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Mature Focus: Aug. 9

By: Lisa Russell


Scientists are beginning to study the potential benefits of essential oils like lavender in relieving menopausal symptoms.

Essential oils for menopause

Mainstream medicine is only beginning to seriously study the effects of essential oils, which are made from fragrant essences found in certain plants and are rapidly rising in popularity as a non-pharmaceutical treatment for a wide variety of health problems. Although research on their effectiveness is currently limited, some studies suggest that certain essential oils may help reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. Supporters of essential oils report that diffusing them in water for aromatherapy is enough to get good results. Essential oil diffusers for that purpose are widely available at stores and online. The oils also can be diluted with a carrier oil, such as coconut or jojoba oil, and used for massage or applied to pulse points.

Although essential oils are considered extremely safe, experts recommend that women who want to try them begin with just one essential oil at a low concentration to test tolerance, gradually adding more oils or a higher dosage as needed. The following essential oils may provide some benefit for menopausal symptoms:

Lavender: Long used in aromatherapy to promote feelings of relaxation and support healthy sleep, lavender may help relieve common menopausal issues such as anxiety, hot flashes, headaches and heart palpitations.

Pine oil: A past rodent study showed that pine oil helped to reduce bone loss and protect against osteoporosis, and suggested that it also may provide those benefits in humans.

Vitex agnus-castus oil: Also called chasteberry and Abraham’s balm, this oil from the chaste tree is perhaps the most backed by research, which has suggested that oils from both the berry and the leaf can improve a variety of menopausal symptoms, including irregular periods and mood swings.

Phytoestrogens: This category of essential oils, which includes angelica, clary sage, coriander, cypress and fennel, contains plant-based estrogens. Because many of the changes associated with menopause are due to declining estrogen, these oils may help with a wide range of symptoms including hot flashes, mood swings and irregular periods.

Geranium and rose oils: These two oils may produce similar hormone-balancing benefits, such as menstrual regularity, improved mood and reduced hot flashes.

 

On the calendar

Free osteoporosis screenings are offered from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 14 at the Kathryn Linnemann Branch Library, 2323 Elm St. in St. Charles. This bone density screening for women helps determine personal risk of developing osteoporosis. Preregistration is required. Register online at www.bjcstcharlescounty.org or by calling (636) 928-9355.

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