Essential Oils for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

by Jodi Cohen

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), is characterized by extreme mental or physical exhaustion that cannot be explained or linked to a specific underlying medical condition.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Symptoms

In addition to the severe fatigue, CFS can also contribute to:

  • Cognitive Impairment like poor concentration, loss of memory
  • Pain in joints, muscle, jaw or headaches
  • Immune Impairment like low-grade fever, respitory infections, sore throat or enlarged and tender or enlarged lymph nodes
  • Mood related symptoms like depression, anxiety, irritability, mood swings, panic attacks
  • Digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Insomnia or Fatigue even after sleep



Essential Oils for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Essential Oils can help support the underlying issues that contribute to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, including:

  1. Limbic system hyper-arousal
  2. Chronic Stress
  3. Unmodulated Immune System


The onset of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is often sudden and linked to a combination of toxin exposure, psychological or physical stress, and a cold or viral infection.  Essential oils possess many anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-viral properties that can help modulate the immune system and return it to balance.

Topically applied and inhaled essential oils can help return organ systems and regions of the brain to balance, so it can repair and heal.  Essential oils are an ideal remedy when digestion is compromised, as they are quickly absorbed into the blood stream.  Essential oils are also lipophilic (fat-friendly), allowing them to pass through cell membranes and brain cells, which are also comprised primarily of fat.  This similar chemistry allows essential oils to easily cross the blood brain barrier and support the brain.


Essential Oils to Support the Root Causes of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


1. Limbic System Hyper-Arousal

Your brain, specifically your amygdala in the limbic part of your brain, is constantly evaluating and reacting to threats in your internal and external environment.   Threats like environmental toxins, viruses or even stressful thoughts trigger your survival mechanism to kick in.  This survival mechanism takes up a lot of energy, often leaving us feeling depleted and fatigued.

Moreover, the longer our survival response is turned on and hyper-aroused, the more likely it is for your brain to interpret innocuous signals as dangerous threats, causing it to continually over-stimulate your sympathetic nervous system  and your body.  This is known as limbic system hyper arousal.  An over-stimulated amygdala keeps many brain circuits in a state of hyper-arousal, adversely affecting the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin and dopamine.

To calm the amygdala, you can intentionally redirect energy to other areas of the brain like the prefrontal cortex (forehead). According to Dr. Ashok Gupta, an expert in retraining your amygdala, “In animal models, it is understood that the amygdala can be controlled with new neurons being formed, connecting from the pre-frontal cortex to the amygdala, to subdue and control its reactions… (and) strengthen the ability to regulate and inhibit reactivity in the brain (the ‘inhibition mechanisms’)”

Applying essential oils, like Parasympathetic™, or Focus™ over the pre-frontal cortex (temples) in combination with focusing your attention on new or somewhat challenging tasks help to strengthen the prefrontal cortex and heal limbic system hyper arousal.

Parasympathetic™: Applying the Parasympathetic™ oil behind the earlobe on the vagus nerves helps to trigger your body’s own healing mechanisms and resets the volume on threat perception, helping to calm the over-firing of the limbic system.

Focus™ can also be applied on the temples to drive blood flow and energy to the pre-frontal cortex and help subdue limbic system hyper arousal.

Both blends can also be inhaled as your sense of smell links directly to the amygdala in the Limbic Lobe of the brain. Smell has a direct route to the limbic system, as it is physically located near the olfactory bulb.


2. Chronic Stress

Emotional, mental and physical stress can all drain our energy and put stress on our energy producing organs like the hypothalamus and the adrenal glands, leading to adrenal exhaustion or adrenal fatigue.  Research has linked adrenal exhaustion to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, noting low levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which often gets depleted with adrenal fatigue, with more severe fatigue symptoms.

Stress can also throw off our sleep cycles, leading you to feel even more fatigued. Several studies have shown that insomniacs cannot get to sleep mainly because they are worrying about something, even if they are very tired.  This is because mental stress, such as negative emotions like anger, fear, worry/anxiety, depression, guilt, can both drain our energy and keep your mind in a state of high alert leading to the release of the stress hormone, cortisol, from the adrenal glands. Cortisol has an antagonistic relationship with the sleep hormone, melatonin, released by the pineal gland.  Elevated cortisol levels at night from stress may actually turn off melatonin production.

Circadian Rhythm™ oil can help trigger the pineal gland to naturally release.  Apply Circadian Rhythm™ on the head (top of the skull and on the skull right above the ears).  When melatonin increases, it forces cortisol levels down, effectively serving as a back door to lowering stress, anxiety and the racing thoughts that keep many of us wide awake when our bodies are exhausted and longing for sleep. Sleep™ and Calm™ can also help calm the body and the mind before bed.

Balancing the other organs involved in the stress response – the Hypothalamus and Adrenals, may help return the organs to balance and offset the bombarded of stress signals from the amygdala.

Adrenal™To help boost energy levels by boosting levels of the adrenal gland’s ability to produce the energy hormone cortisol, apply Adrenal over the adrenal glands (on the lower mid-back, one fist above the 12th rib on each side)

Hypothalamus™: The hypothalamus manages your stress response and needs to send and receive clear messages from the body. To optimize the vitality of the hypothalamus, apply 1 drop of Hypothalamus to the forehead right above the third eye (right above the nose between eyebrows and hairline).  Read More about the Hypothalamus HERE.

