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Aromatherapeutic Management of the Menopause

by Dr Vivian Lunny(more info)

listed in women's health, originally published in issue 21 - August 1997

There are probably as many diverse definitions of essential oils – also known as Ethereal oils – as there are aromatherapy practitioners and teachers. My favourite is that they are volatile, aromatic, usually distilled plant essences with medicinal and therapeutic effects on living beings, as they can – if used in a therapeutic manner – work not only on human beings, but also on animals, and in some cases help other plants to protect themselves from microbes and fungi. Their main function within the plant in which they are produced, is to favour pollination, protect the plant from bacterial aggression, attract friendly insects etc. Depending on the plant and the site of production of their oil, this may be mainly in either the leaves, the petals, the rind, the bark, the root etc.

The menopause is the time when the ovaries cease to produce oestrogens and progesterone, and there is a need to replace their effects with adequate nutrition for health and well being.

PROGESTERONE has the following effects on the female body:

Increases libido; helps to prevent cancer of the uterus; protects against fibrocystic breast disease; maintains the endometrium; ensures the normal functioning of breast tissue to prevent breast cancer; stimulates the osteoblasts and helps with the storage of calcium in bone, thus building new bone; strengthens skin elasticity; progesterone is a natural diuretic; it encourages burning of fat and use of stored energy; progesterone is known to have a normalising effect on the clotting process; looks after the foetus; and is involved in the prevention of stress through hormonal pathways.

We currently do not know of any essential oils with plant progesterones or with progesterone like actions, however, progesterone is present in wild yams and is part of the realm of phytotherapy.

OESTROGENS have the following effects on the human body:

Decrease libido; increase the risks of uterine cancers; encourage the growth of the endometrium; slow down the re-absorption of old bone; encourage salt and water retention in the body; thin skin; their excess produces depression and headaches; increase blood clotting; encourage fat stores in certain parts of the body; they are steroids; and they encourage the development of the ovum and of the fertilised egg.

There are oestrogen-like molecules described as constituents of various essential oils, amongst them sage Salvia officinalis, Clary sage Salvia sclarea, fennel Foeniculum vulgare var. dulce.

How can Aromatherapy help a during the menopause?

We have described previously that smells can initiate physical and psychological reactions by stimulating the release of neurotransmitters in the brain. This accounts for the findings that people who surround themselves with enjoyable fragrances enhance their self-esteem.

Correctly selected, essential oils can enhance your emotional equilibrium. Depending on their selection and blending they are able to alleviate the frequent mood swings and emotional reactions which are often associated with the menopause such as restlessness, tension, listlessness, fearfulness, anxiety and loss of self-esteem by inducing relaxation, calmness and equilibrium

It is important to note that oils which have oestrogen-like properties are not human oestrogen replacements. They have their effect via the neuro-endocrine axis, and it appears that their action is via the adrenals rather than the ovary, hence their beneficial effects when ovarian oestrogens are contraindicated.

The management of the menopause should also include dietary supplements such as wild yam, fresh fennel, fresh celery and fresh spinach leaves in a large salad to which pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds have been added.

Some examples of essential oil
formulations which I have used
successfully for patients with
pre-menopausal and menopausal symptoms include:

   Essential oils of: 4 drops of Roman Camomile Anthemis nobilis, with 4 drops of Spike Lavender Lavandula latifolia, and 4 drops of True Lavender Lavandula angustifolia and 2 drops of Clary Sage Salvia sclarea. This blend may be used either in the bath, at a proportion of 5 drops diluted in a teaspoon of almond oil for a full bath, or as a 3% dilution in sweet almond oil, Rosa Mosqueta oil or Jojoba oil as a massage oil. The effect of this formulation is to improve circulation and increase diuresis, hence diminishing irritability, memory and concentration lapses and other common symptoms due to lack of oestrogens and progesterone which have a direct relationship with the onset of the menopause.
   A very pleasant and relaxing blend for those days when hot flushes make you feel awful is: 3 drops of Bergamot Citrus bergamia, 2 drops of Myrrh Commiphora myrrha, 2 drops of Ylang ylang Canaga odorata forma genuina, 4 drops of sweet fennel foeniculum vulgare var dulce and 4 drops of geranium Pelargonium odorantisimum. Prepare a massage oil with this blend of essential oils in a 3% dilution formulation in 30ml Rosa rubiginosa and 20 ml of Jojoba.
   A strengthening and comforting massage oil and diffuser blend for those days when you feel very stressed and unable to cope with the day’s events, whatever they may be is the following: 4 drops of essential oil of Black spruce Picea mariana, 4 drops of atlas cedarwood Cedrus atlantica, 5 drops of ylang ylang Cananga odorata forma genuina and 3 drops of Sandalwood Santalum album in 40 ml Hazelnut oil to which you previously added 10ml Rosa rubiginosa.
   All of the above formulations should be used in an alternating weekly pattern for up to 7 days each, alternating with the client’s personalised blend which should be used by them at home in between treatments.



1. Real Essences Aromatherapy & Leisure Ltd. Postgraduate training workshop notes. 1996
2. Lunny Associates Anatomy, Physiology and Physio pathology certificated course notes.
3. Franchomme P., Penouel D. L'aromatherapie exactement P. 1990
4. Die ätherische öle Gildemeister und Hofmann 1962
5. Essential Oils Gunther 1974
6. Cecil B. de Mille Clinical Medicine 1967
7. Dr Lunny's Personal Pathology Case reports. Mount Vernon Hospital 1977—1978
8. Bradford, Nicky The Well Woman's Self Help Directory 1987
9. Brown, Ellen & Walker, Lynne Breezing through the change Frog Ltd. Berkeley California 1994
10. Coney, Sandra The Menopause Industry Penguin 1991
11. Lee, John R. MD Natural Progesterone BL Publishing, California 1993
12. Lunny, V. MD Aromatherapy, Salamander Press 1997
13. Northrup, Christinne Women's Body, Women's Wisdom Bantam, New York 1994


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About Dr Vivian Lunny

Vivian Nadya Lunny qualified as an MD in 1973. She specialised in Cardiology and Pathology and obtained Postgraduate Diplomas in Holistic and Scientific Aromatherapy Colour Therapy. She was awarded a Doctorate in Alternative Medicine in 1991. She is the proprietor of Real Essences Aromatherapy & Leisure Ltd. and a well known international Aromatherapy and Holistic Medicine Educator and Facilitator.
She can be contacted at: R.E.A.L. Ltd. P.O. Box 58, Stevenage, Herts. SG2 8XR, England, Tel/Fax: 44 (0) 1438 357 357. E mail: or You may visit her Internet site at:


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