Essential Oils for Hormone Balance

Essential Oils for Hormone Balance

I’ve shared my favorite remedies for PMS and cramps before, but I’ve gotten a lot of questions about essential oils for hormone balance lately and wanted to share some experience with this as well.

Essential oils can be very powerful and effective when used correctly, but because of their power they also carry their share of risks. Check with a qualified health practitioner before using essential oils or any other remedy, especially if you are pregnant or have a health condition.

What is PMS?

Premenstrual Syndrome, or PMS, is a name that refers to a combination of symptoms that women can suffer from in the week before menstruation. It is estimated by The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that nearly 85% of women suffer from some PMS symptoms. (1) These symptoms can include:

  • Tension or anxiety
  • Mood swings or depressed mood
  • Crying
  • Appetite changes and food cravings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Change in sex drive
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Fluid retention
  • Bloating
  • Breast tenderness
  • Acne
  • Digestive problems like constipation or diarrhea

Thankfully, the symptoms of PMS begin to dissipate once menstruation begins. The problem is that often times this begins a whole other set of menstrual symptoms such as abdominal cramping, nausea, diarrhea, back pain and more headaches.

Essential Oils for Hormone Balance

Many women have great success with using essential oils for hormone balance and to alleviate cramping, PMS and other symptoms. In many cases, using an essential oils safely (topically and diluted) can help alleviate the struggles of PMS and even helping hormones balance over time.

It is important to note that many of these oils should not be used during pregnancy (and no oil should be used during pregnancy without consulting a healthcare practitioner). Some essential oils can cause uterine contractions and cramping during pregnancy.

In researching essential oils for women’s hormone issues, there were several essential oils that were often recommended, especially clary sage, lavender, and peppermint. There are many others (including geranium, fennel, roman chamomile, bergamot, grapefruit, rose, ylang ylang, cypress, and rosemary) but I’m going to focus mostly on these 2 oils (and peppermint) because they seem to be the most well researched for providing relief of hormonal symptoms for women.

Clary Sage

Most of the big name essential oil companies carry their own brand of hormone balancing oil blends for women. Almost all of them include clary sage as their primary oil for PMS and women’s hormone imbalances and with good reason. Clary sage is a powerhouse when it comes to helping women. It’s wonderful for alleviating pain, reducing the feeling of stress, and improving hormone balance (that about sums all of our pms/menstrual problems up right there).

How does clary sage work for hormone balance?

Clary sage has unique hormone like components that help to balance out estrogen production in the body. Studies show that clary sage reduces pms and menstrual cramps.(2,3) In fact, it is so effective at relieving pain, another study showed clary sage to be quite effective in also relieving pain in childbirth (again, check with a healthcare practitioner).(4)

Lavender

Lavender is one of the most well researched essential oils. It has so many beneficial properties including helping balance hormones, offering pain relief (particularly abdominal cramps associated with PMS and menstrual symptoms), as well as decreasing feelings of stress and depression, calming the stomach, and relieving headaches.

One of the most frustrating symptoms of PMS or hormone imbalance is feeling emotional or sometimes suddenly depressed, often for no apparent reason. Research shows that inhalation of lavender can alleviate some of the depression and emotional symptoms of PMS.(5)  Simply inhaling lavender for 10 minutes can begin to lessen these symptoms.(6,7)

Personally, I prefer to use essential oils aromatically by diffusing them into the air. Not only is this typically much safer than using topically or internally, but it can provide many of the same benefits (and it often smells wonderful). I reviewed some of the best oil diffusers found to disperse essential oils into the air in this post.

Using a diffuser would be a perfect way to inhale lavender in order to relieve PMS symptoms. Clary Sage and lavender are a wonderful combination to diffuse into the air to relieve stress or they can also be used individually.

Peppermint

While peppermint isn’t a typically used oil for PMS or menstrual issues, many women suffer from headaches during the premenstrual or menstrual periods of their month. Peppermint oil is known to significantly reduce the intensity of headaches.(10)

In fact, in one study, peppermint oil was found to be as effective in relieving headache pain as 1,000 mg of acetaminophen but without any adverse reactions.(11) It can also help to lift the brain fog that many of us have during some of our more hormonal times of the month (12).

Many oil manufacturers sell peppermint oils in a roll on applicator that can be applied to the forehead. I prefer to make my own headache roll on stick so I can control the strength of the essential oils and make sure they aren’t too strong for my skin.

How I’ve Used Essential Oils for Hormone Balance

As I mentioned, I prefer to use essential oils topically (diluted) or aromatically for hormone related issues or for any other purpose. Essential oils can be so powerful that this is often all that is needed to get the benefits and it reduces the risk of allergic reaction and other problems that can happen when essential oils are used undiluted or taken internally.

