Using essential oils for hot flashes might provide some relief. You can use them for massage or inhalation therapy to manage the uncomfortable symptoms of perimenopause or menopause, including hot flashes (also called hot flushes), night sweats, mood swings, and insomnia. If you don’t like to use conventional treatments for hot flashes, these below mentioned essential oils might be great options.
- 1 Why Do Women Experience Hot Flashes?
- 2 Can You Get Rid of Hot Flashes for Good?
- 3 Can Essential Oils Cure Hot Flashes?
- 4 7 of the Best Essential Oils for Hot Flashes Relief
Why Do Women Experience Hot Flashes?
Menopause is that time in a woman’s life that she stops having her periods for at least one year because the ovaries stop releasing eggs into the fallopian tubes. (The fallopian tubes are a pair of long and narrow tubes that connect the ovaries to the uterus.) Some women may experience premature menopause due to chemotherapy or surgical removal of ovaries.
A woman doesn’t reach menopause immediately after her last period. There’s a slow transition process that could take months to years (generally 4 to 8 years) before a woman’s last period. 1 This is called the perimenopause phase. The average age American woman reaches menopause between 48 and 55 years old. 2
A hallmark symptom of menopause is hot flashes. A hot flash is a sudden and recurring feelings of intense heat on your upper body and face that could happen during the day or night. During the night, you could also experience periods of profuse sweating that’s often linked with hot flashes.
Hot flashes usually last anywhere between 6 months and 2 years, but in some instances, they could linger for 5 to 10 years. 3 However, 75% of women are lucky because they don’t need to deal with some degree of hot flashes. 4
These are the findings of a report published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology:
- White and/or obese women have a higher chance of experiencing hot flashes 5 to 10 years before their last period. 5
- Smokers tend to have hot flashes after their last period.
- And the lucky few who don’t need to deal with this uncomfortable symptom are more often Asian women and women who are healthy.
- Women who are African-American, regular alcohol drinkers, and in poorer health were more likely to have “super flashes.” Super flashers will experience hot flashes way before they reach menopause and will continue to have them for many years after menopause.
The exact cause of hot flashes is still unknown, but it’s mostly associated to increased lipids (fatty acids) in the blood and insulin resistance (inability of body cells to respond to insulin, causing abnormally high blood sugar levels).
According to WebMD, these things would most likely trigger hot flashes:
Researchers of a six-year study published in the journal Menopause discovered that women in perimenopause and post-menopause were five times more likely to experience hot flashes if they are stressed. 6
Managing anxiety and overwhelming stress is important to reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes linked with perimenopause and menopause.
Caffeine—a stimulant found in tea, carbonated drinks, and coffee—make hot flashes and night sweats worse in postmenopausal women. 7
However, caffeinated drinks have a different effect on perimenopausal women. In their case, caffeine improves memory, concentration, and mood.
Excessive alcohol consumption
In moderate amounts, alcohol is not a problem. However, drinking too much could increase your blood sugar, triggering hot flashes.
This is not backed with scientific studies and not all women will have the same reaction to alcohol. Find out if it’s a personal trigger for you.
Eating spicy foods
Spicy foods are classified as stimulants, which means they can improve blood circulation and increase your core body temperature. If you’re prone to hot flashes, spicy food can make your symptoms worse.
Wearing tight-fitting clothes
If you’re at home, try to wear as little clothes as possible. Go for light-colored, lightweight, and loose-fitting clothing that’s made from cotton, silk, and linen to allow your skin to breathe. To stay warm in cold weather, dress in layers, so you can adjust your clothes according to how you’re feeling.
Smokers don’t only have menopause earlier than expected, but they also experience worse symptoms. They tend to have more episodes of hot flashes than women who don’t smoke. But, according to researchers, women who smoke and carry certain genes are twenty-one times more at risk. 8
Enjoying a relaxing hot bath or sweating in the sauna could trigger hot flashes. If possible, avoid hot, steamy environments to prevent your body core temperature from shooting up, causing hot flashes and excessive sweating.
Can You Get Rid of Hot Flashes for Good?
