Essential oils are nothing new. These natural essences have been around forever dating back to Biblical times as extracts from the root, bark, leaves, or flowers of plants. In fact, they have been mentioned when wise men came bearing gifts of frankincense and myrrh for the baby Jesus. While essential oils are commonly used aromatherapy, it has been longed used in the embalming process and was used to help treat soldiers during World War II — a time when medications were scarce.
Today with our busy lives and extreme pressure to have all things perfect, we are exceptionally susceptible to stress and anxiety. Essential oils can help.
Essential Oils for Anxiety
Here are some of the best essentials oils for anxiety:
1. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Lavender is commonly used for its calming and relaxing effect. It helps with inner peace, sleep, restlessness, irritability, panic attacks, nervous stomach, and general nervous tension.
2. Rose (Rosa damascena)
Rose as a fragrance brings comfort and warmth. The benefits of rose essential oil is it’s very settling to the emotional heart and perhaps the second most popular after lavender for relieving anxiety and depression, helping with panic attacks, grieving and shock.
3. Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides)
Vetiver oil has a tranquil, grounding and reassuring energy which is often used in trauma helping with self-awareness, calmness, and stabilization. A nervous system tonic, it decreases jitteriness and hypersensitivity and is also useful in panic attacks and shock.
4. Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)
This popular essential oil can also treat anxiety and depression due to its calming and uplifting effects. Ylang ylang helps with cheerfulness, courage, optimism and soothes fearfulness. It may calm heart agitation and nervous palpitations and is a moderately strong sedative, which can help with insomnia.
However, be careful when using ylang ylang, as it can be sensitizing or irritating to the skin; avoid using in conditions of low blood pressure.
5. Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Bergamot is commonly found in Earl Grey tea and has a distinctive floral taste and aroma. Bergamot oil is calming and often used to treat depression by providing energy; however, it can also help with insomnia induce relaxation and reduce agitation. This is another oil that you should exercise caution because it is photosensitizing meaning it can increase the risk of sunburn and rash. It is best to avoid use within 12 hours of sun exposure.
6. Frankincense (Boswellia carteri or boswella sacra)
Frankincense is great for treating depression and anxiety because it provides a calming and tranquil energy as well as spiritual grounding. In aromatherapy, it helps deepen meditation and quiet the mind.
How to Use Essential Oils for Anxiety
Essential oils can be used in three different ways: aromatherapy, ingestion or topically.
Aromatherapy for anxiety is very popular because our sense of smell triggers powerful emotional responses. We process so much information through our sense of smell — in particular, in an area of the brain adjacent to the limbic region, according to “Freedom from Anxiety: A Holistic Approach to Emotional Well-Being” by Marcey Shapiro and Barbara Vivino. (14) This is the area of emotional processing and memory recall.
When the scent of an essential oil is inhaled, molecules enter the nasal cavities and stimulate a firing of mental response in the limbic system of the brain. These stimulants regulate stress or calming responses, such as heart rate, breathing patterns, production of hormones and blood pressure. Aromatherapy can be obtained by using it in a bath, as direct inhalations, hot water vapor, vaporizer or humidifier, fan, vent, perfume, cologne, or — one of my favorites — through aromatherapy diffusers.
Many essential oils can be ingested by the mouth; however, it is critical to make sure that the oils you use are safe and pure. Many oils on the market may be diluted or blended with synthetics that are unsafe for ingesting. The Food and Drug Administration has approved some essential oils generically for internal use and given them the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) designation for human consumption. (15)
The most effective way to consume them, according to “The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils: The Science of Advanced Aromatherapy,” is to add a drop of oil in a glass of water or in a teaspoon with honey. (16) You can simply add a drop or two underneath the tongue. This is beneficial because the blood capillaries are so close to the surface of the tissue under the tongue, allowing them to pass more quickly into the bloodstream and travel to the different areas of the body where they’re needed. (17)
Other oral application options include capsules, adding a drop or two to your favorite beverage, making a tea, and cooking.
Many prefer topical uses of essential oils. Topical application is a process of placing an essential oil on the skin, hair, mouth, teeth, nails or mucous membranes of the body. When the oils touch the skin, they penetrate rapidly.
Since they are so potent, it is important to dilute and blend with a carrier oil, such as sweet almond, jojoba, olive, avocado or coconut oil. You can apply the blend directly to an affected area, on the bottoms of the feet, rims of the ears, using compresses, in baths or through massage.
Essential Oils Recipes for Anxiety
Easy Lavender Neck Rub
- 3 drops pure lavender oil
- 1 teaspoon fractionated coconut oil or almond oil
- Blend the lavender oil and coconut or almond oil in your palm and rub onto your neck for natural anxiety relief. You can also rub onto the bottoms of your feet. This is perfect for anytime or just before bed.
Risks of Essential Oils for Anxiety
Never ingest any essential oils or apply undiluted to the skin without proper training or medical supervision. It is critical to understand how best to use them. Always consult a specialist and test the area, proceeding with caution as they may react differently to different individuals, especially children and pregnant women.
Credit: Dr. Axe