Essential oils for anxiety have been used for hundreds of years. For most of that time, there was no documented, scientific evidence of essential oils’ efficacy, only the knowledge passed on from generation to generation -- folklore -- that there were oils that seemed to help people feel more relaxed or sleep better. However, over the last 25 years, and the last ten, in particular, researchers have become increasingly interested in conducting controlled studies using essential oils in order to understand if aromatherapy really works, and if so, how.
Lavender Aromatherapy for Anxiety and Stress Relief
One of the most studied essential oils in recent history has been and continues to be, lavender aromatherapy for the reduction of stress and anxiety. Anxiety and stress are considered public health epidemics in most developed countries. Prescription drugs for anxiety are being prescribed at all-time high levels. When these conditions continued unchecked, they affect not just mental health, but physical health as well, increasing the odds that an individual will experience a range of conditions from insomnia to heart attacks or strokes. Finding new ways to effectively control stress and anxiety has become paramount to the medical community.
- A 2015 study by the British Association of Critical Care Nurses found that inhaled lavender essential oil increased the quality of sleep and reduced the level of anxiety in patients with coronary artery disease.
- A 2017 study published in the International Journal of Community Based Midwifery found that lavender aromatherapy significantly improved relaxation and reduced fatigue for new mothers.
- A 2005 study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior concluded that inhaled lavender is capable of acute modulation of mood and cognition in healthy young adults.
A 2018 study published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing found that when anxiety levels were compared before and after chemotherapy, a significant decrease was found in the group given lavender aromatherapy, and patients experienced better sleep as well.
Orange Aromatherapy for Stress and Anxiety Relief
However, it’s not just lavender essential oil that can reduce anxiety, according to published research. Other oils have been studied as well. Orange essential oil aromatherapy has shown great promise for anxiety reduction as well:
- A 2012 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found acute anxiolytic activity in healthy volunteers exposed to sweet orange aromatherapy for anxiety relief, giving scientific support to its use as a tranquilizer by aromatherapists.
- A 2013 study published in the journal Advances in Biomedical Research found that aromatherapy using orange essential oil aromatherapy reduced salivary cortisol and pulse rate due in anxious children.
- A 2000 study published in the journal Physiology and Behavior found that orange essential oil reduced anxiety and improved mood in healthy female patients.
Other essential oils for anxiety and stress have been studded as well, with positive results. These include (but are not limited to) ylang-ylang, lemon, juniper berry, bergamot, patchouli, and marjoram; however, orange and lavender continue to be the essential oils with the most documented scientific support demonstrating their efficacy in treating stress and anxiety.
Formulating Effective Essential Oil Blends to Decrease Anxiety and Stress