The popularity of alternative medicine has increased over the past few decades, and essential oils are widely used for anxiety treatment.
Essential oils are scented liquids derived from different plants, flowers or fruits. Essential oils are used in aromatherapy for anxiety, stress and insomnia. The practise of inhaling the scent can make you feel relaxed and improve your emotional and physical condition. Once inhaled, essential oils stimulate your smell receptors and send messages to your nervous system. These aroma molecules are very potent organic plant chemicals that make the surroundings free from disease, bacteria, virus and fungus.
For centuries, the essential oils have found their importance as a fragrance with a curative potential on the body, mind and spirit.
You can also benefit from essential oils by adding them to your bath, spray some onto your pillow or apply them onto your skin. Regardless of what way you use them, essential oils can treat anxiety and stress by acting on our limbic system – the part of our brain linked to our emotions.
Essential oils have been for hundreds of years in alternative medicine to address anxiety and similar problems. Some essentials oils like lavender oil are well-known for their anti-anxiety effects, but you will probably need to experiment little more before you find the blend that is right for you.
Here is everything you need to know about essential oils and how do they help with anxiety
Table of Contents
Aromatherapy for Anxiety: How to Use Essential oils
Aromatherapy for anxiety uses essential oils, as the main therapeutic agents, which are said to be highly concentrated substances extracted from flowers, leaves, stalks, fruits and roots, and also distilled from resins.
If you are working on your anxiety you may want to consider aromatherapy as an alternative treatment. However, aromatherapy should never be used instead of your regular treatment. It can be used as an addition to your treatment or in case of mild anxiety. Research also showed that aromatherapy can also have a positive impact on the following conditions:
- Pain and body aches
- Anxiety, agitation, stress, and depression
- Fatigue and insomnia
- Muscular aches
Combined with practising mindfulness, aromatherapy can effectively help to release negative emotions, calm the mind and reduce stress. The simplest way to incorporate essential oils into your daily life is by inhaling them, dispersing their fragrance into the air, or by sprinkling a few drops on objects like your pillow at night.
Essential oils can also be applied to the skin or used in bathing, but some people may find them irritating when applied topically, especially if the essential oil is not diluted. Diluting essential should be done with carrier oils almond oil, or coconut oil.
Despite claims on the internet, essential oils should not be ingested as they have the potential for toxicity. Some essential oils also can be harmful to pregnant and breastfeeding women.
Before using any alternative or complementary treatment, talk to your doctor about any current medical conditions, possible drug interactions, or side effects.
Essential Oils for Relaxation
You probably have seen headlines in news about aromatherapy and how some essential oils can be used for anxiety and relaxation. A compound named linalool is responsible for the relaxing properties of essential oils. Linalool affects the same parts of the brain as anti-anxiety drugs such as Valium. It can affect the brain just by inhaling the scent of oil or being absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream.
Essential oils are a mixture of saturated and unsaturated hydrocarbons, alcohol, aldehydes, esters, ethers, ketones, oxides phenols and terpenes, which may produce characteristic odours. These oils are so potent and concentrated that they work on pressure points and rejuvenate.
Even though all essential oils can be used for relaxation, they can have several other benefits. One of the best examples of this is a lavender essential oil which, in addition to being an antiseptic, contributes to a soothing effect on anxiety and fatigue, improves mood and helps relieve headaches and migraines.
Therefore, we bring you the list of best essential oils for anxiety and relaxation, to help you find the one that suits your needs.
Lavender for Anxiety
Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils for anxiety used in aromatherapy. If you’ve ever walked past a lavender field you might understand why the scent can be so calming. The scent of lavender promotes relaxation and can be used for anxiety, insomnia and depression.
Benefits of Lavender:
- Anti-anxiety: Research proved that lavender effectively works for anxiety by acting on our limbic system and controlling our emotions. Another key finding was that unlike anti-anxiety drugs (such as benzodiazepines), Lavender works for anxiety but without impairing movement.
- Insomnia: Lavender was found to improve sleep quality and duration in students and elderly population
But lavender isn’t only beneficial for anxiety. In aromatherapy, it is known as multipurpose oil. It has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, antidepressant, antiseptic, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, as well as analgesic, detoxifying and sedative effects.
How to use Lavender for Anxiety?
