, do your own research and make informed decisions before purchasing or using products listed on this website. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Remember, essential oils are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
1. Angelica (Angelica archangelica)
- Possible Supportive Benefits: calming, slight sunscreen effect
- Studies: PubMed®, which comprises more than 32 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books, states in this study that angelica has an anti-anxiety effect. To be clear, this study was performed on male mice and that same effect in human females has not yet been studied. Also on PubMed, this study also says that angelica has a slight sunscreen effect. Yay! More fun-in-the-sun protection (bring on the self-care) while smelling good and feeling calmer? Yes please!
2. Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
- Possible supportive benefits: helps your body adjust to changing estrogen levels
- Studies: Kate Schkodzik, an OB/GYN and medical advisor for Flo.health, cites studies that have shown that basil contains an estrogen hormone-like component, thereby alleviating some of the discomfort of menopause.
3. Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
- Possible supportive benefits: pick-me-up
- Studies: This small 2017 study shared on PubMed involved 57 women in a mental health treatment center and showed that bergamot supported more positive feelings. It’s cold-pressed from a grapefruit-like fruit grown primarily in Italy, so don’t be surprised if you suddenly feel the urge to get on a plane to tour Venice after using this oil!
If you’d like to identify Bergamot’s other potential benefits, check out this article over on WebMD. Though it does not cite sources, it was reviewed by a medical doctor and is based on studies.
Note! As previously mentioned, essential oils are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease or illnesses. Technically, that is what prescription or OTC drugs’ purpose is. FDA clinical trials, which study such drugs, typically involve at least 3 phases with differing numbers of participants in each phase. The first phase involves 20-80 on average. The second phase includes 100-300. And, the third phase enlists the help of 1,000 to 3,000. So, when we say “small study,” we mean small in terms of FDA clinical trial averages. Again, because essential oils are not regulated by the FDA, most essential oil-related studies do not include the research or sample size the US Food and Drug Administration requires for medical studies.
4. Black Cohosh (Cimicifuga racemosa)
- Possible supportive benefits: reduction in the number and severity of hot flashes
- Studies: This small 2018 study shared on the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s (NCBI) website involving menopausal women found that both black cohosh and evening primrose oil effectively reduced the severity of hot flashes and improved overall quality of life for postmenopausal women. Black cohosh also reduced the number of hot flashes. If you take black cohosh as a supplement, like we suggested here, it’s probably best that you don’t inhale the oil as well, as too much of the supplement has been shown to have side effects. The same rule of thumb applies to other essential oils that are also available as supplements.
5. Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)
- Possible supportive benefits: happiness booster, especially when applied as part of a massage. Dr. Amy Galper, founder of the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies, recommends mixing it with coconut oil and chamomile for a DIY bedtime massage oil.
- Studies: In two small PubMed studies, one in 2010 on rats and one in 2010 on menopausal women, clary sage significantly lowered cortisol (i.e., stress hormone) levels. Additionally, Dr. Mariza Snyder, in her book The Essential Oils Menopause Solution, suggests they can also help ease hot flashes. With its forest-like aroma, you might easily be able to imagine yourself taking a hike in the woods or resting by a campfire, and that alone might do the trick. (And because you’re having a hot flash, imagine those woods on a cool, crisp, autumn night, not in mid-summer.)
6. Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis)
- Possible supportive benefits: reduces hot flashes; like black cohosh, evening primrose oil can help reduce hot flashes, with an associated benefit, as shared on NCBI’s website, in the reduction of night sweats
- Studies: This small study on 170 postmenopausal women showed a significant reduction in the frequency and severity of their hot flashes, but the Mayo Clinic cautions people with seizure disorders or mania against using it and publishes a long list of possible side-effects.
7. Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)
- Possible supportive benefits: calming, combatting stress, tension, and occasional anxious feelings, skin supporting
- Studies: This oil is derived from the crystalline sap of the frankincense tree, of which there are several varieties grown throughout the Middle East and eastern Africa. When hardened, the sap becomes a resin that can be burned in an incense burner as well. While some providers swear by only the Boswellia Carterii variety, others mix carterii, sacra, papyrifera, frereana, and other varieties. The oil’s sweet and woodsy aroma is the same for all, no matter where the trees are grown, but studies claim it offers support as a calming agent and mood improver. And, that the effects may differ slightly depending on the sub-type used.
Also, this 2017 analysis of frankincense showed its “promising potential” for supporting skin in its efforts to soothe and rejuvenate itself.
