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6 min read / 18 October 2021 / Laura Garvin Gomez

The Best Essential Oils for Managing Anxiety

Explore our list of the best essential oils for relieving stress and anxiety.

Over the years, many different essential oils have been used for stress and anxiety relief. Here are some of our favourites.

Aromatherapy has been employed for many purposes, but perhaps its oldest and most enduring is its use as a relaxant and stress-reliever.

Countless studies have shown that aromatherapy can be an incredibly effective treatment for anxiety, whether oils are diffused or used topically, and can often have tangible, physiological effects on the body that show us exactly how these natural products are working to calm us down.

The best oils for managing anxiety:

  1. Bergamot Oil: Popular for it's brightening and mood enhancing effects, bergamot oil is often used to ease anxiety.
  2. Lavender Oil: Famous for its relaxing and calming properties, lavender oil is often used to help people drift off to sleep. 
  3. Ylang Ylang Oil: Long associated with relaxation, ylang ylang oil has a sweet, floral scent used to lift the mood and ease stressors.
  4. Clary Sage Oil: Often used to ease anxieties surrounding labour, clary sage oil encourages feelings of relaxation.
  5. Geranium Oil: Known for its sedative properties, geranium oil relaxes the body and helps to lower blood pressure.
  6. Citronella Oil: Often used purely to repel insects, citronella oil also has surprising anti-anxiety properties, helping to regulating our emotions.
  7. Juniper Berry Oil: With a long standing association with relaxation, juniper berry oil is often used to treat stress related insomnia.
  8. Rosemary Oil: Rosemary oil is often added alongside other oils to essential oil blends to help create a relaxing atmosphere.
  9. Dill Seed Oil: Getting its name from the norse word meaning "to lull", dill seed oil can be used to help regulate the hormones causing us to feel stressed and anxious.

Mental health is incredibly complex, and as such there’s a lot about the effect of these oils that we still don’t know.

One thing we can be sure of is that the effectiveness of each oil can vary person to person, and everyone may have an individual favourite for combatting anxiety.

That said, some oils in particular are backed up not only by anecdotal evidence, but by scientific research, and so are more likely to be an effective remedy for a wider percentage of the population.

We have compiled a list below of some of the most popular and well-researched anxiety remedies, as well as some of our personal favourites.

Woman breathing out a sigh of relief looking out over a city

What are the best essential oils for managing anxiety?

1. Bergamot oil

Bergamot oil has long been considered a brightening, mood-enhancing oil. Both human and animal studies have  this claim, and bergamot has been found to have calming and relaxing effects.

A found that the act of inhaling bergamot essential oil was able to ease the anxiety of women in the waiting room of a mental health treatment centre, and reportedly increased positive feelings.

It’s thought that these anti-anxiety effects are partly due to bergamot’s ability to decrease cortisol levels, which is the hormone commonly associated with stress. Learn more about the benefits of bergamot essential oil.

2. Lavender oil

Likely the most famous aromatic remedy for anxiety, lavender oils calming effects have been well-documented time and time again.

A  evaluated seventy-one such studies and concluded that inhaling lavender could significantly lower anxiety levels using a clinically validated scale.

Earlier  suggests that lavender’s calming effects may be due to its ability to positively impact the limbic system.

Regardless, we know through the extensive research available that lavender oil is able to slow heart rate and breathing, and lower adrenaline levels. Learn more about the benefits of lavender essential oil.

3. Ylang ylang oil

Ylang ylang oil has long been associated with relaxation, and its sweet, floral smell is often used to lift moods and calm stress.

Whilst the oil is effective alone, a  found that it is even more effective at combating anxiety when combined with lavender and bergamot – which is why those three oils make up our Anti-Anxiety Essential Oil Blend. Learn more about the benefits of ylang ylang essential oil.

Grey aromatherapy diffuser on a wooden table.

4. Clary sage oil

Clary sage oil has found to be particularly popular as an anxiety remedy among women. Specifically, it is often associated with relieving menstrual anxiety and anxiety surrounding labour.

 showed that clary sage was able to lower the blood pressure of women undergoing a stressful medical exam, as well as encouraging feelings of relaxation. Learn more about the benefits of clary sage essential oil here.

5. Geranium oil

Geranium oil is known to have sedative properties, which helps it to relax the body.

 found that when inhaled, geranium oil was able to significantly reduce anxiety during labour and also lower blood pressure, positively impacting the birth experience for the mother and reducing risk.

As well as its useful sedative qualities, geranium oil is known to facilitate blood circulation and ease breathing, which helps to slow the heart rate. Learn more about the benefits of geranium essential oil here.

6. Citronella oil

Commonly known as a natural insect repellent, citronella oil also has impressive anti-anxiety qualities.

 found that citronella oil has the ability to activate both our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, which means that it has influence over both our ‘fight or flight’ and ‘rest and digest’ responses.

This helps it to regulate anxiety and avoid it spiking. Learn more about the benefits of citronella essential oil.

Dropping essential oils into a diffuser

7. Juniper berry oil

Juniper berry oil has a well-established association with relaxation, and has been used to treat stress-related insomnia.

 found that inhaling the scent of juniper oil helped to promote sleep amongst insomniac participants, and in some cases even worked as a replacement for their medication. Learn more about the benefits of juniper berry essential oil.

8. Rosemary oil

Rosemary oil is often used in blends to create a relaxing atmosphere, which may be due in part to the effect it can have on our hormone production.

 found that five minutes of aromatherapy treatment with rosemary oil greatly reduced the production of salivary cortisol in dental patients, and caused them to experience less anxiety. Learn more about the benefits of rosemary essential oil.

9. Dill seed oil

A lesser-known oil but a useful one, dill seed oil gets its name from the Norse word ‘dilla’, literally meaning ‘to lull’. Many people have reported that dill seed helps to promote a relaxed, stress-free feeling.

It is speculated that this effect could be to due with the presence of carvone in the oil, a component which helps to regulate the hormones that cause us to feel stressed and anxious.

Learn more about the benefits of dill seed essential oil.

Black and white illustration of a leaf

If you regularly suffer from anxiety, aromatherapy shouldn’t replace medical or psychological treatment, but it can effectively complement it. If you simply struggle to wind down, maybe give some of the above oils a try.

The list of beneficial oils can be daunting, and figuring out how to blend them even more so, which is why we’ve created our Anti-Anxiety Pure Essential Oil Blend to get you started.

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Medical Disclaimer

The content in this article is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your personal physician for any advice or treatment regarding specific health questions. Neither the article editor, writer, nor the organisation of Nikura takes any responsibility for possible health consequences following the information given in any article. All readers should consult their physician before taking any advice given within these articles.

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