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Essential Oils for Anxiety: What’s the 411?

Essential oils are mysterious and powerful natural products. Throughout history, they were used as perfumes and to add extra flavor to foods. Since ancient times these miraculous oils have been recognized for their medicinal values and today still, various essential oils are thought to be invaluable.

These naturally scented oils are the aromatic compounds that you can find in nature. Essential oils come in various forms. They can be found in body oils, lotions and liquids and their main purpose is to boost well-being through aromatherapy.

If you think about it, essential oils are quite versatile. On top of giving off a nice smell; they can have wondrous benefits for your psychological and overall health.

Several scientific studies have shown that aromatherapy may have the potential to reduce stress, anxiety, and insomnia. You may be wondering if they really work. Essential oils for anxiety may be surprisingly effective.

Let’s begin your crash course on essential oils and the benefits they may have for anxiety!

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is basically the natural response your body has to stress. Are you familiar with that fearful feeling about things to come? Think about how you felt on our first day back at school or about the dreadful panicky feeling you get before giving a speech. That nervous feeling is anxiety in a nutshell and most of us experience it at some point in our lives.

For certain people however, anxiety is not as commonplace as for others. If you have extreme feelings of anxiety or if you feel anxious constantly over a period of weeks or months you may very well have an anxiety disorder.

It is normal to have some level of anxiety about various life experiences and even though it can be unpleasant, you may actually be motivated by your anxiety to achieve greater things in life. This type of ordinary anxiety comes and goes and under normal circumstances it does not interfere with your life.

Those who struggle with anxiety disorders may find the everyday activities that many of us take for granted rather challenging and their symptoms get in the way of them living normal lives. They are confronted with feelings of fear and apprehension most of the time.

In extreme cases, anxiety may affect individuals in such a way that they stop doing the things they once enjoyed. They may not even be able to enter elevators, cross streets or leave their homes. If this kind of anxiety is not treated properly, it might get worse.

Anxiety affects people in different ways. Feelings of anxiety can range from an unsteady feeling in the stomach to a racing heart. Some may feel out of control or disconnected from the bodies. Others may find it difficult to keep unwelcome thoughts out of their minds.

The symptoms that make life difficult for those who suffer from anxiety include:

  • An increased heart rate
  • More rapid breathing
  • Feelings of restlessness
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty falling asleep

An anxiety attack is characterized by a feeling of overwhelming fear or apprehension. It may build slowly and it may worsen close to a stressful event. Many people who deal with anxiety tend to connect anxious feelings to specific events or situations and they may end up going to incredible lengths to avoid future feelings of anxiety.

The exact cause of anxiety is not clear, however, it has been suggested that a combination of factors can contribute to its development. Genetic factors, environmental factors and brain chemistry are all assumed to be involved. Additionally, researchers believe that the parts of the brain that control fear may hold answers to this mystery.

Stats About Anxiety

Anxiety disorders have become the most common type of emotional disorder and it can affect anyone at any stage in their life.

In the U.S. around 40 million adults are affected by anxiety disorders every year which is approximately 18.1% of the population.

Even though anxiety is highly treatable, only an estimated 36.9% of individuals suffering from this debilitating disorder receive treatment for it.

According to statistics, the likelihood of someone with an anxiety disorder to seek help from a doctor is 3-5 times higher than that of anyone who does not have problems with anxiety. They are also more or less 6 times more likely to receive in-hospital treatment for psychiatric disorders than people who don’t have anxiety disorders.

Many people who suffer from anxiety disorders tend to also suffer from co-occurring mental disorders or physical illnesses. It is common for someone who has an anxiety disorder to also have problems with depression and nearly 50% of people diagnosed with depression are eventually also diagnosed with a form of anxiety disorder.

What are the Traditional Treatments for Anxiety?

The traditional treatment for anxiety generally falls into the categories of psychotherapy and medication. In severe cases treatment can assist you in overcoming the symptoms that go along with anxiety to enable you to live a more manageable life.

Once your anxiety disorder has been diagnosed, you can explore the different treatment options with your health care provider.

Therapy for Anxiety

Meetings with a psychologist or therapist can help you learn about tools and strategies you can utilize to cope better with anxiety.

Medications for Anxiety

Some of the typical medications used in the treatment of anxiety are sedative medications and antidepressants. These medications play an important part in balancing your brain chemistry and in combatting the most disabling symptoms of anxiety disorders.

