The busy and competitive life situations of today are burdening the mental health of most persons with severe depression, anxiety, and stress.
Techniques of achieving stress-free mental health and relaxation are a big talking point in most open discussion platforms and health forums.
Counseling centers and psychiatry clinics are mushrooming like never before to treat the increasing number of mentally stressed and depressed individuals.
Today, there is an increasing demand for treatments related to depression and 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 uplifting benefits of essential oils to deal with stress and anxiety.
In the recent past, human clinical trials have investigated aromatherapy for managing anxiety and stress in patients with critical illness or other hospitalized patients. Most of these studies have shown a substantial amount of positive results with regard to calming and soothing effects of essential oils.
How Does Essential Oils Work For Relieving Stress, Depression, And Anxiety?
Scents and aromas are very powerful. A sweet smell can invigorate our moods or trigger a pleasant memory of the past, person or place.
Aromas of various plants and oils have an instant impact on the nervous system of the human body.
We experience the sense of smell because of the olfactory nerve which begins from the nose and connects to the brain.
The olfactory nerve quickly sends smell signals to the different parts of the brain like the amygdala and limbic system which regulates the emotions, memory, and moods of a person.
The limbic system and amygdale parts in the brain are responsible for managing our autonomic nervous system.
The fight response like quickening our heart rate, increasing the blood pressure and breath is generated by the autonomic nervous system. This nerve system also soothes us through turning on the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps to relax our bodies.
The above facts just tell why the scents can very fast trigger physical reactions and lasting effects they can create in us.
Many of the studies related to aromatherapy with essential oils have shown how the 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 which effectively makes use of the healing powers of the scents from different types of essential oils extracted from different plant sources. The scents of the EOs help to balance your spirit, mind, and body.
Essential oils for getting rid of anxiety and depression are usually done through oil diffusion in the air or by gently rubbing a few drops of EO into acupressure points on the body.
You can find several studies that have made use of different essential oils in aromatherapy to relax the body, relieve stress, and promote sound sleep.
Above all, the essential oils are beneficial for health and mind in several ways. They are 100% natural oils extracted from flowers, leaves, barks, seeds, or roots of the plants.
You just need to get hold of the pure essential oils which are not diluted with organic oils, chemical or additives. Different EOs are also popularly used for healing many of the common diseases.
If you use EOs correctly and regularly, they can give you the much-needed relief from anxiety, stress, and depression. A few of the essential oils are calming oils that can give physical relaxation and induce sound sleep.
Top Essential Oils For Anxiety And Depression
Anxiety or depression are negative emotions which are extremely hard to manage. Negative thoughts keep feeding each other and the patient’s mind is wired for survival and not happiness.
According to a 2014 study published by the American College of Health Sciences essential oils are effective in reducing pain and anxiety. When the anxiety and panic-stricken people were given hand massage with a blend of essential oils (lavender, bergamot, and frankincense) for one week, they experienced a remarkable reduction in depression and pain.
Now, let us look a few of the best essential oils you can use for getting relief from stress, anxiety, and depression.
1. Lavender Oil
Lavender oil is the #No.1 essential oil for fighting anxiety and depression.
This can oil can produce instant calming and relaxing effects.
Lavender oil is widely used in aromatherapies to get relief from mental irritation, insomnia, restlessness, and panic attacks.
According to some of the clinical trials involving 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 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 the lavender oil.
The aroma of lavender oil stimulates the brain pathways and limbic system which is an integral part of our emotional responses and memories.
One of the studies which made use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (FMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), which measures 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 a fantastic mood uplifting and calming effects.
Inhaling the aroma of Ylang-ylang essential oil does work for most patients who are going through stress. It makes users more calm and relaxed.
This oil is good for insomnia because of the moderate sedative power it has. Using this oil brings in courage, optimism, cheerfulness and dispels fear.
According to one of the Korean studies, when Ylang ylang blended with lavender and bergamot 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 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 the calming effect it produces on the user.
This oil is used as an ingredient in many of the natural remedies for managing insomnia, reducing agitation and inducing relaxation.
One of the rat studies has shown the efficacy of bergamot oil in reducing corticosterone response to stress .
According to another study report, bergamot oil blended with lavender essential oils can produce effective results in treating anxiety or depression .
The results of the studies also indicated a combination of bergamot and lavender oils can 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 out of six clinical studies, conducted between 2009 to 2013, have indicated 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 sunshine.
4. Rose Oil
Rose essential oil is truly beneficial for settling issues that affect emotional ups and lows. Some of the users consider this oil to be as good as lavender oil for getting rid of anxiety and depression.
