About 1 in 10 Americans are suffering from depression, and 80% of the patients are not getting proper care. Anxiety disorders are pretty common in the USA, affecting about 20% of the population.
Although there are many different treatments, aromatherapy seems to be the best. Some people call it “pseudoscience”, but aromatherapy has its roots deeply into medicine, with over 6 000 studies found in the database of scientific research in the US National Library of Medicine.
What is aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is based on the use of essential oils derived from various plants. These oils may be inhaled directly or indirectly or applied on the skin with the help of massage, lotions or bath salts.
Psychology Today says that aromatherapy works by stimulating nose receptors which send messages through the limbic system – the part of the brain that controls emotions and memories. Some smells can help you remind yourself of certain positive memories and trigger happy emotional responses. Nosmia, a condition where a person loses his sense of smell, is associated with depression, and people suffering from depression often show a reduced sensitivity to odors.
3 calming essential odors
Most anxiety and depression meds can cause dependency after a while and also cause adverse side-effects. Essential oils on the other hand, don’t have any side-effects and are completely safe to use.
The lavender essential oil is the most popular oil in aromatherapy, and it’s also used in lotions, creams, bath products and massage oil due to its powerful soothing abilities. Lavender has anti-anxiety, antidepressant, mood stabilizing, sedative and neuroprotective properties and can also be used against pain and tremors.
According to a 2007 study, lavender aromatherapy helps reduce the serum cortisol which is required for the body’s response to stress in men. When buying it, it’s important to know what kind of lavender oil you’re purchasing: lavender L angustifolia is the relaxing breed of lavender, while lavender Lavandula intermedia is a stimulant.
Bergamot is an orange variety grown in Italy which is a bitter fruit with a potentially healing peel. The peel is used for bergamot oil, the main ingredient of the Earl Grey’s Tea unique flavor.
In 2011, a study was conducted in Taiwan on elementary school teachers who are constantly under stress. The study used inhalation of bergamot C. aurantium var bergamia essential oil, and the results showed that the subjects have considerably reduced their blood pressure and heart rate while activating the parasymphatetic nervous system at the same time. An animal study also showed that bergamot essential oil can reduce stress and anxiety in mice same as diazepam.
Sage is often used throughout Europe for cooking thanks to its wonderful aroma and woody taste. Sage also has some antidepressant effects which were confirmed in a controlled study from 2003.
Sage oil is very hard to find, but you can order it online or grow your own plant and use its oil.
How to enjoy aromatherapy
Essential oils are highly concentrated and shouldn’t be applied near the eye area. Some oil can even cause irritation on the skin.
You can mix essential oils with coconut oil for massage or inhale it through a diffuser.
Here are a few quick ways to use essential oils:
- Relaxing bath salts
This is probably the best way to unwind after a hard day. Here’s how to prepare the bath:
- A cup of Epsom salts
- A cup of Kosher salt
- Half a cup of baking soda
- 10 drops of Clary sage essential oil
- 10 drops of Ylang Ylang essential oil
Combine the salts and soda in a jar with a tight lid, then stir in the oils and shake to mix everything well. Close the jar tight and keep it in a dark and cool place, and use ¼ to ½ a cup for every bath you take.
- Anti-stress mint
This oil is a great way to prevent stress.
- 5 drops of lavender essential oil
- 3 drops of Ylang Ylang essential oil
- 2 drops of bergamot essential oil
- 4 oz. of purified water
Add the essential oils in a spray bottle then top them with the filtered water. Mix well and store the bottle in a dark and cool place. To use the soothing mist, shake the bottle well and spray it on your face.
The following oils will also fight stress and anxiety:
- Basil Ocimum basilicum (L.)
- Geranim Pelargonium graveolens (L’Her.)
- Grapefruit Citrus paradisi (Macfad.)
- Lime Citrus aurantifolia (Christm.)
- Neroli Citrus aurantium (L.) var. amara
- Roman Chamomile Chamaemelum nobile (L.) All.
- Rose Rosa damascena (Mill.)
- Sandalwood Santalum album (L.)
- Sweet orange Citrus sinensis (Osbeck)
If you’re dealing with stress and depression, visit your doctor or naturopath to find a treatment that will work for you. Aromatherapy is only one treatment that can provide help.