There’s no single treatment that could guarantee to prevent or cure hot flashes. The main objective of treatment is to control the frequency and severity of this menopausal symptom.
You could try tweaking your lifestyle habits and diet, take prescription drugs (such as drugs for depression and seizure), using hormone replacement therapy (considered most effective), and other alternative treatments.
Whatever treatments you choose, or your doctor prescribes, they should be tailored to your needs.
Home remedies and lifestyle tips:
- Know which foods and/or drinks trigger your hot flashes.
- If you smoke or are a heavy drinker, ask a professional to help you quit for good. Don’t go cold turkey!
- Use relaxation techniques to combat the dangerous effects of unmanaged stress. Try meditating, praying, deep breathing, and listening to relaxing music.
- If you can, exercise regularly. This will reduce the severity and frequency of hot flashes. Aim for 30 to 45 minutes, fives time a week. 9
- Find ways to beat the heat. Wear breathable clothing. Drink cold beverages. Use an electric fan or air conditioner. Or, close the windows if the temperature outside is hotter than inside your home.
Can Essential Oils Cure Hot Flashes?
They don’t, but they can make hot flashes more bearable. They do that in different ways: decrease body temperature, create a cooling sensation, balance hormones, ease inflammation, promote relaxation and better sleep, and soothe rosacea (a skin condition characterized by persistent redness of the cheeks, forehead, chin, and nose).
There are anecdotal evidence and preliminary studies that suggest essential oils might offer relief from common symptoms of menopause, including hot flashes.
One example is a 2008 study published in the journal Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 10 Researchers used essential oils as a massage oil to ease the symptoms of menopause (depression, hot flashes, and pain) on Korean women who are in the perimenopausal phase. The essential oils were applied on their arms, backs, and bellies once per week.
After two months, their findings suggest that the essential oils (lavender, rose geranium, jasmine, and rose) diluted in primrose and almond oils were effective. However, it wasn’t clear if this positive effect is largely due to the essential oils, the massage, or both.
Below is a list of some of the popular essential oils for treating hot flashes.
7 of the Best Essential Oils for Hot Flashes Relief
Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) essential oil should be on top of your list if you’re experiencing hormone-related health issues.
Europeans often use clary sage essential oil for treating menstrual pain, symptoms of menopause, and irregular menstrual cycle. 11 Although solid scientific proof is lacking, some believe it can boost their libido and performance in bed.
This positive effect of clary sage essential on your hormones is attributed to its dietary estrogens, which are also known as phytoestrogens.
One of its major compounds, sclareol, works by telling the body to produce its own estrogen. 12 Most doctors believe that women experience hot flashes because of decreasing estrogen levels. But, it’s also common for some women with high or fluctuating estrogen levels to have this symptom.
Thanks to its chemical component linalyl acetate, clary sage essential oil can relax the mind and promotes a restful night’s sleep. It may also help you overcome stress, depression, and anxiety—all of which are known triggers for hot flashes.
In a small study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, patients who are going to take an incontinence test were asked to inhale a cotton pad with lavender and clary essential oils (experimental group) or almond oil (control group) for an hour. 13
The result showed that the experimental group experienced decreased anxiety levels as evidenced by their decreased blood pressure.
In some cases, doctors prescribe antidepressants, such as venlafaxine (Effexor), to ease hot flashes and night sweats. A preliminary research suggests that clary sage essential oil might have antidepressant-like effect. 15
The test subjects, who were divided into the normal group and depression-tendency group, inhaled clary sage essential oil for 5 minutes.
The result revealed that inhaling clary sage essential oil markedly increased serotonin (also called 5-hydroxytryptamine) levels in the normal group by up to 341% and 484% in the depression-tendency group.
Mainstream medicine believes that too little or an imbalance in the serotonin levels could cause some people to become depressed.
- To help ease your hot flashes, add 3 to 4 drops of clary sage essential oil in your diffuser before bedtime.
- Apply one to two drops of clary sage essential oil on your feet or on the back of your neck.