Home Remedies for Anxiety

In several cases medical treatment is not necessary for individuals struggling with anxiety. Home remedies or lifestyle changes may be more than helpful to provide them with the means to overcome the debilitating symptoms they cope with daily.

Most home remedies involve taking care of your body, participating in healthy activities and getting rid of unhealthy habits.

Examples of home remedies that can give you an advantage in your battle with anxiety are:

  • getting proper sleep
  • meditating
  • exercising regularly
  • eating healthy
  • avoiding caffeine and alcohol
  • quitting smoking

What Are Essential Oils?

The highly concentrated oils which are extracted from the flowers, roots, and leaves of plants are known as essential oils. These oils capture the scent and flavor of a plant and the unique aromatic compounds contained within essential oils are what give them a characteristic essence.

Essential oils can either be inhaled or applied to your skin. The chemicals found in essential oils can have a number of different effects on your body. They can work through stimulating your sense of smell or they can have medicinal effects after being absorbed by your skin.

Aromatherapy

In aromatherapy, molecules of essential oils are generally inhaled or they are absorbed through the skin. It is thought that they could possibly influence parts of the brain and nervous system. Additionally, essential oils can have an effect on certain hormones, the metabolism and other functions in the body.

Essential oils are commonly used to repel insects, boost mood and to ensure a good night’s rest. But, did you know that they can be used in aromatherapy to relieve anxiety?

Research has shown that essential oils for anxiety can significantly reduce the bothering symptoms associated with this condition. Although the effects of these magnificent oils still need to be studied more rigorously, the fact remains that aromatherapy is fast-acting as well as easy to apply.

Topical Use

Essential oils for anxiety are much too potent to be used directly on the skin. They need to be diluted with some or other kind of carrier oil before being applied to your skin. By diluting your essential oils before application, you reduce your risk for skin irritation. Almond oil, coconut oil, and jojoba oil are popular carrier oils.

Remember that essential oils may cause allergic reactions in certain people. It is highly advisable for you to do a patch test on an area of skin before you use essential oils for anxiety topically. Drop a little bit of diluted oil onto your wrist or elbow and cover it up with a bandage. You can check the area after 24 hours for any skin reactions like redness, itching or a rash. If you can spot these irritations, you are most likely allergic.

Various soaps, lotions, shampoos, and bath salts are enhanced with essential oils. You may have used them before during a massage or a spa treatment.

Oral Use

Essential oils for anxiety should absolutely not be ingested, ever! Ignore any claims on the internet that tell you otherwise. There is certainly not enough research on any specific essential oils to prove that they are safe to swallow and some of them are toxic.

Essential Oils for Anxiety

Essential Oil Effects

When essential oils for anxiety are absorbed through your skin or when you inhale their aromas they affect your body on a physiological level. Studies have found that aromatherapy can have measurable benefits for reducing anxiety, sleeplessness, and stress.

How Could Essential Oils Help With Anxiety?

Essential oils are most commonly used in folk medicine and Ayurveda to remedy anxiety.

The mode of action of essential oils for anxiety is pretty complex. Essential oils for anxiety contain compounds that can pass through the membranes of our skins. They can also be inhaled easily through the respiratory tract and our lungs. These compounds are distributed into the bloodstream following these initial entries from where they can reach target organs.

Moreover, receptor cells in the nose are activated when you inhale essential oils for anxiety. The signal is transmitted from there to specific parts of the brain where they activate the release of “messengers” like serotonin and endorphins. This is believed to result in a psychological feeling of relief.

If you had a particularly stressful day or if you are anxious before an important meeting, a session of aromatherapy can do wonders for your stress levels. However, you should keep in mind that it is no substitute for getting professional help from a doctor.

Commonly Used Essential Oils

Let’s jump right into learning about which essential oils you can try using to relieve your anxiety symptoms.

Lavender

Lavender wins the popularity award when it comes to aromatherapy oils. Experts argue that lavender can relax the brain and reduce anxiety.

Chamomile

If you can’t sleep, chamomile is your go-to essential oil. It is well-known for its sedating and relaxing properties. This essential oil for anxiety helps to calm an overactive mind.

Peppermint

Inhaling the rich scent of peppermint essential oil can relax you to reduce high levels of anxiety.

