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
- 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.
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.
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.
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 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 wins the popularity award when it comes to aromatherapy oils. Experts argue that lavender can relax the brain and reduce anxiety.
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.
Inhaling the rich scent of peppermint essential oil can relax you to reduce high levels of anxiety.
Bergamot is another one of the essential oils for anxiety that can improve your mood and relieve anxiety through its invigoratingly fresh citrus scent.
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?