Aromatherapy and the Treatment of the Reproductive System

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The use of aromas for medicinal, spiritual and magical purposes can be traced at least as far back as the ancient Egyptians in 3,000 B.C., and perhaps even farther back to 5,000 B.C. as indicated by the Tassili cave paintings representing women wearing fragrant flower garlands. There still survives today much information on early treatment of many ailments, including ailments of the reproductive system such as infections and problems with menstruation, childbirth and pregnancy. Pliny, author of the 1st Century A.D.. Natural History mentions 32 remedies prepared from Rose, 21 from Lily, 17 from Violet and 25 from Pennyroyal. Ancient Indians used Sandalwood for genitourinary infections, and in one of Nostradamus' lesser known works, he suggests Rosewater during the first and last months of pregnancy. Later, we have more detailed information regarding treatments provided by such famous herbalists as Nicholas Culpeper, 1652, Rycharde Banckes, 1525, Li ShihChen, 1578 and Joseph Miller, 1722. There are also several references in ancient texts regarding the use of aroma as aphrodisiac. The Kama Sutra suggests anointing the body with Blue Lotus and Jasmine oil for their sensual effects. Ancient Egyptians used Frankincense, Ancient Indians used Sandalwood and Jasmine. Cleopatra herself was said to use incense for its powerful seductive qualities. Many of these scents are still in use today for the very same reasons.

With the advent of gas chromatography we can now determine the chemical composition of essential oils. In addition, our knowledge of the workings of the human body has become very specific and detailed. Some of the most exciting studies that have been done recently are those exploring the similarity between certain essential oils and the female hormone estrogen. In order to properly treat ailments of the reproductive system, we must fully understand its workings. There are two distinct halves to the cycle of the female. The first is the Estrogen cycle, during which the blood level of estrogens is rising steadily. The second half, the Progesterone cycle, is when the progesterone level in the blood overtakes the estrogen level and rises to a peak, after which time, approaching the menses (which marks the beginning of the Estrogen cycle), it falls drastically. Many women experience great distress at certain points during their cycle, particularly directly before the onset of the menses, and during the bleeding time itself. There is many times an overproduction of progesterone and an underproduction of estrogens directly before the menses which can cause cramping, emotional stress, nausea, and several other complications. These are all due to an imbalance in the system.

There are other ailments peculiar to the female reproductive system and cycles that directly relate to the hormone production as well, such as several types of estrogen-dependent cancers including breast cancer and endometriosis (abnormal growth of the uterine wall). If we had a way of regulating the hormone production to correct any imbalance, or if we had an agent that acted upon the body as a hormone would act, we might be able to correct some of these problems. Noted expert Tony Balacs has done extensive research in this area, and concludes: "Both female hormones are steroids-chemical structures based on cholesterol, and have the ability to interact with specific receptors on body tissues. Once this kind of interaction has occurred, processes are set in motion within the tissues which appear as the physiological effects of the hormones. Essential Oil constituents may have hormone-like activity if their structure is similar enough to a hormone for them to interact with the same receptor.

.There have been reports of estrogenic activity in essential oils. The chemical estrone has been determined to be a constituent in beet root, yeast, potatoes, palm kernel oil, petroleum and peat. Anethole, a methyl ether of estrone, has been determined to be a constituent of Fennel, Star Aniseed and Aniseed. It has been suggested that it is the plant polymers of anethole, such as photoanethole and dianethole which are responsible for estrogenic activity. Polymerized anethole is similar to the lactation stimulant diethylstilboestrol.

Knowing the chemical constituents of these oils now enables practitioners to apply them to very specific problems. Since menstrual disorders, PMS, and menopausal problems are known to be caused generally by an underproduction of estrogen and an overproduction of progesterone (barring some other physical ailment such as tumors or ectopic pregnancy), we may utilize the anethole-containing essences since they act on the same receptors as estrogen and would supplement the actual hormone, creating a more acceptable blood level to balance the system. Progesterone levels surge directly before the menses, and then drop dramatically, with a rise in estrogen levels during the bleeding. Fennel seed tea has long been used as an emmenagogue, possibly because it affects the body the same way an Increase in estrogen production would, and therefore the bleeding begins sooner.

By the same token, anethole-containing oils or teas should be avoided during times when an increase in estrogen is ill-advised. During pregnancy, for example, the progesterone level is critical to maintaining perfect conditions for the baby. Although hormone levels are so high in the body as to remain unaffected by the small hormonal action in the oil, it is still best to refrain from its use. Other contraindications include any estrogen-dependent illnesses such as endometriosis and certain cancers such as breast cancer.

There are many treatments for the various reproductive ailments in addition to the hormonal ones described above. The antibacterial action of many oils is called upon for infections, the nausea-calming properties of others may be utilized as well. The practitioner must assess each client's individual symptoms in order to create the appropriate treatment. The hormonal oils may be used in conjunction with the others to treat each symptom and the core problem. Following is a chart listing various ailments and specific oils that will help relieve them. In order to come up with a treatment, a practitioner would list all of the individual symptoms and make a blend of the oils that appear to be the most congruous.

Utilizing this chart, a practitioner may come up with the following treatments for some common complaints; the six best essential oils for these treatments are Ylang ylang, Geranium, Chamomile/Lavender, Grapefruit, Clary Sage and Seaweed.

4n1.jpgAromatherapy and the treatment of the reproductive system

5n1.jpgAromatherapy and the treatment of the reproductive system

PMS Treatments: Specific symptoms include swelling breasts, irritability, water retention:

Massage: Rose Geranium (for swelling), Peppermint (for swelling) and Fennel (hormonal) for breasts, belly and small of back, Vitex Agnus Castus (hormonal).

