There’s no question about it: stress can destroy your health. The role of stress in contributing to conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, as well as immune problems and inflammation, are now widely accepted. However, even though we know these risks, many of us are still left feeling like stress and worry are inescapable.
That’s where essential oils come in. Far from simply delivering a
pleasant smell, some researchers believe that these scents actually
trigger measurable responses in the brain that can induce relaxation,
thus reducing feelings of stress, worry, anxiety, and depression. The
University of Maryland’s Medical Center explains:
“The ‘smell’ receptors in your nose communicate with parts of your
brain (the amygdala and hippocampus) that serve as storehouses for
emotions and memories. When you breathe in essential oil molecules, some
researchers believe they stimulate these parts of your brain and
influence physical, emotional, and mental health.”
Thus when used properly, essential oils can actually change how
you’re feeling. Here are 5 of the best oils known for reducing stress
By far the most popular of the ‘relaxing’ essential oils, Lavender is
believed to be effective for all users due to its emotional balancing
effects. One study done on the oil suggested that inhaling it could
reduce anxiety and improve moods, while another found that it could make
patients both more relaxed and alert at the same time.
Frankincense, with its warm and comforting scent, is thought to be
beneficial for stress due to its incensole acetate content, a compound
that a 2008 study suggested could lower both anxiety and depressive
behaviors. Some studies have shown that the use of frankincense can also
improve learning and enhance memory in animals and human beings.
tea is known for its ability to help people sleep, and the essential
oil itself also contains strong relaxing and calming properties. The oil
comes in two types, German and Roman. Both work to relieve stress and
calm nerves. However, German chamomile is best for clearing the mind and
finding emotional stability, while Roman chamomile is more sedative,
and often used for treating anxiety and anger.
Often used to enhance yoga and meditation practices, sandalwood is
venerated as being a sacred oil in its native country, India. One study
performed on the oil has suggested that it may lessen anxiety, and its
healing benefits aren’t limited to the mental realm: a recent study
found evidence that the scent of sandalwood could help wounds heal
Research on rose oil has found that rose oil may stimulate
significant decreases of breathing rate, blood oxygen saturation and
blood pressure, all of which are markers for anxiety levels and stress.
The same study showed that subjects who inhaled rose oil rated
themselves as more calm and relaxed than subjects in the control group.
This is a great oil for alleviating stress and anxiety, but pure rose
oil can be very pricy!
Tips on Using Essential Oils Properly
When applied to the skin, essential oils should first be mixed with a
carrier oil, like jojoba or almond, to avoid skin irritation. Massage
the combined oils into your skin, or place them in areas that will help
promote relaxation, such as on the back of the neck.
If you’d like to make a room smell like essential oils, you can add
some essential oil to a diffuser so that the calming scent can spread
throughout the space. Another great relaxation technique is to add a few
drops to a warm bath.
Remember, essential oils are a very potent natural medicine that may
come with side effects or contraindications. Consider speaking to an
experienced aromatherapist to find the best oils and blends for you.
-The Alternative Daily