Note: Again, essential oils cannot treat illnesses, including depression. Keep that in mind when reading any non-FDA-sponsored study results claiming benefits such as antidepressant or anti-anxiety. Accurate essential oil benefits should be listed as things like supporting (instead of curing) stress, tension, and occasional anxious feelings.
8. Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)
- Possible supportive benefits: supports good estrogen levels, calming (not a proven antidepressant but relaxing)
- Studies: According to Kate Schkodzik, an OB/GYN and medical advisor for Flo.health, geranium can naturally support estrogen levels while also supporting a healthy mood. This 2017 study on perimenopausal women supports that, and this 2015 study on postmenopausal women documented its antidepressant effects (pacifying and soothing), especially when it was applied in a massage. Getting flowers and a massage? Even better, massaging yourself with those flowers? Sign me up!
9. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
- Possible supportive benefits: eases feelings of tension and promotes relaxation, ease, and feeling peacefully emotionally (not a proven anti-anxiety or antidepressant but calming and soothing)
- Studies: Though more research with larger test groups must be done to prove these benefits conclusively, many studies (like this one on PubMed and this one on NCBI) have shown that lavender may reduce anxiety and depression and only a few (like this one also on PubMed) have shown a direct improvement in menopause symptoms after inhalation of the oil. Some manufacturers say it’s best used topically (a few drops on your skin) or inhaled directly from the bottle. Some say it’s most effective when you put a few drops on your tongue and swallow. Always check the bottle; if it doesn’t say anything about internal use, don’t drink it, ‘kay?
10. Neroli (Citrus aurantium)
- Possible supportive benefits: increased sexual desire, blood pressure reduction, stress level reduction, endocrine system stimulation
- Studies: This particular variety of essential oil is distilled from the flower of the bitter orange tree (as opposed to the peels of the orange, which make orange essential oil, or the leaves and twigs of the tree, which yields petitgrain essential oil … because you needed all that detail, right?). In a small 2014 study (we’re talking 81 postmenopausal women in South Korea aged 65+), it was shown to improve the quality of life increasing sexual desire and reducing blood pressure, with the possible additional benefit of reducing stress levels and stimulating the endocrine system.
11. Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
- Possible supportive benefits: memory enhancer or to ease head tension
- Studies: In a 2008 study on 144 humans, scientists compared peppermint and ylang ylang essential oils’ effects on memory and calmness. Peppermint came out the winner for improving memory and alertness.
12. Rose (Rosa damascena)
- Possible supportive benefits: improvement in hot flashes, combats tension and eases relaxation (not proven to treat depression)
- Studies: In a small study done in Korea, 27 menopausal women had massages once a week for 8 weeks, using various essential oils, including rose. Compared with a similarly-sized control group, they reported improvement in hot flashes, depression, and pain, although it could not be determined if those improvements were from the oil itself, the massage, or both.
13. Sandalwood (Santalum album)
- Possible supportive benefits: skin enhancing (minimizing the appearance of skin imperfections)
- Studies: Most studies that have investigated the benefits of sandalwood essential oil, like this one, have looked at it’s skin-supporting benefits. So, if you’re having problems with dry skin, this woody-smelling oil can be a tonic for both your mind and face. Try giving yourself the spa experience at home by filling a large bowl with steaming water, then applying one to two drops of sandalwood essential oil to your face. Then cover your head with a towel. Place your face above the steaming water. Your skin will thank you.
14. Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
- Possible supportive benefits: bolsters your skin’s ability to remember what it felt like when it was younger.
- Studies: While I cite no studies here, doTerra, one of the largest essential oil companies in the world, says “this active botanical revitalizes aging skin when applied topically. When taken internally, it may help activate skin-protecting proteins that inhibit elasticity breakdown and promote collagen production.”
15. Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)
- Possible supportive benefits: Just breathing in this oil’s aroma, which smells like an exotic flower…or maybe root beer, depending upon how thirsty you are, has been shown to “significantly increase calmness.”
- Studies: This 2016 study showed a decrease in anxiety in male mice. These two studies on women, one in 2008 with 140 participants and one in 2006 with 40 participants (as shared on NCBI’s website), showed a definite relaxing effect.
By now, you’re probably asking yourself two big questions:
- How do I use essential oils (what if I don’t even know where to start?)?
- Why should I care about the scientific names of the oils (i.e., what the heck does “cananga odorata” even mean, anyway?)?
