What Are The Best Essential Oils for Anxiety?
Anxiety is a harsh fight to face each day, which makes knowing natural solutions, such as the use of essential oil blends, essential (if you’ll pardon the pun).
Recently, a 2014 study was conducted by the American College of Healthcare Sciences on 58 hospice patients. Their hands were massaged once per day for a week, some using a blend of essential oils in 1.5 percent dilution, mixed with a carrier (sweet almond) oil, and some with carrier oil alone. The blend consisted of the following essential oils in equal measure: bergamot, frankincense and lavender. Every patient receiving an essential oil hand massage described less pain and depression, driving the conclusion that aromatherapy massage using this particular blend of essential oils is more effective for pain and depression management than massage alone.
Here are my top five essentials oils for relieving anxiety:
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Probably the most commonly known and used essential oil, one of lavender oil’s many benefits is the calming, relaxing effect that it provides. It’s considered to be a restorative for the nervous system and helps patients achieve inner peace, including sleeping deeper, and reduces restlessness, irritability, panic attacks, nervous stomach and general nervous tension.
“The Handbook of Essential Oils: Science, Technology, and Applications, Second Edition” states that there have been numerous clinical trials involving the breathing of lavender essential oil that have shown a reduction in both stress and anxiety. One study, in particular, used lavender essential oil, given orally via capsules, and found that this caused a difference in heart rate increase, compared to the placebo group, while both watched an anxiety-provoking film. This suggested that lavender had anxiolytic (anxiety inhibiting) effects.
Additional research has shown lavender’s aptitude for lowering anxiety in patients undergoing both coronary artery bypass surgery and dental treatments.
Rose (Rosa damascena)
Rose essential oil is very relaxing on the emotional heart and is, perhaps, the second most popular after lavender for alleviating both depression and anxiety. It is also beneficial for treating panic attacks, grief and shock.
In one study of first time pregnant women, published in the Iranian Red Crescent Medical Journal, one group received a 10-minute long inhalation of, coupled with a footbath containing, rose oil, whilst another group received only a 10-minute warm-water footbath. A third group, the control, received none. Their analysis showed that “aromatherapy and footbath reduces anxiety in active phase in nulliparous (not yet given birth) women.”
Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides)
Vetiver oil benefits from a tranquil, grounding and reassuring energy, and, as such, is often used with trauma patients to assist with self-awareness, calmness and stabilization.
A tonic for the nervous system, it decreases hypersensitivity and jitteriness and is also beneficial for shock and panic attacks. Natural Product Research published a study examining anxiety-like behaviour in rats, concluding that vetiver oil may be useful in lowering anxiety effects, although more research would help to confirm this finding.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)
This favourite essential oil can treat depression and anxiety thanks to its uplifting and calming effects. Ylang ylang helps with courage, cheerfulness, optimism and pacifies fear. It is known to calm heart agitation and nervous palpitations and is also a reasonably strong sedative, which leads to it’s use in alleviating insomnia.
In one 2006 study, conducted by Geochang Provincial College in Korea, results identified that using ylang ylang oil, combined with bergamot and lavender oils, once daily for a period of four weeks reduced “psychological stress responses and serum cortisol levels, as well as the blood pressure of clients with essential hypertension.”
However, ylang ylang can irritate sensitive skin, and is contra-indicated for conditions of low blood pressure, therefore care must be taken in it’s use.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
Bergamot has a characteristic flowery taste and scent and is a component of Earl Grey tea. Bergamot oil is relaxing and therefore often used for depression and insomnia because it has the ability to induce relaxation and reduce agitation.
It has been shown to lessen corticosterone reaction to stress in rats, and another fascinating study undertaken in 2011 theorises that application of blended essential oils, including bergamot, to participants helps in alleviating depression or anxiety. The blend used consisted of both lavender and bergamot oils.
By comparison to the placebo, the application of blended essential oil was shown to be a significant, natural way to reduce both blood pressure and pulse rate, and members of the blended essential oil group graded themselves as “more calm” and “more relaxed” than the control group.
Bergamot is generally safe. Care should be taken, however, to avoid use within 12 hours of sun exposure as it is photosensitizing, meaning it may increase your risk of either sunburn or rash developing.