Depression affects about 1 in 10 Americans, and 80% of those affected aren’t getting proper treatment.
On the other hand, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., reaching almost 20% of the population.
One of the most effective ways to help these patients manage their symptoms is aromatherapy.
Some criticize it as being “pseudoscience” but it’s actually a well established medicine. Aromatherapy uses essential oils to relieve anxiety.
The US National Library of Medicine stated that there were more than 6500 studies which showed the health benefits of the essential oils. Furthermore, this number is increasing every day.
The essential oils used in aromatherapy are extracted from various plants and then distilled. One can inhale these oils either directly or indirectly, or apply them onto the skin in the form of lotions, bath salts, and massage oils.
Aromatherapy stimulates the smell receptors in the nose, and it sends message through the nervous system to the region of the brain responsible for controlling the emotions known as the limbic system.
3 Essential oils to relieve anxiety and depression
It grows primary in Italy and it is a variety of orange. Even though the fruit is too bitter to eat, bergamot oil can be made by its peel.
Many historical reports have proven that bergamot oil has antidepressant and calming properties. But, these claims are confirmed with scientific studies. A study from 2011 conducted in Taiwan included elementary school teachers, which work under major stress. They were supposed to use an inhalation of bergamot essential oil.
The results showed that 10-minute inhalation even in a week will reduce the heart rate and blood pressure, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Moreover, those who have high and moderate degrees of anxiety have more benefits compared to those with a light degree of anxiety.
An animal study has proven that bergamot oil can have as strong anxiety relieving properties as diazepam.
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.
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 (6).
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 (7).
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.
How to enjoy aromatherapy
You should not use the essential oils directly near the eye because they are highly concentrated. Some of the oils if are applied directly to the skin, it can cause irritation.
If you want to use the essential oil for a massage, you can dilute it with coconut oil. Or, use a diffuser if you want to inhale.
We show you some easy and simple ways how you can use the essential oils:
1. Relaxing bath
– One cup of Epsom salt
– Half a cup of baking soda
– Ten drops of sage essential oil
– Ten drops of bergamot essential oil
Mix the Epsom salt and the baking soda in a jar, and then add the essential oils to the mixture. Stir well so that you make sure that the ingredients all mixed well. Keep the jar in a cool and dark place. For one bath, you would need to use a quarter to a half cup of the mixture.
2. Anti-stress blend
– Two drops of bergamot essential oil
– Three drops of sage essential oil
– Five drops of lavender essential oil
– Four 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.
If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression and feel overwhelmed, talk to your doctor, naturopath or mental health provider to find a strategy to help you get back to your regular self. Aromatherapy is just one of the many tools that can help you recover.