Menopause - Autumn Years
September 2018, posted by Emma
Autumn is a time of transition – trees, flowering plants, new school terms or perhaps learning to live with an empty nest. Autumn also symbolises a woman’s transition from her fertile to menopause years, experienced by most women sometime between their mid-forties and mid-fifties. The menopause can be challenging on many levels, but it's a natural part of a woman’s life journey.
There are many essential oils and aromatic waters we can harness to support us through this time of profound change. We’ve chosen to highlight a few of our favourites here.
Hot flushes are possibly the most well-known menopausal effects. For me, the power of aromatic waters (hydrosols) come into their own when our internal thermometers rocket. Rose water in a spray bottle is a wonderful and fast way of cooling the body – spray onto your face, neck and wrists. Rose is harmonising and calming; its lovely to use in the evenings or during anxious moments. If you’ve got a busy day head try a squirt of cooling and focusing peppermint water instead.
Unfortunately disturbed sleep is a common part of many women’s menopause journey. We can use essential oils in a variety of ways to help here. Possibly the most popular way is to pop 1-2 drops of True Lavender oil (Lavandula angustifolia) onto the corner of your pillow just before bed (avoid dropping it near where your face might make contact). An aromatherapy diffuser, which slowly releases essential oils into the air, is a good investment for poor sleepers. Ideally buy one with a timer and run it for about 45 minutes before bedtime or as you’re going to sleep (avoid having it on all night). You might also enjoy making yourself a duvet spray to gently scent the top of your duvet and pillow edges. Essential oils which can be helpful for diffusers and sprays include Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum / graveolens). This popular aromatic is inherently cooling, calming and traditionally recommended as a hormonal balancer. Its aroma conveys a sense of serenity, comfort and strength, making it particularly useful for nervous exhaustion and anxiety, both frequently experienced during the menopausal years.
Decline in sexual desire is less commonly talked about but is a widely experienced effect of the menopause. If this resonates with you, then you are far from alone. Floral essential oils in particular have long been associated with love and desire. Rose (Rosa damascena) was a symbol of both the Greek and Roman Goddesses of Love and is an essential oil people often turn to when an increase in desire is, well, desired! Feminine sexuality in a bottle, rose oil is also useful to support depression and grief. For some the on-set of the menopause triggers grief-like symptoms; rose can help us come to terms with the loss of our fertility and younger years. Similarly the aroma of exotic Jasmine (Jasminum officinalis) sings of sensuality. It’s also considered to be a uterine tonic and is often used to calm anxiety. Try a drop of either on a tissue and deeply inhale, or add to a diffuser. Jasmine is an absolute (solvent extracted essence) and reacts on some people’s skin, so avoid applying it to the skin if you have a history of skin reactions (though inhaling it should be fine).
Neroli is another floral oil widely used to aid anxiety and exhaustion. Its soothing and calming qualities make this a perfect oil to help ease some of the emotional challenges that menopause can bring. A 2014 research study found women who inhaled neroli essential oil for 5 minutes a day saw a reduction in general menopause symptoms and an increase in sexual desire. A double win!
Mental Clarity & Anxiety
Finally, for mental clarity, focus, support with nervous exhaustion and menstrual-changes I give you Cypress (Cypressus sempervirens). Used as incense and medicine by the Ancient Egyptians the essential oil of the mighty cypress tree can have a profound action on the emotions and is a useful tool to help us through times of transition and loss.
Strength & Calm Massage Oil
To encourage emotional and physiological balance. To bring calm & help you feel in control. Into 30ml dark coloured glass jar pour 20ml of a cold pressed vegetable oil (preferably organic) such as sunflower or sweet almond, plus 10ml of jojoba oil, available from good aromatherapy suppliers. Alternatively use 30ml of your main base oil. Then add your essential oils (these are given at a 2% dilution):-
4 drops of True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
5 drops of Cypress (Cypressus sempervirens)
3 drops Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum / graveolens) OR Rose (Rosa centifolia) – rose is expensive so use it with respect. Geranium is more affordable.
Mix your blend well – a toothpick is great for this (try to avoid using metal). Store your bottle in a cool, dark place and use within three months. Massage as required into your belly. You could use a little as a face moisturiser or massage into your upper chest so you can smell it more easily. I don’t recommend using the same oils daily for more than a few weeks – see this as a good excuse to keep trying out new essential oils! It can be a good idea to patch test your blend first, especially if you’re prone to skin reactions – apply a small amount to the inside of your elbow and leave for 24 hours to check that your skin is happy with these essential oils.
Sleep Tight Duvet Spray
Fill a 50ml glass bottle with a spray top (atomiser) with Rose, Lavender or Roman Chamomile aromatic waters (hydrosols), or filtered water. Add 5 drops of Bergamot (Citrus bergamia), 3 drops of True Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), 3 drops of Geranium (Pelargonium x asperum / graveolens) & 1 drop of Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) essential oils. Adding a splosh of high proof vodka will help preserve your spray. Shake the bottle well before using.
Spray a little on the top of your duvet cover before bed. Keep your duvet spray in the fridge and use within a couple of weeks. You could also add these essential oils to 30ml of vegetable oil and use as a massage blend.
Emma Charlton IFPA MIFPA
• Harman A (2015) Harvest to Hydrosol, Fruitland WA USA; botANNicals
• Kellett J (2016) How do you feel about the menopause?, From the Seed, accessed 12/09/18, available from http://www.fromtheseed.co.uk/how-do-you-feel-about-the-menopause/
• Kellett J (2018) Essential Oils, Aromatherapy for the Menopause (course notes), From the Seed.
• Mojay G (1996) Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit (1996) London: Gaia Books Limited
• Tisserand R & Young R (2014) Essential Oil Safety (second edition), Edinburgh, London, New York et al: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier
• Choi SY et al (2014) Effects of Inhalation of Essential Oil of Citrus aurantium L. var. amara on Menopausal Symptoms, Stress, and Estrogen in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial, accessed 11/09/18, available from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25024731