The busy and competitive life situations of today are burdening the mental health of most people with severe anxiety, and stress levels.
Today, there is an increasing demand for treatments to ease anxiety.
Most people prefer natural remedies like essential oils, herbal products, yoga exercises, or meditation to overcome mental stress.
According to one of the studies, long-term use of pills for anxiety and sleep problems may be linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia. The researchers behind the study emphasize the need for RAs to research the mood-uplifting benefits of essential oils to deal with anxiety.
Historically, human clinical trials have investigated aromatherapy for managing anxiety and stress in patients with a critical illness or other hospitalized patients.
Most of these studies have shown that essential oils are good for calming and soothing the mind.
Benefits Of Using Essential Oils For Mental Health
The scents and aromas of plant oils are very powerful.
A sweet smell can invigorate our moods or trigger a pleasant memory of the past, a person, or a place.
The aromas of various plants and oils immediately impact the nervous system of the human body.
We experience the sense of smell because of the olfactory nerve, which begins in the nose and connects to the brain.
The olfactory nerve quickly sends smell signals to the different parts of the brain.
Essential oils can help the amygdala and limbic system, which regulates a person’s emotions, memory, and moods.
The limbic system and amygdala parts of the brain are responsible for managing our autonomic nervous system.
The autonomic nervous system generates the fight response. This nervous system also soothes us by turning on the parasympathetic system, which helps relax our bodies.
The above facts tell why scents can very fast trigger physical reactions and the lasting effects they can create in us.
Evidence from research studies
Many studies related to aromatherapy with essential oils have shown how essential oils like lavender oil react in the same way biochemically that anti-anxiety medications influence the neuroreceptors in the brain.
Aromatherapy is a complementary medicine practice that effectively uses the healing powers of the scents from different EOs extracted from different plant sources. The scents of the EOs help to balance your spirit, mind, and body.
Essential oils are a great help in eliminating the symptoms of anxiety in patients.
Diffusion in the air or gently rubbing a few drops of EO into acupressure points on the body helps.
According to a 2014 study published by the American College of Health Sciences, essential oils may help reduce pain and anxiety disorders. When the anxiety-and-panic-stricken people were given a hand massage with a blend of essential oils (lavender, bergamot, and frankincense) for one week, they experienced a remarkable reduction in depression and pain.
You can find several other studies that have made use of different quality essential oils in aromatherapy to relax the body and promote sound sleep. Above all, essential oils help and enhance health and the mind in several ways.
Regular and correct use of essential oils can give you much-needed relief from anxiety, stress, and depression.
Some essential oils are calming and can induce physical relaxation and sound sleep.
Best Essential Oils For Anxiety And Stress
Anxiety or depression are negative emotions that are extremely hard to manage. Negative thoughts keep feeding each other, and the patient’s mind is wired for survival, not happiness.
EOs are 100% natural oils extracted from plants’ flowers, leaves, bark, seeds, or roots.
You need to get hold of pure essential oils, which are not diluted with organic oils, chemicals, or additives. Different EOs are also popularly used for healing many common diseases.
Now, let us look at a few of the best essential oils for stress you can use as a remedy to reduce anxiety levels.
1. Lavender oil
Lavender oil is the No. 1 essential oil that helps relieve anxiety.
This oil can produce instant calming and relaxing effects.
Lavender oil is widely used in aromatherapy to relieve mental irritation, insomnia, restlessness, and panic attacks.
Some clinical trials involving the inhalation of lavender oil showed a substantial effect in reducing anxiety and depression (The Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology, and Applications, Second Edition).
Another study found that when panic-stricken people were given oral doses of lavender oil via capsules, the heart rate variation significantly increased while watching a panic-provoking film. This happened because of the anxiolytic effects of lavender oil.
Other research studies showed lavender oil’s ability to lower anxiety levels in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery or people who visited dentists.
The aroma of lavender oil stimulates the brain pathways and limbic system, which are integral parts of our emotional responses and memories.
One of the studies that used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), which measure brain waves, discovered changes in the signals of relaxing effects produced by the brain after a session of aromatherapy with lavender oil.
