Essential Oils for Anxiety: Effectiveness, Safety and Best Oils

Anxiety is a natural stress response that might be useful in some circumstances. It can warn us about impending dangers and assist us in strategizing and paying more attention. Anxiety can manifest in various ways, including cognitive, psychological, and physical manifestations.

Anxiety is a part of life that is unavoidable. However, some people suffer from long periods of anxiety, which can be dangerous to their health. Anxiety disorders develop when anxiety and stress are persistent and disruptive. (1

There are various coping skills for anxiety and therapy alternatives available, including herbs for anxiety, tapping for anxiety, and fidget toys for anxiety. Aromatherapy is another excellent addition to the list.

Aromatherapy, often known as essential oil therapy, is a technique that uses essential oils for mental and physical well-being; if you want to get rid of your anxiety, using a therapy approach that has little or no side effects essential oils are a good option. (2)

Let us learn more about aromatherapy and essential oils, including how they may assist with anxiety, how to administer them, and other useful information.

What is Aromatherapy?

Aromatherapy is regarded as both a science and an art. Aromatherapy has recently acquired popularity in the domains of science and medicine.

Aromatherapy is a sustainable therapeutic technique that promotes health and well-being and is also believed to aid in relieving anxiety by using natural plant extracts. It is also known as an essential oil treatment. Aromatherapy employs aromatic essential oils to promote the health of the body, mind, and soul. (3

Essential oils derived from plant sources such as flowers, leaves, seeds, fruits, and roots are used in aromatherapy for anxiety. There are physiological and psychological benefits when these oils are breathed or absorbed through the skin.

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What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are fragrant liquids derived from plants, flowers, and fruits. Aromatherapy with some essential oils, according to research, may aid in relaxation and anxiety relief.

Essential oils are produced by steaming or pressing different parts of a plant, such as flowers, bark, leaves, or fruit, to extract the fragrance-producing chemicals. A single essential oil bottle can be made from many pounds of plant material. Essential oils serve a variety of purposes in plants, including small production. (4)

Essential oils are not mixed with any other chemicals or scents. They are manufactured with a special procedure that does not alter the plant’s chemistry.

When used in conjunction with other stress-relieving approaches, essential oils can help you relax. When anxiety hits, there are a number of essential oils that might assist.

You may use essential oils in various ways to reap their advantages. Essential oils can be utilized in diluted form in a diffuser, a few diluted drops in a warm bath, or you can apply diluted essential oils directly to the skin.

How do Essential Oils Help with Anxiety?

Essential oils can be used as efficient tools for relaxation and anxiety relief. More research on the effectiveness of essential oils is needed, but they appear to be beneficial for many people with anecdotal experience, and unlike prescription anxiety medications, they have few side effects.

Although essential oils cannot treat anxiety, they can encourage a positive mood and have a favourable impact on the body and mind. Aromatherapy activates your nose’s smell receptors, which provide information to your brain via your nervous system. (5)

According to some experts, applying essential oils to your skin causes a reaction in your skin and other parts of your body, including your joints. (6)

Essential oils may trigger certain brain parts, such as your limbic system, which governs your emotions. They may also have an effect on your hypothalamus, which reacts to the oil by releasing feel-good chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. (7)

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Effectiveness of essential oils

Essential oils are claimed to be natural cures for a variety of ailments; however, there is not enough evidence to prove their efficacy in human health.

Some research reveals that essential oils have a benefit, while others show no change in symptoms. Essential oils have been studied in clinical studies to see if they might help with anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and reduced appetite.

A four-week aromatherapy program for older people with chronic pain was proven to be beneficial in lowering levels of stress, anxiety, and depression in a research published in the journal Biomedical Research International. (8)

Although these findings are encouraging, they are based on single small research that has to be validated on a bigger scale. Only until there is a large enough amount of study evidence to support the efficacy of aromatherapy will it be feasible to say with certainty that this approach to anxiety relief has a scientific basis.

How to Use Essential Oils for Anxiety?

Essential oils are available in a wide range of quality, from pure essential oils to those diluted with inexpensive substances. Since there is no regulation, the label on the bottle you are buying may not even list everything in it. As a result, essential oils should never be ingested.