These are some of the ways I like to use essential oils for hormone balance…

PMS Bath Blend

I add 3 drops of clary sage, 2 drops of chamomile, 2 drops of geranium and 2 drops of lavender to a warm bath. Mixing these oils with 1/4 cup Epsom salt before adding to the bath will help keep the oils from floating on top of the water and will include the benefits of magnesium.

PMS Hormonal Balance Blend

PMS is largely influenced by the imbalance of hormones and neurotransmitters that is caused by hormone fluctuations before menstruation. Because of this, improving the balance of hormones and neurotransmitters can help alleviate the symptoms of PMS and other female hormone issues.

A simple aromatherapy formula is 2 drops of clary sage oil, 1 drop of geranium oil and 1 drop of ylang ylang oil.

“Clary sage oil can promote the release of dopamine in the brain and, therefore, help lift your mood. It also modulates the level of estrogen in the body. Geranium oil influences the release of adrenal hormones and also reduces fluctuations in hormone levels.”(13)

Menstrual Massage Blend

I use 6 drops of lavender, 3 drops each of clary sage and 3 drops of rose oil. Combine these with 4 teaspoons of a carrier oil such as coconut, sweet almond, or jojoba oil. This oil blend can then be rubbed on the abdomen, back, or all over the body.

Essential oils have been used therapeutically for centuries but we are just beginning to see published data on what many civilizations have already known. Hopefully, more studies will be done in the future and so that we’ll be able to gain more knowledge of the best ways to use these oils in our daily lives.

Do you use oils to help manage PMS or menstrual pain? What oils have you found to be effective and how do you use them?

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Reader Comments

  1. Heard of http://www.knowthecause.com ?
    They indicated that eating their Phase One diet and a prescription of Dyflucan will eliminate PMS and cramping. Because women eat grains, corn, rice, potatoes peanuts. Yeast, sugar another foods have fungus, or their waste munitions or feed fungus. The products you recommend may help in the short term like medical drugs, but it’s nothing like knowing what is the cause of your issues. Doug Kaufman also identified wine, beer and other alcohol as containing yeast which is causing our illnesses too. Fungus and yeast is exchanged during sex, so a woman may never come in contact with fungus, but thru sex, it mitted. It causes infertility, miscarriages. But conventional drs. are not trained in school on Micology. There are thousansands of fungi that cause disease, but yet we eat mushrooms. Some benefit, but we have not dealt into whether the mushroom has a two-fold result, which can make us sick. We want to be so, so intelligentx yet we don’t know what we don’t know. So, you can’t rule out fungus until proven otherwise.

    • I completely agree with treating the true underlying cause of PMS (or any disease or dysfunction). But I have to disagree that a Diflucan deficiency is the true underlying cause of PMS (or other dysfunction). It is definitely critical to restore gut ecology to build up health, and this can be achieved through a systematic program of a) correct real-food nutrition b) strengthening and tonifying digestion, and c) restoring the environment of the GI, which was probably disrupted from drugs and other chemicals, and unfortunately cannot be cured by more drugs and chemicals. Herbal antimicrobials that clear out dysbiotic flora, followed by excellent high-quality probiotics, is one arm of a gut restoration program. I’ve successfully treated many cases of gut dysbiosis (and PMS) without needing to prescribe pharmaceutical drugs.

  2. Thyme essential oil can help provide progesterone naturally. So does Evening Primrose oil.

  3. Thanks for this post.

    I wanted you to know your #10 and #11 sources are flipped 🙂

    Thanks for posting your sources. It drives me crazy when i read great information but i’m not able to check it out for myself. Thanks for all your research

  4. Thank you for this. Truly.

  5. This is perfect timing. My 15 yr old step daughter has a hard time with her periods due to cramps and nausea. I will make a roller for her! I have Lavender, Clary Sage and Peppermint…I also have Rose Germanium…do you feel if properly diluted she could rub this on her feet or just stick wit abdomen? Rose Germanium, Lavender and Clary Sage for this roller?

    • Best advice Katie has is balancing hormones by taking coconut oil and Maca powder as part of a daily diet, and drinking the raspberry leaf tea. I used to suffer heavy painful periods before trying this advice, and it’s made such a difference.

      • I just started taking maca powder due to irregular periods. I know I have a hormone imbalance and am perimenapausal. How long did it take before you noticed a difference? I have to be careful because I’ve had numerous breast lumps (benign) and recently an ultrasound (my period lasted a month…)
        showed a thickening of my uterus. I had an endometrial biopsy which came back fine. My doc suggested HRT but I will not do that! I just want to be normal ?

