Essential Oils for PCOS- How and What To Use [Podcast] - PCOS Diva
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Essential Oils for PCOS- How and What To Use [Podcast]

PCOS Podcast No. 47 - Essential OilsWe’re taking supplements, exercising, working on stress reduction, and eating clean. So where do essential oils fit in to our PCOS lifestyle? I use them as a part of my daily regimen. Research shows that oils can help with everything from insulin and blood sugar control to hormone balance, stress reduction, and even help decrease the cortisol that’s prevalent with PCOS women. Essential oils can also help with other common PCOS symptoms such as GI inflammation, candida, yeast, anxiety, and depression. I invited Dr. Meaghan Kirschling to explain some of the basics. Listen as she explains:

  • How to choose the right oils and dosages for your symptoms
  • How to identify a well-made pure essential oil
  • When and how to choose a carrier oil
  • Safe and effective methods for using oils
Link to the blog post about reflexology points and castor oil packs (Also included is an info-graphic Dr. Meaghan made about PCOS and essential oils.)
Dr. Meaghan’s podcast, “Managing PCOS From Teen Years to Menopause
Essential Oils Mini-course
 For more detailed information about what oils to use and how to safely use them, check out my Learn to Use Essential Oils mini-course.

All PCOS Diva podcasts are available on   itunes-button

This podcast is meant for educational purposes about essential oils, how specific oils and components of plants can help with PCOS. This podcast is not meant to substitute medical care or provide medical recommendations.  It is recommended to use essential oils in the care of a certified aromatherapist. If you need specific advice, please seek the care of a qualified provider. 


A full transcript follows.

kirshlingDr. Meaghan Kirschling has both an allopathic and alternative medical background, receiving a Doctor of Chiropractic from Northwestern Health Sciences University, a B.S. in Nursing and Exercise Science from Valparaiso University, a Masters of Nutrition from the University of Connecticut Bridgeport, and a Masters of Nursing in Women’s Health from University of Cincinnati. Before coming to Synapse is 2006, she worked as a floor nurse for six years in the Organ Transplant Unit at the University of Minnesota Fairview Hospital. In 2010, she moved to Germany to be one of the first doctors to provide chiropractic services to military personnel overseas. At Baumholder Health Clinic, she helped create an integrative environment & worked closely with MDs, DOs, PTs, & others. She also was a faculty member for the University of Maryland during this time, & taught health science classes.  Dr. Meaghan works in Minnesota at Synapse: Center for Health and Healing.  She focuses a lot of her practice on women’s health issues.  She also is the creator of a website called Beyond the Basics Health Academy.  The site is focused on promoting health and wellness through blogs, podcasts, and courses.

Full Transcript: 
Amy: Hello. Welcome to another edition of the PCOS Diva podcast. This is your host, Amy Medling. I’m a Certified Health Coach, and I’m the founder of PCOS Diva. Today we’re going to be talking about a topic that is very interesting and on the forefront of PCOS Divas’ minds. We did a survey earlier this year and the number one thing that you wanted to hear more about was essential oils. Today, I’ve asked Dr. Meaghan Kirschling, she’s a frequent contributor to PCOS Diva. You can listen to our previous podcast about PCOS from teen to menopause years. She also wrote a wonderful article about alternative remedies for PCOS. Take a look at those two content features from Dr. Meaghan. She is going to be talking to us about essential oils. This is one of her areas of expertise. Thank you for joining us again, Dr. Meaghan.


Meaghan: Thanks for having me back. It’s always so good to be here.


Amy: I just want to give listeners just a quick overview of your background. You have both an allopathic and alternative medical background. You received your Doctor of Chiropractic from Northwestern Health Sciences University. You also have a BS in Nursing and Exercise Science, a Masters of Nutrition, and a Masters of Nursing. You are very well-qualified and really an expert in women’s health. You practice in Minnesota and you have a really fantastic online site and podcast called Beyond the Basics Health Academy. I was actually a guest on your podcast last year and loved joining you there. Welcome again.


Meaghan: Thank you so much for having me. I am really excited to talk about this subject because I think there’s so much great information. This is something that all of your Divas can take and immediately start applying to their lives in helping to provide balance to a really complex situation like PCOS. I’m really excited to dive in to this and share lots of information because there’s lots of great information on this topic to share.


Amy: I wanted to start with essential oils and quality because you can get essential oils at your local Whole Foods, and I know a lot of friends might be selling essential oils through multilevel marketing companies and there’s lots of sources online through Amazon and different online sites to purchase your essential oils. Maybe the first thing we could talk about is the different grades and qualities, and how do you know that you’re getting a well-made pure essential oil?


Meaghan: I think that’s a great question and one that I’ve actually researched a lot because I think there’s a lot of even controversy over this. I think that with the popularity of essential oils and people using more essential oils and it becoming more mainstream, that even the whole essential oil world has changed.


