3 Essential Oils for Anxiety

3 Essential Oils for Anxiety

As more and more people use essential oils they find different uses for different applications. Here’s a great article from over on the Veeva blog on 3 essential oils for anxiety. I was surprised at the bergamont one. My favourite tea is Earl Grey, which often has bergamont oil in it, and sometimes bergamont flowers.

3 Essential Oils for Anxiety

Whether it’s the aroma from freshly baked muffins, the scent of a particular perfume or the smell of grass after rainfall – we all recognize that our sense of smell can have a powerful impact on our emotions, mood and can even trigger memories.

It is this connection that is harnessed in the science of aromatherapy. In fact, it has been utilized for centuries dating as far back as the ancient civilizations of Egypt, India and China, where essential oils were first used.

How Do Essential Oils Work?

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that contain healing properties. They operate through two main systems in the body:

1) the olfactory system, which regulates our sense of smell; and

2) the limbic system, which regulates emotions, memories and arousal. These two systems are connected by the olfactory bulb in the forebrain.

When a scent is inhaled, the molecules travel up the nasal cavity and bind to receptors in the olfactory bulb. This extends into the limbic system, which contains the amygdala – the emotional centre of the brain that governs primal emotions such as fear, anger and worry. Once the scent reaches this point, it helps initiate calming responses.

A 2008 study shows this mechanism in action; subjects with terminal cancer were either given a regular hand massage, or an aroma hand massage that used a mixture of three essential oils: lavender, bergamot and frankincense. Results showed the aroma hand massage was significantly better at reducing pain and depression. [1]

3 Essential Oils for Anxiety

Geranium
A 2017 trial measured the impact of geranium oil on anxiety in patients who had recently suffered a heart attack. On the second day of admission, three drops of geranium essential oil, or placebo, were poured on absorbing patches attached inside patients’ oxygen mask. Patients were asked to inhale the aroma for 20 minutes a day on two consecutive days.

There was a significant difference in anxiety scores, with the geranium aroma group outperforming the placebo.

Another 2015 study further validates this research; scientists found that inhaling geranium essential oil significantly reduced childbirth anxiety for women during the first phase of labour, as compared to a placebo.

Lavender
This is perhaps one of the most popular essential oils for relaxation and calming the nervous system. According to a systemic review of essential oils, lavender has sedative and narcotic actions, which is what makes it an excellent choice for improving sleep quality. [2]

While some research exists in relation to anxiety, more still needs to be done. One 2014 study revealed that lavender essential oil was able to reduce dental patient anxiety [3], however another 2014 study indicated that lavender essential oil did not have a significant effect on anxiety in patients after coronary artery bypass surgery. [4]

Bergamot

Research has shown that bergamot helps reduces anxiety in rats[5][6]. While more human trials need to be done, a small pilot trial in 2017 showed that the inhalation of bergamot essential oil improved positive feelings in patients at a mental health treatment centre [7]. Another 2015 has also shown that inhalation of bergamot essential oil and water vapour, combined with rest can reduce anxiety, fatigue and improve mood. [8]

When getting started with essential oils for anxiety, it’s advised use an anti-anxiety blend. Essential oils work best when used synergistically, and this is also a more cost effective option as opposed to purchasing separate bottles.

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