Hormone-balancing essential oils help support our body’s control center, the hypothalamus, in its efforts to produce, release, and regulate hormones. This small brain structure is involved in many processes necessary for survival including behavioral, autonomic (involuntary or unconscious), and endocrine-system related processes. The hypothalamus controls the hormones that are crucial to our everyday physiological functions such as body temperature, hunger, thirst, sleep, mood and sex drive.
The hypothalamus creates homeostasis or balance in the brain. The hypothalamus produces the following hormones: thyrotropin-releasing, gonadotropin-releasing, growth hormone-releasing, corticotrophin-releasing, somatostatin, and dopamine hormones. These hormones then release into the blood via the capillaries, which are small vessels that connect veins and arteries and allow for gas exchange, ultimately allowing us to breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. The hormones then travel to the anterior pituitary region, where they are further signaled by the hypothalamus to either be sent out to the target glands: the Adrenal Cortex, the Adrenal Medulla, or the female/male Gonads, or the hormones are returned and flushed out of the body.
Your adrenal gland is responsible for how you cope with stress. Your stress levels may vary from day to day depending on your lifestyle. The hormone responsible for stress-related symptoms is produced by the adrenal glands and regulates your body’s response to stress. Unbalanced cortisol levels can give you feelings of exhaustion, the inability to calm down or sleep on time, and increased food cravings at odd hours of the day.
The posterior pituitary also carries two important hypothalamic hormones, oxytocin and vasopressin, and the only difference is that the posterior pituitary also stores these two hormones versus the anterior pituitary does not store its hormones (the hypothalamus does). Research has shown that the increased oxygenation extends to the pituitary and pineal glands as well, which can help to restore hormonal imbalances.
Essential oils can support the natural balance of the progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone hormones. They can also support your hypothalamus in regulating thyroid hormones (T3 and T4). This can possibly help regulate the menstrual cycle and give you some relief from the anxious wonderings of when my next menstrual flow will arrive.
Using essential oils to support your hypothalamus in maintaining its status quo and achieve homeostasis will require time and regularity. Essential oils can be diluted in any carrier oil and then applied to the skin or they can be diffused in various combinations. Fractionated Coconut Oil is recommended because it is also a great hormone-balancing oil.
Clary Sage has a particular affinity with the female reproductive system. This may be the best oil to use for estrogen and hormone balance and good for all things PMS and menopausal. It has an estrogen-like structure to help return balance to the female reproductive system and antispasmodic properties to relieve pain and menstrual cramping… sort of like a block of (raw organic cacao!) chocolate, hot water bottle and binge-watching Netflix all rolled into one beautiful essential oil.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Phyotherapy Research found that inhalation of clary sage oil had the ability to reduce cortisol levels by 36% and improved thyroid hormone levels (TSH). The study was done on 22 post-menopausal women in their 50’s, some of which were diagnosed with depression and at the end of trial the researchers stated that “clary sage oil had a statistically significant effect on lowering cortisol and had an anti-depressant effect improving mood”. This is just one of the many studies proving clary sage oil benefits hormones. This clever oil is reported to work on all levels – mental, emotional and physical. It has an affinity with the skin but may also be very handy for reducing fatigue, inflammation and balancing your mood.
The biggest benefit of clary sage is that it helps balance out estrogen production in the body. A lot of health issues today, even things like infertility, PCOS and estrogen-based cancers, are caused from excess estrogen in the body — in part, because of our consumption of high-estrogen foods. Because clary sage helps balance out those estrogen levels, it’s an incredibly effective essential oil in a wide array of hormone imbalances. So, whether you’re looking for natural remedies for PMS cramps during the month, or possibly already know you have excess estrogen in your body, clary sage is a great essential oil to consider adding to your essential oil regime.
Research discussed in the Proceedings of the Society of Experimental Biology and Medicine discovered thyme essential oil has progesterone balancing effects. Thyme oil benefits the body by improving progesterone production. Both men and a lot of women are low in progesterone, and low progesterone levels have been linked with infertility, PCOS and depression as well as other imbalanced hormones within the body. Improved progesterone makes thyme a great essential oil you can use to naturally balance out hormones in your body. Plus, it’s far better than turning to synthetic treatments, such as hormone replacement therapy, which can make you dependent on prescription drugs, mask symptoms while developing diseases in other parts of the body and often causing serious side effects.
Sandalwood essential oil is very effective at balancing out testosterone levels in both men and women. Sandalwood has actually been used as a natural aphrodisiac, making it a desired ingredient in men’s cologne, as well as certain perfumes, for years.
For men with low testosterone, adding a few drops of sandalwood oil into your homemade deodorant or your own homemade lotion isn’t just a great way to smell good — it’s also a great way to get some extra health benefits of improving your libido and hormones.
Essential oils that can help to balance hormones are: Geranium, Frankincense, Clary Sage, Fennel, Thyme, Basil, Rosemary, Ylang Ylang, Cardamon, and Sandalwood.
Geranium – Supports hormonal balance and function; supports the effects of other oils
Frankincense – Has a calming effect, and generally supports cellular function; supports the effects of other oils
Clary Sage – Promotes natural estrogen production
Fennel – One of the most effective pytoestrogenic oils
Thyme – Contains phytoprogesterones
Basil and Rosemary – Support ovarian health
Ylang Ylang – Energizes reproductive organs and supports natural hormone balance
Cardamom– Support detox pathways and help promote healthy cervical mucus
Sandalwood– Balancing out testosterone levels in men and women
The Effects of Lavender Oil Inhalation on Emotional States, Autonomic Nervous System, and Brain Electrical Activity. J Med Association Thai. 2012 Apr;95(4):598-606.
The Limbic System. Aromatherapy Lifestyle, Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2010. Geoff Lyth