Cycle Scent Series 2/5: Tame stress with black tea aroma

My Hormonology

Cycle Scent Series 2/5: Tame stress with black tea aroma


All this week, I’m sharing tips about how to use aromatherapy to treat certain issues related to your monthly cycle. If you missed any of these tips, you can find them here.

Not only do I love aromatherapy because there’s evidence to support that it can work, I love that it’s fairly easy and convenient to use: Even if you’re busy, you can usually bring aromatherapy with you on the go, for instance, by dabbing essential oil onto a cotton ball and storing it in a zipped baggie, stashing a sprig of flowers or herbs in your pocket or, like today’s tip, getting help from a tea bag.

If you struggle with reining in stress, read on for this surprising quick-and-easy fix….

Stress in your cycle

There’s no doubt that stress can rear its ugly, blood pressure-spiking head at any point in your monthly cycle due to unexpected snafus, heavy workloads, tight deadlines or anything else life can–and usually will–throw at you.

However, there can be two phases in your cycle when you’re more sensitive to stress:

  • Your Week 2 (the week leading up to and including ovulation). High-and-rising estrogen can make stress more intense and prolonged if you’re sensitive to this hormone. That’s because it amps up arousal in the brain, which has the potential to exacerbate your stress reaction.
  • Your Week 4 (final 6 days of your cycle). On these premenstrual cycle days, plunging estrogen can upset the balance of mood-managing brain chemicals, such as serotonin and noradrenaline. One side effect is that you’re more prone to worry and a negative outlook, which can ramp up stress.

To the rescue: the scent of black tea

The moment you notice tension start to build, brew a cup of black tea, then breathe in its aroma for 60 seconds.

Not near a kettle? Simply inhale the scent of a black tea bag.

A small 2018 study in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology using Darjeeling and Assam black tea varieties found that inhaling a black tea aroma for one minute can rein in your stress response.(1)

Why? Certain aromatic compounds in black tea have stress-fighting effects when breathed in, for example, hexanal and hexanol tamp down your brain’s reaction to stress, linalool has a mildly sedating effect and geraniol curbs activity in your body’s sympathetic nervous system (responsible for your fight-or-flight response)–which combine to help you stay calm under pressure.

Ever since I read this study, I’ve kept a Darjeeling black tea bag tucked in my purse at all times. This way, when I’m stuck in traffic, on long annoying lines or someone rubs me the wrong way, I can simply take it out and inhale my stress away….

Missed yesterday’s tip about using lavender and rose scents to ease menstrual cramps? You can read it here.


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(1) “Black tea aroma inhibited increase of salivary chromogranin-A after arithmetic tasks”, Journal of Physiological Anthropology, January 24, 2018,


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