Menopause marks a milestone in a woman’s life, signifying the end of fertility and the end of those monthly periods. While some women start to experience changes in their 30s, for most, symptoms don’t occur until the 40s or 50s. Menopause, by definition, has been reached after 12 consecutive months have passed without menstruating.

Many women experience frustrating symptoms, like fatigue, hot flashes, irritability, and insomnia, some of which can disrupt day-to-day activities. While some turn to hormone therapy (HT) to battle them, that treatment comes with unwanted side effects and a higher risk of serious complications.

Research has found that an increased risk of heart disease and stroke develops within the first year of hormone therapy and that women who stay on it for longer periods continue to have a higher risk for both conditions. Study participants who used a combination of estrogen and progestin as part of hormone therapy developed a significant increase in the risk of invasive breast cancer and death from breast cancer as well as lung cancer, gallbladder disease, dementia and urinary incontinence. Due to these risks, the National Women’s Health Network recommends seeking alternative ways to cope with the change of life symptoms.

If you’re tempted to turn to antidepressants, which are sometimes prescribed to combat symptoms, these drugs also come with serious side effects, some much greater than even the most annoying menopause symptoms, such as an increased risk of suicide. That means your best bet is to look at natural alternatives like essential oils.

These oils have shown to be the best for fighting the symptoms of menopause.

1. Clary Sage Essential Oil

Clary sage has a long history of medicinal use, and clary sage essential oil is considered by many experts to be the most effective of all essential oils for balancing hormones. It can not only provide relief for menopause symptoms like hot flashes and anxiety, but it can reduce the intensity and frequency of hot flashes and night sweats as well as relieve symptoms of PMS and reduce menstrual cramping. Its ability to regulate hormones also means it can help to uplift one’s mood, battle depression and improve mental strength too.

The herb affects the body’s hormones as it contains natural phytoestrogens, which are referred to as “dietary estrogens” which are derived from plants. Its phytoestrogens lead to estrogenic effects that regulate estrogen levels to support the long-term health of the uterus by lessening the chances of ovarian and uterine cancer.

A study published in the Journal of Phytotherapy Research in 2014 showed that inhaling clary sage essential oil resulted in lowering cortisol levels by 36 percent, while also improving thyroid hormone levels. High cortisol levels can lead to weight gain, depression, and many other problems. The post-menopausal women who participated in the study had been diagnosed with depression, but after the trial, they noted that clary sage had a significant effect on improving their mood and relieving symptoms of depression.

You can use clary sage by putting it in a diffuser or simply inhaling it directly.

2. Sage Essential Oil

Like clary sage, the other type of sage, typically referred to as either just “sage,” or dalmatian sage, can be ideal for addressing hot flashes. Sage essential oil has been well-documented scientifically to reduce night sweats. In one study, participants were given pilocarpine to induce excessive sweating, but when they were given an extract of sage, the sweating was reduced significantly. Multiple studies have shown that it reduces both the frequency and intensity of night sweats and hot flashes. While they aren’t 100% sure, experts believe it may be sage’s estrogenic compounds that make it effective for balancing hormones and limiting the hormonal occurrences that create excess heat in the body.

3. Roman Chamomile Essential Oil

Roman chamomile is excellent for reducing stress and hot flashes. In fact, the ancient Egyptians used it to cure a fever due to its cooling ability as well as soothing nervousness. By combining it with clary sage oil, you can make a powerful cooling mist to use when a hot flash hits. Simply add 10 drops of each oil to an ounce of witch hazel and 3 ounces of distilled water into a 4-ounce or larger dark glass spray bottle.

Some of the other benefits of Roman chamomile essential oil, including calming the mind, fighting depression, easing anxiety and fighting insomnia. In fact, this herb has been shown in studies to help improve the quality of sleep. In 2006, a British study out of the University of Northumbria that focused on its effects on mood and sleep discovered that participants experienced more calmness and drowsiness, proving its potential for helping one to enter a more restful state and improve sleep.

4. Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil is refreshing, cooling and uplifting. It can help cool the body when hot flashes or night sweats hit. It’s the menthol in peppermint oil that tricks your mind into thinking that whatever part of your body you apply it to is cooler than it actually is. The skin absorbs the oil and distributes that “cool” feeling throughout the body.

Peppermint can also be used to combat fatigue, a common problem with menopause. Many women experience unexpected, major episodes of fatigue that can make it difficult to work or do any daily chore. While a short nap can go a long way at fighting fatigue, of course, that’s obviously not always feasible. Instead, grab a bottle of peppermint essential oil and inhale, or put it into a diffuser and let the re-energizing begin. Another option is to put 20 drops of peppermint oil into a spray bottle combined with 8 ounces of water, and then use it to gently mist yourself to provide cooling, refreshing relief as well as reducing mental fatigue and improving concentration.

Ideally, try to use it before you start to feel extremely fatigued, as it’s easier to prevent than to overcome once it hits.

5. Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon oil can address a number of menopausal symptoms as it provides a refreshing effect on both the mind and body. When fatigue or brain fog hits, it’s great for increasing alertness and concentration – you can diffuse it at home or in the office to help you stay focused. It’s also excellent for energy and mind clarity – simply rub a few drops into the palm of your hands and inhale for an instant pick-me-up.

As irritability is common in menopause, lemon is also good for lifting your mood and chasing away anxiety, sadness, and even depression. After an especially trying day, add a few drops to a warm bath to soak away stress and fatigue. As lemon essential oil is calming in nature, it not only eliminates mental fatigue, but it can reduce nervousness, tension, anxiety and exhaustion while creating a more positive mindset.

Read more: