Essential Oils for Adrenal Support
What are the adrenals and why are they important?
The adrenals are two triangular glands, one located on top of each kidney. The glands are composed of two main parts that differ both anatomically and physiologically: the outer layer is the cortex, making up about 80 percent of the adrenal and it surrounds the inner layer, the medulla.
Adrenal glands are part of our endocrine system; the endocrine system helps to maintain homeostasis (internal stability) by producing the hormones necessary for normal body function, mental health and emotional balance.
Hormones produced by the adrenal cortex:
The adrenal cortex produces three groups of hormones, these are collectively known as corticosteroids or steroids.
- Glucocorticoids (cortisol and hydrocortisone) have widespread effects on the body systems, promoting the formation and storage of glycogen, raising the blood glucose level and promoting sodium and water re-absorption from the kidneys. These hormones also help the body cope with stress and have an anti-inflammatory action.
- Mineralocorticoids (aldosterone) act on the kidney tubules, retaining salts in the body, excreting potassium and maintaining the water and electrolyte balance.
- Sex corticoids control the development of the secondary sex characteristics and the function of the reproductive organs; after puberty sex corticoids are believed to have little significance compared to the gonads.
Hormones produced by the medulla:
The medulla releases two hormones.
- Noradrenaline (noradrenaline is a precursor to adrenaline) in response to fear, stress or anxiety noradrenealine levels increase. The function of this hormone is to mobilize the body for action (the fight or flight response). Mentally it increases alertness, focus. In the body noradrenaline increases heart rate and blood pressure, triggers the release of glucose for an energy boost, and directs blood flow to muscles and away from the digestive system and bladder; preparing the body for action.
- Epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) Adrenaline works with noradrenaline and is released in response to a perceived stress; the perception of a stressor stimulates the hypothalmus to send chemical signals to the nerves connected to the adrenal glands, triggering the adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline. Continual stress (real or perceived) will eventually tax the adrenals and the sympathetic nervous system causing adrenal fatigue.
Symptoms that may present if the adrenals are out of balance
- Overwhelming fatigue
- Weight gain
- Sleep disturbance
- Weakened immune system.
Adrenal burnout, also known as adrenal exhaustion, can occur with chronic stress, nutritional deficiencies, over stimulation (such as too much coffee or sugars) or other health issues.
If you suspect that you have an adrenal imbalance it is important to first consult with your health care provider to explore all possible treatment options.
Essential oil suggestions
Essential oils can be used to reduce stress, promote relaxation and support the body to find its natural state of homeostasis; in this way essential oils can help to balance and stabilize the endocrine system. To enhance effectiveness it is beneficial to use essential oils with other modalities such as massage, acupuncture, meditation, mindfulness; along with maintaining a healthy diet, exercise and lifestyle.
Bergamot Citrus bergamia: Antidepressant, appetite balancer.
Black Spruce Picea mariana: Fatigue, immune support, adrenal support, stress, anxiety, feelings of burn out.
Cardamom Elettaria cardamomum: Anxiety, mental fatigue, mild depression, indigestion, nausea, heartburn, stomach ache, poor circulation,
Cedarwood Atlas Cedrus atlantica: Immune Support, stress, tension, anxiety, emotional exhaustion.
Clary Sage Salvia sclarea: Relax and strengthen nervous system
Geranium Pelargonium graveolens: Poor circulation, immune support, general overall tonic, stress, anxiety, mild depression.
Ginger Zingiber officinale: Nervous exhaustion, mental fatigue, mental fog
Lavender Lavandula angustifolia: Adaptogenic, promotes relaxation
Peppermint Mentha piperita: Sluggishness, immune support, nervous stress, mild depression, shock.
Pine Pinus sylvestris: Poor circulation, fatigue, immune support, adrenal support. (Pine may have a stimulating effect on the adrenal cortex; it can be a good essential oil choice for fatigue and nervous debility. It is energizing without being overly stimulating. It is used extensively with clients who are in adrenal burnout, who have chronic fatigue syndrome or are generally overstressed.)
Rosemary ct. cineole Rosmarinus officinalis: Good strengthening tonic for the whole body often used for clients who are tired, run down and may be helpful for exhaustion.
Vetiver Vetiveria zizanioides: Poor circulation, immune support, nervous tension, mild depression, mental exhaustion.
e3 Synergy Blend
Adrenal Support: ingredients – Black Spruce, Cedarwood Atlas, Geranium, Peppermint, Pine Needle, Vetiver
Recipe and Application Methods
Sample Adrenal Support Recipe
Inhalation: Put 1-3 drops of essential oil on a tissue and inhale the aroma through your nose. Pause and inhale again. (Avoid touching your nose with the tissue.)
Bath: Mix 4-8 drops of essential oil in 1 teaspoon of carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil. (You can also add the essential oil to 1/2 cup of whole milk or heavy cream.) Set aside. If you have muscle or joint aches, add Epsom Salt (pure magnesium sulfate), Magnesium Flakes (pure magnesium chloride) or Dead Sea salts. Fill the tub with warm water and immerse yourself. Add the essential oil mixture and swirl the water around you. Massage your skin and breathe in the aroma. Remain in the tub for 10-15 minutes.
Bath, Foot: Mix 1-3 drops of essential oil in 1/2 teaspoon of carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil. Set aside. Fill a tub (deep enough to cover your feet and ankles) with warm water. Add the essential oil mixture, stir well, and immerse your feet for 10-15 minutes.
Massage: Mix 6-30 drops of essential oil in 1 ounce of carrier oil or fragrance-free, natural lotion and use to massage lower back every morning and evening.
Practical Aromatherapy for Self Care, author Joni Keim
Aromatherapy A complete Guide to the Healing Arts, author Kathi Keville & Mindy Green
The Complete Aromatherapy Tutor, author Joanne Hoare
Aromatherapy A holistic Guide, author Ann Berwick
Aromatherapy Scent and Psyche, author: Peter & Kate Damian
Aromatherapy for Massage Therapists, author: Ingrid Martin
Aromatherapy and massage for antenatal anxiety: Its effect on the fetus
Janet Bastard, Denise Tiran
Effects of long-term exposure of lemon essential oil odor on behavioral, hormonal and neuronal parameters in male and female rats
Ilaria Ceccarellia, William R Larivierea, Paolo Fiorenzania, Paola Sacerdoteb, Anna Maria Aloisi
Department of Physiology, Section of Neuroscience and Applied Physiology, University of Siena, Via Aldo Moro, 53100 Siena, Italy
Effect of lavender essence inhalation on the level of anxiety and blood cortisol in candidates for open-heart surgery.
Hosseini S1, Heydari A1, Vakili M2, Moghadam S3, Tazyky S4.
Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016 Jul-Aug;21(4):397-401. doi: 10.4103/1735-9066.185582
Effect of lavender scent inhalation on prevention of stress, anxiety and depression in the postpartum period.
Kianpour M1, Mansouri A1, Mehrabi T2, Asghari G3.
Iran J Nurs Midwifery Res. 2016 Mar-Apr;21(2):197-201. doi: 10.4103/1735-9066.178248.
(Recommendations in this post are intended for adult use only and are not a substitute for medical care. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These statements and products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease.)