Menopause can be one the most challenging times and experiences a woman endures in her lifetime. Changes occur in a woman’s skin, emotional behaviors, body temperature, weight, hair, and breasts.
Symptoms of menopause and peri menopause may include:
- Day and Night sweats
- Drying of the skin
- Headaches and dizziness
- Hot flashes
- Vaginal dryness
- Hair loss
- Weight gain due to the metabolism slowing down
- Irregular to no periods
- Low Libido
These symptoms during peri menopause and menopause are experienced differently for every woman, but most women do experience some sort of minor to major hot flashes and mood swings.
What Causes Peri Menopause and Menopause?
There are several different scenarios that start the peri menopause or menopause phase of a women’s life.
- You had a hysterectomy. A partial hysterectomy (removal of your uterus, but not your ovaries), does not generally cause a woman to experience menopause immediately. But, you will no longer continue to have menstruation. Your body will continue to produce the estrogen and progesterone necessary to keep your body from menopause. However, if you have a full hysterectomy (removal of your uterus and ovaries), your body will stop menstruation and the production of the estrogen and progesterone it once had, and most women will instantly begin to have hot flash symptoms and other signs of menopause.
- Chemotherapy / Radiation Therapy. Certain cancer treatments can disrupt normal hormonal balance. Chemotherapy destroys the cancer cells that are considered fast-dividing, which can cause harm to the ovaries, and disrupt the process of producing eggs. This can induce symptoms of menopause which causes hot flashes before and after the treatment. This is not usually a permanent, but seems to cause some similar symptoms of peri menopause and menopause.
- Nature and Age. After puberty, and prior to your late 30s, a woman’s ovaries produce a higher level of estrogen and progesterone hormones. These hormone levels gradually decrease between your late 30s and early 50s, until your ovaries no longer produce eggs, and your menstruation ceases to exist, which is called menopause. At this point it is the adrenal glands that produce similar hormones, but the adrenal glands are affected by stress and exhaustion and therefore, do not adequately produce the amount necessary to head off the symptoms of menopause.
There are many natural resources to help suppress the symptoms of your body changing and disrupting the normal hormonal structure. Let’s first talk a little about some natural herbs that can help.
Isoflavones, are compounds found in some plants that have estrogen properties and are called phytoestrogens. Here are a few examples of plants that contain these properties that can suppress some of the symptoms of menopause.
Black Cohosh. Black Cohosh is native to North America and widely used by Native Americans to ease the symptoms of menstrual cramps. The parts of the plant that is used as a natural remedy is the dried root and rhizome. A rhizome is a root that has numerous shoots from its nodes, like the Ginger root. Black cohosh is basically a uterine tonic because it regulates the menstrual cycle, relieves PMS, and menstrual crams and birth contractions. Its amphoteric actions are relaxing to the muscles. So, how does it work for Menopause? Its properties cause your receptors to affect the mood in a more positive way and regulates the body temperature, which is the main cause of hot flashes, and it regulated hormone levels associated with sexual activity (an increase in the libido).
*NOTE: Do NOT use Black Cohosh if you are pregnant. Black Cohosh may also interfere with oral contraceptives and should not be used along with anticoagulant drugs.
Red Clover. Red Clover is a native to Europe, Asia and North America and is found growing in meadows. The flower tops of the plant are used as a natural remedy. Red Clover is antispasmodic. “Flavone glycosides increase follicle-stimulating hormones and are oestrogenic.” Herbal Remedies For Everyday Living Book by Anne McIntyre
Because of this, Red Clover helps suppress hot flashes, night sweats and insomnia.
*NOTE: Do NOT use Red Clover if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or if you have any blood disorders. Caution should be used if you are using this herb with anticoagulants and contraceptives.
Essential Oils – Aromatherapy
For those of you who may not be so familiar with essential oils and aromatherapy, I would like to give a short explanation.
Essential oils are extracted from flowers, leaves, bark, grasses, fruits, bushes, wood, trees, needles, twigs, resins, shrubs and roots. They are steam distilled to produce the essential oils, with the exception of citrus fruits, which are cold pressed to release the essential oils from the rinds, and a select few flowers, which may be extracted by a solvent extraction (not by any chemical means) due to their delicate flowers. Pure essential oils are just that, pure, with no adulteration or dilutions added to them, and organically grown.
Please take great caution in the brand you choose to use because if an essential oils is not truly pure it could very easily cause the person using the essential oil damage. You should be able to know the farms, the companies practices on keeping pesticides away from the plants, and the company should know where each and every farm is located, and where their third party testing for purity and proper active components of the essential oil is located.
If you are interested in a free Essential Oil 101 introduction to essential oils and how to safely use them, you can sign up at Essential Oils 101 Workshop and you can choose to either attend via video conference or in person in the Traverse City, Michigan area.
I would like to talk personally for a moment about how essential oils changed my life during my menopause stage of life. When I first became menopausal I didn’t know what essential oils were, I had actually never even heard of them. I did know my choice was to get through this phase of my life naturally, without any synthetic medications. I started with Black Cohosh and it did lessen the intensity of my hot flashes, but I still had emotional and downright angry bursts at times. My hormonal imbalance cause me to gain 30 pounds and go up 3 bra cup sizes. This alone caused me to become saddened and frustrated. I wanted my body back. About 2 years into my menopause stage I was introduced to the world of essential oils.
During my research on using essential oils for my menopause symptoms, I learned that there were several that may help my overall wellness through this time by balancing my hormones, while also alleviating many of the other symptoms of menopause such as hot flashes, irritability, emotional issues and the feeling of helplessness. Below are the essential oils I used to help me through the menopause phase of my life and I hope they can help you as well.
Clary Sage. Salvia sclarea L. – Clary Sage comes from France, Germany and Russia, and is steamed distilled from the flowering tops of the plant. Clary Sage has a very important component that most other plants do not have that makes it unique, and especially effective for hormonal balance in both men and women. This special component is called Diterpene: sclareol. Clary Sage helps to promote regular menstruation, has a euphoric effect on one’s emotions, which means it induces a feeling of happiness and well-being. It is widely used for suppressing hot flashes, night sweats, hormonal imbalance and irritability. All I can say is you just have to smell this most amazing essential oil to get the effect it is well known for.
Cypress. Cupressus sempervirens L . – Cypress is locatd in the Mediterranean and Italy. It’s leaves, cones and twigs are distilled to get an amazing aromatic essential oil. It is one of my favorite essential oils personally. On a side note, if you have occasional cramping in your muscles, a drop of Cypress with 4 drops of a carrier oil like Sweet Almond Oil, will suppress the cramping, and if you have hiccups, add a drop directly under your adam’s apple and watch the hiccups disappear. Cypress can lessent the effect of night sweats associated with Menopause. It also has a calming effect emotionally. A nice long inhale of this essential oil will calm you right down when you are irritated.
Fennel. Foeniculum vulgare Mill – Fennel comes from France, Germany and Spain. The seeds are crushed and distilled to extract the essential oil. Fennel is estrogenic which means that it is an essential oil that may act similar to estrogen. This essential oil blends well with Clary sage we talked about earlier. It balances hormonal levels, helps lift your libido, and is very effective in suppressing many symptoms of menopause.
*NOTE: Do NOT use if you have any type of estrogen dependent cancers. Also do not use if you are on anticoagulant drugs, have peptic ulcers or other bleeding disorders. And DO not use if pregnant, nursing, or have endometriosis.
Frankincense. Boswellia sacra – Frankincense comes from India, North Africa, Oman and Somalia. The resin of the tree is steam distilled. Frankincense is anxiolytic, meaning it is very grounding and reduces occasional stress and anxiety. It has sedative properties that promotes a calming and balancing of the mind, body and spirit. The use of Frankincense for menopause symptoms can reduce occasional stress and anxiety, tension, and helps promote a balance to your emotional state. Menopause, especially during a hot flash, personally caused me to have feelings of heightened anxiety and this was an oil I turned to to balance my emotional state.
Geranium. Pelargonium graveloens Geranium’s country of origins are China, Egypt, Madagascar and Reunion island. It’s aroma is uplifting, soothing and grounding, so it helps suppress anxiety, tension, agitation and mood swings. Geranium reduces hot flashes, and other menopause symptoms. This essential oil also blends well with Clary Sage essential oil.
*NOTE. There is a very small risk of skin sensitization and avoid oral use if you are on diabetic medication.
Lavender. Lavandula Angustifolia – Lavender’s origins are Bulgaria, England, France and North America. The flowering tops, the beautiful purple flowers, are steam distilled to produce what I personally feel to be the most amazing gift given to us by God and Mother Nature. Lavender’s calming properties make this essential oil perfect for helping you get a restful nights sleep. Lavender also promotes a feeling of relaxation that reduces the effects of occasional stress and anxiety. Just rub a drop of pure essential oil, along with 4 drops carrier oil, onto your feet about 1/2 hour prior to bed time and you will feel your body and mind prepare for sleep.
Peppermint. Mentha x piperita – Origin of this plant is England, France and the US. Most of us are familiar with the aroma of peppermint in some form. Peppermint is a very popular herb found in teas, baking and cooking recipes, candies, and even medicinal products. Peppermint’s leaves are distilled to create this beautiful aromatic essential oil. Menthol is a main component of the peppermint plant that gives it both a warming and cooling effect. Peppermint essential oil can help reduce hot flashes when used as a spritzer and its aroma is a stimulant so it uplifts your spirits and at the same time brings you a sense of happiness when you may be feeling a bit sluggish.
*NOTE: Do NOT use if you have inflammation of the gallbladder, sever liver damage or an absence of gastric juices in your digestive tract.
Vetiver. Vetiveria zizanioides – Vetiver comes from Haiti, Sri Lanka and India, and was scarce for sometime after the hurricane hit Haiti a few years back. Vetiver is a grass and its roots are distilled to extract the essential oil. Vetiver is considered an aphrodisiac so it’s properties may help heighten the libido. It also decreases sleeplessness, which is a common symptom of menopause. It has a very sweet, earthy, and woody scent.
Menopause Relief Roller Ball
Add 6 drops Frankincense and 4 drops Clary Sage essential oil to a 15ml glass roller ball. Fill the rest of the way with Sweet Almond oil. Roll onto your wrist pulse points, and the back of your neck.
Hot Flash Eliminator
Add 8 drops Roman Chamomile, 6 drops Clary Sage and 8 drops of Peppermint essential oils in a 30 ml glass spritzer bottle. Spritz on your body at the onset of a hot flash for relief.
Sleep Well Roller Ball
Add 15 drops Lavender, 10 drops Vetiver, and 8 drops Frankincense essential oils to a 15ml glass roller ball and apply on the bottoms of your feet, back of the neck and pulse points about 15 minutes before bedtime. Use when needed.
Where To Find Products Discussed
- Black Cohosh
- Red Clover
- 15ml Glass Roller Balls
- Sweet Almond Oil Carrier Oil
- 30ml glass spritzer bottle
- Essential Oils
- Herbal Remedies For Everyday Living Book by Anne McIntyre
New York Institute of Aromatic Studies, Foundations, by Jade Shutes
DISCLAIMER: These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are for educational purposes only, and we encourage you do your own research and decide what is best for your family. They are not meant to treat diagnose, prevent or cure any disease or illness.