I won’t keep you waiting, let’s get to those answers!
How Do You Use Essential Oils for Menopause?
What is involved with essential oil use when it comes to the Big M? There may be as many ways to use essential oils as there are essential oils, but the main ways to use them, including for menopause and aside from the ways we’ve already mentioned—like massages or a few dabs on your wrist—are:
- Breathing in straight from the bottle: Sometimes, like when your boss is breathing down your neck or your kid is having a meltdown in the grocery store, you need some relief fast and surreptitiously. That’s when you take out your little bottle of essential oil, undo the cap, and take a few relaxing, full breaths to reset your mindset. Breathe in the relaxation, breathe out the stress. You deserve it.
- Using a diffuser: Get a diffuser like one of these, fill its little tank with water, add a few drops of your preferred essential oil (depending on what the label says), turn the diffuser on, and voila! You’re both breathing in their wonderful scents and making your room smell good at the same time! If you’ve ever thought, “How can I turn my bedroom or office into more of a spa?”, this may be the solution for you.
- Inhaling from your hands: Adding a few drops in the palms of your hands, cupping your hands together, placing the tips of your fingers on the end of your nose, and smelling the aroma is a powerful way to take in essential oils’ aroma. A quick, handy solution, no?
- Breathing in from the bath or shower: One of my favorite ways to inhale essential oils is by pouring a few drops on my shower floor, letting it mix in with the steam, and smelling the scent while showering. Eucalyptus is my absolute favorite. I know! It’s not one of our top recommended essential oils for menopause, but I like it for adding a more relaxing and invigorating feeling to my shower. What a way to shower yourself with relaxation. 😉
Note! If you prefer baths to showers, simply pour a few drops in your water and you’ll create a similar experience. Check out these DIY essential oil bath salts, epsom salts, salt scrub, bubble bath, and bath bomb recipes if you want to up your bathing/showering game.
- Swallowing directly: Ingesting essential oils for menopause is as easy as pouring a few drops straight from the bottle under or on your tongue and swallowing, putting a drop on your thumb and pressing it to the roof of your mouth, or adding it to a glass of water and drinking it.
- Taking in a gel cap: Any essential oil that is safe for internal use can be added into a gel or veggie capsule and taken as you would any other capsule. I prefer pairing mine with a big gulp of water, thank you!
Important note! Not all essential oils are safe to ingest. Please read the caution notes on the bottle to ensure the specific oil you want to consume internally is safe to do so.
- Placing drops on key areas of your body: In addition to dabbing your wrists with essential oils, consider putting drops of your favorite essential oils behind your ears, on your temples, over your heart, on your lower back, or anywhere you are experiencing symptoms.
- Adding to your favorite cream or lotion: Adding an essential oil to your favorite unscented moisturizer is an effective way to get maximum coverage. As an added bonus, some scents, like peppermint and lavender, serve as natural insect repellent. So you can get both menopause symptoms and mosquitoes to bug-off!
What Is the Importance of Essential Oils’ Scientific Names?
Why should you care about the scientific names of the oils? Not all essential oil makers make the same oils from the same parts of the plants. They may grow or source them from different places around the world, all of which affects the potency of the essential oil. When we recommend a particular variety of essential oil, like cananga odorata, we’re just saying that that’s the variety we have the most information on as far as its effectiveness.
This doesn’t even get us started on the myriad ways you can blend or mix different kinds of oils, which produces all kinds of new smells and amplified benefits! If you’re feeling a little adventurous, try experimenting with a few similar-smelling oils to see what new possibilities await. Your nose knows what works!
It’s a Wrap!
Trying to figure out a natural way to help manage and overcome the symptoms of menopause? Well, you’re in luck! Thankfully, essential oils are all the rage right now, and they might just be a game-changer for you. Essential oils for menopause—and other natural solutions—are a great first step to treating menopause’s many symptoms.
So, check out the oils listed above, purchase a few to support your ailments (remembering that they are not a cure, treatment, or intended to prevent diseases or illnesses), buy a cute essential oil diffuser, and get ready to reap the benefits of all that mother nature has to offer. Another added bonus? A home that smells like a flower garden. Now that’ll im-plant some joy, and help your self-care blossom!
Note: Remember that these claims have not been validated by the FDA and that essential oils are not intended to prevent, cure, or treat any disease or illness.
Here are a few of our recommendations for the best sources:
- Snyder, M. The Essential Oils Menopause Solution. (2021). Rodale Books. New York,NY.
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