Bergamot

Bergamot is another one of the essential oils for anxiety that can improve your mood and relieve anxiety through its invigoratingly fresh citrus scent.

Frankincense

This aromatic essential oil has a musky and sweet scent that is considered to relieve anxiety.

Essential Oil Risks

Essential oils for anxiety are safe in general with minimal adverse effects. However, the following points are vitally important to keep in mind for your safety when using essential oils:

  • Essential oils should not be taken internally as they may be toxic.
  • These oils should not be applied to the skin at full strength.
  • Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding their babies should consult a healthcare professional before using any essential oils.
  • Seeing as essential oils for anxiety have therapeutic effects, it is best to seek advice from an expert to discuss whether the use of these oils is appropriate for you.

Can Essential Oils Help You?

Aromatherapy is practiced widely nowadays. From lavender essential oils to the oils of chamomile, the assorted scents of essential oils have relaxing properties which make them ideal for relieving anxiety.

While the currently available research on essential oils for anxiety is fairly limited, their benefits have nonetheless been explored and documented.

Considering the fact that essential oils for anxiety are not likely to cause harm, you could just as well test their effects to see which work for you. If you use essential oils regularly, over time you may find that simply inhaling their scents will assist you in recalling memories of feeling calm.

When life gives you essential oils for anxiety, why not try them?

References

  1. https://www.researchgate.net/publicatio/281114794_Essential_oils_used_in_aromatherapy_A_systemic_review
  2. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/221925405_The_Therapeutic_Benefits_of_Essential_Oils
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/essential-oils-for-anxiety
  4. https://www.elle.com/beauty/health-fitness/g22594459/best-essential-oils/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3588400/
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety
  7. https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics
  8. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-are-essential-oils#section2
  9. https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-are-essential-oils-88807
  10.  https://www.verywellhealth.com/aromatherapy-what-you-need-to-know-88168

Don’t Give Up! Try a Natural Anxiety Remedy Instead

Do you feel like you have reached a dead end? You may have started treatment for your anxiety problems and in the beginning, it worked like a charm. Lately, however, you have been experiencing those all too familiar fears that are driving you up the walls again.

Has this made you reluctant to start over with a treatment approach that you no longer believe in? Don’t give up!

You may have exhausted all the conventional treatments for anxiety that you can think of. But, have you tried a natural anxiety remedy?

The majority of available conventional treatment options for getting anxiety under control have important benefits. However, these treatments may have limited efficacy in the end. Moreover, people who use potent sedative-hypnotics chronically to help them overpower intense feelings of anxiety may be concerned about adverse effects, drug dependence or drug withdrawal.

Another problem is the fact that many people who struggle with the symptoms of anxiety have positive responses to their medications at first, but they tend to remain symptomatic in the long run.

Luckily, various non-medication alternatives are available to help you live a happy life without constant anxiety. Herbal remedies, vitamins, meditation, and exercise can all help to keep anxious feelings at bay. A natural anxiety remedy may just be the answer you are looking for.

What is Anxiety?

Generalized anxiety is characterized by psychological symptoms as well as physical symptoms like feelings of tension, heightened arousal and excessive worrying. These symptoms interfere with an individual’s social functioning and they may find everyday interactions unnecessarily challenging. For instance they may have problems performing well at work or in school and their anxiety may even affect their relationships.

The symptoms of generalized anxiety tend to change over time and they may last for several months. Various explanations have been proposed about the origin of chronic generalized anxiety. The condition most likely stems from the way in which the brain reacts to chronic stress at a neuronal level. It is suggested that neurotransmitters may play a part in activating the biological cascade that leads to the development of anxiety.

Panic attacks are short-lived surges of intense anxiety and they may be triggered by unexpected or terrifying situations. These attacks are also known to occur spontaneously in some people. Dizziness, hyperventilation, raised heartbeat, feelings of dread and an abnormal fear of dying are all symptoms associated with panic attacks. The duration and severity of the symptoms experienced during panic attacks may vary considerably. People who suffer from chronic attacks experience significant difficulties in their social and occupational lives.

Many people who suffer from panic attacks develop agoraphobia (a fear of large open spaces) or they end up avoiding situations that they associate with panic attacks they experienced in the past. These individuals may also suffer from insomnia, depression or other mental health issues.

