10 Best Essential Oils To Help Relieve Anxiety and Stress

You may associate essential oils with aromatherapy products and fancy day spas. But certain varieties of these essential oils may have legit benefits when it comes to relieving anxiety and stress?

According to Dr Yufang Lin, an integrative medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, essential oils work through inhalation or through topical application and have mind-body benefits. For inhalation, use essential oils as a room spray or via a diffuser. A few drops on a pendant worn close to the skin also allow for a slow release over time.

Apply essential oils topically to a carrier oil and use as a perfume, massage oil, cream, or salves. Adding essential oil to your bath is a wonderful way to relax at the end of the day, says Dr Lin.

“The quickest way to change one’s mood is through smell, thus essential oil is an excellent way to reduce anxiety and support relaxation,” says Dr Lin. “However, it takes a lot of herbs to make a small amount of essential oil, which makes it a strong medicine that should be used judiciously.”

While research on essential oils for mental health benefits is still expanding, there is some info to suggest that certain oils may work for things like stress relief, better sleep, and more. Plus, some studies suggest essential oils can influence blood pressure and heart rate. That’s likely because when you inhale an essential oil, they go straight through your olfactory nerves (the ones for scent) and travel to the amygdala, the emotional centre of the brain, impacting mood.

The thing is, though, even if one study shows that a particular scent is great for, say, reducing anxious feelings, it may not work for every single person. If you don’t enjoy a scent, you probably won’t feel much better after sniffing it, for instance.

Which essential oils help with anxiety?

These essential oils below reduce anxiety in human studies, says Dr Lin. Other scents are also commonly used to reduce anxiety and support relaxation. But we need research beyond animal studies to know if they have real benefits for people.

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Orange
  • Sweet marjoram
  • CBD

Faithful to Nature De-Stress Organic Essential Oil

This blend of essential oils, with lavender and ylang ylang will have you zen out.

The Body Shop Sleep Essential Oil

Let lavender and vetiver help you drift off into sweet repose.

Wellness Calm Organic Essential Oil

Lemon, cedarwood, lavender and ylang ylang blend to ease stress and anxiety away.

The essential oils ahead have been shown to help people feel calmer and more relaxed, says Dr Lin. One potential caveat is that most people have scent memory. For instance, if a person has a negative memory associated with a particular scent, they may not feel relaxed when they smell that scent, she explains.

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Sweet orange
  • Peppermint
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Rose Luxury Scented Candle

Lavender promotes relaxation while peppermint adds some pep.

Soylites Serenity Candle

GM-free soya creates a nourishing massage oil, combined with calming and relaxing lavender and chamomile.

L’Occitane Relaxing Candle

Take a moment, destress and relax with this lavender, geranium and orange blossom-infused candle. Aaah.

What are the potential side effects of essential oils?

It’s important to remember potential side effects, as they can be mild to severe. For one thing, certain essential oils (citrus in particular) can cause photosensitivity — meaning you can get a sunburn more easily after using an orange essential oil on the skin, says Dr Lin. (This is why it’s a common recommendation to dilute oils before applying them topically, just to be extra cautious.)

Additionally, some essential oils are safe in small amounts but can be dangerous in higher doses. “Tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils are commonly used for their antimicrobial benefits. But in excess, can cause nerve and liver damage,” says Dr Lin. “Some essential oils are toxic in general and should not be used — arnicaparsleyrue, and tansy are a few that fall into this category.”

Finally, do not ingest essential oil without supervision from a trained herbalist. Be extra cautious using essential oils around young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and small pets because they are most at risk for toxicity and side effects, she says.

The bottom line: Research on using essential oils to ease anxiety or reduce stress is growing, but remains limited. But if you’re a healthy adult and are using essential oils safely and at the guidance of your doctor, there is little harm in testing some oils out to see which ones help you feel mentally better.



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