Essential Oils for Adrenal FatigueJun 28, 2020
By Tim Culbert, MD
Essential oils are a popular cure for... well, just about anything if you do a Google search. Research doesn't support many of those wild claims, but solid support does exist for the use of essential oils for many mental health benefits. Experiences consistent with adrenal fatigue are likely good fits for some oily-application.
So, can you heal adrenal fatigue with essential oils?
Short(ish) answer: using essential oils (aromatherapy) may offer a quick energy and mood boost that can then help support you as you take additional actions that offer more lasting effects.
Considering how safe aromatherapy can be when used properly, it’s worth a try if you have symptoms consistent with what’s commonly understood as adrenal fatigue.
On that note, if you haven’t read our article on adrenal fatigue, read it here. It’s a super helpful summary to get your grounded before you find yourself lost in the dark web that is “cures for adrenal fatigue” (don’t fall for the marketing hype).
How to Use Essential Oils for Adrenal Fatigue
Essential oils can be inhaled via an aromatherapy inhaler or a few drops can be placed on a tissue or cotton ball and held close to your nose to breathe in. A cool mist aromatherapy diffuser can also be used to disperse the scent. Oils can also be diluted and applied topically to the skin.
Pro tip: don’t apply oils “neat” to your skin! “Neat” refers to oils that have not been diluted with something like a carrier oil. Application like this is only advised in very specific circumstances and under the watch of your primary physician or a specialist.
No matter how you use them, be sure you purchase a trusted brand that offers the highest quality oils and recommends safe application. Talk to your doctor before use if you are taking any medications or may have an allergy or sensitivity to an oil.
Below are three ways to use essential oils to support adrenal fatigue. Try one application and then add more as you need.
Morning Routine with Essential Oils
During your morning shower, rub the area around your kidneys (your lower back is close enough) with a washcloth to activate the adrenals. After a bit of massage in that area, turn your back away from the water and then massage a few drops of diluted rosemary or spruce oil in the same area. Massage and breathe deeply as the aroma fills your shower. Both of these oils mimic adrenal hormones and can help stimulate the adrenal cortex, giving a natural energy boost to your morning.
Evening Routine with Essential Oils
A warm bath, warm forehead compress, or heated neck wrap with a few essential oils is perfect to calm and soothe your system and cue your relaxation response. Try essential oils like lavender, ylang ylang, frankincense or rose. Another great option is using an aromatherapy inhaler.
Anytime Routine with Essential Oils
Need an energy boost? Use an aromatherapy inhaler or just put 2-3 drops of essential oil on a tissue or cotton ball and keep it in a bag or small container that is easily accessible for you. You can also purchase aromatherapy “necklaces” which can hold a few drops of essential oil (via a porous stone). Try oils like clary sage, bergamot, and citrus (i.e., grapefruit and lime).
Remember, adrenal fatigue is a message. Your body and mind are not broken, but they sure are exhausted and it's important to respond to their calls for aid. You can support your system with self-care practices that calm your stress/fear response and cue the relaxation response (rest and digest!).
Head to our Natural Stress Relief page for more support on how you can rest and digest.
Adaptogens & Nervines
Adaptogens and nervines are generally well-tolerated and can help your body and mind adapt more skillfully when faced with stress. Learn more about what adaptogens and nervines are, how they might help, and how to take them. Read more.