I know even twenty, thirty years ago, we thought about essential oils more as like aromatherapy. They were harder to get. You could barely find them. People just really look at them as aromatherapy, and some of the pure aroma therapists will say that’s really the way that all essential oils should be used. But because now they’re being used–there’s a lot more companies out there–they’ve actually changed the essential oils a little bit. Then, with popular companies like Young Living and dōTERRA, they’ve actually made them so they are to be used not only for aromatherapy but also topically and can even be used internally now, which I know sometimes really, for lack of a better word, freaks out the pure aroma therapist, but they really are made now for that purpose, specific ones that say they can be taken internally. There’s even research about some things like peppermint and lemon and grapefruit and the benefits of taking them internally.


Now, we’re sort of trying to figure out this new world of essential oils, the best way to use them, how we can use them safely, and then, there’s the quality of different oils. I really think that the main thing is that you know the quality of the oil that you’re using and to know your brand. I would also start out with a little caveat, that I highly recommend people don’t get essential oils on Amazon or eBay because we’ve proven that there’s a lot of people out there selling oils that have been tampered with, so even if they have a label on them that is the brand you think it is, that a lot of people will dilute them or change them because they can easily tamper them and then resell them. They’re making money selling bogus products.


I do think you should get not only a brand you trust, but from a source you trust. I am not a distributor or make money with dōTERRA or Young Living, but I like both of those because of the education that they provide with their oils and because they’ve made them easy to get for people, and that they are high quality oil. I think that it’s important to make sure that you are getting good quality oils and that you also, depending on your oil, know how it can be used. Some can be used topically on the skin, some can be ingested if they say so, and some can be used in aromatherapy, but you should always read the label and make sure that you’re getting the oil specific for what you’re trying to use it for so that you’re obviously first and foremost safe with your oil use.


Amy: Yeah, and I think we need to state that essential oils are very powerful.


Meaghan: Yeah.


Amy: I think you kind of think it’s just something that you might put in your bath water or put it in a diffuser, but it’s like medicine in some ways. I mean, you have to be really cautious and respect the power of the oil.


Meaghan: That is so correct because I think sometimes we think if it’s easy to get, then it’s really safe, and that’s not true at all. The reason why I love this topic and I love talking about oils, especially with PCOS, is because they are so powerful and that we can use them specifically to help with certain pathways and mechanisms. Never underestimate the power, and they’re concentrated sources. I think peppermint’s a great example of this, that taking one drop of peppermint is about two hundred times more powerful than the peppermint leaf that it comes from. It’s important to remember just the power that’s in these oils and how therapeutic they are, but we’d ask you to respect that therapeutic action.


Amy: Let’s dive in to why essential oils are a good option for PCOS divas. Where do they fit in to our health regimen? We’re taking supplements, we’re exercising, we’re working on stress reduction, we’re eating clean, so where would essential oils fit in to this lifestyle?


Meaghan: Two of the reasons that I love essential oils as a complementary choice for people that are dealing with PCOS or other complex disorders like this, or syndromes like this, is because of the fact that it can help on so many different levels. With PCOS, one of the things is that there are various things that really can go wrong and various things that we have to really go after in order to get things to be better. They can help with everything from insulin control and blood sugar control to even detoxing out estrogen, hormone balance, stress reduction to help decrease the cortisol that’s usually prevalent with PCOS women. Then it also helps with different signs and symptoms that PCOS women deal with including GI inflammation, candida and yeast, and anxiety and depression.


There’s lots of ways, then, that we can use the oils and they do add two extra oomphs, I think. They add the oomph of being able to turn pathways around, which is so important from insulin control to hormone balance, but they also are something that you can use on a regular basis. I think that’s really powerful because when you look at these mechanisms and the physiology that we’re trying to get ahead of or change, it’s important not only to add something that will change it, but also something that we can provide on an ongoing basis so that we’re giving this therapeutic effect to our body over a long period of time so that we can get ahead of it. I think it’s so important to add these, especially when you’re doing everything right that your Divas are doing like the diet changes and the exercise and the lifestyle changes.


Amy: Can you walk us through some different essential oil protocols for different PCOS symptoms?


Meaghan: Yes. Well I might …


Amy: Okay, go ahead.


Meaghan: No. No. No. You can go ahead.


Amy: I was thinking, is it best to approach it from a symptoms standpoint, if you’re having blood sugar insulin issues or are you having anxiety/depression or are you having some estrogen dominance? How should a woman approach what oils she uses and dosage and how to take them?


