Researchers in Iran recently concluded that massage with aromatherapy eases the symptoms of menopause, and that even without aromatherapy massage offers more relief than doing nothing.
Women undergoing menopause live with some combination of irritability, depression, poor sleep, fatigue, hot flashes, increased perspiration and headaches. While hormone replacement therapy is the most effective way to treat these symptoms, it dramatically increases the risk of blood clots, heart attack, stroke and breast cancer. Researchers continue to explore alternative methods, trying to find solutions that are both safe and effective.
This study observed 90 women, who were scored from 0 to 44 on such menopause symptoms as irritability, depressed mood and sleep problems, with an average score of 22. After four weeks of massage twice a week, the group receiving massage combined with aromatherapy had an average score of 13; those receiving only massage scored 19; and the control group remained at 22.
The essential oils used with the aromatherapy group were lavender, rose, rosemary, almond and evening primrose. Aromatherapists often use other essential oils to reduce the symptoms of menopause.
Chamomile, clary sage, cypress, geranium, jasmine, lavender, neroli, rose maroc and sandalwood offer relief for general symptoms of menopause, according toEssential Aromatherapy by Susan Worwood and Valerie Ann Worwood. In addition, bergamot and rose otto may help with depression; marjoram, spikenard and vetiver reduce insomnia; and eucalyptus radiata, fennel, lavender and yuzu relieve hot flashes.
The aroma from combining all of these essential oils would be overwhelming and unpleasant. Massage lotion or oil for menopausal symptoms doesn’t have to contain all of these to be therapeutic. The formulation I use, for example, contains only four essential oils.
The study is flawed by the small size of the research sample and the fact that each group knew what treatment they were receiving. Researchers can’t prevent subjects from knowing if they received massage or aromatherapy.
Even so, the message seems clear: Aromatherapy massage reduces the symptoms of menopause without hormone replacement therapy’s side effects.