Herbal: Vitex (Agnus castus) tincture

Diffusor: Rose Geranium (irritability)

Diet: No stimulants, plenty of Peppermint tea (irritability) with Star Anise (hormonal)

Menstrual Regulation

Massage: Rose Otto (indicated for scanty or irregular menses) and Fennel (hormonal) on belly and small of back

Diffusor: Rose Otto and Fennel

Diet: No stimulants, Tea with Peppermint (to reduce stress) and Star Anise

Menopause: Hot flashes, nausea, dry vagina

Massage: Rose Otto and Fennel on belly, small of back and breasts

Diffusor: Rose Otto and Fennel

Diet: Fennel and Star Anise tea

Spritz: Peppermint and Lemon Oils for cooling hot flashes

Pregnancy: Stretch marks, nausea

Massage: Belly, thighs, breasts and vagina daily with cocoa butter, jasmine and carnation

Diffusor: Peppermint and Rose Otto for de-stressing

Spritz: Peppermint and Rose or Lemon oils for cooling

CASE HISTORY: HERPES Methods and Results

(This form copyrighted by Jeanne Rose, 1995)

1. Essential Oil Tincture- Direct application of Melissa essential oil to Herpes will kill theAdult Dosage:virus. You may also apply Melissa hydrosol by compress or spray for Child Dosage: day-to-day care. Inhaled -0
2. Massage - 0
3. Essential Oil Capsules - Melissa Hydrosol, 1 T/cup of water as a drink is helpful.
4. Supplements: L-Lysine 2000 mg. per day for 30 days, 1500 mg per day for 30 days, 1000 mg per day for six months
5. Food: During symptoms, simple fruit and vegetable diet with plenty of fresh water
6. Others' 1 oz. Distilled water with 20 drops Melissa essential oil, dabbed on sores and light blemishes with a cottonball once after bathing in morning, and again right before bed each night.
7. How long was each of these methods used? Treatment is ongoing. Subject uses Melissa water as a facial toner nightly to prevent symptoms recurring.
8. What were the results? Symptoms were apparent at beginning of treatment on face, chest and groin. Symptoms began to fade after 2 weeks. Subject has continued treatment for 4 months so far with no recurrence of symptoms.

CASE HISTORY: SEVERE MENSTRUAL CRAMPS

1. Massage: 1 oz. Sunflower oil with 10 drops Jasmine, 10 drops Marjoram, and 5 drops Rose Otto. Massage on belly and back and breasts, every half hour as needed.
2. Essential Oil Capsules
3. Herbs: Chamomile tea with 1 drop Peppermint oil per cup, drunk copiously as needed while symptoms continue.
4. Food: Watermelon and strawberries (red, watery fruits)
5. Others: Diffusor: Marjoram and Jasmine, 3 drops each in 1 tsp distilled water Drumming a steady heartbeat on a low hand-drum for 15 minutes every hour or so

How long was each of these methods used: All methods combined were used for 3 hours after cramps began. What were the results? At first the cramps were so bad, subject couldn't straighten out her body. Gradually the cramps became less severe, until after 3 hours they subsided completely. Chamomile tea with Peppermint oil, as well as the diet of Watermelon and Strawberries, was continued until bedtime (about 4 hours later).

CASE HISTORY: EXTREME FRIGIDITY

This information was reproduced for illustration purposes only from the Aromatherapy Global On-line Research Archives.

Client: "Rose" is in her mid-fifties, and is post menopausal.

Physical Condition: Chronic illness, perhaps CFIDS (Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency Syndrome) undiagnosed, diagnosis of organic depression, organic anxiety, possible petit mal, narcolepsy

Current Medications: Paxil, Premarin

Problem Presented: Extreme frigidity. Rose is involved in a close, loving relationship of five years duration with a very understanding, gentle, and patient gentleman. When the relationship started it was very passionate. For the past two years she has been unable to even contemplate making love to him, for no reason that she can find. Even the thought of making love brought chills to her. Meanwhile, the couple enjoyed hugging, snuggling, etc. It was the physical act of (or thought of) lovemaking that repulsed her.

Treatment:(There are here several description of treatments which did not work for Rose, including a blend of Jasminum officinalis, Zingiber officinale, another blend of Angelica archangelica, Salvia sclarea, Santalum album. These blends were used in the bath and as massage. She also tried several douching blends. All to no avail.) Feeling at this point that there was nothing to be lost, Rose decided to try a vaginal douche, using Rosa damascena, 4 drops to a pint of distilled water, followed by the use of 2 drops of Rose Otto in the bath. Within hours, Rose was able to invite her delighted lover to bed.

I'd like to stress that only distilled water was used. The essential oil and water were mixed and allowed to stand, and then filtered through a coffee filter, and warmed to body temperature. For occasional follow-ups, true Rose Otto hydrolate was used as an alternative.

For an internal use such as this, it is very important that only pure, unadulterated essential oils are used. Since Rose Otto is expensive, it is also frequently subject to adulteration. It is most important to know and trust your source.

Douching was continued for perhaps every week to 10 days at first, then reduced to once or twice a month.

I'd like to mention that we cannot be certain whether it was the Rose, of a placebo effect that made the difference. However, before using Rose Otto alone, the client had tried other blends recommended in the book, from which one might expect a possible placebo effect.

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By Elizabeth McCormack

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