2. Ylang-Ylang Oil
Ylang-ylang essential oil is an excellent natural remedy for alleviating depression and anxiety. It has fantastic mood-uplifting and calming effects.
Inhaling the aroma of Ylang-ylang essential oil works for most patients who are going through stress. It makes users more calm and relaxed.
This oil is good for insomnia because of its moderate soothing power. Using this oil brings courage, optimism, and cheerfulness and dispels fear.
According to one of the Korean studies, when Ylang-ylang blended with lavender and bergamot was used by patients once a day for 4 weeks, they achieved a remarkable reduction in blood pressure and hypertension. Those patients had lower cortisol levels and psychological stress responses after 4 weeks of treatment.
Ylang-ylang oil contains powerful chemical substances that can cause irritation and an allergic reaction; use it only after diluting.
3. Bergamot oil
Bergamot oil has a distinctively pleasant aroma and floral taste. It is a worthy choice for treating stress and tension because of its calming effect on the user.
This oil is an ingredient in many natural remedies for managing insomnia, reducing agitation, and inducing relaxation.
One rat study has shown bergamot oil’s efficacy in reducing corticosterone responses to stress.
According to another study report, bergamot oil blended with lavender essential oils can effectively treat anxiety or depression.
The results of the studies also indicated that a combination of bergamot and lavender oils could reduce blood pressure and pulse rate. Another significant finding of the study is the potency of this oil to make the patients more calm and relaxed.
Five of six clinical studies conducted between 2009 and 2013 indicated that aromatherapy with this oil lowered heart rate, blood pressure, and stress.
As for risk factors, bergamot oil is prone to photosensitizing, which can inflict sunburn and rashes on the skin. While using this oil, stay indoors without exposure to direct sunlight.
4. Rose oil
Rose essential oil is truly beneficial for settling emotional highs and lows. Some users consider this oil as good as lavender oil to eliminate anxiety and depression.
If you use the oil regularly, it can help you get over mental shocks, panic attacks, and sad grief.
In one of the recent studies published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, a group of women patients who inhaled this oil for 10 days and had a footbath showed a substantial decrease in anxiety.
5. Frankincense oil
Frankincense essential oil is a great natural remedy for calming anxiety and depression.
The tranquil energy induced in the person by this oil is like a spiritual force (frankincense and myrrh are used in worship).
Traditionally, frankincense is burned to produce smoke in places of worship, as it helps deepen meditation and bring calmness to the mind.
A Korean study used a blend of frankincense, bergamot, and lavender oils in a 1:1 ratio for a hand massage. The result of the study is promising, as subjects treated with the oil blend experienced a significant reduction in pain and depression. Surprisingly, the subjects of this study were hospice patients with terminal cancer in a Keimyung University study in Korea.
6. Vetiver oil
Vetiver oil is a popularly used natural medicine for treating trauma. This oil can instill in people self-awareness, stabilization, and calmness.
People who are treated with this oil often feel calmer and have more energy right away.
This oil works on the body’s nervous system to decrease hypersensitivity and jitteriness. People who are going through panic attacks and fear psychosis should certainly try this oil.
One of the rat studies that tested vetiver oil on anxiety-stricken rats produced good results in lowering the rats’ anxiety behaviors.
A lot of studies still need to be done to find out what health and mental health benefits this little-known essential oil might have.
7. Chamomile oil
Chamomile essential oil is a well-known pain relief remedy extensively used in traditional medicine to treat various inflammatory diseases.
Chamomile oil has a sweet and calming aroma that evokes tranquility and decreases stress, anxiety, and worry.
In one of the studies conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine on the medicinal effects of chamomile, this oil was found to be an effective antidepressant. This oil can help reduce the production of stress hormones and reduce anxiety in humans.
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health published another study on the chamomile capsule. The outcome of this study was positive regarding the effectiveness of chamomile extracts in alleviating anxiety symptoms and restoring calm and relaxed composure to the user.
Regarding precautions, it is best to use diluted Chamomile oil to avoid allergic reactions and irritation.