Meaghan: I think that that is a wonderful question because I do think that … I’m a huge, huge supporter of individualized care, too, that I don’t think, obviously, even every PCOS woman needs the same oils; however, I do think that when you look at cause and symptoms and underlying mechanisms of PCOS, that there are ones that would help across the board. I’ll start from the general–these are the things that usually occur no matter what with PCOS–and then we’ll go out from there with signs and symptoms. Obviously the first thing that I think is important is actually the insulin part of it and balancing out the insulin because a lot of the signs and symptoms come from that high insulin level or what we call hyperinsulinemia.


Obviously, cinnamon is probably my favorite essential oil to help regulate blood sugar. It also, by using cinnamon, you can help to decrease cravings and just stabilize the blood sugar, which can then help to balance everything from lowering your testosterone level and those male hormone levels to regulating the use of blood sugar in your body and decreasing cysts, if you have them on your ovaries, and other signs and symptoms, the metabolic symptoms we see with PCOS. That, especially in conjunction with the dietary changes that you have taught your Divas, make a huge, huge difference.


I also like grapefruit because of the appetite support that it gives. To find a grapefruit oil that can be consumed in a glass bottle, and both Young Living and dōTERRA have a grapefruit oil, but I find that that helps women to be able to control appetite. Any of your PCOS Divas that are dealing, too, with the inability to lose weight, I will tell you that one thing that I found, dietary-wise, that can help that is sort of against what traditional people say is to actually eat meals separate from each other so that you’re not feeding your adrenals all day long and releasing more cortisol. Using grapefruit can help with that because grapefruit in between meals can help suppress your appetite so that you cannot feed your cortisol and adrenals all day long, which will put you out of hormone balance. Then with hormone balance and that part of PCOS, there are a lot of great, great essential oils to help actually balance out hormones. Probably my favorite is clary sage for PCOS women.


Amy: Yeah, I love that too. I’ve seen a lot …


Amy: Yeah. For me, it’s made a huge difference. I use that in my Epsom salt bath a couple times a week.


Meaghan: I actually have not found a PCOS woman who has not had a great effect with clary sage. It helps to actually stimulate the reproductive organs, so the uterus and the ovaries. It helps with hormone balance. Then, if you have things like PMS or just a hormone deregulation or just don’t feel right, clary sage just helps to balance. I’m sure you noticed that in the bath, that if you add it to that relaxation bath, it just helps to relax you and to calm you.


I also actually really like it and give it to … We will talk about this probably a little bit later … The other thing about essential oils I love are essential oils is castor oil packs. I’ll talk about that in a little bit. I also recommend to add clary sage to castor oil packs because I’ve actually found that they help to decrease lower abdominal bloating and cysts and all of the symptoms that go along with PCOS because they help to increase blood flow and lymphatic flow and stimulate those reproductive organs. I think that’s one of the great things that PCOS women can do is castor oil packs and even add in some clary sage.


Amy: Can we step back to the cinnamon and the grapefruit? How would somebody take those oils? Are those oils that you’re suggesting that you ingest?


Meaghan: Yes. Because of the mechanism of action, I find that cinnamon and grapefruit are best to find in essential oil that can be taken in internally. Then, to take the cinnamon, I actually like cinnamon in the morning. I put it in my tea. Then grapefruit, I just put into water. It has to be a glass water bottle or stainless steel, too; not leech out the plastic into your water. I drink that, then, during the day and I add lemon to the grapefruit and the water, but the lemon is for the detox part of it, which is also important for PCOS is detox.


Amy: Are you talking about just a drop?


Meaghan: Yeah. I just do a drop or two.


Amy: In the water …


Meaghan: Yeah. I just pour in a drop and usually you’ll get a drop or two, but really, because these are so powerful, a drop or two in about twenty ounces of water, so a normal-sized water bottle, really does the trick. Grapefruit really is amazing with its appetite suppression and it’s been shown in research with the effect that it has on appetite suppression. I actually do find that so important for PCOS women because of the fact that we don’t want to feed our adrenals and release more cortisol because that’ll decrease progesterone and put us in more hormonal imbalance. If we can do things to help be able to decrease that cortisol, then we will be able to get ahead of the game a little bit.


Amy: Yeah, I think that the grapefruit, for me, I’ve found that it really helps to balance out my blood sugar during the say so I feel more stable. I remember when I was pregnant, grapefruit was one of the only things that really made me feel good because I had really awful blood sugar issues while pregnant. I think that that’s a really great recommendation. I’m going to start using it on a more regular basis. Thanks.


Should we go into more of the hormonal balancing oils?


Meaghan: Yes.


Amy: We talked about clary sage, and what else is there?


Meaghan: I also really like geranium. Now one of the things about geranium is I find that this is a home run for some women. They do even better on geranium than clary sage. Geranium has even a little bit more of an effect on the women that are dealing with anxiety and depression on top of everything else. Clary sage can, too, but I’ve found sometimes there’s a home run with geranium. I’ve had a couple women that don’t do as well with geranium. Some actually don’t like the smell, either. I will usually incorporate geranium, but some women will just go to clary sage. I do find that, too, it’s a matter of figuring out where the good balance is.


