Essential oils have been used for centuries in aromatherapy as a treatment of anxiety and depression. People are sensitive to scents and certain essential oils trigger production of serotonin in our brains by simply inhaling them. Essential oils are potent, naturally occurring volatile parts that produce aroma and are found in roots, stems, seeds, flowers, bark and other parts of plants. Some of them are very intense in their fragrance and they protect plants while being part of the plant pollination as well. Essential oils are the one that give plants their distinctive scent.
Essential oils have been used topically as a part of the treatment of one’s emotional and physical wellbeing. They can be used as a single essential oil application or blend of essential oils that create pleasing fragrance. Blend of essential oils can have endless variations as there are around 3000 varieties of different volatile compounds found to date.
Application of essential oils varies from aromatic, topical to internal. Aromatic application of essential oil is actually just inhalation of the scent and it can be done by applying to a cotton ball and placing them around the air vents of your house or vehicle. They can be used in household surface cleaners, or added to a bit of water and sprayed over furniture, linens and carpets. They can also be added to diffusers.
Our sense of smell is a powerful tool that triggers emotional, mental and physiological response in our brain. Some essential oils are invigorating and uplifting and others are calming and relaxing. In order to use essential oils topically, we can add few drops of oil to a warm bath or add few drops to our favourite lotion or moisturizer and then apply to skin. However, if decided to use them topically, avoid applying essential oil to a sensitive skin around eyes and ears, along with broken or damaged skin. Some essential oils are photosensitive which means we should avoid applying them before sun exposure. Most citrusy essential oil should be avoided in direct skin application.
Internally used essential oils can be added to various meals during cooking as a part of dietary supplement in order to increase aroma and support various health condition. When drinking a warm cup of peppermint tea, you are actually drinking some aromatic essential oil ingredients. Some research is required on consumer end in order to safely consume essential oils.
Here, we will explore what essential oils are the best for aromatic (external) and topical use as a part of your treatment of anxiety.
1. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is most common used essential oil that has wide range of health benefits including relaxing and calming effect. Lavender restores our nervous system and aids insomnia, panic attacks, nervous stomach while promoting inner peace. Various studies have been done on lavender essential oil confirming that it reduces anxiety and stress response. In order to have peaceful good night sleep, add few drops of lavender essential oil on the cotton ball and place on your nightstand. Lavender promotes inner healing and helps your relax. It can be used alone or Caution: Lavender is known to increase estrogen levels and if applied topically or internally, it can increase estrogen level in boys or men.
2. Frankincense (Boswellia carteri or boswella sacra) is great essential oil that increases energy while rejuvenating your senses and skin. It promotes calming and relaxing effects on your mind and body. It can be mixed together with lavender and bergamot essential oils in a 1:1 ration or few drops can simply be added to grapeseed carrier oil for aromatic massage. Frankincense has positive effect on anxiety sufferers as it provides pleasing scent that clears the mind and offers instant relaxation.
3. Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) has wide range of uses in anxiety and depression treatment as it provides energy while at the same time can reduce insomnia and decrease irritability. Bergamot is most commonly found in Earl Grey tea and it is characterized by its distinct aroma and taste. Studies have shown that bergamot is used in a blend with lavender it can help in treating anxiety and depression, while naturally reducing pulse rate and blood pressure. Bergamot is photosensitizing which means that increases risk of sunburn and rash. If applied topically, avoid using it within 12 hours of sun exposure.
4. Rose (Rosa damascena) is most popular essential oil after the lavender and it has many health benefits including reduced duration of panic attacks, shock or grieving. It relieves anxiety and depression by creating instant calming and positive effect on your mind. It can be added to a bath or applied to a cotton ball and inhaled. Rose scent reminds us of spring and life, produces energy and overall wellbeing. Triggers memories of happiness in your brain and brings you back to life when feeling sad.
5. Clary Sage essential oil is mostly used for its antibacterial properties and ability to improve skin health. When it comes to anxiety, it acts as antidepressant and helps calm down nerves. It also acts as mild sedative and may relieve hypertension. Studies have shown that clary sage can also induce feeling of euphoria accompanied with confidence, pleasure, joy and high spirits. It is often used in chronic anxiety and depression treatment.
6. Geranium essential oil has very nice and mild scent, similar to Rose’s essential oil. It naturally brings out positive feelings when inhaled while making a person feel light and stress free. Geranium essential oil is a natural sedative and blends well with lavender and other floral essential oils.
7. Valerian Root essential oil helps decrease anxiety by relieving tension accumulated in our stomach and helps your body relax. Many of anxiety sufferers feel anxiety in their stomach or have other physical symptoms such as acid reflux, or even a cramp in the abdomen. When we are under the stress our muscles tense naturally and valerian root essential oil helps relax those stiff muscles associated with stress, panic attacks and general anxiety disorder. It also eases migraines and acts as a sedative, providing restorative sleep to insomnia sufferers.
8. Chamomile essential oil has many health benefits and helps in becoming calm and relaxed. Chamomile is most often enjoyed as a tea as it is acts as nighttime sedative. It eases tension, relaxes muscles and promotes healing of mind and body. Its sweet and pleasant scent can be inhaled on its own or can easily be blended with other essential oils. It goes well with lavender. Chamomile essential oil has antidepressant active ingredients that help also combat anxiety symptoms.
9. Patchouli essential oil is widely used in aromatherapy due to its ability to relieve stress, anxiety and depression. It has anti-inflammatory properties if applied topically on the skin. Its nice scent provides calmness and acts as a mild sedative. Patchouli essential oil is known to create harmony and balance in people’s emotions and promotes overall feeling of wellbeing while reducing lethargy created by depression. In aromatherapy, patchouli essential oil is usually blended with other oils to increase potency of the scent and rejuvenation.
Aromatherapy is great as it gives people freedom to create their own scents with various essential oils. While essential oils can be inhaled on its own, if applying them topically it is recommended for them to be diluted in carrier oil. For example, you could take 100 ml of sweet almond oil and add 20 drops of lavender and 20 drops of chamomile essential oil to it. Such diluted oil can be applied directly to the skin and can be used for a massage. Keep in mind that essential oils are not water soluble so they should not be added directly to the bath. If you want to use them in the bath, then use it diluted in carrier oil first. Most common carrier oils are grapeseed, olive and sweet almond oil. It can also be diluted with coconut oil and used as body butter. Aromatherapy has been used for centuries and is relatively safe when applied properly. Here on ZenWellnessGuide.com we do not promote internal use of essential oil as more research is needed in this area.