Essential oils don’t only have a great aroma but are also wonderful for calming down your senses when combined with various stress-relieving techniques. There are various essential oils that you can use to ease anxiety and stress.
While more research is still required to notify the actual efficacy of essential oils, anecdotally these oils seem very helpful for various people. Unlike medications that may have side effects on people, essential oils are amazing without any harmful side effect on your health. However, you need to use them as directed on their label or as specified by a physician. This way, you’d keep yourself away from any potential side effects (if any).
In this article, we share with you the essential details about the use of essential oils when you feel stressed or anxious.
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Do Essential Oils Really Work?
Essential oils are actually plant-based extracts. These are often made with a pressing or steaming process of various parts of the plant (like leaves, bark, flowers, or fruit). Through these techniques, the compounds in the plant are usually extracted to produce fragrance. It may take various pounds of a plant for producing just one bottle of essential oil.
According to experts, essential oils work by relieving the senses and calming your brain cells. It works because aromatherapy tends to activate certain areas in your nose known as smell receptors. These smell receptors are known to send messages to your brain’s nervous system.
Due to this, the oils can activate specific areas in your brain, such as the limbic system. This particular system plays a major role to control your emotions. They may even leave an impact on the brain’s hypothalamus that can respond to the essential oil with the formation of feel-good brain chemicals, such as serotonin.
Some experts also think that whenever you apply essential oils on your skin, they can cause a response in the skin and other body parts, like joints. Certain studies also indicate that there is a major advantage of using essential oils when other oils or medications don’t seem to show any improvement.
As per the clinical trials, essential oils can improve conditions, such as:
- Dry mouth
- Low appetite
Is aromatherapy safe?
Yes, aromatherapy is safe. However, essential oils may lead to certain side effects. Some may irritate your skin, eyes, or mucous membranes within your nose. They may even cause certain mild allergic reactions.
If you consume some essential oils, they can even hurt or kidneys or liver. However, it’s very rare to intake essential oils by mouth. And, you must avoid drinking essential oils unless recommended by a doctor.
If you are a beginner in aromatherapy, it’s best to work under the guidance of a doctor or aromatherapist. Moreover, you need to keep in mind that organic essential oils don’t even need any FDA regulations. It means that, unlike drugs or medication, essential oil manufacturers don’t need any FDA approval. It’s because organic essential oils are generally safe to use.
How to use it?
As per one theory of aromatherapy, essential oils work by stimulating the smell receptors within your nose. Some experts also believe that essential oils often have a mild effect on the body’s energy systems and body’s chemical systems.
Due to this, aromatherapy is usually used as a natural remedy for relieving stress and anxiety. The inhalation and topical applications of essential oils are some common ways to use them for aromatherapy.
The essential oils must not be ingested. However, certain claims on the internet recommend otherwise. But there is still not enough research on any particular essential oil that proves that it’s safe to swallow. You need to remember that each essential oil is quite different and some of them are toxic too. Therefore, it is best to consult an aromatherapist or an expert physician before using essential oil. It’s best to use therapeutic-grade oils that won’t contain synthetic fragrances. Also, buy them from a trusted source.
Best essential oils to relieve stress and anxiety
Here are some major essential oils to consider for relieving stress and anxiety:
Bergamot orange essential oil is an extract of the Citrus bergamia tree. The manufacturers of this essential oil often use cold pressing of orange rind. This is how the aromatic Bergamot orange is used for relieving anxiety.
As per one systematic review in 2015, rats showed certain anxiety-reducing effects on inhaling bergamot orange essential oil. Even a 2013 study found that aromatherapy using bergamot orange essential oil can decrease anxiety in people awaiting minor surgery. You can find a wide range of bergamot orange essential oils online.
This is an aromatic daisy-like herb. The manufacturers often use the steam distillation method for extracting sweet, fruity essential oil from this plant.
As per the National Cancer Institute, a two-week clinical trial observed the effects of Roman chamomile oil massage in people with cancer. The study observed that the massage of this diluted oil can help in reducing anxiety and other symptoms. However, it’s best to consult an aromatherapist before using this essential oil for anxiety reduction.
3. Clary sage
The clary sage is known as a valuable medicinal herb that’s known for its anxiety-relieving properties.
As per a study from 2013, the effects of this essential oil were observed in 34 females who had urinary incontinence. The participants were asked to inhale either clary sage, almond, or lavender essential oils during their bladder examination.
The study further found that compared to females who inhaled almond and lavender essential oils, participants who inhaled clary sage noticed a significant decrease in their respiratory rate and blood pressure.
According to researchers, inhaling clary sage oil is also helpful in relaxing a person during bladder examination. This is why it’s often recommended to keep patients relaxed before any examination or surgery.