Use a lavender rollerball to apply to your temples and wrists, or combine with a carrier for relaxing massage oil. You can also add several drops of lavender oil combined with a carrier oil to your warm bath. According to the principles of aromatherapy, breathing in the scent of lavender essential oil or applying lavender essential oil to the skin transmits messages to the limbic system, a brain region known to influence the nervous system and help regulate emotion.
Jasmine Essential Oil
Jasmine essential oil is derived from the jasmine plant that originates from Iran. Jasmine is known for its sweet fragrance and its essential oil is believed to have numerous health benefits. Some of them are scientifically proven and some of them are still part of many research.
The scent of jasmine has therapeutic benefits that it could be used as a medication alternative for depression, stress, anxiety, sleep, and other disorders.
- Antidepressant: Jasmine oil can effectively treat and reduce the symptoms of depression. Stimulating and activating effect of jasmine essential oil could be useful for relieving depression and improving mood.
- Mild sedative effect: Jasmine essential oil has a mild sedative effect so it can be used as therapy for insomnia. Jasmine was also shown to be more effective than anti-anxiety meds and sleeping pills in promoting quality sleep. Jasmine is often referred as ‘as good as Valium’ in calming nerves without side effects.
- Improves focus: Jasmine can boost cognitive performance, concentration and alertness.
- Balance mood swings: Jasmine essential oil can balance mood swings especially in the menopause, as well as the mood swings.
- Aphrodisiac: The romantic fragrance of Jasmine essential oil is believed to have an aphrodisiac effect Inhaling jasmine or using it in aromatherapy massage improves mood increases romantic and positive feelings, as well as energy levels.
How to use Jasmine essential oil?
You can inhale the fragrance of Jasmine essential oil or apply it directly through your skin. Even just a few drops will have a noticeable effect. For the best results, use Jasmine oil undiluted. You can also combine it with other essential oils like lavender, citrus oil or rose.
If you are using Jasmine essential oil as an aphrodisiac, try putting some of the oil on your neck. Your body heat will enhance the scent. You can also add a few drops on bedding, to a warm bath, or a diffuser in the bedroom.
Bergamot Orange Essential oil
The essential oil from Bergamot is extracted from the citrus fruit Citrus bergamia. Bergamot essential oil is prized for its soothing scent and it is widely used in aromatherapy for anxiety. However, benefits of Bergamot essential oils are numerous and it can be used in reducing inflammation, stress reduction, food poisoning and lowering cholesterol.
According to the study, bergamot oil has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve mood.
How to Use Bergamot Orange Essential Oil?
Bergamot essential oil should not be applied directly on the skin. It is recommended to mix with a carrier oil (coconut for example). Bergamot orange essential oil can be used in aromatherapy. You can also add two to five drops of bergamot essential oil to products such as body wash. Do not swallow bergamot orange essential oil.
Mix bergamot essential oil with water vapour and use it as an aromatherapy treatment. It can be also added to homemade candles or air fresheners so that relaxing scent of the bergamot orange.
Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile tea is known for its relaxing and sedating properties, but its essential oil also has been used for centuries for treating various anxiety and stress-related conditions.
Chamomile essential oil has been used for:
- Anxiety relief
- Promoting better sleep
- Digestion problems and treating nervous stomach
- Pain relief
However, there is strong evidence that Chamomile essential oil can reduce anxiety symptoms. Chamomile therapy can reduce anxiety levels by reducing morning cortisol levels. Chamomile essential oil can also be used in treating depression. Long term treatment with chamomile essential oil can reduce depression symptoms.
How to Use Chamomile Essential Oil?
There are numerous health benefits of using chamomile essential oil in aromatherapy. If you have anxiety-induced sleeping problems, try inhaling the scent of chamomile essential oil. You can use it in a diffuser, which will spread the evaporated scent of chamomile essential oil through a room.
Chamomile essential oil can be used in massage or bath oil. Make sure to dilute it with a carrier oil before skin contact. You can also make a compress by soaking the towel in warm water and adding a few drops of diluted chamomile oil.
Valerian Essential Oil
Valerian oil, a powerful herb with sedative qualities, is a safe and effective all-natural remedy for sleep and stress-related conditions. If you are feeling tired and yet unable to relax and sleep at night, Valerian essential oil might be the key for relaxing and promoting better sleep.
Valerian essential oil is abundant in sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenols – compounds that help carry oxygen to the brain and lift the mood. Valerian essential oil can treat cognitive disorders, anxiety, insomnia, and stress-related disorders.
