In today’s fast paced, often overwhelming world, stressors are everywhere. Many of us will suffer from anxiety from time to time especially during very stressful periods in life like a career change or divorce.
If you are suffering from anxiety you might feel uncomfortable or overwhelmed seeking professional help, but there are natural ways to manage your anxiety that could work for you. Adding essential oils and aromatherapy to your well being toolbox may help you cope with anxiety and lower your stress levels.
Anxiety sufferers might feel uncomfortable seeking prescription anxiety medications or talking to a medical professional about it. Because the subject of mental health and anxiety can be taboo, a lot of us would rather seek out safe home remedies for these problems instead.
Research published in the Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing shows a link between lowered stress and anxiety levels and aromatherapy. (1)
Certain essential oils could be used for this stress relieving, anxiety fighting aromatherapy. Read on to find out:
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural, aromatic oils that are usually made by distilling the oil from a plant like an herb or fruit. These oils normally smell like the plant they come from though same have a more intense smell than their source.
Essential oils have been used for a long time by homeopaths and other natural lifestyle enthusiasts for many uses. These uses include:
How Can Essential Oils Help You Manage Anxiety?
The sense of smell often gets overshadowed by the other senses but it is extremely power. The neurons in the nose that detect scent pass the information through the olfactory nerve. This nerve transmits the information to the olfactory bulb in the brain and the rest of the surrounding limbic system.
This area of the brain plays a large part in regulating our moods, memories, behavior, and emotions. (2)
So it is reasonable to say that smell is biologically linked to our emotions, from the positive ones like happiness and contentment to the negative ones like depression and anxiety.
Certain smells then are likely to boost good feelings and limit the unpleasant ones. The perfume industry is built upon this fact, which is why you see the same scents repeated in different perfumes.
So because of the neurological link between smell and emotion, it would be reasonable to think that certain fragrant essential oils could benefit anxiety and relieve stress.
A study conducted by Korean doctors proves this connection. In this study, terminally ill cancer patients were split into 2 groups.
The first group received a hand massage using a combination of aromatic essential oils. The second group received a hand massage with unscented oil. The first group showed a marked reduction in pain score and depression, whereas the group that used only unscented oil showed no real changes. (3)
If scented essential oils can provide some relief to a group of people dealing with great physical stress and the emotional stress of knowing they were dying, then in theory essential oils can be used to treat in anxiety in less extreme situations.
Aside from the benefit of the scent and mood connection, essential oils have another anxiety busting benefit. Often the way they are used, through adding them to a soothing bath, or as a massage oil promotes relaxation and stress relief in and of itself.
A study published in the North American Journal of Medical Science sings the praises of hydrotherapy, or soaking in water as you would in a bathtub. The study found that water therapy has a significant effect on the body, including reducing pain and regulating hormones like cortisol, the stress hormones. (4)
When used as a massage oil, you can get a double benefit from the massage and the use of the scented oil. The Mayo Clinic recognizes that massages decrease anxiety, pain, and stress related insomnia. (5)
What are the Best Essential Oils for Anxiety?
With so many essential oils out there, it can be hard to figure out how to pick the best oils for relieving anxiety. While many oils may have anxiety fighting properties, there are some that rise above the rest.
The best essential oils for managing anxiety include the following:
Each oil has different benefits and ways it can be used. Let’s take a look at each oil.
Lavender Oil has a peaceful reputation. The mildly fragrant flowering herb may be a good substitute for anxiety medications.
A double blind randomized study conducted by European researchers and appearing in Phytomedicine showed that participants with Generalized Anxiety Disorder that took lavender capsules reduced their anxiety as much as other sufferers on a prescription anti anxiety medication. (6)
Benefits of Lavender Oil for Anxiety
With its reputation for relaxation and anxiety relief proven, let’s take a look at how lavendar works. It helps anxiety by:
- Reducing Cortisol - Lavender reduces the body’s production of cortisol, the hormone responsible for stress. A team of doctors proved this reduction of serum cortisol with the use of lavender aromatherapy in the International Journal of Cardiology. (7)
- Supports Sleep - Lavender helps relieve insomnia, which can make stress worse.
