Five Essential Oils For Reducing Anxiety
Anxiety is a debilitating condition that is becoming more and more common.
According to figures from the Mental Health Foundation, 4.7 per cent of the UK population suffers from anxiety, while 9.7 per cent have mixed depression and anxiety.
What’s more, 1.2 per cent experience panic disorders. With just 2.6 per cent of the population suffering from depression on its own, anxiety is the most prevalent mental health condition in Britain.
There are several ways to treat anxiety, from forms of therapy to medication. However, these approaches in the long-term aren’t necessarily sustainable solutions and many find toxic medications more harmful than helpful.
Essential oils are a natural, proven way to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety and restore a healthy balance. Used alongside other treatments, such as cognitive behavioural therapy, they can restore calm and enhance mood, without giving off any side effects. This makes essential oils a long-term solution for those with anxiety.
In a 2012 study in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, researchers found that essential oils commonly used to treat stress, such as bergamot, lowered heart rate and blood pressure following short-term exposure. In addition to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, this has positive effects on the symptoms of anxiety.
An increased heart rate and blood pressure are common signs of anxiety and by using essential oils for no longer than an hour, researchers found these symptoms to reduce. However, when exposure to essential oils lasts longer than an hour, scientists believe the beneficial effects are reversed.
Other research has shown how essential oils can help to treat the psychological pressures too, especially when used alongside other treatments. In 2007, a study in the Journal of Clinical Nursing found that aromatherapy massages given to nurses working in accident and emergency reduced anxiety levels dramatically. Participants in the study received massages while listening to music over a 12 week period.
Marie Cooke, deputy head of the School of Nursing and Midwifery at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, explained: “During both study periods the number of staff feeling stressed fell to 8 percent, but there was a greater reduction in winter, when the number fell from 65 percent, than in the summer, when the pre-massage score was 54 percent.”
Which essential oils help with anxiety?
Some of the best essentials oils for treating anxiety are bergamot, lavender, frankincense, sweet orange and patchouli.
Bergamot essential oil
In 2011, a study at the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that bergamot essential oil worked to reduce hormone responses to stress, thereby suggesting it could be an effective means to treat anxiety. It is known as an uplifting oil that is believed to have a balancing effect on the nervous system.
Add a few drops to a vaporiser or burner while meditating or add eight drops to a warm bath and agitate the water.
Lavender essential oil
This is a highly versatile essential oil that can be used to treat multiple ailments, including anxiety. A study at United Hospital in St Paul, Minnesota USA, found that systematically using the essential oil reduced preoperative anxiety in surgical patients. It also has benefits among other anxiety sufferers and research has shown applications of the oils – whether through a vaporiser or burner, massage or warm bath – can reduce symptoms.
Frankincense essential oil
Frankincense is a sedative essential oil and can be used to relax anxiety sufferers. It helps to promote deep breathing and can reduce blood pressure, thereby restoring a calm to the body. Prior to a potentially stressful situation or when feelings of anxiety build up, use frankincense essential oil in a burner or vaporiser. Breathe deeply and relax.
Sweet orange essential oil
Studies have shown that sweet orange essential oil has the ability to treat both the subjective and physiologic measures of anxiety and stress. It improves mood and decreases cortisol levels, calming the body’s various systems. Add four to five drops of sweet orange essential oil to 10ml of carrier oil and massage into the back of the neck, wrists and the bottom of the feet. Do this before meditating for a powerful treatment.
Patchouli essential oil
This essential oil has a balancing effect and is known to help combat lethargy. Like frankincense, patchouli essential oil is a sedative that can help to relax those with anxiety. At the end of a stressful day add eight drops to a warm bath and agitate the water well to ensure even dispersion.
Copyright © Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2014. Written by Geoff Lyth