Another one that I actually find, for PCOS for hormone balance more than any other group of women, is thyme. Thyme actually has been shown to balance progesterone. Since so many PCOS women struggle with low progesterone, thyme is a good one to utilize. I will say with clary sage, thyme, and geranium, my main mechanism of having people use this is topically, though. To use it as a topical application, either to the lower abdomen with castor oil packs or direct reflexology points like on the feet and hands. I usually recommend more people do this topically.


Amy: Maybe you can explain what a carrier oil is, and is it safe to put it directly on your skin or do you put it in a carrier oil like the castor oil for the castor oil packs, or something else?


Meaghan: Some people can use them what is considered neat. We call it neat. They can just put it straight on their skin and rub it in. Usually I find that people do okay with clary sage neat. If you have sensitive skin or this is your first time using them, then I always recommend that you start out with a carrier oil. That can be anything from a coconut oil to castor oil, and the castor oil packs will help. You can use even an avocado oil, a sesame seed oil, an olive oil, but you want to use some kind of oil to help dilute it.


Two effects that you get from this is the fact that then it will be diluted so the skin is not going to be as sensitive to it, but then it also does give you more of an oil base so that you can actually rub it on a larger area, which I find helpful, too, especially if you’re applying it to the lower abdomen. Even a drop or two is so powerful that a drop or two in a carrier oil can make a huge difference. Usually coconut oil is the one that people use the most. Even just a little bit of coconut oil, like even an eighth of a teaspoon or a quarter of a teaspoon and a couple drops to that area, dilutes it so that it’s just fine. Some people use a fractionated coconut oil and then 10 or 15 drops to one or two drops is usually the recommended ratio.


Amy: Great. One of the routines that I like to do in the morning is body brushing, which, as you know, is great for detoxification. Then I like to use a sesame oil to use after my shower. Sesame has a warming quality in Ayurveda, and coconut has a cooling quality. Could I put those hormonal balancing essential oils in my oils for applying on my whole body after my shower and the body brushing?


Meaghan: Yeah, you sure could. That would be very beneficial. I think a great thing to do, too, would be to use the warming sesame oil in the morning after you’ve brushed and then using the coconut oil as more of a cooling at night to help relax. There’s things you can do like that, too, to use the properties of the oil, which is even just a step above just using the essential oils. You can mix it right in there. It’ll store for a little bit, too, so you don’t even have to necessarily use it. Make a little jar of it and then use it every morning after brushing. That’s great, too, because you’ve also helped with something else that’s great for PCOS, which is lymphatics drainage and just getting everything moving in the lymph. So many women with PCOS, too, tend to have lymphatic congestion. It can be very beneficial to use the dry brushing and the oils together.


Amy: Speaking of lymphatic system, and you mentioned a little bit earlier lemon is great for detoxification. I just finished my 14-day sparkle cleanse, which I’m going to be introducing in the fall. It’s a 14-day detoxification program, so detoxification is really on the top of my mind. I would love to know how can I use essential oils to continue detoxifying?


Meaghan: Probably the first, easiest thing to do for the detoxification part of it is to add in lemon to your water every day. A drop or two in the water just helps to stimulate that liver. You also, to get the essential oils on a whole other level, you can use castor oil packs to the liver with a little bit of lemon and peppermint straight on that liver and gallbladder area. That can be huge for helping to stimulate that liver and gallbladder to help continue to release bile and to detox. We’re really only as clean as our bile, so it’s important, then, to really be able to promote good bile flow, which lemon and peppermint will do topically. You don’t even have to do the castor oil pack. You can even put some lemon and peppermint right on the liver.


I am a big supporter, overall, of peppermint and frankincense together. Sometimes when I’m detoxing I’ll put the peppermint and frankincense right on my liver, which is right in that upper part of your abdomen on the right side, right below the diaphragm. You can use things like lemon and peppermint orally, or you can even put them on topically.


Amy: I was just going to say I think detoxification is one of those subjects that you just are not going to hear about in the doctor’s office but is so important for women with PCOS. With all of these endocrine disrupting toxins that we’re bombarded with on a daily basis, it’s so important to think about detoxification as one of those lifestyle factors that you have to consider to manage your PCOS well.


Meaghan: One of the reasons, too, that I think it’s so important for PCOS women to really zone in on detoxification … And I like your approach to detoxification, to do periods where you’re really helping to detoxify your body and to do a cleanse. I recommend a cleanse every spring and fall because there is some support, too, about doing them in those seasons. Those seasons are sort of meant for us to purge more, so if we support it we’re actually detoxing more in spring and fall, but then to do ongoing. As women we’re exposed to so many foreign estrogens as it is, but PCOS women are extremely more sensitive to it because we have to balance out the estrogen and the progesterone. It’s important, then, to make sure that you’re supporting your body every day so that you’re detoxing out those extra environmental estrogens, especially the foreign estrogens and the xenoestrogens that we’re exposed to.