Sometimes, symptoms that mimic generalized anxiety can be caused by other medical problems like thyroid disorders, diabetes or abnormal heart rhythms. In these scenarios, the symptoms typically resolve as soon as the underlying health issue responds to treatment.

Stats about Anxiety

Anxiety in all its sub-types has become a serious problem. It has overtaken depression in the United Sates as the leading disorder affecting mental health and an estimated 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety.

Combination Therapy

Some established mainstream treatments for relieving anxiety include supportive psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and prescription medications. Benzodiazepines and certain types of anti-depressant medications may be invaluable in the treatment of anxiety.

Combination therapy that makes use of psychotherapy along with medications is a popular approach for treating anxiety and it may be the perfect solution for many individuals.

Some people, however, may find that their medications are not helping or they may struggle with some of the adverse effects of their treatment regimens. This along with the sometimes limited effectiveness of conventional treatment options for anxiety invites the consideration of alternative, non-medical approaches.

Herbal Supplements

Various herbal remedies have been suggested as alternative treatment options for anxiety and its related symptoms. It should be noted, however, that the research in this field is still young and further studies are needed to enhance our understanding of the risks and benefits of herbal medicines.

If you are considering using a new herbal supplement as a natural anxiety remedy, be sure to talk to a doctor first. Some herbal remedies can interact with medications and this can lead to the development of serious side-effects.

Kava

Kava was used in traditional Polynesian cultures for ceremonial purposes and also as an inebriant. Alternative medical literature has shown that Kava can be potentially helpful for relieving anxiety. Various animal studies have indicated that the principal bio-active constituent of this herbal remedy can help to ease anxiety.

Research indicates that Kava can modulate anxiety through affecting the way that certain neurotransmitters like GABA and serotonin work in the nervous system.

Kava is usually well tolerated and it is non-addictive and non-hypnotic. Scientific evidence has indicated that it can significantly improve anxiety with minimal adverse effects. Some side-effects of Kava include headache, diarrhea, and drowsiness. Like any other herbal remedy, Kava can interact with other medications and therefore, you should only take it under the guidance of your health care provider.

Passion Flower

Around 500 known species of passionflower have been identified and this plant family is also known by the name “Passiflora”. Studies are available that support the idea that particular species have possible medicinal benefits. Passiflora incarnata, for instance, may be beneficial in the treatment of anxiety and insomnia.

This herb has a rich history as Native Americans used it to treat earaches, wounds, boils and liver problems. Spanish explorers named the plant for its resemblance to a crucifix and they learned about its impressive properties from native Peruvians. In Europe it was used for restlessness and agitation.

Today, passionflower is known for its possible advantages in the treatment of anxiety. The idea around its potential usefulness in relieving anxiety is that it boosts the levels of GABA in the brain. This compound characteristically lowers brain activity which means that passionflower may aid relaxation and improve sleep quality.

This herb is considered safe as long as the recommended dosage is taken. It may have some mild side-effects like sleepiness, confusion and dizziness. Passionflower should not be taken along with sedative medications and it may also not be safe to take during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Valerian Root

For thousands of years, the root of the Valerian plant has been used as a remedy for conditions like arthritis, digestive issues, sleeping problems, headaches and disorders involving the nervous system.

It is thought that Valerian root naturally increases the amount of the neurotransmitter known as gamma aminobutyric acid or GABA in the brain. This helps to regulate the nerve cells to calm anxiety. Interestingly; benzodiazepine medications, used to treat anxiety, work in the same way.

Natural Anxiety Remedy

More research is needed to enhance our understanding of the exact benefits of valerian. Nonetheless, some scientific studies have been presented that affirm the use of valerian root as a sleeping aid. Moreover, people who take valerian supplements have found that it can help them feel calm and reduce nervous tension.

Meditation and Mindfulness

Meditation helps you to slow down and take an outside look at the world without judgment. When it is used properly, meditation can assist in the reduction of stress and fatigue. Both mindfulness and meditation may be beneficial for reducing anxiety as they allow you to put your worries aside and be aware without fear.

Research supporting the fact that meditation may be a promising approach in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder has provided positive results. Additionally, mindfulness is strongly advised as a natural anxiety remedy.

For people living with anxiety, practicing meditation daily may help to release tension in the body and it can assist them in overcoming anxiety. The surprising advantages of meditation can go a long way and it becomes easier and increasingly effective with continued practice.

