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Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health issues in the United States affecting over 18% of the population every year. While there are a myriad of treatments including therapy and pharmaceuticals, some folks prefer a more holistic approach: essential oils.
Now, I’m not recommending you replace hard scientific medical advice from a doctor with essential oils from Amazon, but there is anecdotal evidence that when used as a complement to medical treatment, essential oils carry some significant value for those suffering from anxiety or depression.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are chemical extracts or compounds from plants. Typically, they’re taken from plants that are known for strong & pleasant fragrances. Common plants used to create essential oils include lavender, jasmine, and chamomile.
Once extracts and compounds are taken from the plants, they’re added to a carrier oil which dilutes the extract and provides a vehicle to move it to the body usually via skin contact.
Do Essential Oils Really Work?
According to John’s Hopkins Medicine, essential oils may be worth a try as long as you use them safely. While there isn’t enough evidence to conclusively say that they work, there’s no harm in trying.
It’s important to remember however that essential oils don’t affect everyone in the same way so you should avoid using them around people who don’t know what their reaction may be.
Essential Oils for Anxiety and Depression
There are tons of essential oils that can be used to help ease the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Here are 5 that stand out as the most commonly used due to their effectiveness.
Of course, it’s already been mentioned during this article’s introduction because lavender is one of the most commonly used essential oils. The lavender flower’s scent is known to relax and ease tension and has been used in aromatherapy for centuries.
Lavender has been known to have several health benefits including neuroprotective properties and mood stabilization. If you try any single essential oil to help with your anxiety or depression, lavender is the one you want. It consistently shows up in every study with positive results.
Another popular choice in the essential oil market is chamomile. The chamomile flower has also been used for centuries as a calming ingredient in foods, ointments, and oils.
Chamomile tea is a common beverage used to help calm the mind and promote sleep. Even in today’s modern grocery stores, it’s easy to find teas formulated to help people sleep which are made from chamomile.
Essential oils made from chamomile have similar benefits to teas and ointments, acting as a mild sedative which helps to battle the symptoms of anxiety.
While rosemary is commonly used as a cooking ingredient one might find in the spice cabinet, it’s also available as an essential oil. It’s frequently used as an additive to massage oils to help promote relaxation during the massage.
According to a 2017 study, rosemary was shown to have positive effects on relieving the symptoms of depression. The same study also showed positive results for the use of lavender.
While the use of holistic and alternative treatments can provide benefits, it shouldn’t be used as a total replacement for hard science. Used in conjunction with counseling, therapy, meditation, and other proven methods, essential oils can add another valuable layer to your self-help regimen.
Sources & Additional Reading:
1. Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Facts & Statistics
2. Healthline: What Are Essential Oils, and Do They Work?
3. Johns Hopkins Medicine: Aromatherapy: Do Essential Oils Really Work?
4. Zesty Things: Lavender: The Health Benefits – Fight Anxiety & More
6. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: The Effectiveness of Aromatherapy for Depressive Symptoms: A Systematic Review