Amy: You’ve talked about the castor oil packs. Maybe this is a good time to explain in more detail what that is and how to use them.


Meaghan: Castor oil packs is actually using the properties of castor oil. Castor oil is almost like a grandma remedy for intestinal health and getting your bowels moving, but actually castor oil has a lot more therapeutic effects than just what we know for bowel function. One of the effects is that it can pull impurities. By utilizing castor oil topically, especially with heat, we can increase lymphatic drainage to an area, increase circulation, and we actually pull out impurities. I use this all the time for an extra oomph for localized detoxification. Whether we have to detoxify our ovaries and uterus and provide some healing there, or our liver, or even skin. Sometimes with acne I’ll use these castor oil packs, which is also beneficial for PCOS because so many women dealing with PCOS also deal with acne.


What you can use, then, is you can take a castor oil pack … I can send you, so that you can include it in the show notes, this quick, easy way on how to do it. You use a castor oil and you put it on a wool cloth and heat it up and then put it on with a hot water bottle. The thing I like to do is add essential oil depending on what I’m trying to achieve. You can put this on the lower abdomen, and it’s great for even women with polycystic ovary syndrome, women that have a lot of cysts, this will actually help to decrease bloating. I’ve even had some women that have gone in before and after for ultrasounds and they’ve noticed huge changes in the amount of cysts. There’s lots of improvement to the blood flow and the ovaries in order so that the ovaries, then, can heal and they can then help to bring balance because it’s those ovaries that are ultimately responsible for the estrogen and progesterone balance in our bodies. I recommend, then, to do those.


I recommend, when you’re starting, to actually do them once a day. You can really utilize this, too, for relaxation time. Just sit down and read a good book, meditate, do whatever helps you to relax. Just sit down for about 15-20 minutes with a castor oil pack and use the oils to help to heal.


Amy: It is very relaxing. I will vouch for that. Speaking of relaxation, maybe we could talk a little bit about oils to help with stress management. I always say stress really wreaks havoc on PCOS, and you’ve kind of alluded to that earlier in our podcast. Maybe you could just give us a quick overview of why that is true and how we can use essential oils to help reduce cortisol and that stress response.


Meaghan: This is one of the things that I think any woman with PCOS really can change and have an effect on their hormones almost immediately, but it’s one of the hardest things to change, obviously, is managing our stress. None of us are going to be able to live in a bubble and just reduce stress completely, so we’re going to have to do things in order to reduce the stress response.


The stress response does wreak extra havoc on hormones because of the fact that if we start to produce more cortisol, which is the long-term stress response of the adrenal glands, then we actually decrease progesterone because the progesterone, then, goes straight into making cortisol instead of going over to the other hormones of estrogen and testosterone and balancing that out. We actually, then, if we are producing more stress hormone and cortisol, decreasing that progesterone that’s so important to increase with PCOS women. It’s important, then, that we manage stress and reduce stress every way possible, and I will tell you that essential oils can make such a difference with this because it has an immediate effect on the brain. We’ve known for a long time now that the olfactory nerve, which is the smelling nerve, is the number one nerve that goes straight from our nose to the front part of our brain, that frontal brain, which is emotion, so if we can affect that frontal brain, we can immediately have an effect on our stress response. Not only can we use oils for long-term stress reduction, but for immediate stress reduction. If you’re in a situation where you’re just stressed, oils are a great thing to go to to get you out of that response.


A lot of times for that kind of response I tell people use an oil that resonates with you. Sometimes I use clary sage for PCOS women because they smell the clary sage and immediately it creates that stress response. Sometimes it’s going to be lavender or lavender-based one. Both Young Living and dōTERRA have great relaxation formulas that a lot of women with PCOS love. It can even be sometimes I find that some PCOS women prefer the more uplifting ones like the citrus-based ones. They actually have more of an effect of shutting down that short-term stress response because it just helps to stimulate them enough to actually get out of stress and anxiety and depression and those things.


Amy: I was just going to say you know what I really love? I have it right here at my desk, is the lemongrass. There’s something that’s really, like you said, citrus-y really resonates with me and that really helps me. Makes me feel brighter and maybe a little more focused.


Meaghan: That’s why I really say, for especially that stress response, it is what resonates with you. For me, lemongrass makes me feel like I have to go clean my house. I think it brings back old memories of Pledge and whatnot growing up, but I know so many women that do resonate with the lemongrass. I think this is sort of a trial and error of whatever is going to make you, for that immediate stress response, to relax. I know a lot of people that vetiver is one that helps them to just feel grounded and if they’re really emotional, almost that raging emotional, they can smell that and it calms them down. That one doesn’t resonate with me.


