Studies Show Essential Oils May Reduce Anxiety & Help You Sleep

Carla St. Louis
Essential oils can benefit your mental wellness.UnSplash

If you’re suffering from insomnia, a disrupted sleep pattern, or anxiety, essential oils (EOs) may reduce the symptoms associated with these issues, studies show.

While EOs can help improve your well-being, they can also be used for other purposes such as sanitizing your home; cleaning, and prevention of viral infections. You can even add them to your beauty routine, using essential oils to treat acne and other skin issues. EOs are also beneficial at relieving congestion, headaches, and pain. Garlic oil may also play a role in treating various health issues.

Disclaimer: While the information shared in this article is substantiated through documented public studies by credible institutions, it does not constitute as medical advice. Consult with your doctor if you have any concerns or questions prior to using EOs.

Best Practices: How to Use an Essential Oil

Before you use an essential oil, do a patch test prior to applying it fully to your skin. This rule of thumb is for your safety. You may develop dermatitis or an allergic reaction due to its strong concentration of ingredients, a 2002 paper explains. Instead it’s recommended using them in the following methods:

  1. Indirect inhalation - (also known as aromatherapy) by adding a few drops into your humidifier or facial steamer.
  2. Direct inhalation - (also known as therapeutic inhalation) by breathing in the aroma from a bottle or container.
  3. Apply it topically for a massage by diluting it with a carrier oil such as argan, camellia seed, oat, apricot, flaxseed, coconut, grapeseed, almond, avocado, sweet almond, carrot, pumpkin seed, or olive oil. Add between 5 and 10 drops of the essential oil to one ounce of carrier oil.
  4. Spray the essential oil into the air via a spray bottle.
  5. Diffuse it into the air via a diffuser.
  6. Add 10 drops of it to your bath.
  7. Add a few drops into the water tank of your iron prior to ironing your clothes.

Continue reading below for a list of EOs that will help promote relaxation and calmness.

For studying and concentration:

Let’s face it: nowadays it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Between a hectic work schedule and social demands, you may become overstimulated, finding it hard to concentrate or focus. Luckily, there are EOs that actually help with this! A 2008 abstract says that peppermint oil may enhance memory. A 2019 study published in the Turkish Journal of Medical Sciences showed that frankincense oil can help the retention of explicit motor memory in elderly men. EOs may also lessen the advancement of some cognitive disorders. According to Harvard Health Publishing, nutmeg oil may also help slow down the cognitive decline in people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

For anxiety:

Anxiety manifests itself in many forms. You might feel restless or on-edge. Or, you may have difficulty concentrating, focusing on feelings of worry. In a nutshell, essential oils can help reduce anxiety. A 2017 article published by the Mental Health Clinician discusses lavender’s history of benefiting patients who suffer from depression and its related symptoms. The EO is revered for its “anxiolytic properties,” i.e. ability to reduce anxiety, partly because of it’s ingredients, linalool and linalyl acetate. There are other EOs that promote well-being such as Valerian root oil. It can be used to treat sleep problems and associated disorders, according to a 2020 systemic review which highlighted six studies that supported using valerian oil to treat anxiety. A 2021 clinical trial says that participants experiencing depression and/or anxiety had a decrease in symptoms such as blood pressure and mood after regularly practicing aromatherapy with vetiver oil. While a 2020 study shows that jatamansi oil can help reduce stress (after it lessened it in mices).

For sleep:

Speaking of falling asleep, the task can be daunting for many people–both young and old alike. If you’re having trouble resting, sweet-smelling EOs such as vanilla, may be able to help you. According to a 2019 research article, Anshen oil–an essential oil that’s made of lavender, sweet orange, sandalwood, frankincense, orange blossom, rose, and agardwood oils–has sedative and hypnotic effects. For participants who suffer from insomnia, the oil blend improved their condition after inhaling it through aromatherapy. A 2015 study showed that patients in intensive care units, who were treated with aromatherapy (using lavender oil) saw a decrease in their symptoms for insomnia, depression, anxiety, or disorders related to sleep and stress.

For removing smelly, stale odor:

Many EOs have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. Thus, if you’re a stickler for a clean, sanitized environment you should add essential oils to your home cleaning kit. You can remove odors in your room by filling a spray bottle with water and adding 24 drops of essential oil. Take the mixture, and spray it into the air to get rid of bacteria. Valor oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties, while chrysanthemum leaves are antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.

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