Essential Oils for Stress Relief

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In today’s fast-paced world, stress has become an increasingly pervasive issue. From the demands of work and personal responsibilities to the constant stimulation of technology, it’s no wonder many people are seeking natural remedies to alleviate stress. One such solution that has gained popularity is the use of essential oils. Derived from plants and renowned for their aromatic properties, essential oils offer a holistic approach to stress relief. This article will explore the science behind essential oils and delve into the best oils known for their calming and stress-reducing effects.

Understanding Essential Oils

Essential oils are highly concentrated extracts derived from several parts of plants, including leaves, flowers, and roots. These oils contain the plant’s natural aromatic compounds and are obtained through processes such as steam distillation or cold pressing. Each essential oil possesses its unique chemical composition, resulting in distinct therapeutic properties.

The Science of Stress Relief

Essential oils can work through various mechanisms when it comes to stress relief. Firstly, their pleasant aromas can stimulate the olfactory system, which is connected to the brain’s emotional center, the limbic system. This interaction triggers the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins, which promote relaxation and uplift mood.

Moreover, essential oils can also directly impact physiological responses related to stress. Certain oils, such as lavender and chamomile, contain soothing compounds. These compounds can help calm the nervous system, lower heart rate, and reduce blood pressure, thus alleviating stress and anxiety.

Top Essential Oils for Stress Relief

  1. Lavender: Lavender essential oil is known for its calming effects. Its soothing aroma promotes relaxation, reduces anxiety, and aids in achieving restful sleep. Applying a few drops to a diffuser or diluting it in carrier oil for a massage can provide immediate relief.
  2. Bergamot: Known for its citrusy scent, bergamot essential oil has uplifting and mood-balancing properties. It helps reduce stress, alleviate feelings of depression, and enhance overall well-being. Inhalation or topical application (diluted) are common methods of use.
  3. Frankincense: Frankincense essential oil has been used for centuries in traditional practices. Its earthy aroma helps calm the mind, ease anxiety, and promote deep breathing. Diffusing frankincense oil during meditation or applying it topically can relieve stress.
  4. Ylang-Ylang: This exotic floral oil is renowned for reducing stress and anxiety. Ylang-ylang essential oil can promote relaxation, enhance mood, and improve sleep quality. Its sweet fragrance is often used in aromatherapy or added to bathwater for a soothing experience.
  5. Chamomile: Chamomile essential oil, derived from the chamomile flower, possesses mild sedative properties that aid in stress reduction and promote relaxation. It can be diffused, used in a warm bath, or applied topically when diluted.

Relaxation and Stress Reduction

Essential oils have shown promise in helping relaxation and reducing stress levels. One of the most popular oils for stress relief is lavender. Its calming scent helps induce relaxation, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep quality. With its citrusy aroma, Bergamot oil is known for its mood-lifting properties and is often used to combat stress and depression. Chamomile oil is another excellent option, renowned for its soothing and calming effects on the nervous system.

Aromatherapy Techniques

Aromatherapy, the therapeutic use of essential oils, offers various techniques to harness their stress-relieving benefits. Inhalation is one of the most usual methods, where oils are diffused into the air using diffusers or added to hot water for inhalation. This technique allows the scent molecules to interact with the olfactory system, which influences the brain’s emotional center. Topical application is another popular method, where oils are diluted and massaged onto the skin, allowing for absorption into the bloodstream.

Blending Essential Oils

Creating personalized blends of essential oils can enhance their stress-relieving properties. Combining different oils can create unique synergistic effects. For example, combining lavender and bergamot can simultaneously promote relaxation and uplift the mood. Blending chamomile with ylang-ylang may help alleviate tension and promote a sense of inner peace. Experimenting with different combinations can help find the perfect blend that suits individual needs.

Safety Considerations

While essential oils offer potential benefits, it is important to use them safely. Some oils can cause skin irritation or sensitization, so diluting them properly before applying them to the skin is crucial. Pregnant women, infants, and individuals with certain medical conditions should discuss with a healthcare professional before using essential oils. Additionally, using high-quality, pure oils from reputable sources ensures their efficacy and minimizes the risk of contamination.

Incorporating Essential Oils into Your Routine

  1. Inhalation: Using a diffuser or inhaling essential oils directly from the bottle can create a calming atmosphere and promote relaxation. Experiment with different oils or blends to find what works best for you.
  2. Topical Application: Diluting essential oils with carrier oil and applying them to pulse points, temples, or the back of the neck can relieve stress. Popular carrier oils include jojoba, coconut, or sweet almond oil.
  3. Bathing: Adding some drops of essential oil to a warm bath can be a luxurious and relaxing experience. The steam will carry the scent, and the absorption through the skin can provide overall relaxation.
  4. Massage: Combine a few drops of essential oil with a carrier oil and use it for a soothing massage. The combination of touch and aroma can enhance relaxation and reduce muscle tension.