- You could also mix 10 drops of clary sage essential oil, 5 drops of Roman chamomile essential oil, and 1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin. Then, add the mixture to your warm bath water. Stir your bath water to disperse the essential oil blend.
Is it safe?
For majority of the people in good health and without allergies, clary sage essential oil doesn’t seem to cause serious side effects when used topically or through inhalation.
However, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, people who are suffering from a medical condition (like hypertension), and people who are taking narcotic medications (codeine, methadone, morphine, etc.) should avoid using this without a doctor’s approval.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is one of the most recognizable plants in the world. It’s a great-smelling essential oil that the ancient Romans and Egyptians used in making perfumes and for bathing. Today, it’s widely used for aromatherapy to ease emotional stress and to promote restful sleep.
Clinical studies have shown that inhalation or ingestion of medicinal lavender essential oil might help with the treatment of insomnia, anxiety, and depression. 15 16
Because of these positive effects of lavender essential oil on people’s mood and ability to cope with stress, experts believe it may also help women deal with the discomforts associated with menopause, including hot flashes.
In a study published in the journal Chinese Medical Association, researchers divided 100 women (45-55 years old) in menopause into two groups: the lavender group and the diluted milk group (control). 17 The lavender group inhaled lavender essential oil for 20 minutes two times per day.
After 12 weeks, result showed that those women in the lavender group experienced marked decrease in hot flashes than those in the control group. The researchers suggest that lavender aromatherapy could be a safe, effective, and non-invasive treatment for hot flashes.
- Put 2 to 4 drops of lavender essential oil in your diffuser. Inhale its relaxing and therapeutic vapors for 20 to 30 minutes to induce sleep and reduce emotional stress.
- Combine 3 drops of lavender essential oil in 2 teaspoons of almond oil (or another carrier oil you like). Massage 2 to 3 drops of diluted lavender essential oil on tensed areas of your body to promote relaxation, especially during menopausal transitions.
Is it safe?
Don’t use lavender essential oil if you have known allergies and/or are already taking sedatives, such as benzodiazepines, and antidepressants.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is a versatile plant with numerous medicinal benefits. Its essential oil is often used to ease muscle and joint pain, headaches, respiratory congestion, low energy levels, and menstruation-related symptoms.
Peppermint essential oil is known for its immediate cooling effect, thanks to its menthol content. Menthol doesn’t really lower the temperature of the body and skin.
Instead, it distracts the brain by blocking the calcium current along the nerves that specialize in detecting temperature from the skin or body.
If you’re feeling stressed, anxious, or fatigued due to menopause, use peppermint essential oil to brighten up your mood and boost your energy levels.
According to a study on mice, peppermint essential oil has almost the same effect as psychostimulants, which are drugs that have mood-enhancing and stimulant properties. 18
- Combine 3 drops of peppermint essential oil and 3 drops of lavender essential oil. Dilute in 4 teaspoons of almond oil or jojoba oil. Gently rub the mixture on your temples, wrists, and on the back of your neck. You could also use it for massages to relieve stress and anxiety.
- You could also make a body mist spray. Aside from peppermint essential oil, choose 1 or 2 more essentials to make a blend. For instance, you could blend it with sandalwood and lavender essential oils. Add 12 drops of essential oil per ounce of base carrier (vodka, witch hazel extract, or hydrosol) into an amber spray bottle (preferably made of glass). Roll the bottle between your palms to mix.
- Pour 1 to 2 drops of peppermint essential oil to a paper towel or handkerchief, and then inhale deeply and slowly. Or, you could add 3 to 4 drops into your diffuser. Run your diffuser for 20 to 30 minutes.
Is it safe?
Peppermint essential oil doesn’t normally cause severe side effects, although some may still develop an allergic reaction when used on their skins.
Always speak with your doctor before taking peppermint dietary supplements to make sure it won’t cause more harm than good.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women, children (below 7 years old), and people who have digestive system-related health problems (e.g. stomach ulcers and gastroesophageal reflux disease) should refrain from using it.
Vetiver Essential Oil
Just like peppermint, vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides) has a natural cooling effect. 19 This makes it extremely useful in reducing the discomforts associated with hot flashes.
