The Perfect Essential Oils For Cramps, Bloating & All Your Other Hormone Health Woes
Every month, we women endure the onslaught of our menstrual period, which often arrives along with a host of unrelenting symptoms. While we are often conditioned to think that there is no escape from this reality, I have come to realize that this does not have the be the norm month after month. We can effectively aid our body in balancing hormonal function so that imbalances don't leave us feeling utterly crappy.
The good news is that establishing a firm foundation of nutrition, exercise, sleep, and stress management as well as managing your toxic load by using natural products will help to keep your hormones balanced. That said, this hormonal balance doesn't happen overnight; we need something during those moments to help us wade through the swamp, which is precisely where self-care supported by essential oils can be our rope to pull us out.
How your hormones fluctuate every month—and how essential oils can help.
Let's take a look at how your hormones fluctuate throughout the month and how essential oils can support you through each phase of the cycle. Here are the basics.
Every 28 days or so, your body completes an amazing process of preparing a home for a baby. It grows a soft bed in your uterus in preparation for a fertilized egg, but if the magic doesn't happen, then that lining is shed and—voila! Your period arrives. Day one of your cycle is the day you begin bleeding, and we begin counting from there until your next cycle. The halfway point is generally day 14 or 15, and the last day of your period is usually day 28 (although a normal cycle can be a few days longer or shorter than this).
What many of us don't realize is that there are different phases in this 28-day whirlwind, and by understanding how these phases work, we can effectively support our bodies with essential oils to get through the diciest parts. Know that every woman's cycle is different, so knowing your body and listening to the signals that it sends you is your ticket to providing the proper support. The phases I'm describing are generalizations, so don't be alarmed if you don't fit right into this mold.
Essential oils for your period week.
Your sex hormones—estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone—are at their lowest levels, often leaving you high and dry in the bedroom. Mood swings often plague you now along with anxiety, fatigue, and brain fog. In addition to getting your body moving and fueling your body with iron-rich foods to replenish stores from blood loss, you can give your body some support with essential oils. To alleviate cramping, combine three drops of clary sage1 essential oil, which is always the best oil for your worst time of the month, with three drops of lavender essential oil, and massage your abdomen to both ease the tension2 of cramping uterine muscles and lower those cortisol levels to allow your body to find a natural calm.
Peppermint3 and wintergreen are also great options to provide a cooling, tingling massage that penetrates into the cramps and eases discomfort, as well as easing any nausea or bloating. To combat that fatigue and brain fog while sharpening memory4, try my favorite Instant Energy Focus Blend of one drop wild orange essential oil, one drop rosemary essential oil, and one drop peppermint essential oil. Drop them right on a scarf or leather bracelet, and inhale deeply, taking big belly breaths regularly throughout the day, or double the recipe and add them to a diffuser.
Essential oils for your follicular phase.
This one phase in your cycle includes days one through 13 and is the time before your body ovulates to release an egg for potential fertilization. Hormones are on the move in this phase, with the sex trio—estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone—steadily increasing from the dropoff at day one. It's all about baby prep at this point, as your body releases follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, to encourage your ovaries to grow and release an egg. Estrogen ramps up production to create that cushy uterine lining, while testosterone increases sex drive in hopes of fertilizing that egg. Energy and libido return to your world while the fog dissipates and you feel more like yourself.
Supporting your body becomes a lot easier at this phase, but that doesn't mean that you can throw self-care out the window. Keeping your body properly fueled and exercised is just as important now, since your rising hormonal levels can handle the added activity. Even though you can handle more stress, that doesn't mean you should overdo it, so keep diffusing or applying lavender or bergamot to your wrists and behind your ears to manage your calm and reduce anxiety in your busy day. Lavender alone can be applied to your feet and diffused at night to support a restful night's sleep. However, too much lavender can increase estrogen, so less is more here.
Aphrodisiacal essential oils for ovulation day.
Day 14 is when the egg is released after your pituitary gland secretes luteinizing hormone, or LH. It takes a trip into the lovely sanctuary your body has painstakingly prepared for it and waits a short 24 hours for fertilization. While you may not notice this happening, some people do experience a twinge in their abdomen. Energy-wise, though, you are at your mountaintop, as your body prepares for its last-ditch effort at getting this baby on the way!
Sexy time becomes a priority for your body, so you may feel your libido kick into overdrive at this point. Get out there with your confident self and get your body in the mood with some sensual essential oils, like sandalwood, jasmine, cinnamon, or neroli. Add a few drops to a tablespoon of carrier oil, like fractionated coconut oil, or create your own aphrodisiacal blend.
Essential oils for PMS and your luteal phase.
This is the downward drop of hormones from days 15 through 28, which can also involve PMS (premenstrual syndrome). Prostaglandins also rise in your body during this time, which may cause some body aches and pains. If your symptoms are really severe during this time, it might be a sign that you haven't been giving your body enough TLC. If you haven't been fueling your body properly, given it the exercise that it needs, managed its stress, or given it the rest it requires, your body is already working in overdrive to balance a whole host of other hormonal levels.
Self-care becomes paramount during this phase, as your body needs a lot of TLC in order to recover from the natural hormonal shifts. Opt for yoga or pilates in place of hard-core workouts, and prep some time for self-care. Get your diffuser ready and prepare an Epsom salt bath to give your body a magnesium boost. Add some key essential oils for calm and soothing power: lavender, Roman chamomile5, and clary sage. Add two drops of each to your bathwater and swirl. Relax for 20 minutes, but be sure to hydrate afterward. This trio provides relief from pent-up stress and also alleviates muscle spasms and supports menstruation. You also want to make sleep a priority during this phase, supporting a good night's rest with a solid nighttime routine, minimizing electronics and activity while diffusing two drops each of clary sage, cedarwood, and bergamot essential oil.
Incorporating these rituals into your monthly routine can help you soothe the many hormone transitions we experience each month. And luckily, essential oils are simple, inexpensive, and easy to use, which makes them the ultimate self-care tool.
Mariza Snyder, D.C., is a functional wellness practitioner and public speaker currently living in Northern California. She received her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic College West and her Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Health Psychology from Mills College. She has been featured on Dr. Oz, Women's Health and O, The Oprah Magazine and is the author of five best-selling nutrition books. Snyder specializes in holistic medicine and nutrition, aiming to help people live a healthy and abundant life.