Amy: I was just going to interrupt quick. Can you spell that for people? Vetiver. It’s something that you don’t hear often.


Meaghan: Yes. V-E-T-I-V-E-R. The vetiver one, I will say, is some people’s home run. They just can feel completely relaxed and it cools them, especially for what we call hot emotions, you know, anger or resentment or things like that. Again, you really have to find what works for you, and for me it is the citrus ones. If I’m really feeling stressed out or I feel like I just need to relax a little bit, anything that’s sort of lemon-based–I know dōTERRA has Citrus Bliss or Elevation that I really like, and Young Living has other ones, too, that are citrus-based, and then there’s a lot of other ones you can find out there that will have a citrus focus–is that that one helps me where a lot of other people might like the lavender and the soothing effects of lavender and lavender-based ones.


That is really powerful, and like I said, I like explaining to people why it’s so powerful, and that is because smell is the one sense we have that is directly connected to the brain immediately. It doesn’t go through any other pathway; it goes straight to our frontal lobe. That’s so powerful for emotions and has such an effect on emotions. Keep your favorite bottle near you and just smell it and that can immediately get you out of that domino effect of stress where you can stop those dominoes from falling immediately.


Amy: Something I have in my purse, I have one of those little roller tubes and I have my favorite stress blend in that. When I can feel that shallow breathing and can feel that stress coming on, I just get my roller tube out and roll it on my wrists and those reflex points that you were talking about, which I definitely want to get into before the end of our podcast.


Meaghan: It makes such a difference, doesn’t it? It’s just night and day difference. I think sometimes when emotion kicks in we all think the emotions have the best of us, but that’s one of the reasons I love essential oils. When you have something like this that’s in your purse or in your back pocket, you don’t have to then go through all the different effects of stress and also just let it sit there and fester. You can get your body out of that stress response, which I think is very, very important.


For people that are in adrenal exhaustion or adrenal fatigue and need some help, this one I find that everybody is different. A lot of times, too, some people do well with using on the adrenal points–either reflexology or right on the small of the back is an adrenal point–a relaxing one like lavender can sometimes be really good to help calm the adrenals, but sometimes actually what the adrenals need is a little bit more of a support, so lemongrass, lemon, the citrus ones again can make a bigger difference sometimes. I do see with PCOS women usually what they need more is the stimulating ones, which can be everything from the citrus to peppermint, wintergreen, and eucalyptus versus the calming ones. Usually their adrenals work better with the uplifting ones is what I’ve seen in a clinical practice.


Amy: Let’s talk about anxiety and depression. We were talking about using essential oils for stress and emotions of anger, but what oils do you like for depression? Let’s talk about that first.


Meaghan: It goes a little about what I was just talking about to you. I think that there’s sort of two kinds of depression that I see. There is sort of that fatigue depression that a lot of women with PCOS are dealing with, where it is adrenal-based and there’s a lot of fatigue that goes with it. Then there is the sadness. There is, then, the depression that goes along with grief and sadness and things like that. I think that, first of all, seeing what category you fall into sometimes helps just because I think that there are two classifications of depression, especially with PCOS.


One of the ones, actually, that I’m surprised I haven’t mentioned yet is ylang-ylang I find really helps women with PCOS and depression because ylang-ylang also helps to balance hormones a little bit. It can really help with depression, and what I find more is that sadness depression. I actually like ylang-ylang the most for aromatherapy or diffusing it, but it also can be put on topically. I do like ylang-ylang a lot for that purpose.


The other one that I’ve seen help a lot is lavender. Again, I find that lavender helps. Helping with the adrenals will help with that sort of fatigue depression. Any time that you are feeling like you’re dragging, then you might want to actually do more of what we just talked about with the adrenals. To use the points on the small of the back, and uplifting ones like the peppermint, eucalyptus, wintergreen, and citrus. Then the other one that I’ve used for depression with good success is bergamot.


Amy: I missed that. What was that?


Meaghan: It’s bergamot. B-E-R-G-A-M-O-T


Amy: Oh, bergamot. Oh, I love bergamot. I love Earl Gray tea.


Meaghan: Yes. Yes, and the other thing, too, is if you are finding ones you can take orally, put them in your tea. I love essential oils in tea. I think it adds a little bit more of an oomph. You actually get a little bit of aromatherapy with ingestion because … Just a drop will make a huge difference because you’re going to breathe it in a little bit with that tea, and then you’re going to take it in and it provides great flavor to your tea. I love if you are taking an oil that can be taken internally to put it in a tea because you’re getting actually two effects with one drop.


Amy: What a fantastic idea. I’ve written a lot about tea as a ritual to help reduce stress and just as a medicinal for women with PCOS, so to add the essential oil to it is really brilliant.


