So this is a bit of a personal blog post - all about the Perimenopause and Menopause and how essential oils can in some cases help with the journey.
The Menopause, and Perimenopause (which can last for up to 10 years prior to your 'final' period) is getting a LOT of publicity at the moment, in part due to a recent documentary on C4 by Davina McCall, and also thanks to us moving into an age where we seem to be talking about it amongst ourselves more than ever before and having a feeling of support around those conversations. Perhaps we feel we no longer have to put up with the weight of unspoken societal 'shame' that surrounds our percieved loss of value at menopause - I'm now barren, useless, invisible, unworthy etc. No thanks! That's not me and those views are thankfully changing!
It's definitely a 'journey' and the path can be a bit rocky at times; there's no point sugar coating it and saying it's all positive and amazing because sometimes it's tough. A bit like giving birth, it can be tough but hopefully out of that challenge will come something internally empowering and life changing.
I'm fairly young to be well advanced along the path of the menopause at nearly 47 - my recent hormone results gave me off the scale FSH levels (follicle stimulating hormone) and that is a key indicator that I'm possibly nearing the end of the journey as my cycles are increasingly diminished and sporadic. The recent blood tests that gave me those results was a bit of an a-ha moment as it suddenly gave me a clarity around loads of things that have been going on for the last 5ish years - my irritable moods, my anxiety from a couple of years ago, my heavy cycles and sore boobs, my boiling hot nights, my bloating, my skin eruptions/dryness, my insomnia, my unexplainted weight gain and my brain fog. At the time that these things happened (and are still happening) I put everything down to a busy work/family life and stress, but with the wisdom of hindsight I can now see that a lot of this was linked to my hormones and the hidden changes happening inside my body.
In recent months I've been using essential oils that specifically help with some of the challenges, alongside a great selection of supplements to boost energy levels and I've also been reading a lot. There's so much knowledge out there and a text I'd really recommend is the Wisdom of the Menopause by Dr Christiane Northrup which explains so much of the biology around the Menopauseal process and also talks about the transitional changes in a way that isn't all negative. The only caveat I'd add is that this book was edited prior to recent research which now questions the firm link between HRT and breast cancer, so references to breast cancer and HRT are still present in the book. For anyone who wants to arm themselves up with knowledge or feel like they have some support then I'd definitely recommend this as a good factual read.
Reading and supplements aside, essential oils are and always will be 'my thing' and I'm far more of an expert on them than anything else. So here's a snapshot of some blends and oils that I've been using this year and have found REALLY helpful:
The Morning / Daytime Blend - hormone balancing, fatigue fighting, brain fog diminishing, anti-bloating
Fennel - c25% in the blend. Great for bloating, a natural phyto-oestrogen, hormone balancer, and good for boosting energy levels. Great for hot flushes too. I totally believe in our bodies intuitively knowing which oils are 'right' for them, and this is one that literally sang to me!
Black Pepper - c30% in the blend. Great for aching joints and muscles, a good mental booster so I find it really helpful to get me through the brain fog / tired brain elements of the day. Also good for bloating. Not ideal for hot flushes as it is a warming oil, but blended alongside the Fennel I don't find this problematic in a daytime blend
Mandarin -c.19% in the blend. Not all moments of the perimenopause / menopause are filled with empowered joy. Sometimes you feel knackered, a bit crap, and rather weepy. Sometimes you feel so angry you could chuck a plate at the wall. This beautiful oil supports you in all of that. It's sunny, relaxed, a warm smile / hug in a bottle. It's great for depression, emotional stress and helps restore mental energy too so I find it really helpful for brain fog during the day.
Bergamot - c.25% of the blend. Another great oil for the emotional side of the journey and particularly helpful for emotional anxiety, which can be really heightened by your fluctuating hormones and thoughts of "is this normal"? I love this oil. It's great for transition of any type, and is also recommended for grief and loss which for comes up for some as their periods come to an end.
I blend the oils in a base of organic sweet almond oil and rub into the soles of my feet and across my abdomen every morning before I start the day. I also take the bottle to work and rub into my abdomen at lunchtime before eating as I find it helps with any bloating and cramping I might have and it also helps with post lunch fatigue and brain fog.
The Night Time / Evening Blend - insomnia reducing, calming, hormone balancing, anti hot flushes/sweats
Clary Sage - c. 28% of the blend. A great oil for calming and grounding, in addition to being one of the key hormone harmonisers and balancers available to an aromatherapist. This soothing and cooling oil really helps with my night heat and also helps with my insomnia. A symbolisers of our feminine strength and our ability to move forward.
Palmarosa - c. 10% of the blend. This soothing, mildly sedative and cooling oil is geat for balancing all aspects of our life - balancing skin, moods and also works on the abdomen to help ease bloating. It's a fantastic oil to cope with flashes of physical heat and emotional heat (anger).
Rose Geranium - c.22% of the blend. I prefer using Rose Geranium to Rose Bourbon as it carries more of a cooling and hormonal balancing action, but you can use either. This calming oil is both soft and nurturing and helps unwind during the evening.
Grapefruit - c18% of the blend. A fantastic oil for bloating, water retention, movement of stagnant fluid and helping to soothe night sweats. The light and fragrant personality of this oil is also good for nervous exhaustion and dark heavy moods without being overly energising, which makes it ideal for evening use.
Bergamot - c.25% of the blend. See above for info on this oil
As with the daytime blend, massage into the soles of the feet and around the abdomen. Take some time to apply these oils just before bedtime, and incorporate a deep and slow massage while visualising the oils entering your system and calming, cooling and balancing you.
Energising / Hot Flush Skin Spritz
Add the following essential oils to a teaspoon of high % clear alcohol (e.g vodka) in order to disperse into a pure spring water base. Oils will not mix directly in water unless you use some kind of addition like alcohol to allow the water/oil molecules to bond. Add the oil/alcohol mix to 100ml of spring water, with an atomiser / spray top and apply directly to the skin/face during the day when you feel hot, tired and in need of energy. The oil blend consisits of hormone balancers, skin coolers, energisers and spiritual/emotional boosters. Make sure you shake the bottle to fully disperse the oils before use.
Peppermint x 2 drops
Fennel x 3 drops
Grapefruit x 6 drops
Juniper x 2 drops
I love incorporating some 'me time' when I use these blends and love how much they've helped with energy and mood balancing. I use the tummy / feet rubs at a fairly high % concentration as they are for localised topical use, rather than a full body massage. I'd recommend a base of organic almond oil or high quality cold pressed organic sunflower or olive oil for the localised morning/evening blends. You shouldn't directly apply these blends to your skin without diluting in a base oil first, and you shouldn't use these blends if there is any chance that you are pregnant, have problems with blood pressure or suffer from epilepsy.
Another a note on the oil blends: they're not a panacea for all, and for some they don't help. If you've tried everything 'natural' and are still struggling then don't! Don't ever feel like you've failed if your symptoms are too much to deal with and you think that a hormone assisted medical route will help you. I was crushed with feelings of failure and judgement when my first daughter was born by C-Section and I struggled to breast feed. I'd wanted a home birth, a natural route and everything to be picture perfect. Sometimes our journey through the pathways of our female lives aren't what we envisage, but there is no wrong choice and there is no judgement. HRT can literally be a life saver for many many women and if you do go down that route, don't feel judged or ashamed. We are all in this together. Marie xx