Aromatherapy uses essential oils as an effective method for treating anxiety without any side effects. Here you will learn how you can use essential oils for anxiety and depression.
When you think of essential oils, the first things that come to your mind must be spa massages and scented candles. You may feel that they are “new age” but they have been used since ancient times.
Their use has been prevalent in China, India, Egypt, Greece, and the Roman Empire for more than 6,000 years. They have also found mention in the Bible. You may also find them to be sounding like something lightweight when it comes to being a serious form of remedy.
However, esteemed institutes like the National Cancer Institute (source) and the Mayo Clinic (source) recommend them. There are more than 15,000 studies on essential oils, which are listed by the US National Library of Medicine (database of scientific research) (source).
Are you seeking a natural method that is free from side effects for your anxiety problem? You should consider essential oils for the following reasons.
Impact of Essential Oils On Our Brain
Aromatherapy is a method of healing where essential oils are used. These oils are highly concentrated fragrant extracts sourced from the leaves, roots, flowers, or seeds of medicinal plants (Healthline).
Essential oils are exceedingly concentrated.
Do you know that 1 lb of lavender essential oil is made from how many lavender flowers? It’s around 220 lbs of the flower!
Scientists are still working on fully understanding how essential oils work. What is known is that they work by making the most of the potent relationship between our brain and smell.
Our nose has scent receptors that send chemical signals using the olfactory nerve to our limbic system (this is a primitive part of our brain dealing with essential emotions of fear and anger, and also memories) (source).
The olfactory signals emitted by essential oils are believed to affect the production of brain chemicals. this affects both our physical and mental health (source).
Relation Between Our Brain & Sense of Smell
This is an example from real life, showing how the remarkably strong relation between smell, memory, and emotion works. Have you ever felt something called “olfactory déjà vu” – a specific smell that brings back strong memories and related emotion?
It can be caused by a smell that has a strong relationship with a particular emotionally stimulating memory. It could be anything like the cookies in the oven, an aftershave, or the smell of the pine trees. You feel like having moved back in time for an instant. You could sometimes be left mesmerized by the clarity of memory associated with smell.
In fact, you could even experience exactly the same emotions that were felt at the time. Interestingly, such deja vu is much more closely and strongly related to your sense of smell than to other senses.
It is believed that it is due to this unique relationship between your brain and smell that aromatherapy is as effective as an emotional healing tool.
What Essential Oils to Use for Fighting Anxiety?
Now you must have got a clearer understanding of how essential oils work. So now you must know about the essential oils which are most effective in soothing your anxious mind. You can find lots of essential oils which are great in giving you relief from stress and anxiety.
As someone new to aromatherapy, you may feel overwhelmed with so many options. This is why I have cut the list to my 3 favorite essential oils. They have been proven for their efficacy, versatility, and safety.
Lavender – Most Commonly Used & Highly Versatile
It goes without saying that lavender is the most commonly used and most researched of all the essential oils (source).
Because of its high level of versatility lavender is also referred to as the “Swiss army knife” in the world of essential oils. You will find very few things it can’t be used for.
You will also find it to be among the gentlest of essential oils, which makes it entirely safe for direct application on your skin (source).
Lavender has been extensively appreciated for its benefits of calming and relaxing. It is often used as part of personal care products like soaps, shampoos, massage oils, and lotions.
You can have a wonderful sleep if you have a cotton ball with few drops of lavender oil in your pillow or if you just put some drops on the wrist. Lavender is much more than to be used for comforting massages and baths. It is also an effective and serious oil for treating anxiety.
Researchers have discovered lavender to be having an antidepressant, neuroprotective, anti-anxiety, sedative, and mood-stabilizing benefits (Source). A unique thing that differentiates lavender from other essential oils is that its food-grade version can also be taken internally.
According to a study, a comparison between oral lavender oil capsules and prescription tranquilizers showed that the capsules were as effective in reliving general anxiety disorder. The benefits were without the chances of addiction and no side effects (source). If you decide to use just one essential oil, it should be lavender.
Elevating Bergamot for Depression & Anxiety
Bergamot is a kind of orange that is mostly grown in Italy. It is an edible fruit and its essential oil gets extracted from the skin. Many people are familiar with it as one of the ingredients in Earl Grey tea. This essential oil has been found in studies to be equivalent to Valium in terms of effectiveness against anxiety (source).