8. Yuzu lemon oil
Yuzu is an East Asian yellow citrus fruit often used in Asian cuisine. The oil extract from Yuzu has excellent medicinal value for treating several diseases.
A new study conducted by Japanese researchers has found that the scent of yuzu citrus fruit and oil can soothe stress and anxiety.
Lemon oil is beneficial for lowering your heart rate in just 10 minutes.
A few other earlier studies pointed out that lemon essential oil can stimulate and increase the heart rate, so the results are mixed when we compare the different studies. However, all types of lemon oil scents are extremely soothing for the mind.
It is a Japanese custom to have “yuzu-yu,” or “yuzu baths,” in which many whole yuzus are made to float in the hot baths. Soaking the body in a yuzu bath is said to be a good remedy to relieve anxiety and stress.
9. Clary sage oil
Inhaling clary sage essential oil is an excellent natural remedy for relieving stress. The name “clary” means “clear” in etymology and is extremely effective for clearing dark moods and emotional outbursts.
This oil is known for its euphoric and mood-uplifting actions.
It is most effective in fighting anxiety if you can diffuse this oil in your bedroom before you sleep. It is also beneficial to soak your body in a warm water bath blended with Clary sage and lavender oils to relax and achieve calm composure.
According to a 2010 rat study, clary sage oil could aid in uplifting the moods of people who are coping with depression and anxiety.
Another 2013 study that involved a randomized controlled trial pointed out that clary sage oil may be useful for reducing stress in female patients undergoing urodynamic assessments.
How to Use Essential Oils For Anxiety
We have already seen the best essentials that can help you achieve relief from stress, anxiety, or depression.
Now let us look at the best ways to make use of this oil to obtain satisfactory results from it:
Aromatherapy is the therapeutic use of plant oils. It consists of the inhalation of the aroma of essential oils.
Treatment methods like steam inhalation or vaporizers are also widely used in aromatherapy. A diffuser may be used to spread particle oil in the room.
Aromatherapy seeks to elicit a strong emotional response to the aroma of oils via the nervous system in the brain.
When inhaled, the scent or aroma of EOs releases tiny oil molecules into the nasal cavity. This stimulates a pleasant response in the brain’s limbic system.
The stimulants in the brain induced by the aroma of EOs begin to regulate and produce soothing responses. This leads to the healthy maintenance of heart rate, and blood pressure, balanced hormone production, and healthy breathing patterns.
Aromatherapy is done by inhaling the aroma from EOs infused in hot water vapor, as a scent from diffusers, vaporizers, or humidifiers, and aroma permeation with the help of a fan, vent, or air dispenser.
You can also use perfume or cologne sprays containing essential oils.
2. Topical application
The topical application of essential oils on acupressure points or nerve endings in parts of the body is effective for relieving anxiety.
You can also apply essential oils to the skin, hair, mouth, under the tongue, nails, or mucus membranes of the body.
The oils applied to the body penetrate the bloodstream and nerves through the skin pores.
Most essential oils come as a powerful liquid concentrate, which may cause irritation and allergic reactions on the skin. Dilute the essential oils with a carrier oil like olive, avocado, jojoba, sweet almond, or coconut oil before applying them for topical application.
3. Oral use
High-quality essential oils are safe for ingesting orally, while many are not.
Only pure oils are fit for consumption internally.
For oral use, the quality of essential oils matter. Many of the oils you buy are diluted or mixed with synthetic liquids or organic oils and they are not suitable for ingesting.
You can add 2 drops of the chosen oil to a glass of warm water; stir it well before drinking.
Placing one or two drops of essential oil under the tongue is also very effective, as the blood capillaries are very close to the skin’s surface under the tongue.
You can also ingest essential oils in capsule form or add a few drops of oil to your favorite beverages or dishes.
More recommended essential oils that help with anxiety:
While bergamot, clary sage, and lavender are excellent oils to support a healthy mood, here are a few more additional EOs that are effective for relieving stress and anxiety:
- Basil essential oil
- Valerian essential oil
- Patchouli essential oil
- Geranium essential oil
- Orange essential oil
- Sandalwood essential oil
- Eucalyptus essential oil.
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