Meaghan: Yeah, I find that it gives extra oomph, and especially because you are going to inhale it a little bit and if you’re sitting there, especially on a cold day, and you’re breathing it in while it’s steeping, then you’re going to get that effect to. It’s more bang for your buck. I love, if you can take it internally and it’s safe for internal ingestion, the one you’re taking, add it to tea.


Amy: I know that there have been some studies done on spearmint tea and helping to reduce hirsutism in women with PCOS. Does peppermint have the same quality? I know I’ve received a lot of questions about that.


Meaghan: I have not seen the studies that have shown peppermint the same as spearmint. I think we tend to think of peppermint and spearmint as the same, but clearly there can be different medicinal effects from them, and spearmint is the one that’s gotten more press on decreasing the testosterone level and decreasing the side effects we see like body hair and acne.


Amy: So that might be a nice essential oil to use, as well.


Meaghan: Yep. Spearmint. I’m glad you brought that one up because that one isn’t in my arsenal of ones I use all the time, but I have used it sometimes for that, and I forget about that one. That’s what I like when you bring up the ones that I would have forgotten about.


Amy: We touched on the two types of sadness or depression. What about anxiety? I think a lot of women feel–and I think it probably goes back to that adrenal issue–that wired sort of feeling. What can we do with that?


Meaghan: This is one of the times that I actually really highly think essential oils are the best out of all the of arsenal things to have. Believe me, I have a lot of tools in my toolbox that I use, but this is actually where I love essential oils the most. Because of that effect that I was telling you about with being able to stimulate the frontal lobe immediately, we can also get ourselves out of patterns then. Anybody who has suffered from anxiety or panic attacks, there’s not only the stimulus of what causes that anxiety, but then also the pattern that has been established, which makes it so troublesome and why my heart goes out to anybody that’s dealing with anxiety or panic attacks.


Honestly, ten years ago I had panic attacks for the first time. I was really surprised by this because I tend to be a pretty laid-back person, but I was suffering from panic attacks. It was very hard for me because there was definitely a cause at first, but then I had to deal with it for about two years because of the effects of my body going into those patterns. It’s not only the stimulus but it’s also then the patterns that get established. Essential oils are so important for being able to break that pattern. That’s where, again, I think it just has to be one that resonates with you. Anxiety is usually going to be more of a calming one, so anything like, obviously the main go-to is lavender for calming, or lavender-based ones. Frankincense for some people can be calming. Frankincense can sort of be the oil of everything. If you are more prone to, again, the uplifting ones, then you can use that.


What is beneficial is that when you’re going through this anxiety or panic attack, you can then turn to the oil to help to break the pattern. I actually did use oil that was very beneficial because when I would then go through a panic attack, it’s something I could carry with me and be able to get myself out of it without other people knowing. That’s where I think essential oils are so powerful is because of the fact that they’re something that we can use really easily, they’re something that are very powerful. When we use it through aromatherapy like this, that we can actually stimulate the brain so that it doesn’t then set that cascade of memory that has everything to do with our basal ganglia and other parts of our brain that then get switched. We can stop that from being switched. One of the things, then, I highly recommend is to use it for that.


I also highly recommend–and I know you have one of the best recipes for baths and PCOS and utilizing the bath–I think using Epsom salts and essential oils in a bath situation to help then to get you out of that anxiety and–what we call the hypothalamus pituitary axis–that cascade, and you can do that daily. I also am a firm believer in a lot of the baths that you promote, and you do a wonderful job of giving recipes for everything from fertility to just relaxation baths.


Amy: Thanks. Yeah, my husband now knows if I’m in that place, he usually tells me to go take a bath. It really does work. It’s like washing away all of those feelings of overwhelm and anxiety right down the drain after I’m done. Thank you. I think that they really help a lot of women with PCOS.


Meaghan: Again, with that situation, you’re getting so much more bang for your buck with the essential oils because you’re using the Epsom salts with the magnesium that’s going to help to relax you, then you’re also going to absorb some of those oils into the pores, and then you’re going to also breathe them in in a relaxing bath. That is sort of a triple threat of using essential oils to your benefit. Things like that, I think, make a huge difference.


Amy: I think you’ve given us a lot of wonderful tools, as you had mentioned before, for your toolbox, and how to deal with these different symptoms and aspects of PCOS. You are going to give us a link to a castor oil pack and how to apply that. You had also mentioned before I called that you had a chart for reflexology points for the hands and feet to use, as well. Maybe just before we wrap up, you could just talk a little bit more about the reflexology points and how to use essential oils in that area.


Meaghan: One of the things, too, is that I think there is so much power in reflexology. It’s been around, obviously, for thousands and thousands of years. The points that they found in the ears, the hands, and the feet can be very powerful for stimulating specifically what you want to do with the essential oils. I really do like to use, then, those points with the oils to really allow the body to even be stimulated or promoted to heal faster.