- Promotes Relaxation - Lavender helps you relax and unwind. The act of relaxing itself lowers cortisol, the stress hormone mentioned above.
- Eases Pain - Lavender oil can help reduce chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and migraines that can cause sufferers anxiety.
How to use Lavender Oil for Anxiety
Lavender oil can be used to manage anxiety in a variety of ways. The most popular ways to use lavender oil to curb anxiety include:
- Inhaling - Adding about 6 drops of lavender essential oil to a warm bath will create a soothing aromatic experience that will help reduce anxiety. You could also pour the oil into a reed diffuser in your bedroom or mix a few drops with water and spray it on your pillow to reduce anxiety at night time.
- Orally - Lavender essential oils may be available in capsule form. Adults should check with their doctor on the proper dosage for them.
- Topically - Try mixing a few drops of lavender oil with an unscented carrier oil like coconut oil or almond oil. Use this as a massage oil or a lotion.
Good lavender oil products to try include:
Not nearly as famous as other essential oils, bergamot oil comes from a citrus fruit in southeast Asia. It has a sweet, subtly spicy scent promotes relaxation.
A study done on stressed out elementary school teachers in Taiwan showed that smelling bergamot oil lowers blood pressure and heart rate. High blood pressure and faster heart rates are associated with stress and anxiety. (8)
Benefits of Bergamot Oil for Anxiety
Bergamot oil can help you manage anxiety by:
- Aiding in Relaxation - The pleasing scent of bergamot oil is very soothing and helps eliminate stress. Excess stress contributes to anxiety and mood disorders.
- Boosts Energy - The fresh citrusy scent boosts energy levels. Low energy can be a symptom of or a cause of anxiety.
How to Use Bergamot Oil for Anxiety
To use bergamot oil try:
- Inhaling - Breathe in this soothing by pouring a couple drops on a cotton swab and inhaling deeply or adding some in a diffuser.
- Soaking - Add a couple drops of bergamot oil into a bath for the ultimate in relaxation and anxiety relief.
- Topical Massage - Add bergamot into a carrier oil and use in a massage lotion or body lotion for a calming massage.
Bergamot oil products to try include:
Clary Sage Oil
Clary Sage is a popular addition to scented lotions, soaps, creams, and perfumes. Some Europeans also add this herb to wine as a flavor enhancer.
Originally found in Southern France and Italy, this perennial herb has long been recognized for its medicinal properties. “Clary sage” literally translates from Latin to mean clear eyes.
It is used to treat vision related conditions like eye strain. Aside from its ocular uses, clary sage helps ease the nervous system, which makes it particularly effective at treating anxiety.
Clary sage has high levels of esters, substances that have mild sedative properties that help relax you and tame anxiety. You don’t have to drink the wine to get the calming benefits of clary sage oil.
Benefits of Clary Sage Oil for Anxiety
This oil works to give you anxiety relieving benefits by:
Relaxing the Nervous System - In times of intense stress, clary sage oil is a well known nervous system regulator. This herb helps regulate the stress hormones so much that blood pressure actually lowers.
Reduces Pain - Pain worsens anxiety. Clary sage oil helps relieve pain associated with minor problems like menstrual cramp or major painful experiences like childbirth.
How to Use Clary Sage Oil for Anxiety
To use clary sage oil try:
- Inhaling - Add some clary sage oil to a diffuser or mix a few drops of clary sage oil with water to create an anxiety fighting aroma. Mix the scent with Frankincense for additional uplifting aroma.
- Bathing - Add a few drops of clary sage oil to a bath and enjoy a soak. For extra stress relieving benefits consider adding some chamomile as well.