There are various ways to use essential oils and get the most out of them. The following are some of the safest and most efficient methods to utilize essential oils:

Diffused

Essential oils pass through the olfactory system into our brains, where they can have various effects on the body, including controlling nervous system reactions and fostering calm. Using a diffuser, you may fill every area in your house with the oil’s aroma. It is important to remember that a diffuser should only be used occasionally and for a few hours a day. (9)

Inhaled

Breathing deeply is one of the simplest ways to demonstrate to your body that you are in control. Deep breathing can lower cortisol levels by calming the body and regulating the heart rate. (10)

Begin by doing the deep breathing exercise at the start of each hour, along with your favourite soothing essential oil.

Place a few drops of the oil on a tissue and carry it in your pocket, or put it on an aromatherapy jewelry piece like anxiety bracelets. Aromatherapy jewelry is also quite popular and absorbs the aroma of essential oils naturally.

Bath 

You may include essential oils in your bath. To help you relax when soaking in the tub, add around five drops of your favourite essential oil to the running water.

Massage

Essential oils can be utilized as a part of a massage, whether you do it yourself or employ a professional. First, dilute the oils with a carrier oil like apricot kernel or sweet almond oil.

Essential oils applied topically with massage can be beneficial on several levels: you will inhale them, your skin may absorb some of the oils, and the massaging itself may amplify the oils’ benefits. (11)

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Are Essential Oils Safe?

It is crucial to remember that essential oils have not been authorized by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are not fully researched or controlled, and there is little research to back up their effectiveness for anxiety and other mental health issues.

Before using aromatherapy to relieve anxiety, you should be aware of the possible side effects of certain oils, such as skin irritation. Aromatherapy is usually considered to be safe. Essential oils might have negative side effects, i.e., they may irritate your eyes, skin, or nasal mucous membranes. They can also trigger minor allergic responses in certain people.

Remember to undertake a skin patch test before using essential oils because citrus essential oils might make your skin more susceptible to the sun, so avoid them if you are outside in the sun.

Essential oils should be used with caution and under the supervision of a doctor by children and women who are pregnant or nursing. Some oils should be avoided, and essential oils should never be swallowed to avoid the side effects.

Best Essential Oils for Anxiety

The essential oils you choose will be determined by the outcomes you want to achieve. The following is a list of ten of the best essential oils that are regularly used and thought to assist with anxiety. You should keep in mind that all of the medical and therapeutic claims related to these oils have not been proven in studies. 

Valerian

Valerian essential oil is extracted from the plant’s roots and has a strong aroma that has been characterized as woody, earthy, or musky. (12)

Valerian is known to contain chemicals that help people sleep better and relax their nerves. It has a sedative impact on the human body. Seven research on valerian and anxiety were investigated in a review of the advantages of valerian for sleep and other related diseases. When valerian was utilized as an anxiety supplement in six of these investigations, the results were positive. (13)

Along with its sleep and anxiety benefits, valerian can also aid with headaches, shaking, and heart palpitations.

Lavender

Lavender essential oils are extensively used by aromatherapists, who claim that they offer anti-inflammatory, physically relaxing, and anti-anxiety effects.

Lavender oil has a sedative effect and may assist with sleep issues if stress or anxiety keeps you awake at night. It may also help relieve anxiety before surgery and cosmetic operations and during a stay in an ICU.

According to research, Lavender aromatherapy is intended to lower anxiety by influencing the limbic system, the brain area that governs emotions. (14)

Massaging with lavender and inhaling it has been shown to improve anxiety levels on a scientifically recognized scale.

Jasmine

Jasmine oil has a lovely flowery aroma and is frequently included in perfumes. Unlike some other anxiety-relieving essential oils, jasmine oil is supposed to relax the nervous system without making you sleepy. Some people may experience a stimulant effect on the outcome.

The effects of jasmine extract on rats were investigated in a 2017 research, and it was found that lower amounts of jasmine extract were shown to greatly reduce anxiety. (15) Jasmine may be utilized to help you stay in control of your emotions. It can be used as an aphrodisiac as well.