Regular use of the oil can give you relief from recurring mental shocks, panic attacks, and sorrowful grieving.
One of the recent studies published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, a group of woman patients who inhaled this oil for 10 days and had footbath with it had shown a substantial reduction in anxiety and stress .
5. Frankincense Oil
Frankincense oil is a great natural remedy for calming down anxiety and depression.
The tranquil energy induced into the person by this oil is a like 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 in 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 who were treated with the oil blend had 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 treated with this oil often experience an immediate boost in energy levels and tranquility.
This oil works on the nervous system of the body 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 which tested the vetiver oil on anxiety stricken rats produced good results in lowering the anxiety behavior of the rats.
Extensive studies are still needed to unearth the potential health and mental wellness benefits of this little known essential oil.
7. Chamomile Oil
Chamomile oil is a well-known pain relief remedy extensively used in traditional medicines to treat various inflammatory diseases.
Chamomile oil has a sweet and calming aroma that rings in tranquility and decreases stress, anxiety, and worry.
One of the studies conducted by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine on the medicinal effects of Chamomile, this oil is found to be an effective antidepressant .
The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health published another study on Chamomile capsule. The outcome of this study was positive about the effectiveness of Chamomile extracts in alleviating anxiety symptoms and retrieving calm and relaxed composure to the user .
As for safety warning, it is good to use the diluted Chamomile oil to ward off the risks of contacting allergic reactions and irritation.
8. Lemon or Yuzu Oil
Yuzu is a type of East Asian yellow citrus fruit often used in Asian cuisine. The oil extract from Yuzu has excellent medicinal value for treating a number of diseases.
A new study conducted by researchers from Japan has come out with the findings 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.
There are a few other earlier studies which pointed out that lemon oil can be stimulating 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 yuzu bath is expected to relieve stress and anxiety.
9. Clary Sage Oil
Clary sage oil is an excellent natural remedy for relieving stress. The name “Clary” etymologically means “clear”; by this fact, it is really effective for clearing the 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 go to sleep. It is also beneficial to soak your body in a warm water bath blended with Clary sage and lavender oils for relaxation and achieving 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 which involved a randomized controlled trial pointed out Clary sage oil may be useful for reducing stress for 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 this oil to obtain satisfactory results from them:
Aromatherapy is the use of plant essential oils for therapeutic purposes. It basically consists of inhalation of the aroma of the essential oils. Treatment methods like steam inhalation or vaporizers are also widely used as part of aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy intends to trigger a powerful emotional response to the aroma of oils by the nerve system in the brain.
Inhalation of the scent or aroma of the essential oils, tiny molecules of the oil enters nasal activities and stimulates a pleasant response in the limbic system of the brain.
The stimulants in the brain induced by the aroma of essential oils begin to regulate and produce soothing and calming responses. This leads to healthy maintenance of heart rate, blood pressure, balanced production of hormones and healthy breathing patterns.
The overall result of the aromatherapy ultimately leads to reducing stress, anxiety, and depression.
Aromatherapy is done by inhaling aroma from essential oils infused in hot water vapor, as a scent from diffusers, vaporizer or humidifier, and aroma permeation with the help of a fan, vent or air dispenser. You can also make use of perfume or cologne sprays that contain essential oils.
2. Topical Usage
Topical application of essential oil on acupressure points or nerves ending parts of the body is effective for relieving anxiety and depression.
You can also apply essential oil on skin, hair, mouth, under the tongue, nails or mucus membranes of the body.
The oils applied on the body penetrate into the bloodstreams 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 in carrier oils like olive, avocado, jojoba, sweet almond or coconut oils before using them for topical application.
3. Oral Application
Some of the essential oils are safe for ingesting orally, while many of them are not. Only pure oils are fit for consuming internally. Many of the essential oils available over the counter are diluted or mixed with synthetic liquids or organic oils which make them unsuitable for consumption.
FDA does not issue any particular warnings regard to the essential oils used for aromatherapy.
For consuming internally, you can add 2 drops of the chosen essential 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 surface of the skin under the tongue.
You can also consume the essential oils in the capsule form or add a few drops of the oil to your favorite beverages or dishes.
More Mood Boosting Essential Oils
While bergamot, Clary sage, and lavender are excellent oils to support healthy mood, here are a few more additional essential oils effective for relieving stress and anxiety:
- Basil Oil
- Geranium Oil
- Grapefruit Oil
- Lime Citrus Oil
- Neroli Citrus Oil
- Sandalwood Oil
- Sweet orange Oil
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