Valerian essential oil can inhibit the breakdown of gamma-aminobutyric acid, a compound that regulates nerve activity, affecting the brain and nervous system. When this reaction occurs, we experience a feeling of calm and relaxation. Low levels of GABA have also been linked to anxiety and poor sleep quality.
How to Use Valerian Essential Oil?
One of the best ways to incorporate valerian in your daily routine for anxiety relief is to use it in aromatherapy. Simply put a few drops on your temples and massage gently. Aromatherapy with valerian essential oil will reduce your headaches, treat insomnia, stress and tension. It’s not necessary to dilute valerian oil with a carrier oil, if your skin isn’t super-sensitive.
Put some of the valerian essential oil into the diffuser in your bedroom before going to sleep, and it’s relaxing scent will fill out the room providing you with calm and restful sleep.
Holy Basil Essential Oil
Holy Basil essential oil is also known as tulsi essential Oil and it acts as an adaptogen. Adaptogens, in general, can help your body adapt to stress and to promote mental clarity and balance. Adaptogen herbs such as Holy Basil and can either stimulate or sedate, depending on what the body needs at that moment.
According to some research Holy Basil oil has antidepressant and anti-anxiety properties comparable to diazepam and antidepressant drugs thanks to its high content of phenol compounds.
Holy Basil essential oil is rich in a component called eugenol. Apart from having anti-anxiety properties, eugenol can also help boost the immune system. Holy basil is also high in antioxidants and helps your body detox.
How to Use Holy Basil Essential Oil
The eugenol from Holy Basil has a powerful fragrance, so little goes a long way. Add a few drops to an aromatherapy diffuser and inhale as the oil is dispersed throughout the room. Holy Basil may be a strong skin irritant, do dilute it with a carrier oil for direct skin contact. Holy Basil essential oil blends well with lavender, clary sage, bergamot, orange and rosemary.
Clary Sage Essential Oil
Clary sage essential oil has calming abilities can be used as an aphrodisiac. It works by reducing the cortisol levels, especially in women. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and its high levels can lead to adrenal fatigue, stress and anxiety.
Clary Sage essential oil is widely used in aromatherapy because its powerful scent can calm nerves and reduce the feeling of anxiety. Some studies indicate that clary sage oil could be beneficial for depression by acting as an anti-stressor.
It has been shown to be particularly helpful with menopausal women. Scalerol is one component of clary sage essential oil which acts like estrogen in the body. Because of this, clary sage can be effective at reducing menopause symptoms and reducing hot flashes.
How to Use Clary Sage Essential Oil?
You can breathe in deeply the scent of clary sage essential oil or mix it with water and use it as a room spray. If you are struggling with insomnia, spray some of the clary sage essential oil on your cushions to provide yourself peaceful sleep.
Don’t apply essential oils directly to your skin. You can dilute it with jojoba or almond oil and use it as a massage oil. The good sports to apply Clary Sage essential oils are temples and wrists.
Lemon Essential Oil
The lemon essential oil has a strong, citrus scent with revitalizing properties. The lemon essential oil has a powerful calming and mood-improving effect. In fact, some studies suggest how lemon essential oil can relieve stress more effectively when compared to lavender and rose oil.
A small study showed that lemon essential oil can reduce anxiety symptoms among people after undergoing surgeries. The oil itself has a fresh and uplifting aroma, but there is strong science-backed indicator that lemon essential oil can reduce anxiety and stress.
Lemon essential oil not only can boost your mood, but it can also enhance your cognitive abilities. Because of this, it is particularly popular among students. It has been shown that students performed much better on their exams when their classroom was diffused with lemon oil.
The lemon essential oil can be used as a natural analgesic, as it acts as a pain reliever.
How to Use Lemon Essential Oil?
The lemon essential oil can be either diffused or applied on your skin. Prior to applying it on your skin, mix it with a carrier oil. Try to avoid applying it on your face as it might be too aggressive for sensitive skin. Also, make sure to wash off all oil from your skin before sun exposure.
Rose Essential Oil
Rose essential oil is extracted from rose pedals. The relaxing floral scent of rose has the ability to relax the senses and reduce anxiety. The essential oil of Rose has a broad range of health benefits. It reduces blood pressure, heart rates, breathing rates and cortisol levels. Reducing cortisol levels is important in treating anxiety.
Rose essential oil can also stimulate the release of the dopamine, also known as a happy hormone. The production of dopamine has a beneficial role in relieving the symptoms of depression.