Vetiver essential oil is also psychologically grounding and calming. 20 That’s why it’s often used for treating insomnia and dispelling negative emotions (e.g. anger, irritation, and panic) and neurotic behavior, which may manifest itself as anxiety, depression, phobia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). 21 As pointed out earlier, emotional and physical stress can trigger hot flashes.
What’s interesting is vetiver essential oil might be a good remedy for hot flashes in women and men. (Yes, men can also have them.)
Compared to women, men have higher levels of testosterone. However, when they reach the age of 30, the level of testosterone in men starts to gradually decline at a rate of approximately 1% yearly. 22
This process may go faster if a man (or even a woman) is in a stressed state. As a result, men may experience low sex drive and other physical changes, such as hot flashes that resemble those experienced by women in the menopausal phase.
Aside from its emotionally calming and grounding effects, vetiver essential oil is also known for its sedative properties. As we all know, not getting enough sleep has detrimental effects on our mental and physical health.
According to an article published in the Current Opinion of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity journal, getting sufficient sleep and sleeping at the correct times are two of the effective ways to increase testosterone levels. 23
- In an amber glass bottle, combine 10 drops of vetiver essential oil, 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil, 10 drops of lavender essential oil, 4 ounces of liquid castile soap (unscented), and 2 ounces of organic vegetable glycerin. Stir the mixture or roll the bottle between your palms to mix the oils well. Before using, gently shake the bottle because the glycerin has more likely settled at the bottom of the bottle. Pour approximately an ounce of the mixture into your warm bathwater.
- Depending on the manufacturer’s instructions, pour at least 3 to 4 drops of vetiver essential oil into your diffuser. Take note that vetiver essential oil may clog your diffuser because it has a thick consistency.
Is it safe?
Except for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, vetiver essential oil seems safe to use in most adults. As a precaution, dilute it and put a few drops on your inner forearm. Wait for half an hour for an allergic reaction.
Geranium Essential Oil
Geranium essential oil is extracted from the stems and leaves of Pelargonium graveolens plant. In aromatherapy, it’s valued for its many benefits for the mind, emotions, and body.
For one, it has a rose-like and lemon-like scent that’s uplifting and calming when inhaled. Because of this, people often use it for anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia.
By taking care of your emotional and mental health, you prevent or lessen the frequency of hot flashes and night sweats.
When used as a massage oil, geranium essential oil may help reduce menopause symptoms, according to a study. 24
The researchers used a blend of essential oils diluted in evening primrose and almond oils for the aromatherapy massage. The essential oils included in the blend were rose, jasmine, lavender, and geranium.
For two months, their test subjects, who were women ages 45 to 54, received a 30-minute massage every week. The procedure was carried out by a registered massage therapist.
The weekly aromatherapy massage proved to be effective because the scores for pain, hot flashes, and depression dipped. In the control group, scores for the majority of the menopause symptoms increased.
- Add these essential oils in 2 to 3 ounces of water: 5 drops of geranium, 5 drops of clary sage, 5 drops of peppermint, and 5 drops of eucalyptus. Mix using a stainless-steel stirrer. Then, dip a clean cloth in the water, squeeze the excess water, and roll it tight. Put inside the freezer for approximately 30 minutes to 1 hour. Place on your neck, face (avoid the eyes), upper body, and forehead to ease night sweats and hot flashes.
Is it safe?
There are no serious side effects associated with the use of geranium essential oil. However, like with most essential oils, this may not be safe for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and people with sensitive skin or certain medical conditions (e.g. high blood pressure).
Make sure you buy from trusted suppliers to make sure you’re getting unadulterated geranium essential oil. The highest quality of geranium essential oil, which is known as Geranium Bourbon essential oil, originates from the Reunion Islands.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata) is a tropical tree that’s extensively used in perfume making and wedding and religious ceremonies.
In aromatherapy, the essential oil extracted from its star-shaped flowers is believed to combat stress and act as a mild antidepressant.
Due to its hormone-balancing effects, ylang ylang essential oil offers daily support for combatting the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause, such as hot flashes, mood swings, and depression.
