Essential oils and diffusers are very trendy right now. They have been used for centuries to soothe and heal. Not just used to make your home smell nice, you can also use essential oils for stress and as a natural way to relieve anxiety. This is what aromatherapy is; the science and art of using scent for our health. And anyone can benefit from it.
Essential oils are highly concentrated, aromatic plant extracts generally derived through steam distillation. They are much stronger than the flowers, herbs, or trees they come from. Hundreds or even thousands of pounds of a plant can go into making just one pound of its essential oil.
Although essential oils are natural, they should be used with caution especially where children and pregnant women are concerned. So, consult with your local aromatherapist or natural healthcare practitioner before using essential oils.
Essential oils can be used many ways but the three most common are through inhalation, massage or in the bath.
Inhalation of essential oils can be done by using an essential oil diffuser, which causes the oils to vaporize into the air. Essential oils can also be inhaled directly from the bottle. A few drops can be placed on a tissue and wafted under the nose, or added to a bowl of hot water; the steam rising off the water can then be inhaled. They can also be made into air fresheners. Add 3 drops of essential oil to 1 Tbsp of vodka. Pour mixture into 1/4 cup of warm water in a spray bottle, shake well, and spritz.
Massage is another effective method. Be sure to dilute the essential oils in carrier oils such as almond, grapeseed, or jojoba, or in a lotion. The rule of thumb for mixing essential oils for massage is 3% dilution, or 20 drops of essential oil per 2 Tbsp of carrier oil.
Bathing in aromatic waters is an age-old ritual that is very beneficial for cleansing and relaxation. Using sea or Epsom salts, or a carrier oil as a base for your aromatic oils will ensure good dispersion throughout the water. Use 8 drops of essential oil per one cup of carrier of your choice.
Below are 5 essential oils that can help you manage stress and anxiety.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia): This smell is uplifting and earthy. It can help balance anxiety and stress and any feelings that can cause tension, agitation, and sometimes depression and insomnia. A 2013 study of more than 100 patients awaiting same-day surgery found that those exposed to bergamot aromatherapy experienced less anxiety than the control group.
Lemon (Citrus limonum): Offers a clean, fresh scent and can help uplift your mood and stimulate your mind. Animal studies have shown lemon fragrance has restorative effects on stress-induced suppression of the immune system. In addition, research suggests that a key component of citrus essential oils, limonene, has sedative effects.
Neroli (Citrus aurantium): This essential oil is highly aromatic and has a floral cent. It helps soothe nervous tension by acting as a mild sedative. A study of postmenopausal women found inhaling neroli for 5 minutes twice a day for 5 days helped lower blood pressure and showed promise as a stress reliever. Another study found neroli reduced pre-procedure anxiety among colonoscopy patients.
Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides): Smells sweet, floral, exotic, and intoxicating and is very beneficial when used therapeutically. It helps reduce anxiety and promote a state of calm. In a recent German study of Gardenia jasminoides, researchers found that inhalation of this oil acts as strongly on the brain as common pharmaceutical sleeping pills and mood enhancers.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): One of the most well-known scents, this floral scented essential oil helps decrease the symptoms of stress, among many other benefits. Research has shown lavender can help treat insomnia and reduce anticipatory anxiety. I place a drop of lavender essential oil on my pillow before bedtime to help me relax and get a more restful sleep.
Photo from here, with thanks.