Hormones are chemicals that are produced by glands in the endocrine system. They are released into the bloodstream to target the necessary organs when needed. A hormonal imbalance occurs when there is too much or too little of a certain hormone.
Hormones are responsible for regulating many different processes in the body, including sleep and reproductive cycles, metabolic and sexual function, body temperature and even mood. It is no surprise then that even the slightest imbalance may have a noticeable effect on your health and wellbeing.
The levels of hormones fluctuate during various life stages, such as during puberty and the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause. Changes in hormonal balance can also be affected by lifestyle, diet and health conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome. Some of the most common signs of hormonal imbalance are mood swings, insomnia and poor sleep quality, low libido, heavy or painful periods, fertility issues, weight gain and skin problems.
If you are experiencing signs of hormonal imbalance in whatever stage of your life you may be at, essential oils are a very useful and effective natural remedy to ease the path of this bumpy journey.
Essential Oils that can help to balance hormones
Clary sage essential oil is well known for its use in women’s health issues such as menstrual pain and menopause. A study on menstrual pain showed that women found more relief with clary sage essential oil as compared to the drug acetaminophen (1). Another study on women with dysmenorrhea also found relief using clary sage (2). During menopause, clary sage helps in reducing cortisol levels and also exhibits an antidepressant-like effect (3).
Geranium essential oil is derived by steam distillation of the leaves of Pelargonium graveolens, a plant species native to South Africa. This oil has antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and astringent properties. A study on 120 female students diagnosed with pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) using geranium essential oil in aromatherapy massage showed a decrease in both physical and mental PMS symptoms (4). Another study (5) found that aromatherapy with geranium essential oil was beneficial at stimulating secretion of salivary oestrogen showing that geranium essential oil might be of value for women experiencing reduced oestrogen and health-related symptoms caused by menopause and perimenopause.
The well-known lavender essential oil promotes emotional balance during these tumultuous times, and reduces stress, depression, and anxiety. It is also used to promote restful sleep, which aids in hormone rebalancing. Lavender lowers the amount of cortisol released by the adrenal glands and one study (6) demonstrates that inhaling lavender can soothe symptoms of depression and the mood swings that come with PMS. Lavender oil is an adaptogenic oil, meaning it can adapt to the specific needs of the body and help rebalance and level out hormones.
Rose essential oil has long been known as an aphrodisiac and balances testosterone levels in the body, which is of great importance for both men and women. A study in 2009 (8) showed that rose essential oil promoted greater feelings of calm and relaxation, which can help in balancing cortisol and supporting the adrenal glands. It also demonstrated an ability to decrease blood pressure and breathing rate, improve serotonin levels and other neuropeptides, further promoting a sense of calm (8).
Sandalwood essential oil, also known as an aphrodisiac and hormone balancer, is often used to increase libido, reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. It is also very effective at balancing testosterone levels in both men and women.
Ylang ylang essential oil calms and uplifts the mind and body while relieving stress and reducing anxiety and depression. A study (7) published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed evidence of positive anti-anxiety effects due to influencing processes in the hippocampus region of the brain and serotonin system. It also known to address issues of insomnia and low libido during menopause.
Essential oils are brilliant companions that can help you sail through the different phases in your life and help you enjoy your life to the fullest. Don’t let your hormones get the better of you!
Article by: Dr. Carolyn Goh
Integrated Health Consultant,
BEng., MSc., PhD (DIC)., MBBS