Bergamot

Bergamot oil is derived from the fruit’s peel or zest and has a refreshing citrus smell. It has a relaxing impact and can aid in anxiety reduction. Bergamot has been discovered to help reduce anxiety and boost mood in both animal and human studies, according to 2015 research. (16)

Researchers discovered that 15 minutes of exposure to bergamot essential oil increased happy moods in a short study exploring the effects of inhalation of bergamot essential oil. (17)

If you are going to be outside in the sun, do not put bergamot essential oil on your skin since it might make you more sensitive to the sun and cause sunburns.

Chamomile

Chamomile oil is extracted from the chamomile plant’s daisy-like blossoms. It is recognized for its calming and sedative qualities and its lovely aroma. It is frequently used as an ingredient in herbal teas to promote restful sleep.

The use of chamomile supplements for people with a generalized anxiety disorder was studied, and it was discovered that using chamomile supplements decreased the symptoms of minor to moderate GAD. (18)

Rose

Rose petals are used to obtain rose essential oil. Roses have a lovely sweet, flowery aroma that is said to calm the senses.

Small research analyzed the effects of aromatherapy self-massage with a mixture of essential oils, including rose oil, on menstrual pain and anxiety and found that it linked to reduced levels of pain and anxiety. (19)

Another study discovered that pregnant women who utilized an aromatherapy footbath had lower anxiety levels. (20)

Clary Sage

The scent of clary sage is woody and herbal. The essential oil is extracted from the plant’s purple-tinged leaves.

According to a comprehensive study, clary sage can help women relax and control their cortisol levels. (21) Cortisol is a stress hormone, and its high levels might put you at risk for anxiety and despair.

Clary sage oil is commonly used as an aphrodisiac due to its relaxing properties. It can also be used to relieve menstruation and muscular cramps. Clary sage is also known to have anti-depressant properties.

Frankincense 

The resin of the Boswellia tree is used to prepare Frankincense oil. It smells musky and sweet.

According to the researchers, the application of frankincense oil to the rats’ skin appeared to offset the effects of stress. They claim that frankincense oil can aid with stress management.

Only a little human research on frankincense oil and anxiety has been conducted. Two trials using frankincense aromatherapy dramatically lowered anxiety in women during birth, according to a review published in 2020. (22)

Patchouli

Patchouli is an ayurvedic herb, and the essential oil is prepared from its leaves and stems. It is used to treat various ailments, including anxiety and stress. 

Patchouli may be used alone, although it is more commonly mixed with other essential oils like lavender. It is considered to enhance peace and relaxation.

The implications of inhaled patchouli oil on emergency care nurses were studied in a 2020 research, and it was found that nurses who breathed patchouli oil had lower stress levels and higher empathy levels. (23)

Fennel

Fennel is a plant that is most commonly used as a spice in cooking. The seeds of the fennel plant are used to make fennel essential oil. It is thought to provide a relaxing effect and lowered anxiety and stress.

In a study on mice, researchers discovered that giving fennel essential oil orally at various levels decreased anxiety behaviours in the mice. (24) Fennel was found to aid with menopausal symptoms like anxiety, hot flashes, sleep issues, and sadness in 2017 research. (25)

Fennel oil can also be used to treat digestive issues, which are a typical indication of anxiety. It has also been used for menstruation irregularities, cough relief, and diuretic purposes.

Essential are often blended in an oil burner, in addition to utilizing oils on their own, to be more successful in improving sleep and mood. However, you should be mindful of bad consequences before attempting this strategy to deal with anxiety, and you should see a professional before using any combination.

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Conclusion

Essential oils are fragrant liquids extracted from a variety of plants. Many individuals find that using essential oils in aromatherapy may help them relax and ease stress and anxiety.

If you have been experiencing anxiety symptoms, the first step should always be to seek diagnosis and treatment from a medical or mental health professional. At the same time, you can try essential oils for anxiety to see if they assist, but these should never be used to replace professional aid.

An aromatherapy session or two may be what you need if you have had a difficult day at work or are anxious about an important appointment. However, if you have high-functioning anxiety interfering with your regular activities, you should see a doctor. They may collaborate with you to create a management strategy appropriate for your requirements.

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