Using Essential Oils Safely

While essential oils can be beneficial, using them safely is crucial. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  1. Dilution: Most essential oils should be diluted with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut before applying to the skin. This helps prevent skin irritation or sensitization.
  2. Patch Test: Perform a patch test on a small skin area to check for any adverse reactions before using an essential oil topically.
  3. Quality Matters: Choose high-quality, pure essential oils from reputable sources to ensure their effectiveness and safety.
  4. Individual Sensitivities: Remember that individuals may have different sensitivities or allergies to specific oils. Always start with a small amount and observe any reactions.

Including essential oils in your stress relief routine can provide a natural and holistic approach to managing stress and promoting relaxation. Lavender, bergamot, frankincense, ylang-ylang, and chamomile are just a few examples of essential oils known for their stress-reducing properties. Remember to use essential oils cautiously and consult a healthcare professional with any concerns. Embrace the power of nature and allow essential oils to bring tranquillity into your life, helping you find balance amid a hectic world.

Here we discuss this with Dr. Sarah, a naturopathic doctor, to get her thoughts on this topic.

NourishDoc: Hello, everyone. Well, we know that we have all been stressed and anxious for the last couple of years. Well, how can holistic wellness help us? Today’s topic is on how to use Essentialize the efficacy of Essential Oils to help us feel less stressed and less anxious. We have Doctor Sarah with us. She is a naturopathic as well as a functional medicine doctor, and she’s also an Essential Oils educator. Welcome, Doctor Sarah.

Dr. Sarah: Thank you so much for having me. It’s great to be here. I appreciate it.

Efficacy of Essential Oils for Mental Health

NourishDoc: Absolutely. So let’s understand that the efficacy of Essential Oils for General Stress and Anxiety will start with that. Then we can go into another type of stress afterwards.

Dr. Sarah: Okay, perfect. So, Essential Oils are a beautiful mind-body combination. Our sense of smell is the only sense that goes directly to the emotional part of our brain. So just the aroma of scents that we find pleasurable or calming can really decrease our stress and anxiety responses instantly. The cool thing with Essential Oils is that they merge the mind.

The body is that they also have chemical constituents in them; if they are of high quality, that affects our physical body and the responses to stress. So, the literature has shown essential oils to impact neurotransmitters, hormones, inflammatory pathways, and immune pathways. They are antioxidants. Some studies have shown they can even boost our major antioxidant glutathione and are also known as the plant’s defence molecules.

So, they help the plant thrive and survive and do similar things in our bodies. So, you have the aromatic influence and the downstream effects that can occur with high stress. Your hormones can go off balance, and your blood sugar can become inflamed. All that is combined when you inhale or use essential oil.

What are the Oils that Can Help Us Calm?

NourishDoc: Okay, so let’s talk about Stress and Anxiety, essential oils that can help calm us.

Dr. Sarah: The most well-known is lavender essential oil. It’s one of the universal oils, and one of the reasons Essential Oils have so many different effects is that one drop of essential oil has hundreds of different compounds in it. So, it’s lipid soluble. It is very in synergy and similar to our blood chemistry, where it can go into the cell and produce different effects.

So, lavender has all these different compounds in it. The two most common compounds in lavender are linalool and linalool acetate. These have been shown to calm the brain and body, even when they’ve done studies in humans before surgery when most people are pretty anxious. Lavender has been shown in a couple of studies to decrease cortisol which is the stress hormone, as well as decrease anxiety when they measured it on a scientifically valid anxiety scale also decreases inflammatory markers and also in Europe, lavender is a patented medication called Selexin, and that is a medicine that they use for anxiety.

Studies show that a particular form of lavender in a capsule is effective for anxiety. Then you also have different essential oils based on what the stress and anxiety are doing to the person; we know hormones can affect anxiety and stress, right? So, things such as Clary Sage have been shown in a small trial to decrease cortisol and help brain neurotransmitters. In a small study, Geranium Essential Oil was shown to help the body regulate estrogen.

Then, you have, as long as you are decreasing stress with lavender, things such as citrus oils, bergamot is great for stress response, and jasmine; these oils will help decrease stress which will help your body instead of the hormones going to the stress hormone cortisol, make more progesterone and progesterone is a soothing hormone that works on GABA receptors in the brain to soothe and calm the brain. So, essential oils also as far as how they affect brain biochemistry. They affect, again, with just the aroma; they affect our neurotransmitters. They affect patterns in the brain.

