18 October 2021 / Caitlin Devlin
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. Read on to discover some of the best essential oils for anxiety.
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.
Bergamot has long been considered a brightening, mood-enhancing oil. Both human and animal studies have backed up this claim, and bergamot has been found to have calming and relaxing effects. A study in 2017 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.
Likely the most famous aromatic remedy for anxiety, lavender’s calming effects have been well-documented time and time again. A review in 2019 evaluated seventy-one such studies and concluded that inhaling lavender could significantly lower anxiety levels using a clinically validated scale. Earlier research in 2012 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.
Ylang ylang 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 study in 2006 found that it is even more effective at combatting anxiety when combined with lavender and bergamot – which is why those three oils make up our Anti-Anxiety Essential Oil Blend.
Clary sage 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. A study in 2013 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.
Try using a diffuser to spread the scent of the oils around the room, allowing you to experience their benefits as you go about your day.
Geranium oil is known to have sedative properties, which helps it to relax the body. A study in 2015 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.
Commonly known as a natural insect repellent, citronella also has impressive anti-anxiety qualities. A study in 2001 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.
Juniper berry oil has a well-established association with relaxation, and has been used to treat stress-related insomnia. A study in 2006 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.
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. A study in 2007 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.
A lesser-known oil but a useful one, dill seed 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.
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.
Shop it here.