Epsom Salt Baths:  A study published The Lancet found that chronic fatigue syndrome patients suffered from low magnesium levels and supplementing with magnesium correlated with improved energy levels.   Adding essential oils, like Lavender™, to and Epsom salt bath can help improve magnesium levels. Read More about Healing Bathes HERE.


3. Unmodulated Immune System

Our immune system protects our body from toxins and other foreign substances. When out of balance, the immune system can fail to protect the body and even attack it, mistaking “self” cells for invading pathogens, resulting in autoimmune diseases.

A combination of factors can contribute to an unmodulated immune system that either over-reacts to everything, or doesn’t react, allowing opportunistic pathogens to flourish.  An unmodulated immune systems further opens the door for chronic health concerns, like CFS.  For example,  gut inflammation, like Leaky Gut, causes food molecules to leak into the blood stream, which puts the Immune System constantly on guard.  This can lead to a vicious cycle with the gut becoming even more sensitized to foods or environmental toxins, especially when your unmodulated immune system enters a highly sensitized state, and over-reacts to normally innocuous stimuli.

When the immune system is constantly over working and the body is channeling energy toward the immune system, it depletes on the energy reserves.  This might also explain why viral infections, like Epstein-Barr virus, Lyme disease, chlamydia, and even candida, seem to trigger CFS.

Other factors can depress the immune system, such as constant threat perception can both overstimulate the body to turn on immune defenses and keep your body stuck in the constant “fight or flight” Sympathetic state that down-regulates immune function, allowing opportunistic viruses to flourish unchecked.    It also allows for secondary illnesses, such as allergies and chemical sensitivities, to occur due to the hypersensitivity of the immune system.  Read More about Immune Modulation HERE.

Immune modulation can bring the immune system back in to balance and help us heal.  Essential oils have long been recognized for their immune modulating properties.  Recent research found that an essential oil blend of wild orange, clove, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary “exhibited significant effects on the levels of protein biomarkers that are critically involved in inflammation, immune modulation, and tissue remodeling processes. The overall inhibitory effect of EOB on these protein biomarkers suggests that it has anti-inflammatory and immune modulating properties.”  The study also found that the essential oils “robustly affected signaling pathways related to inflammation, immune function, and cell cycle control.”

To  modulate your immune system, consider:

Immune Support™ – This blend traces its origins to the bubonic plague when thieves were stealing the gold teeth out of the mouths of the dead. When they were apprehended, they were offered a lesser sentence in exchange for sharing how they avoided the illness. Their secret was this blend of hot oils that strengthen the immune system against flu, colds, and coughs as well as infections, viruses, bacteria, fungus, parasites, and microbes. To prevent illness or nip it in the bud once it starts, apply Immune Support™ 2- 3 times daily on the throat (diluted) or the bottom of the feet.

Thymus™ – The thymus gland, located in front of the heart, plays an important role in the immune system, maturing infection-fighting white blood cells made in the bone marrow. Stimulating the thymus by gently tapping on the gland (thymus thumping) or using Thymus™ essential oils is thought to increase the release of white blood cells. To stimulate immune function against infections, viruses and bacteria, apply 2-3 drops on the thymus (on breastbone at third rib) in a clockwise motion for 30 seconds and then stimulate the thymus by gently tapping.

Lymph™ : Your lymphatic system supports the immune response by both bringing nutrients to and helping to clear toxins and waste from every cell in the body.  It works as the body’s septic system,  removing and destroying the byproducts and wastes created from metabolizing nutrients, including dead blood cells, pathogens, toxins, excess fluid, and waste products from the cells and the interstitial spaces between the cells.  Just like the drains in your home, the lymphatic system can get congested and stagnant, and toxins can build up. Lymph stagnation, when the fluid isn’t flowing, can impede the body’s ability to mount an immune response.

The more you can help the lymph fluid flow, the more quickly you can return the body to balance and help modulate the immune system.  Unlike the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system does not have a central pump—it only moves as the muscles squeeze it along. So the lack of movement makes the lymphatic system stagnant, with waste accumulating and excessive toxins building up.  Lymph™ blend helps keep lymph flowing to move toxins out of the body. Liberally apply 2 to 3 drops of Lymph™ to both sides of the neck, the lymph nodes under the arms, and around inguinal ligament (bikini line area—think where your leg creases when you lift it) to ensure optimal drainage and health.


If you are sensitive to smell

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome can make you sensitive to smells.  If smell is an issue, try just smelling from the bottle first (don’t put your nose too close). If that’s tolerable, dilute a drops of the oil with a teaspoon of coconut oil and apply on your inner wrist.  If the smell doesn’t bother you and you have not noticed any adverse reaction, you should be able to tolerate the oils.



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About The Author

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.

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Subscribe to Vibrant Blue Oils and receive weekly information on oils and how to use them. As a bonus, we’ll send out Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils to your inbox immediately!