Feeling fatigued a little too often? Morning cappuccino no longer doing its job? Getting that feeling that you’ve been worn thin by your busy schedule, and you’re just not bouncing back? These can be signs of over-worked adrenal glands – and can be symptoms of a syndrome known as “Adrenal Fatigue” (1, 2). Thankfully, a few commonly-available essential oils can offer support in regenerating worn-out adrenal glands.
What is Adrenal Fatigue?
The adrenal glands are your body’s workhorses when it comes to dealing with stress. These tiny glands, each about the size of a walnut and shaped like a tiny pyramid, sit atop each kidney. The adrenals produce important hormones such as cortisol, an energy releaser, and pregnenolone, the precursor from which almost all your body’s steroid hormones are made, including DHEA, progesterone, testosterone, and estrogens. Pregnenolone is an extremely important memory enhancer, and not only does it make you smarter, it also brings about feelings of well-being and enhances your ability to deal with stress. A weak adrenal function can have a variety of symptoms, including depression, insomnia, and lowered immune system function.
There can be many contributing factors to adrenal fatigue, though these can almost all be lumped into the category of “too much stress”! Overwork, sleep deprivation, poor eating habits – particularly too much sugar, injury and illness, and over-use of stimulants are a few common causes. Addressing these issues are of primary importance for long-term regeneration of the adrenals and their hormonal output. However, natural adrenal supporting essential oils used in aromatherapy can be very useful in bringing balance and assisting in restoring adrenal function to normal, healthy levels, in mild-to-moderate cases of adrenal fatigue.
Adrenal Supporting Essential Oils
Several easy-to-find essential oils are commonly used in aromatherapy to support the adrenal glands. Some are used purely for adrenal gland restoration, while others are used to provide a healthy lift when needed, and may be of assistance when reducing caffeine intake. These oils are not to be taken internally, but are best diluted in a carrier oil and applied to the skin.
Spruce and Black Spruce Needle Oils – Spruce is thought to restore depleted adrenal glands and is used regularly by aromatherapists in blends applied directly over the adrenal area, or in an all-over body lotion.
Pine Needle Oil – Pine essential oil is noted to be one of the “most effective oils for fatigue and nervous debility”. Pine can be blended with Spruce for a synergistic revitalizing effect.
Atlas Cedar Oil – Moroccan Cedar is thought to gently and persistently stimulate the metabolism. Rather than regenerating, as do the Spruce and Pine oils, Cedar will provide a smooth, deep, and long-lasting stimulation without the side effects of coffee and black tea.
Peppermint Oil – Peppermint has a broad range of healthful properties, and is thought of as an uplifting aroma. Peppermint, like Cedar, can be used for gentle stimulation and alertness.
Citrus Oils – Essential oils pressed from the rinds of citrus fruit like sweet orange, bitter orange (bergamot), lemon and lime are also uplifting and brightening, yet have a relaxing quality as well. They are useful additions to fatigue-busting blends, as the added calming, but not sedating, quality can lower stress levels, which are generally the cause of adrenal fatigue in the first place.
Aromatherapy Blends for Adrenal Fatigue
First, a blend to provide pure regenerative support without stimulation. This blend is suitable for regular use, and some users report almost immediate results – it has been noted to reduce or eliminate that nauseous feeling that can accompany insomnia. FOR A ONE OUNCE BLEND – add 1.5ml Spruce or Black Spruce and 1.5ml Pine Needle essential oils to one ounce (30ml) of your favorite carrier oil (Hazelnut is commonly used, but any common aromatherapy carrier oil should do the trick). Apply regularly to the kidney / adrenal area. Note: 1ml is about 25 drops.
To use these oils in a gently stimulating, all-over body blend, add 3ml each of Spruce and Pine essential oils, 2ml Atlas Cedar oil and 2ml of your favorite citrus oil to 4oz of carrier oil. Apply this all over after a morning shower – though if using the citrus oil, do not apply to areas that will be exposed to the sun in the following 72 hours, as citrus oils are photosensitizing.
If you prefer the properties and aroma of peppermint, try the following blend: 6ml of Spruce or Black Spruce, 2.5ml Atlas Cedar and 1.5ml Peppermint in 4 ounces of your favorite carrier. This blend will not be photosensitizing to the skin, and can be used all over the body.
These wonderful smelling aromatherapy blends can offer support in cases of mild and moderate adrenal fatigue for many people, though the underlying causes of this condition should be addressed concurrently for best results. For most folks, this means reducing caffeine intake, improving diet by reducing sugar consumption, and finding balance in one’s life between work, family, and personal time.