Really, for the reproductive organs, it tends to be on the bottom of the foot, near the heel. A lot of women with PCOS or any kind of hormonal imbalance can actually go in and feel sort of on that part of the heel, right where that ball of the foot starts, they can go and feel and they usually have tender points. One of the things that you can do each night is, with these oils, you can put them in a little bit of carrier oil and then rub them on your feet. I like to always give, any time I’m recommending essential oils, a reflexology chart because I think that it’s also interesting to find out and link things back to your body. I’ll have women go and do these points and see if they’re tender, and then see if over time they are less tender, and they usually will be after you’ve applied some of the oil for a while. I have some women who just use it during their cycle. They will use those points to help relieve any hormonal PMS symptoms, any cramping, things like that, and that can be very powerful.


I think it’s really nice to not only use the oils, but use them with the reflexology points just to put it all together and stimulate the body even more. I usually recommend the oils, if you’re using them topically for that reason, put them by the heel of the foot or put them on the lower abdomen by the reproductive organs.


Amy: Great. Do you have a chart to show people where they should put the castor oil pack? Where their liver is and …


Meaghan: I can, definitely. I have all of these but they’re in separate places on my web site. I will, as soon as we get off the phone, put them in one easy chart with the castor oil information, the reflexology, and where to put the castor oil–liver versus lower abdomen for the reproductive organs–and put that all in one little blog post and send you the link so that people don’t have to go around searching for this information and can just start using it.


Amy: Oh, that’s fantastic. Thank you so much. You’ve provided so much great info that women can start using right away. Some really wonderful tips and tricks. Dr. Meaghan, if somebody wants to learn more about your practice and how they could work with you, tell us a little bit more about how they can connect.


Meaghan: Definitely. I work outside of Minneapolis, in Minnesota, at a place called Synapse Center for Healing. The web site there is, but probably the easiest way to get a hold of me is just through my own web site at Beyond the Basics Health Academy. I have podcasts, blogs, courses, things like that on various health topics. You can actually reach me directly by sending an email: (the BTBHA stands for Beyond the Basics Health Academy) or go to the web site and there’s an Ask Us section. If you send a question there, it does go directly to me. If you have specific questions, I will love it if you reached out, or if you’re interested in my practice, you can go and find Synapse in Eden, Minnesota.


Amy: Great! We’re going to post all of that information in the notes section under the podcast. This podcast will also be transcribed, so you can come back to PCOS Diva for all that extra information. Thank you again, Dr. Meaghan, and thank you to everyone who’s listening. I look forward to being with you again soon. Bye-bye.


Meaghan: Bye.


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  1. This is very interesting, I am interested in purchasing clary sage but am confused about how to use it? Just add a drop or two into water and drink?

  2. Clary sage is recommend topically or diffusing. Mix it with a carrier oil and then put it on your feet or lower abdomen. I like to put some in my bath water along with geranium and lavender.

  3. I love aromatherapy oils and use them personally and professionally. I am one of those folks, however, who feels it is not appropriate to take them internally without the guidance of an experienced and educated (and not by a MLM company; doTerra and Young Living) aromatherapist. They can damage your body if not taken properly. There are people for whom some oils are contraindicated and medications with which they can interact negatively. Some, lemon comes immediately to mind, cause photosensitivity when applied topically. You can also cause a sensitivity to an oil if you overexpose yourself to it. I cannot say strongly enough that people should get educated before they use them. Some have little in the way of contraindications or medication interactions but quite a few do. Please educate yourselves with resources that are not associated with the distributors of the oils or with someone with specific education and training before starting a regimen with them.

  4. Thanks Jess for your input. I do agree that these oils are very powerful and should be used under the guidance of a professional herbalist or aromatherapist.

  5. I am in the same boat as you, I do not agree with taking them internally. The part where she mentioned adding the oils to your water, but that it must be in a glass or steel container should be a red flag right there! If it is strong enough to leach plastic, it is strong enough to damage the delicate surfaces of our mouth, throat, esophagus, internal organs etc. Oils simply do not mix with water, they will always be separated from the water and have some direct contact with whatever surface they are on/in. They are very powerful and should definitely be used in a much safer way.
    I agree with dilution in the carrier oils and diffusing as well, and I did enjoy hearing about some of the recommended oils for certain symptoms, etc. I wish there could be another conversation like this but with a more conservative use aromatherapist.

  6. The amount of bad advice in this article is astounding – drinking EO’s? Using them neat? Putting them in bath water without a solubilizer? You are opening yourself up to injured readers and lawsuits. Please people, learn how to use EOs ! Never use them undiluted or internally without the advice of a well trained aromatherapist!