Top 10 Essential Oils for Stress and Anxiety

In this blog, I’d like to discuss the use of essential oils for managing stress, anxiety and mood. Aromatherapy stimulates the receptors in the nose and sends messages to our nervous system which impacts the body’s energy systems. This fragrant modality has been used for centuries to maintain and improve well-being.

Here’s my list of recommendations.

1. Chamomile
Chamomile has a wonderful scent and is used widely in oil and tea form for general relaxation. This study showed the effectiveness of chamomile for treating generalized anxiety disorders (chronic anxiety and neurosis).

Here’s one that’s blended with jojoba and ready to use out of the bottle:

2. Fennel
This delicious anise spice is more commonly known for its digestive properties but this study highlighted the use of fennel in reducing depression and anxiety in post-menopausal women.

Here’s one to try:

3. Frankincense
Frankincense oil is extracted from the resin of the Boswellia tree and it means ‘quality incense’ in old French. In the Christian religion, frankincense was a precious spice with great significance and value in ancient times – it was one of the first gifts given to Jesus by the wise men to symbolize his divinity. This oil has a musky, strong aroma with hints of pine and citrus. In this study, frankincense was used to reduce anxiety in women during the first stage of labor (I sure wish I knew about this during my childbirth!)

Frankincense is very expensive but you don’t need much so here’s one to try:

4. Geranium
Geranium oil is extracted from the stems, leaves and flowers of the geranium plant and this sweet-smelling oil has been used widely for mood and emotional wellness. This study also showed how geranium essential oil can effectively reduce anxiety for women during labor. Here’s one to try:

5. Holy Basil
This is from the same plant family but not the same basil that is common to Italian cuisine. Holy basil is called tulsi and has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine and contains eugenol, a compound that gives it a spicy, minty aroma. According to this study, holy basil was used effectively for treating anxiety, stress and depression.

Here’s one to try:

6. Jasmine
Jasmine oil can be used to increase your sense of well-being and calmness without the drowsiness factor. It also has a wonderful floral scent. This study showed that jasmine oil has stimulatory effects on the function of the nervous system promoting positive emotions. 

Here’s one to try:

7. Lavender
Lavender is a very popular oil and is thought to promote calmness by impacting the part of the brain that controls emotions. This study shows how lavender oil has been used to reduce pre-operative anxiety.

Here’s one to try:

8. Lemon Balm
Lemon balm has been used to support alertness, focus and a healthy mood. This study using lemon balm capsules demonstrates its effectiveness in reducing anxiety and improving sleep.  Lemon balm is readily available in edible capsules, tea and extract form. If using the essential oil, only use in a diffuser or in a bath.

Here’s one that’s ready to use out of the bottle and doesn’t need to be diluted:

9. Rose Oil
Rose oil, extracted from rose petals, has an intoxicating scent and in this study, it was observed that rose oil had physiological and psychological relaxation and anti-anxiety effects.   Remember that rose oil is not the same as the more common rosehip oil. Rosehip oil is produced from the fruits of various wild forms of the rose flower and is typically used as a carrier oil similar to jojoba or avocado oils. Pure rose oil is very expensive but if your wallet can handle it, here’s one to try:

Here’s a more affordable pre-blended version:

10. Valerian
Valerian is an herb that due to its mild sedative effect has been used over the centuries to promote sleep and calm nerves. This study shows the use of valerian to reduce anxiety and promote sleep.

Here’s one to try:

How to Use Essential Oils:

One of the easiest and safest ways to use essential oils is in a diffuser – they are inexpensive and do a great job of distributing the oil through the fine mist. With a diffuser, you only need 2-10 drops of pure oil (depending on the size of your diffuser) so more is not necessarily better. You can use it wherever you are during the day or put it in your bedroom in the evening. In lieu (pun intended) of a bathroom fragrance spray/odor remover, I use a diffuser and put 2-5 drops of different oil in depending on my mood. Or you can add them to a warm bath with a carrier oil (almond oil and jojoba oil feel great on the skin – half an ounce of carrier oil to 7 drops of essential oil is a good ratio you can pre-blend and add to your bath). Or you can find pre-blended essential oils if you don’t want to mix it up yourself. If you are on the go but looking for some essential oil relief, you can try this bracelet – just add a few drops into the cotton pad and it diffuses throughout the day. 

Diffuser Bracelet on Amazon

Safety Precautions:

  • Do not put ANY essential oil directly on your skin undiluted as it can burn and/or irritate the skin. Remember that more is not better when it comes to these concentrated oils!
  • Make sure you do NOT ingest essential oils – there’s insufficient research on safety for internal consumption despite claims that may suggest otherwise.

Here is the latest research on clinical aromatherapy and safety guidelines:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7520654/

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