One of the benefits of using rose essential oil in aromatherapy is the stimulation of the sex drive. It can be used as an aphrodisiac and studies have found that inhaling rose oil increases sexual desire among man and woman.
How to Use Rose Essential Oil?
If you want to prepare yourself a relaxing hot tub, add a few drops of rose essential oils to provide yourself even better relaxing experience. If you are using rose essential oil to treat anxiety, stress or depression you can use it in a diffuser or apply it directly on your body spots like chest, neck and wrists.
Rose oil, like many other essential oils, should not be ingested.
Vetiver Essential Oil
Vetiver oil has multiple anti-anxiety properties which makes it one of the best essential oils for anxiety. This promising oil for aromatherapy can help you with anxiety, stress, mental fatigue and ADHD. Inhaling the scent of Vetiver oil may help your brain feel more awake if you’re struggling to focus on a task or remain alert to what’s happening around you.
Vetiver essential oil is getting more and more popular treatment for ADHD. As it can decrease mental fatigue and improve alertness, it can help treat ADHD.
How to use Vetiver essential oil
Vetiver essential oil safe to inhale when it’s been distilled and released as a vapour. Using an aromatherapy diffuser to inhale the scent of pure vetiver oil is one way to use it for health benefits.
You may also try applying vetiver oil directly on your skin. Vetiver oil should always be diluted using a carrier oil. Add 1-2 drops of vetiver oil to carrier oil. You can gradually increase the amount of vetiver oil in the mixture.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Ylang Ylang essential oil is derived from the star-shaped flowers of the tropical Ylang Ylang tree. Used in aromatherapy Ylang Ylang essential Oil soothes stress, anxiety, sadness, tension, and sleeplessness.
The main chemical constituents of Ylang Ylang essential oil are Linalool and Geraniol which makes it one of the best essential oils for anxiety.
Lilanol is believed to have the following benefits:
Geraniol has the following benefits:
However, Ylang Ylang essential oil contains several allergens such as isoeugenol and it can be irritating to the skin.
How to use Ylang Ylang essential oil?
To create an aromatherapy diffuser blend that promotes positivity, happiness, and optimism, combine 2 drops Ylang Ylang Essential Oil, 2 drops Grapefruit Essential Oil and 1 drop Bergamot Essential Oil. To
As we already said, Ylang Ylang essential oil isn’t recommended for topical because it can be irritating for the skin. Before topical use, always dilute it with a carrier oil. Ylang ylang can also be inhaled as an aromatherapy treatment by using in a room diffuser.
Ylang Ylang essential oils should be stored in a cool and dark place.
Neroli Essential Oil
Neroli oil is an essential oil, extracted from the flowers of bitter orange trees. Some people call it orange blossom oil. Some evidence suggests that Neroli oil has benefits for conditions like:
- high blood pressure
- menopausal symptoms.
Neroli essential oil is said to reduce inflammation, alleviate stress, stimulate circulation, and enhance mood. Inhaling the aroma of neroli essential oil (or absorbing the oil through the skin) is thought to transmit messages to a brain region involved in controlling emotions. Known as the limbic system, this brain region also influences the nervous system.
Proponents suggest that essential oils may affect several biological factors, including heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.
How to use Neroli Essential Oil?
When combined with a carrier oil Neroli essential oil can be applied directly to the skin or added to baths in small amounts. Neroli essential oil can also be inhaled after sprinkling a drop or two of the oil onto a cloth or tissue, or by using an aromatherapy diffuser or vaporizer.
The oil is well combined with other essential oils, such as basil, tangerine, and lime. The usual dilution is 2 to 6 drops of essential oil in an ounce of carrier oil such as olive oil.
Oils for Anxiety: What to Know Before Use
Now that we went through the list of best essential oils for anxiety, before you start using them, there are few things that you should consider. First, not all essential oils on the market have the same quality.
The quality of essential oils is defined by various factors. First, the label of the package should include which plant it has been extracted from, the country of origin and the method of extraction. Secondly, it would be advisable to look if it is indicated somewhere that it is a 100% natural essential oil. You must include from which part of the part it has been extracted. An essential oil obtained from the roots, leaves or stem is not the same.
One thing to keep in mind is that essential oil is no substitute for seeing your doctor. If you have a stressful day at work or you’re anxious because you have an important appointment, an aromatherapy session or two might be just what you need.
But if you experience chronic anxiety that interferes with daily activities, call your doctor or mental health professional. They can work with you to develop a management plan tailored to your needs.