It works better if you combine it with other relaxing and mood-enhancing essential oils, such as lavender and Roman chamomile, especially when you’re irritable due to hot flashes.
- This mixture will help you overcome stressful situations and uplift your mood. Dilute 3 drops of ylang ylang essential oil, 3 drops of marjoram essential oil, and 3 drops of bergamot essential oil in 4 teaspoons of carrier oil. Store in an amber glass roller bottle. Apply on the back of your neck, your temples, and chest whenever needed.
- Make an emotionally balancing and soothing bath water with Epsom salt and essential oils. Blend 10 drops of ylang ylang essential oil, 5 drops of peppermint essential oil, 6 teaspoons of carrier oil, and your choice of emulsifier (e.g. vodka, witch hazel extract, castile soap, vinegar, aloe vera gel, and cornstarch). Follow a 1:1 dilution ratio when mixing an essential oil with an emulsifier. Next, add 3 cups of Epsom salt to the mixture.
Is it safe?
It’s possible for some people to experience negative effects after using ylang ylang essential oil, although it’s generally safe.
Possible side effects of this essential oil are skin irritation, head pain, and nausea. As always, perform a skin patch allergy test before using it full strength.
Basil Essential Oil
Basil (Ocimum basilicum), also called great basil, is considered one of the healthiest culinary herbs because of its remarkable list of nutrients.
The oil extracted from it is valued in the aromatherapy world because of its benefits for the mind and body, partly due to its high linalool content. It’s considered to be particularly useful for treating depression, mental fatigue, migraines, and anxiety.
Aside from promoting mental and emotional wellness, basil essential oil is considered one of the best essential oils for hot flashes because it’s believed to contain an estrogen-like compound. 25
Meaning, it may help your body deal with symptoms caused by hormone fluctuations when you’re going through a menopause transition or during menopause.
A popular belief in mainstream medicine is hot flashes is a result of the gradual depletion of estrogen in a woman’s body. However, according to Mayo Clinic, low estrogen levels are not the only cause of a menopause-linked hot flash. Experts believe low estrogen levels during menopause is the main culprit.
Some medical experts debunk this idea, though. By their late 30s, most women’s bodies start to produce insufficient amounts of progesterone hormones.
Experts believe that these low progesterone levels are the cause of hot flashes; 26 because women who have normal or high levels of estrogen still experience hot flashes.
Other possible causes of hot flashes include the following:
- Elevated prolactin (a protein that allows women to produce milk)
- Head injuries
- Heart problems
- Low blood sugar
- Hemochromatosis (too much iron in the body)
- Brain tumor
- Low amounts of thyroid hormones
- And low amounts of cortisol
- Mix 5 drops of basil essential oil, 3 drops of geranium essential oil, 3 drops of lemon essential oil, and 4 to 6 teaspoons of carrier oil in an amber glass bottle. Perform a skin patch test before applying on the different parts of your body. This blend is ideal to use as a massage oil during a hot flash.
- Feel cool and energized by adding 4 drops of basil essential oil, 2 drops of peppermint essential oil, and 2 drops of lavender essential oil in your preferred diffuser. Allow your diffuser to run for 20 to 30 minutes. Make sure to inhale deeply while performing any relaxation technique, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises, to relieve stress and negative emotions.
Is it safe?
Using small quantities of basil essential oil can be safe. However, it has properties that might be toxic and carcinogenic, so use it with caution.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, children below the age of 7, and people with health issues should refrain from using this orally, topically, or through inhalation.
Taking it by mouth, especially in large quantities, can cause severe side effects, such as fast heart rate, diarrhea, wooziness, and tremors.
When Should You Call Your Doctor?
Hot flashes rarely require intensive medical care because they don’t pose any danger to women’s health. There are exceptions, though, like when they start to interfere with your daily life or sleep and/or don’t respond to home remedies.
Fortunately, there are many ways to beat the heat and night sweats caused by menopause. Essential oils are just one option.
So, what do you usually do to manage menopause symptoms, like hot flashes? Which essential oils do you find most effective?