Essential Oils and the Endocrine System

Although we rarely think about them, the glands of the endocrine system and the hormones they release influence almost every cell, organ, and function of our bodies. The endocrine system is instrumental in regulating mood, growth and development, tissue function, and metabolism, as well as sexual function and reproductive processes. In general, the endocrine system is in charge of body processes that happen slowly, such as cell growth.

The foundations of the endocrine system are the hormones and glands. As the body's chemical messengers, hormones transfer information and instructions from one set of cells to another. Although many different hormones circulate throughout the bloodstream, each one affects only the cells that are genetically programmed to receive and respond to its message. Hormone levels can be influenced by factors such as stress, infection, and changes in the balance of fluid and minerals in blood. Too much or too little of any hormone can be harmful to the body. Controlling the production of or replacing specific hormones can treat many endocrine disorders. 

Essential oils are uniquely able to support the endocrine system. Through their fragrance and unique molecular structure, essential oil molecules can easily pass through our tissues into our very cells. Any essential oil placed anywhere on the body is trans-dermal and can reach every part of your body within minutes. The molecular property (small size) that enables essential oils to penetrate human tissue and pass through the cell membranes is also the property that makes it possible to smell them and take them into our bodies through the olfactory system. In so doing, the molecules not only reach all parts of our body via the blood stream accessed through our lungs, they also go directly to the brain, crossing the blood-brain barrier.

When you breathe oil molecules into the back passages of your nose, they go straight to the limbic lobe of the brain. The limbic lobe is a group of brain structures that includes the hippocampus and amygdala and can directly activate the hypothalamus (the hormonal control center of our brain).  The limbic system is directly connected to those parts of the brain that control heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, memory, stress levels and hormone balance. Because the limbic system part of the brain does not understand words or written language and responds to smell only, essential oils can have profound physiological and psychological effects.

If you are looking for a natural alternative to correcting a hormone imbalance and for general endocrine support, there are many essential oil singles and blends for you to consider; Clary Sage, Fennel, Majoram, Nutmeg, Spearmint, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, and Myrtle are just a few.  I hope this information is encouraging to you and as always please seek the advice of your trusted health care professional before incorporating essential oils into your treatment plan.