They’ve done studies with essential oils, MRIs and brainwaves, and EKGs. They’ve shown that the inhalation of essential oils can change the brain waves of people going from a state of chaos and stress to a more calm, focused state, and several essential oils have shown. Jasmine, lavender, and citrus oils also have different cognitive effects. So, oils such as sometimes when we’re stressed out, we can’t focus. So, different essential oils like peppermint and rosemary have been shown to help us focus and to also kind of turn on that part of the brain that gets shut down when we get that fogginess because we’re stressed out. So, those are two of my favorite for that.

Essential Oils for Anxiety & Stress vs. PMS?

NourishDoc: Yeah, sure. So, regarding the Stress and Anxiety, I’m just going to shift a little bit on women’s health right now and when we go through such a journey from premenstrual syndrome to menopause. So, let’s switch to PMS, and many women face anxiety when they have PMS. So, the sensual that you talk about, the general lavender, would that also apply here, or would it be a different type of oil for PMS and menopause anxiety?

Dr. Sarah: The thing is that naturopaths and functional medicine doctors are obsessed with Essential Oils. I like to select an essential oil that fits that particular individual’s pattern. So, that being said, if somebody, if we do some tests and they’re like low in estrogen, and they’re stressed out. They might have focus issues; I might pick a blend of geranium, peppermint, and lavender.

But for kind of a General, you, if you’re stressed and anxious, you really can’t go wrong with lavender unless you don’t like the smell of it, but the hormone oils that I think of most because they balance stress and kind of balance out hormones would be things like, like I said, geranium, clary sage, and then the essential oils that decrease cortisol. So, that would be like your lavender, your bergamot, and then jasmine for focus and calming that brain state.

How Do We Use The Oils?

NourishDoc: Okay, so that would be, do you recommend a blend of these oils or use them individually and sniff it a little bit? Do you want to explain a little bit earlier?

Dr. Sarah: So, the first thing you want to do is ensure you have quality essential oil and essential oils; if you’re going to use them more medicinally, you need more than just an organic label. You need a certification that the company has good quality testing beyond, usually using GCMS analysis to check for the compounds and the essential oils. So, you want to do your research on a good company that when you look at a bunch when you look at the website, it has like a bunch of these tasks that you don’t understand.

However, they’re doing their due diligence. So, you want a good company and quality because if you get an essential oil that is labelled an essential oil because there are no labelling laws really for essential oils in the United States, it could only contain a little bit amount of the essential oil and be labelled pure oils so, I’m saying that because if that essential oil is mixed with like petrochemicals and compounds that could throw off your hormones.

However, if you’re trying to get geranium in it, it will do more harm than good. So, the first thing you do is get good quality oil. The best way to start is to get an atomizer diffuser, a cold air diffuser that keeps the constituents intact. Just like I said, you can breathe in the Essential oil. You can take a carrier oil, like a tablespoon of organic carrier oil. So, we’re talking olive oil, almond oil, coconut oil, or your favorite oil.

You put a drop or two of essential oil in that, and you can apply it. First, I always start at the bottom of the feet because that’s your least sensitive skin area. If you’re going to, if you have sensitive skin, if it happens on your feet, you’re not going to be self-conscious, and it’ll be okay, but it’ll get through your whole body. The quickest way, though, to the brain emotionally is through smell.

So, even if you don’t have a fancy diffuser, open the bottle and inhale; it will greatly calm you. My favorite place is actually; we always say you should dilute essential oils. However, my favorite place is the wrist; quick when I like stressed or trying to focus, or I’m grabbing an oil in between clients or something, I’ll put a couple drops on my wrist and inhale, and that’s one of my favorite ways just instantaneously to shift the brain.

NourishDoc: All right. Well, thank you so much. This is a quick ten-minute session that we bring daily and workshops that would explain all these details in more time away. So, stay tuned. Is there anything else you’d like to wrap up or add before I and the session today?

Dr. Sarah: Well, thank you so much. As you can see, I love this topic. I have many resources on essential oils, and they’re one of the easiest ways to connect the mind and the body. So, you’re supporting your emotional health as they’re also balancing your emotional health, and they’re gentle. The cool thing is that they make you stop and breathe, right? When we’re stressed. So, just that alone is a good thing to do when stressed.

NourishDoc: Absolutely; I use lavender oil to help calm the whole day. It does wonders from a sleep point of view for calming yourself, and of course, if you add some of the mindfulness exercises like yoga and breathing, that’s like icing on the cake, right?

Dr. Sarah: Yeah. Yes. Super.

NourishDoc: All right. Thank you, everyone, for supporting us, and keep supporting us. We’re developing a cool platform that will be affordable and accessible to everyone. So with that, have a great rest of the week. Thank you. Bye bye.


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