Yoga

Yoga can be a shockingly valuable natural anxiety remedy. Reviews have shown that yoga practices can counteract the effects of exaggerated stress responses and they may greatly assist people who experience problems like depression and anxiety. The impact of yoga can produce similar results to relaxation, exercise or socializing with friends.

You may find that yoga helps you to gain more control over your stress responses as it can lessen perceived stress and feelings of anxiety. In turn, this can lead to a reduced heart rate, lower blood pressure and it may also alleviate difficult breathing. Furthermore, yoga can assist the body in responding to stress in a more flexible fashion.

Yoga classes can be gentle and accommodating or they can be strenuous and a bit more challenging. Your style is most often based on your personal preference and your own physical ability.

For individuals who deal with anxiety or depression, yoga can be a very appealing way to manage their symptoms with less effort. Growing evidence supports this low-risk, highly effective natural health remedy for improving the troubling symptoms of anxiety. After all, scientific studies suggest that physical and mental health are essentially equivalent.

Dietary Changes

The way in which food and mental health is interconnected is starting to gain more and more attention.

Healthy guidelines popularly include things like eating a healthy balanced diet, staying properly hydrated by drinking enough water and limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol. These guidelines can be used along with other dietary considerations to help relieve anxiety.

A diet that is rich in whole grains, fruits and vegetables is much healthier than one made up of processed foods that contains large amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates. It is also important to eat regularly throughout the day and not to skip meals as dips in blood sugar levels can make you feel jittery which can worsen your anxiety symptoms.

In addition to eating a healthy diet, you can try eating specific foods to combat the negative effects of anxiety. Certain nutrients may help with anxiety in surprising ways.

  • Animal studies have shown that a diet low in magnesium can increase behaviors connected to anxiety. Foods like spinach, seeds, nuts and whole grains are high in magnesium and they may help to calm anxiety symptoms.
  • Oysters, liver, cashew nuts, egg yolks and beef are rich sources of zinc that has been linked with reduced anxiety.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish have possible benefits for reducing anxiety.
  • Probiotic foods like kefir and yogurt have been suggested to lower social anxiety.
  • B vitamins may help to ease stress and to stabilize moods. Vitamin B6, in particular, has been considered as a natural anxiety remedy as it can boost mood and keep the nervous system healthy.

Exercise

Regular exercise is healthy for your mind and body. It can enhance mood, promote sleeping quality and improve energy levels.

Exercise can provide relief from common issues brought on by anxiety and nervousness. For individuals with panic disorder and other conditions related to anxiety, exercise is a great way to release tension and to reduce feelings of worry and fear. Regular exercise can also assist the body in producing endorphins which are the natural mood-enhancing chemicals in the body. If you can stick to your training program, you may be able to adjust your sensitivity to stress reactions.

Exercising for at least 20-30 minutes a day can lower anxiety levels in people with generalized anxiety and improve their sense of well-being.

Talking With Your Doctor about the Right Changes for You

If you feel that your anxiety is interfering with your daily activities, speak to a doctor. They should be able to provide you with more information about the available treatment options.

Give a Natural Anxiety Remedy a Shot!

Many options are available to help people who struggle with anxiety day after day from conventional medications to natural remedies. While one type of treatment may work wonders for one person, it may not work for someone else.

If you keep an open mind, you can be guided toward a treatment option that suits you best. Try not to stand in your own way of being anxiety free by giving up hope!

References:

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/generalized-anxiety-disorder/expert-answers/herbal-treatment-for-anxiety/faq-20057945
  2. https://www.pharmacytimes.com/contributor/cate-sibley-pharmd/2017/10/10-natural-remedies-to-consider-for-treating-anxiety
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201702/treating-anxiety-without-using-prescription-medications
  4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/integrative-mental-health-care/201703/kava-is-effective-and-safe-treatment-anxiety
  5. https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/calming-effects-of-passionflower
  6. https://www.verywellmind.com/how-is-valerian-root-used-for-social-anxiety-3024974
  7. https://www.verywellmind.com/the-benefits-of-meditation-for-generalized-anxiety-disorder-4143127
  8. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression
  9. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/nutritional-strategies-to-ease-anxiety-201604139441
  10. https://www.verywellmind.com/physical-exercise-for-panic-disorder-and-anxiety-2584094