How to use Essential Oils for Adrenal Fatigue

Posted: June 9, 2011 by Cristina Proano-Carrion

Business Person Juggling Career, Work, Love, Home, Life on White

Fatigued? Sick all the time? Low sex drive? Maybe you have to take a look at your adrenal glands.

What are The Adrenal Glands?

The adrenal glands are two walnut-sized lumps that sit atop the kidneys. Their foremost function is to help you deal with stress in all its varied forms—from the slight to the extreme. The adrenal glands have close to 50 other functions, including metabolism, the sodium/potassium balance, blood sugar levels, and aiding in the production of sex hormones.  

The Fight or Flight Response

When stress hits the adrenal glands jump into action by putting you into fight-or-flight mode. The glands release adrenaline to increase your heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing, and secrete other hormones that instruct your digestive system and other “non-vital” systems to temporarily stop functioning.
By directing all available blood flow to your muscles at the same time, your body prepares itself to either attack (fight) or to run away from (flee) the perceived threat or challenge.

The fight-or-flight response is normal and healthy, but it becomes damaging when we react to every minor situation in a state of tremendous stress. In the fast-paced lives we lead today, just getting to work on time can be stressful; not to mention the dozens of other tasks that need we need to complete.
Problems arise if  throughout the day the adrenal glands are kept constantly stimulated. A person with overworked adrenal glands is constantly fatigued, has low sex drive, frequently catches colds and infections, is easily depressed and has trouble sleeping.

How Can Aromatherapy Help the Adrenal Glands?

There are compounds in some volatile oils that have a structural similarity to natural human hormones, and these promote efficient endocrine gland activity by natural means. For instance, the compounds found in Pine, Spruce and Rosemary oils are like cortisone. It is said that they stimulate the cortex of the adrenal glands or they mimic the action of cortisone in so far as they have a modulating effect on the activity of the adrenal cortex. [1]

Here are some strategies that you could use to integrate aromatherapy in your daily routine to help both physically and emotionally.
  • During the day, add 2 drops to a tissue with a calming essential oil, and breathe deeply, all the while visualizing a calm, positive scene. Experiment with essential oils of Clary Sage, Bergamot Litsea Cubeba and Citrus Delight
  • In the morning, start off your day with the magic of essential oils. Begin in the shower, by massaging the center of your back, where the kidneys are located. Rub the area with a washcloth to which two drops of Rosemary and Spruce oils have been added. These oils mimic adrenal hormones and, in stimulating the adrenal cortex, send a current of energy all through your body. You can also use ENERGIA Essential Oil.
  • After your shower, massage the same area with a ½ teaspoon of  carrier oil and a couple of drops of Pine, Spruce, Rosemary, essential oils. or 1/2 teaspoon of Adrenal Support Body Oil.   Feel your hands instilling restoration and balance with each loving stroke. As you massage, thank the energies of the oils for all the help they provide you.
  • In the evening,  there’s nothing better to calm and soothe than a warm bath with essential oils. Great oils to relax in the evenings are Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Frankincense, and Rose. If you prefer showers, soak a washcloth a few drops of essential oil and let the hot water run through the washcloth, and inhale and soak in the fragrant steam as you unwind.
[1] Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Shirley Price, Len Price, page 117
© 2011, Cristina Proano-Carrion, Aromandina LLC – aromatherapy blog
This information is based on traditional use of aromatherapy and it does not intend to diagnose or treat any condition. This information should not be used as a substitute for medical counseling with a health care professional. No part of this article may be reproduced in whole or in part without the explicit written permission of Aromandina.

  • Thanks for so many ideas Christina! I am currently using rosemary as you said on my back for my adrenals. I also love the smell of pine… isn’t that interesting how we’re drawn to things our body needs? Great info – thanks again!

  • You are welcome Jenni. I know, we are always drawn to what we need and definitely I think many of us need some adrenal “food” like rosemary, pine and spruce. Have you tried spruce?

  • Thanks for this article. I’ve been researching Adrenal Fatigue and have surprised that I haven’t seen a lot about essential oils. Some of the essential oil MLMs have some articles but it’s just which oils to use to increase energy, not necessarily to get to the root and support the adrenal glands. In today’s search I’ve found on fairly helpful article… on 5 different blogs! Wow, that’s frustrating.
    I like how you didn’t just say which oils to use but when and how.
    Thanks again. Pinning to my Adrenal Fatigue board.

  • Ann Wooledge

    Thank you for this informative article. I do have a couple of questions: Did you mean “cortisol”, which is the stress hormone instead of cortisone which is different. And I have the book you use as a resource and I don’t see anything about adrenals on page 117. I am also very interested in this subject. Would you please tell me what the chapter number is and the heading for that section? Thanks very much. Shirley and Len Price are highly respected aromatherapy educators.

  • Thank you Ann,
    On the Third Edition Book Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Shirley and Len Price quote this on page 117: There are compounds in some volatile oils that have a structural similarity to natural human hormones, and these promote efficient endocrine gland activity by natural means. Sclareol, viridflorol, and trans-anethole are exampes of compounds that have sturctures similar to folliculin or analogous to oestrogen.
    Other compounds, found in Pinus Silvestris, are similar to cortison (Franchomme & Penoel 2001 p.147)