  6. Why is applying Lavender Oil topically not safe? Thank you!

  7. I’ve been using essentisl oils topically for a year to help balance my hormones. I use clary sage and geranium eos daily, as well as evening primrose oil and have practically eliminated mood swings and breast tenderness, as well as spotting. I haven’t read anything on the benefits of topical application of evening primrose oil but it seems to be better for me than taking orally. Thanks for the tips on diffuser blends, I’m looking forward to using those.

    • Jamie, curious your age or stage of life ? Perimenopause, menopause? Thanks

      • Wendy, I’m 38 so probably have a few years before I have to worry about menopause. I recently had surgery to remove a very large fibroid.

  8. Dear Katie,
    I know you’re not there yet 😉 but could these same oils be used for premenopausal symptoms as well? If so, I’ve been waiting for this post for awhile. LOL! Ruthie

    • I don’t have any personal experience with it, but I know several women who did use these oils during premenopause with good results..

      • What blend do they use for pre-menopausal symptoms? I have the breast tenderness and lowered sex drive (hormonal cause). Thanks so much!

      • Hi Katie,
        I’m new to your site and I’m really interested in oil skin cleansing.
        Can you recommend a good recipe for aging skin. I’m in perimenopause and going through a lot of stress and it has taken a toll on my skin.
        I’m noticing sagging jaw and loose skin on my neck. Deep lines on both sides of my mouth. I’m so overwhelmed and would love to know what would help with my skin.
        I would really appreciate any information you can give me.

  9. Would this blend also be good for menopause? And if so, I want to put in my bedroom, I think I can get the best use by breathing this at night, and will this be ok for my husband to breathe too?

    Thanks so much.

    • I would think that because it helps with estrogen balance it might… I’d research yourself, but I wouldn’t think it would be harmful to your husband…

  10. I have a pain blend I made last year for my husband when he was coughing so much from what we thought was pneumonia (long story) that he was in pain and couldn’t sleep. I noticed when he had the pain blend on, he seemed to cough less. Well, after he was done using the blend, I was having cramps during a period, and thought, “Why not?” I rubbled some on my stomach, and what do you know, after about a half an hour, the pain went completely away. I have continued to use this blend. I had added a lot of different oils into the blend. I think when I made the blend, I was looking at a chart of oils for pain, coughing etc. so I added as many as I had. Here are the oils in the blend: Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Lavender, Cedarwood, grapefruit, lemongrass. I diluted them to 2% in a salve.

  11. Pls how will I treat my fibroid

    • Check out Floliving or Flo Living. She has a lot about treating the root causes of hormone imbalances. It may be of help to you. Good luck.

  12. Thank you for all of the well-researched information! Are cinnamon, anise, and grapefruit ok to use on the lips or face? I’m trying to find oils to put in lip balm. Thanks!

  13. I actually take some Food Grade Essential Oils internally in a gelatin capsule to regulate my hormones with enormous benefits. The only company I recommend consuming a safe to consume EO is from Young Living. They also offer many supplements that have EO in them already as an extra safe alternative to consuming EO.

  14. Who sells the best organic essential oils in your opinion?

      • Hi Katie,
        Thank you so MUCH for your wonderful website. I have a request for you. I know that MRE is probably the best source (financially and from a health perspective) from which to buy essential oils, but I am only a student right now and don’t have the kind of money needed to buy things in bulk.
        I know that there are some brands whose EOs you purchase sometimes from Amazon in particular. If you would please, please, let me know which brands these are I would be most grateful.
        Thank you for all your wonderful research….

  15. When I read this I thought you were giving EO’s for HORMONE BALANCE. What you gave is for for PMS and those types of issues that YOUNGER women have. This is great for all of those younger ones needing help for menstrual issues, and I would have been one of them and wish I had this blog to read then. There are older women who follow your blog, too. Not trying to be negative, but the title is misleading.

  16. Hi, could you tell me if you could mix the three oils together for a roll on? Clery Sage, Lavender and Peppermint? Do they need a carrier?
    Thanks

    • I personally don’t use any oils (except occasionally lavender for an infection or cut) directly without a carrier.

  17. Do you have any suggestions for using essential oils to help with the symptoms of menopause?

  18. While I’m a fan of essential oils for acute issues (like to help alleviate the occasional headache), essential oils are not really suitable for chronic issues (like hormone imbalances). This is because they’re not actually addressing the root cause of the problem at hand (for instance, your hormones aren’t out of whack because your body is deficient in clary sage…).

    This can lead to overuse of essential oils AND the problem goes on, unaddressed, which can lead to even more problems down the road.

    Using essential oils to help with a chronic issue is not much better than using meds to cover up symptoms (granted, there’s generally less side effects with essential oils, but neither is addressing the actual problem).

    As someone who is a licensed health practitioner (holistic-minded dietitian) that is well versed in getting to the root of the problem, I will say that hormone imbalances often result from inflammation, nutrient deficiencies, stress, sleep issues, environmental toxins, and/or dysbiosis (an imbalance of good and bad microbes in the gut).