The purple Lavandula angustifolia flowering plant is another great essential oil for reducing stress and anxiety. Aromatherapists often suggest lavender essential oil for its anti-inflammatory properties, along with muscle relaxation and anxiety-relieving properties.
As per a 2017 study, various clinical trials suggested that lavender oil aromatherapy can reduce anxiety before cosmetic and surgical procedures during a patient’s stay in an intensive care unit.
One can also use it in even the evening to elevate their mood and reduce stress after a long day. Moreover, the aroma of lavender itself gives a sense of calmness on inhaling it.
Neroli essential oil, also called orange blossom essential oil, is extracted from the Citrus aurantium or bitter orange tree. The manufacturers often extract this oil from the flowers of this tree.
The fragrance of this essential oil is citrusy and sweet. Due to its amazing aroma, this essential oil is known to have anxiety-relieving properties. As per a 2015 systematic review, research states that aromatherapy using neroli oil can treat insomnia with its calming effect. It’s because this oil is known for calming the brain cells while inducing proper sleep. Therefore, it’s suggested for patients with insomnia.
You can use lemon essential oil in a diffuser. Or simply add its drops in a glass jar and keep it in a room that you want to freshen up with its aroma. The essential oil from lemon leaves or rind gives a rich citrus fragrance.
According to a 2015 systematic review, maze studies in mice and rats recommends that exposure to lemon oil have a stress and anxiety-relieving impact on these tiny creatures.
However, the review’s authors also found another study that suggested that constant exposure to lemon oil caused the opposite effect in those animals. So, it may cause a stress response due to excessive exposure.
Therefore, it is best to use lemon essential oil in very few doses and for shorter periods. It’s also important to note that citrus essential oils can increase sunlight sensitivity. So, you need to protect your skin from sun exposure when using lemon oil.
7. Rose essential oil
Certain animal studies state that rose essential oil is beneficial for anxiety. According to a 2015 systematic review, maze studies and conflict tests in mice showed that essential oil extracted from Rose damascene and Rose centifolia can have a relaxation or anxiety-relieving or relaxation effect on some animals.
However, certain review notes also contradicted the mice study findings. That’s why it’s recommended to use rose essential oil in smaller doses i.e. only a few drops.
8. Ylang-ylang essential oil
This particular essential oil is extracted from the flowered of a special Cananga odorata tree. Most aromatherapists suggest that ylang-ylang essential oil can help in reducing anxiety and stress.
A small 2015 study of around 34 nurses found that aromatherapy using ylang-ylang essential oil didn’t show any significant impact on anxiety. But it did improve the self-esteem of the participants.
It is also suggested to improve users’ mood due to its calming effect on the senses.
Other essential oils
According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences, there are various other essential oils for lifting the mood and offering anxiety-relieving effects.
While there is very little evidence to support such claims, some people find aromatherapy with essential oils very beneficial.
Some of these essential oils include:
- sweet orange
How to find quality essential oils
The very important thing that you need to consider while looking for essential oils is their high quality. But finding the best essential oil can be very challenging. It is because there is no specific authority to offer a grading certification for essential oils. Another issue is that most companies claim that their essential oils are of the best “therapeutic grade”. But it is only a marketing term.
Sadly, there are various products you can find online stores that are not harvested accurately. Or they may even include ingredients that are not mentioned on the label.
Therefore, you need to follow the given tips to help you purchase the best quality essential oils:
- Check out the label: It must contain the Latin name of the plant, purity information, or other ingredients added to the essential oil. It must even include the information of the country where it was grown.
- Choose dark-colored, glass containers: Since the pure essential oils are in highly concentrated form, they may be impacted by environmental factors, like light, UV rays, etc. Moreover, they can even dissolve the plastic bottles over time. Therefore, it is best to choose the essential oils in small blue or brown glass bottles that are durable enough to protect their quality.
- Evaluate the company: It is best to purchase your essential oils from a reputed aromatherapy company that’s manufacturing them for several years.
- Avoid “fragrance oils”: The perfume and fragrance oils are made using organic essential oils and also contain chemicals in them. So, they are not suitable for aromatherapy. Instead, you need to choose the essential oil bottles containing a single essential oil in their purest form without any chemicals or fillers.
- Compare prices: Essential oils are available in a wide range of prices, according to their harvesting and production technique. Within a line, you can find them at a range of prices. For instance, sandalwood or rose absolute oils are more expensive. On the other hand, sweet orange oil is on the less pricey end. If you find a very low price for a generally expensive essential oil, it’s because the oil is not in its purest form.
Essential oils can instantly elevate your mood and make you feel amazing with just their amazing fragrance. For some people, they can alleviate the systems of stress and anxiety. However, you need to incorporate them in the right doses to improve their healthy lifestyle, it is best to consult an aromatherapist or medical expert to use essential oils in the right way.