Citrus-based essential oils are widely known for helping improve mood. However, bergamot specifically focuses on depression (source). But all essential oils from construe sources, even bergamot, are capable of causing photosensitivity. You should not apply bergamot on your skin if it is undiluted (which is unlike lavender).
If you have sensitive skin, it is recommended not to apply it topically if you will spend some time out in the sun.
Chamomile Soothing & Gentle
Most of us know about chamomile as a herbal tea that relaxes and gives relief from stress and insomnia (Healthline). But very few people know about chamomile as an essential oil used for relaxation. Chamomile is available in a number of species (source).
The species which are most commonly used for essential oils include:
- Roman Chamomile or English Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile);
- German Chamomile or Wild Chamomile (Matricaria recutita).
The health benefits are similar in both cases (Healthline).
The best thing about chamomile essential oils is that they are gentle and can even be used on irritable babies (highly diluted concentration). It is not only beneficial in the treatment of insomnia and anxiety, but it is also widely used for improving stress-based skin problems such as eczema.
Other Essential Oils to Fight Depression, Stress & Anxiety
Chamomile, lavender, and bergamot are just three of the essential oils beneficial for depression, anxiety, and stress. If you want to expand your choices, there are many more relaxing essential oils that can be tried (source 1, source 2). Keep in mind that some of these essential oils offer benefits for both depression and anxiety.
Essential Oils For Getting Relief From Stress And Anxiety
- Clary sage;
Depression-Fighting Essential Oils
- Clary sage;
How to Use Essential Oils for Anxiety and Depression
Most of the time essential oils are available in colored glass bottles in sizes 10 ml or 1/2 oz.
Essential oils are not like herbal remedies used for anxiety. They are not usually taken internally. They are however applied on your skin or inhaled. Because you will need just a few drops, even a small bottle will last a long time.
Do you have a bottle containing essential oil and don’t know how to use it? The following proven methods will help you get the best benefits out of it.
Topical Application of Essential Oils
Essential oils are highly concentrated, generally, they will not be applied directly to your skin. But they will be diluted to form carrier oil. These are natural vegetable-based oils and not mineral-based baby oil. Jojoba oil, almond oil, and apricot kernel oil are my favorites.
Add just a few drops into the carrier oil/lotion and rub on the skin. You may also prepare a bath or feet soak by adding some drops into the tub. Aromatherapy mists, roll-on, and balms have anti-anxiety ingredients which can be easily used when you are on the move. They could be rubbed on your wrist or temples, or dab below the nose when you want to get some additional relief from stress.
Inhaling Essential Oils
You can also enjoy the health benefits of essential oils by dispersing them into the air. Take a pan with hot water and add a couple of drops and breathe in. Another method is to add a few drops into a spray bottle containing water and spraying it in the air.
You could try different styles of essential oil diffusers. It could be anything as basic as having one drop of oil on a cotton ball and using it or diffuser reeds. Then there are ionizing electronic diffusers and ultrasonic humidifying diffusers.
Using Essential Oils for Cooking
Essential oils should never be taken internally as undiluted. And use only ‘food-grade essential oils for internal usage in your recipes. If you are fascinated by the use of essential oils in recipes, you should check this – How to Cook with Essential Oils.
You should also try Lavender Lemonade which is a healthy recipe. It is a tasty way to stay calm and cool.
Creating Your own Blends with Essential Oils
With essential oils, you also have the freedom to mix and match.
A good thing about essential oils is that they are not like herbal remedies. You could mix and match different essential oils to your liking. The same cannot be done with herbal remedies (for example, St. John’s wort and Healthline). You could also get proprietary blends of essential oils for fighting stress and anxiety.
They are available with comforting names such as “Relaxation”, “Destress”, “Calm”, and “Serenity.” (my personal favorite is Chill Pill by Aura Cacia, which is a pre-blended mixture of chamomile and lavender.) Even when you mix and create your own essential oil blend, you don’t have to worry about getting it wrong.
Interestingly, many times when essential oils are mixed, it helps in increasing their efficacy because they are able to work synergistically.
If you want to find out more about how to blend essential oils, it is recommended to read Healthline.
Here you will be able to get complete instruction on creating the ideal essential oil blends such as the lavender-chamomile anti-anxiety mixture.
Fighting Anxiety with Essential Oil: The Result
For centuries people have been using essential oils because of their unique relaxing benefits. Science is also gaining more insights into how these oils work. When you compare essential oils with other anti-anxiety therapies, you will learn that they are safe, affordable, and agreeable for natural anxiety relief.