- Topically - Rub a drop or two of clary sage oil onto your feet or pulse points to help reset your hormones, lowering cortisol.
Clary sage oil products to try include:
Sweet Orange Oil
Citrus fruits are often associated with sunshine and good moods and for good reason. Not only do citrus fruits like orange provide you with an immune system boost of vitamin c and fiber that keeps the body working, but the scent could provide a mood perk.
Research published in Neuroimmunomodulation on citrus fragrance and mood show that smelling a citrus scent like sweet orange oil can help restore balance to hormone levels.
This effectively allowed study participants to take a smaller amount of their antidepressant medications while maintaining a better mood. (9)
Benefits of Sweet Orange Oil for Anxiety
Sweet orange oil can help you manage anxiety by:
- Regulating Hormones - The scent of citrus can help regulate hormones that affect the production of cortisol in the body. When these hormones are controlled, cortisol production stays in check and anxiety is lowered.
- Elevates Mood - Most people have very positive associations with the bright smell of sweet orange. This association plays on the neurological connection between smell and mood to help relax and cheer you up.
How to Use Sweet Orange Oil for Anxiety
To use sweet orange oil try:
- Inhaling - Mix a few drops of sweet orange oil with water and spray into the air for a fresh scent that can perk you up and relieve anxiety.
- Topically - Add a few drops of sweet orange oil to a carrier oil and use it as a massage oil or apply a drop of oil to the wrists and pulse points for anxiety relief.
Sweet orange oil products to try include:
This flowering herb is used often as a flavoring food and drinks. Its spicy sweet flavor carries through to its fragrant aroma.
Angelica has many healing properties renowned by homeopaths and natural medicine enthusiasts. Some of these health benefits include its use as a mood regulator and anxiety reliever. These anxiety relieving properties have been scientifically proven.
Chinese psychologists compared the effects of angelica to the effects of anti anxiety medication as used in mice. Their research found that angelica may have a similar effect as some anti anxiety drugs. (10)
Benefits of Angelica Oil for Anxiety
Angelica oil can help you manage anxiety by:
- Soothes the Nervous System - Angelica acts as a mild sedative for people with anxiety. This helps calm frazzled nerves that may contribute to anxious feelings.
- Relaxes the Body - Angelica may help banish tension from the body. Physiologically, angelica lowers blood pressure and relaxes reflexes.
- Mild Stimulant - Angelica has a mild stimulating effect on the body and mind that may provide a needed mood lift for people dealing with chronic anxiety or depression.
How to Use Angelica Oil for Anxiety
To use angelica oil try:
- Inhaling - Add some angelica oil to a diffuser for a spicy scented pick me up.
- Bathing - Add a drop or two of angelica oil to a warm bath for an anxiety relieving soak.
- Topically - Mix a drop of angelica oil with another carrier oil and massage onto the body. An added perk for the ladies: massaging it on the midsection can help relieve monthly discomfort that may cause some anxiety.
Angelica oil products to try include:
Essential Oils: Tips and Tricks for Fighting Anxiety
Use these tips and tricks to best reduce anxiety.
- Do make use of mixing them in warm baths or use them as a massage oil. Both baths and massages have anxiety relieve properties themselves that essential oils can boost.
- Try mixing the oils together to create new fragrances that can help you relax and reduce anxiety.
- Add the aroma to your bedroom as a room spray or by dabbing a drop on your pillow to help you sleep more soundly. Better sleep normally equals better mental health.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help from family, friends, or a health care professional in managing your anxiety is nothing to be ashamed of. Getting support takes courage and will ultimately help you manage your anxiety more effectively.
Conclusions: Can Essential Oils Help Me Fight Anxiety?
Essential oils may help you manage mild to moderate anxiety naturally. However, they are not the end all be all to anxiety treatment, just one tool to use. Self care for anxiety is not meant to be an alternative to medical care, especially if you are suffering from moderate to severe anxiety.