    The most dramatic improvements that my clients have experienced occurred when I placed them on a customized, anti-inflammatory eating protocol (I’ve had clients with PCOS get off blood sugar meds and clients with Hashimoto’s get off thyroid meds within just a few short weeks of switching some foods around, for example). Just about ANY food/chemical has the potential to cause inflammation, so the appropriate blood testing is absolutely key here. This alone can help bring significant balance back to the body and put it in a better position to heal itself (which is what the body was designed to do!).

    IF you’re already working on addressing the root cause of the problem and you’re still experiencing some symptoms here and there, then sure, use essential oils to help ease some of the discomfort… just don’t fall into the trap of avoiding the problem all together. 🙂

    • Amanda, I completely agree with you. Wish you were an option for help, but financially, out of reach. Thank you for sharing this, because I think too often people who go against the grain with standard pharmaceuticals are only substituting for alternatives. What is your recommendation for menopausal women? Not there yet, but want to be prepared and that will be a lifelong issue then. Thank you!

      • Hi Wendy, menopausal symptoms tend to be worse when the diet is highly processed and when health in general isn’t where it should be. I wrote a book detailing the keys to optimizing health, which should help ease you through ‘the change’ – Stress Detox: Ditch the stress, reclaim your life (available on Amazon). Even though the book is centered around stress, it goes beyond emotional stress (I cover several different areas, including foods that cause stress for your body, activity-related stress, environmental toxins, etc.). Tackling each of the different areas outlined in my book will definitely help! http://amzn.to/1XBaDnL

        • Hi Amanda,

          I’ve just bought your book. I look forward to reading it. I need all the help I can get with regards to managing the list of things I suffer from the effects of menopause which has been ongoing for a good few years….

  19. what about pets? My husband freaking about what essential oils I clean with. he read lavender and basil are toxic for cats and can cause liver damage. Same for tee tree and I know citrus is a no no with cats. So now Im out of my cleaning oils to use. He would not agree to have me diffuse any of these oils in the house.

  20. @ Amanda Austin:

    Good advice Amanda!

  21. Congrats on baby number 6, Katie!! 🙂
    I’m having hormone issues that seem thyroid related…do you think balancing your thyroid helped with conceiving this precious baby?

    God bless you!!
    Nina Ruth 🙂

  22. I have been using clary sage for the first day of my periods and it significantly decreases my flow. I’m wondering if this is ok? It takes my cramps away too but just wondering if it’s ok for it to decrease my flow. Thank you.

  23. hello.Iam Carrie
    i am 46 years,i already stoped my periods.
    but still get hot flashes.how tobalance my harmons

  24. Hi Carrie, I stopped mine & then they came back. I have just consulted last week with a renowned homeopathic dr. & she really recommends consultation to treat – as herbs/homeopathic remedies DO work, so sometimes taking the wrong dose, or wrong cycle – or even wrong herb for your body, can make symptoms worse.

    For example, Evening Primrose is noted as a great balance of female hormones – but the wrong dose or taking for too long without cycling off for effectiveness, can really make hormones worse. That happened to me with both Evening Primrose and Vitex (Chasteberry).

    If you Google Dr. Gabrielle Traub, you may find her lectures very interesting/helpful. She is who gave the free seminar I attended. I can’t afford to have a consultation at their clinic, but just the info they shared w/us was so helpful, it pointed me in the right direction!

  25. Is using these oils in a diffuser best or could I use these oils internally if I got the kind of essential oils you can ingest? I’m 22 and I’ve been married almost a year and I want to go off hormonal birth control

  26. This page is amazing and extremely insightful! I am a 28 year old mom of 3 and had my last baby one year ago. I haven’t had my period at all since before getting pregnant. I am looking for the best blend of essential oils to help bring back menstration. It’s nice not having to deal with a period monthly but I do want to have more children one day… So I’m needing advice on what oils work best for reproductive health in general, and for keeping my hormones in balance to start and continue to have normal menstration. If anyone has any advice I would greatly appreciate it!
    Thank you!

    • Are you still breastfeeding? I once went 15 months without a period. I’m pretty sure your period will come back in due time. I’ve never heard of anyone whose period never came back after having a baby.

  27. Could you give me some info on how to lower testosterone levels? I would like to get rid of my facial hair. spearmint tea twice daily was one report I read so I am trying it. Thanks

  28. I’m so grateful to belong to a community like yours. I’ve learnt so much for you and love your recipes

    I’m planning to make some butters for women … peri and menopausal … found that Clary Sage created bloating. Is this something that’s expected? I read elsewhere that Clary sage raises estrogen levels and I other places that it levels it out. Which is right?