Scents can have a very powerful effect on our emotions and mood. Essential oils are volatile oils that contain aromatic molecules that are able to cross the blood/brain barrier. Hence their direct effect on the parts of our brain that control stress, anxiety, fear, and depression.
Although severe cases of depression or anxiety cannot be cured through the use of essential oils alone, they can definitely help you on your way to reduce stress and relax body and mind.
3 Calming Essential Oils
Most anti-anxiety and antidepressant medication can cause dependence, aggravation of symptoms as well as other negative side effects. On the other hand, essential oils don’t have any side effects in most individuals (other then allergy symptoms).
Lavender is one if the most popular scent in aromatherapy. It’s also widely used in personal care items like soaps, lotions, bath products and massage oils because of its calming abilities.
Lavender has been proven to have anti-anxiety, antidepressant, mood stabilizing, sedative, and neuroprotective properties. It’s also used in the treatment of pain and tremors.
In fact, a 2007 study showed that lavender aromatherapy reduced serum cortisol—which plays a central role in the body’s response to stress—in healthy men.
It’s important to know what kind of lavender essential oil you have purchased: Lavender L. angustifolia is the relaxing breed of lavender, while lavandin Lavandula intermedia is a stimulant.
Bergamot is a variety of orange that grows primarily in Italy. The fruit is said to be too bitter to eat, but the peel is used to create bergamot oil, which is the key ingredient that gives Earl Grey Tea it’s distinct flavour.
The authors of a 2011 Taiwanese study selected elementary school teachers, who are known to constantly work under significant stress, and used an inhalation of bergamot C. aurantium var. bergamia essential oil as the method of administration.
Results showed that there were significant decreases in blood pressure, heart rate and activation of the parasympathetic nervous system also known as the rest and digest system.
Researchers also demonstrated in an animal study using mice that bergamot C. aurantium var. bergamia essential oil’s anxiety relieving properties can be as strong as diazepam (valium).
Sage is one of the basic herbs in European cooking. Not only does it have a wonderful, woody taste and smell, it also has antidepressant effects.
A controlled trial in 2013 suggested that clary sage S. sclarea essential oil may be useful—more so than lavender Lavandula angustifolia [Mill.]—in reducing stress for female patients undergoing urodynamic assessments.
Sage oil can be difficult to find in natural health food stores, but you can easily order it online or grow your own plant and rub the leaves between your fingers to release their oil.
How To Enjoy Aromatherapy
Essential Oils are highly concentrated and should not be used directly near the eyes. Some oils may also cause irritation if applied directly on the skin.
You can dilute essential oil with coconut oil to use for massage, or inhale by using a diffuser.
Here are a few quick & easy ways to use essential oils:
- Relaxing Bath Salts
The perfect way to calm down after an emotional day.
1 cup Epsom salt
1 cup kosher salt
½ cup baking soda
10 drops Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) essential oil
10 drops Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina) essential oil
Combine salts and soda in a jar with a lid.
Stir in essential oils & shake to promote even coating.
Store in cool, dark place.
Use about ¼ to ½ cup per bath.
- Anti-Stress Mist
The on-the-go solution to staying grounded.
5 drops of Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) oil
3 drops of Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina) oil
2 drops of Bergamot (Citrus aurantium var. bergamia) oil
4 oz of purified water
In a 4 ounces spray bottle, carefully add all of the essential oils.
Top off the bottle with purified water and tighten the cap.
Mix well and store in a cool, dark, place.
To use, shake and spray away from your face. Flick your wrist in a forward motion to brig the mist closer to your nose.
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