Aromatherapy and hormones

Aromatherapy and hormones

Our hormones are part of our Endocrine System, which covers all glands, including the Pituitary Gland, the Thyroid, Adrenals, Pancreas, the Ovaries and the Testis. Hormones are chemicals produced by these glands that flow through the blood stream influencing how we think and feel. They govern the action and activity, strength and functioning of many of our organs and metabolic processes.  As Patricia Davies states: “A characteristic of hormones is that they influence body functions at a distance from the point of origin of the hormone. For this reason they are known as chemical messengers”.

The balance of hormones is affected and influenced by many different factors, including:

  • Nutrition - vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, carbohydrates/sugars
  • Stimulants – caffeine, alcohol, recreational drugs
  • Medication
  • Exercise levels
  • Stress
There is still a great deal of research being conducted in relation to plant hormones and their effect on our endocrine system.  On a basic level, it is thought that essential oils effect our general endocrine system by the plant hormones – “phytohormones” – mimicking human hormones and helping to re-balance, stimulate or calm. The other action is thought to relate to the actual action on specific glands – such as Eucalyptus or Juniper helping to re-balance blood sugar levels – or Geranium and Rosemary stimulating the Adrenal Cortex.

As far as aromatherapy is concerned, we tend to focus on using the essential oils' action on the emotions relating to certain conditions – as well as the conditions themselves, such as Pre-Menstrual Tension or Period Pain.

Herbal Medicine – both Western and Chinese – uses the actual plant materials medicinal action to help restore hormonal balance. Homeopathy, Acupuncture and Nutritional Medicine can be great options for regulating hormonal fluctuations.

For menopausal symptoms and hot flushes – one of the best herbal combinations I have come across is “Menotune” and “NightGrace” by “Herbs Of Grace” in Newmarket. Medication should be an absolute last resort, as there are so many side-effects, while Natural Medicine can offer such a range of safe, gentle and effective options. The hormonal system is vast in its various different influences – therefore it is often a holistic approach – a combination of therapies that can create the best results. As the Natural Medicine approach is also addressing the fundamental root causes of the issues – not merely alleviating the symptoms – the resolution of the issues is more likely to be long term. It is important to remember that symptoms are our body's way of communicating to us what it needs to redress the imbalances – so suppressing these indications can lead to more health issues in the future.

Aromatherapy for balancing hormones

Aromatherapy can help redress hormonal imbalances via a number of ways:-

Stress Reduction

Vaporising essential oils, aromatherapy baths, aromatherapy bath salts and aromatherapy massage can all help reduce the effects of adrenalin and cortisol – the fight or flight hormones produced by the adrenal glands. Massage also helps the body flush these chemicals out of the blood stream more efficiently, and can help to reduce stress related inflammation. Useful essential oils for relieving stress would include: Lavender, Neroli, Sandalwood, Benzoin, Patchouli, Vetiver, Jasmine, Bergamot, Sweet Orange, Ylang Ylang and Roman Chamomile.

  • Vaporise 2 drops Neroli, 4 Bergamot, 2 Sandalwood.
  • For a massage blend 30ml Sweet Almond Oil with 10 drops Lavender essential oil, 2 Neroli and 2 Benzoin.

Hormone Fluctuation

Certain essential oils have constituent elements - phytohormones (plant hormones) – that mimic/reinforce the activity of certain human hormones. Aromatherapy oils such as Geranium, Rose, Agnus Castus (not stocked by Base Formula), Palmarosa, Marjoram, Fennel and Clary Sage contain oestrogen like substances that help balance hormonal fluctuations and can therefore be helpful for PMT, menopause and period problems.

  • Massage oil for pre-menstrual tension: 30ml Grapeseed Oil, 6 drops Geranium, 2 Fennel, 2 Clary Sage and 2 Agnus Castus.
  • Alternatively you could try our pre-blended essential oils for PMT and the Menopause.

Hormone Production

Some phytohormones trigger or balance hormone production from certain glands. Essential oils such as Geranium, Basil and Rosemary stimulate the adrenal cortex, whilst Juniper and Eucalyptus can help reduce excessive blood sugar levels by their action on the pancreas.

Stimulating Circulation & Detoxification

Stimulating the circulation and detoxification process can help restore balance in various endocrinal activities following periods of intense stress, strain or shock. Essential oils such as Lemon, Juniper, Fennel, Geranium, Bergamot, Neroli, Thyme, Black Pepper and Ginger can help relieve bloating, joint and muscle pain, headaches, poor immunity and hormonal irregularities by helping rid the body of the after-effects of high stress levels. Bath salts such as Himalayan Pink Salts and Dead Sea Salts can also stimulate detoxification and can be combined with essential oils to great effect.

  • Massage oil for tiredness and oedema: 30ml Grapeseed Oil, 4 drops Juniper, 4 Geranium, 2 Fennel & 2 Lemon.
  • Tension headaches: 10ml Jojoba Oil, 2 drops Neroli & 4 Spearmint. Massage into pulse points.
You might also find the following blogs useful:-

Aromatherapy advice for pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS/PMT)
Aromatherapy and the menopause

Joannah Metcalfe
Consultant Aromatherapist 

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