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Anxiety and Essential Oils

Anxiety is the body’s natural response to danger, an automatic alarm that goes off when you feel threatened, under pressure, or are facing a stressful situation.

In moderation, anxiety isn’t always a bad thing. In fact, anxiety can help you stay alert and focused, spur you to action, and motivate you to solve problems. But when anxiety is constant or overwhelming—when it interferes with your relationships and activities—that’s when you’ve crossed the line from normal anxiety into the territory of anxiety disorders.

If you identify with any of the following 7 signs and symptoms, and they just won’t go away, you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder:

  1. Are you constantly tense, worried, or on edge?
  2. Does your anxiety interfere with your work, school, or family responsibilities?
  3. Are you plagued by fears that you know are irrational, but can’t shake?
  4. Do you believe that something bad will happen if certain things aren’t done a certain way?
  5. Do you avoid everyday situations or activities because they cause you anxiety?
  6. Do you experience sudden, unexpected attacks of heart-pounding panic?
  7. Do you feel like danger and catastrophe are around every corner?
While you may feel like you are paralyzed by your anxiety, the good news is that anxiety disorders are very treatable. Many people who live with anxiety are able to work, go to school and enjoy healthy, supportive relationships with friends and family.

I'm a big proponent of mindfulness meditation and learning to control your breath to reduce the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety and to make you less susceptible to it. Essential oils and aromatherapy can also be a big step in the right direction.

My #1 oil for anxiety is Bergamot. Many citruses are acknowledged for their uplifting effects, but bergamot is particularly powerful.

A 2014 study with 58 hospice patients presented some interesting conclusions. The hospice patients were given hand massages once a day for one week with an essential oil blend in 1.5% dilution with sweet almond oil. The essential oil blend consisted of these essential oils in equal ratios: Bergamot C. aurantium var. bergamia, Frankincense Boswellia carterii (Birdw.), and Lavender Lavandula angustifolia (Mill.) Here’s the good news: all the patients who received the aromatherapy hand massage reported less pain and depression. However, no tests were done on the separate essential oils.

This study shows that aromatherapy massage with this specific essential oil blend is more effective for pain and depression management than massage alone. The next step would be to test the individual oils in a similar study.

Another study conducted in Taiwan in 2011 provided clearer and more powerful evidence. The authors selected elementary school teachers, who are known to work under significant stress, and used an inhalation of bergamot C. aurantium var. bergamia essential oil as the method of administration; they focused on the physiological stress signals that are easy to record and straightforward to interpret.

They found that even a 10-minute-long weekly inhalation of aromatherapy resulted in a significant reduction of blood pressure and heart rate, and drove autonomic nervous activity toward a balanced state. In addition, participants with moderate and high degrees of anxiety benefited more than the light anxiety group.

My #2 oil is chamomile, my #3 is lemongrass,  and my #4 is Frankincense. Make sure you are using the correct Frankincense though. Ill tell you about the differences in a minute.

Clary Sage is also high on my list. The English name clary originates from the Latin sclarea, which was derived from clarus, meaning “clear.” I like to think of clary sage Salvia sclarea (L.) essential oil as “clearing” away the dark clouds of our mood, as it’s traditionally been known for its uplifting and euphoric actions.

A 2010 research study with rats documented clary sage S. sclarea essential oil’s uplifting effects, suggesting that it could be a useful holistic routine for those coping with depression and anxiety.

Additionally, a randomized controlled trial in 2013 suggested that clary sage S. sclarea essential oil may be useful—more so than lavender Lavandula angustifolia —in reducing stress for female patients undergoing urodynamic assessments.

Lavender is another great oil for depression. Anxiety and depression go hand in hand. Depression isn't always the blues. Depression can be feelings of inadequacy, forgetfulness, exhaustion, and anger. Depression is often invisible.

A study in 2007 also showed that lavender aromatherapy reduced serum cortisol—which plays a central role in the body’s response to stress—in healthy men. The researchers concluded: “These findings suggest that lavender aromatherapy has relaxation effects and may have beneficial acute effects on coronary circulation.”

A 2010 study investigated the use of lavender with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Silexan, an oral lavender oil capsule preparation, when taken over six weeks was shown to effectively relieve generalized anxiety comparable to a common benzodiazepine (lorazepam).

So, we have a few different oils to choose from! Below are a few different recipes you can try out on your own! I suggest making these blends and storing them in a 5ml bottle. This way you have the blends ready to go when you need them!

5 drops - Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) oil
3 drops - Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata) oil
2 drops - Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) oil

4 drops - Bergamot (C. aurantium bergamia)
3 drops - Frankincense (Boswellia carterii)
3 drops - Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

6 drops - Clary sage (Salvia sclarea) essential oil
4 drops - Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata)

My rule of thumb, and what I teach everyone, is topical use for topical issue, diffuse for everything else. Because the issues you are dealing with are "brain" issues and "emotional" issues, smelling the oils will be vastly more effective than using them topically. Inhalation is always more effective than topical use. Inhalation gives you a bioavailability of about 75% whereas topical use is about 15% or so.

  • Diffuser: Add 6-10 drops of one of the above blend to your diffuser and allow the oils to diffuse for 15 to 30 minutes. [Browse diffusers here]
  • 10ml roller bottle: Add 10 drops one of the above blend and top with a carrier like fractionated coconut oil or the carrier oil of your choice! [Take a look at the carrier oils in the shop]
  • Bath: Add 10 drops of one of the above blend to 1 tsp of Castile soap and add it to a hot bath. The warm water will help soften your skin and open your pores for better absorption of the beneficial oils. [Other ways to use Castile soap]
  • Jewelry: You can also do jewelry like a diffuser pendent that you wear so you have your oils accessible no matter where you are or what you are doing. [Browse the Well Oiled Diffuser Jewelry]
  • Personal inhalers are another good choice for taking your oils on the go. Add 15 drops of one of the blend above to the cotton wick and secure it in the plastic tube. When you need to calm down (or every two-three hours) just take out the inhaler and take a few deep breaths, inhaling the oils. The nice thing about personal inhalers is that they are discrete and travel well. They are great for kids or if you work in a close environment with others who are bothered by smells.  [Rainbow Inhalers]
  • Linen spray: In a glass or BPA plastic spray bottle combine your oil blend and either witch hazel or vodka and spray on your sheets, the pillow next to you, etc.
If you want to try a pre-blended bottle of essential oils, I would suggest one of the following:
  • Relax - Contains the 100% pure, undiluted essential oils of: Lavender, Marjoram, Mandarin, Patchouli, Geranium, Roman Chamomile
  • Let It Go - Contains the 100% pure,undiluted essential oils of: Tangerine, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli, Sweet Orange, Blue Tansy
  • MeditationContains the 100% pure,undiluted essential oils of: Ylang Ylang, Patchouli, Frankincense Serrata, Clary Sage, Sweet Orange, Thyme
  • Self-Esteem - Contains the 100% pure, undiluted essential oils of: Spruce, Frankincense Carteri, Ho Wood, Blue Tansy.
  • Worry Free - Contains the 100% pure, undiluted essential oils of: Lavender, Marjoram, Ylang Ylang Complete, Sandalwood, Vanilla CO2, Roman Chamomile
  • Balance - Contains the 100% pure, undiluted essential oils of: Palmarosa, Lavender,Petitgrain, Clary Sage, Geranium, Ylang Ylang, Rose, Jasmine, Neroli.
  • Tranquil - Contains the 100% pure, undiluted essential oils of: Bergamot, Patchouli, Blood Orange, Ylang Ylang, Grapefruit  

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