When I started out teaching people how to use food and natural plant medicines to heal our bodies, I was expecting people to ask me questions about weight loss, disease prevention and other ‘big label’ stuff. And I do get asked those questions. But there’s one single question that I am asked more than anything else, one that I wasn’t expecting……
‘Can you help me manage my anxiety?’
I have met so many people that need help managing their emotions, particularly anxiety. These people know they can help themselves but they need guidance on how to do it. So this is a post I’ve being wanting to write for a long time.
Anxiety can come in many forms. I experience anxiety when I know I have to speck in public, when I am hit with ‘mama overload’ (like every single day!) or when I sit down at my desk and I just don’t know where to start. But there are also more serious forms that are often unexplained and can be debilitating.
The good news is regardless of what type of anxiety or stress you experience there are many natural remedies for anxiety that are safe and don’t cause any negative side effects.
Anxiety is actually a normal response to a potentially dangerous situation, often called the ‘fight or flight’ response. However it becomes problematic when it is constant or when it happens in response to an inappropriate situation or unexplained circumstances.
Anxiety is typically described as excessive worry and tension, but there are many other physical and psychological symptoms which include;
- Panic attacks
- Difficulty concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Heart palpitations
- Digestive problems
- Chest tightness
- High blood pressure
- Inability to socialize
Essential oils have become an essential (pun intended) part of my ‘getting through the day in one piece’ toolkit. There are so many wonderful and therapeutic reasons to use essential oils but in this post we are going to talk about my top 10 plant based medicines specifically for anxiety and stress.
Lavender is well known for its ability to bring on feelings of peace and relaxation. It relaxes the nervous system, promotes sleep and relieves tension, restlessness and irritability. Research has also shown that lavender helps to reduce anxiety (study), depression and can even help manage pain (study). But to get these affects you must be using 100% pure Lavandula angustifolia, rather than other Lavender species which can actually have a stimulating effect.
Bergamot has both uplifting and calming properties, making it ideal to help with anxious and sad feelings. It can be used to reduce feelings of stress and agitation. Bergamot creates feelings of joy, freshness and energy by improving the circulation of your blood (study). Bergamot can also help with stress induced loss of appetite, work related stress, anxiety among people with mild depression and even pain relief.
Research has shown that Bergamot essential oil is a big deal for people under a lot of stress or who have mood disorders (study). In fact following this study on school related stress, classroom teachers have started to use room diffusers with bergamot to help them to stay calm and patient with their students, while also preventing the negative physical effects of stress on their body.
3. Roman Chamomile
The mild sedative and relaxation properties of Roman chamomile essential oil makes it ideal for calming nerves and reducing anxiety. Roman chamomile is also gentle enough to use on children for anxiety. Roman chamomile can also help to reduce worry and over thinking.
4. Clary sage
Clary sage acts as an antidepressant. It boosts confidence and mental strength while alleviating feelings of anxiety and failure. It also has euphoric properties, leaving you with a feeling of joy and ease. (Study)
Frankincense may help induce feelings of peace and relaxation making it an ideal choice for diffusing during mediation. Frankincense is well known for its anti-depressant, sedative properties and it helps with focus, minimizing distractions along with easing irritability, impatience and restlessness. I love to diffuse Frankincense before public speaking engagements and if I don’t have access to a room diffuser I can diffuse it using the air vents in my car or just rub a drop onto my wrists and inhale it.
Because peppermint is invigorating and stimulating, it can help fight fatigue and improve concentration. Peppermint can also be used for calming nerves and easing the tension associated with stress.
Rose is a beautiful smelling oil but it is also very effective in reducing anxiety and depression (study), inducing relaxation and reducing emotional distress (study). Rose essential oil may also help with panic attacks, grieving and shock. In terms of energy vibrations, Rose has one of the highest frequencies of any essential oil which is why many people believe that Rose opens your heart to welcoming love, stronger connections and a better sense of calm.
8. Wild orange
One of my personal favourites, Wild orange is uplifting, energizing, it can ease anxiety, lower hypertension and help with chronic fatigue. This study showed that levels of anxiety were reduced within just 5 minutes of inhaling Wild orange essential oil. You’ll find this one in my handbag!
9. Ylang ylang
Inhaling Ylang ylang can have an instant positive effect on your mood. It can act as a mild anti-depressant and can help release negative emotions, including anger, low self-esteem and jealousy. Ylang ylang also has mild sedative effects and can lower stress responses like a fast heart beat and high blood pressure. Also due to its mild sedative effects it can also help with insomnia.
Vetiver essential oil is known to provide a calming and grounding effect on emotions – making it ideal for massage therapy and promoting restful sleep. It can also alleviate emotional stress, panic attacks, trauma, anxiety, hysteria and depression (study).
Tips for Choosing & Using Pure Essential Oils
Check the latin name: Trustworthy vendors will show the botanical Latin name on the labels.
Check the labels: There is no government regulation of essential oils, therefore any oil can be called “pure” regardless of the quality of its ingredients. Beware of labels with “fragrance” or “perfume” these are most likely synthetic oils that won’t have the therapeutic qualities.
Choose therapeutic grade oils: When using essential oils therapeutically you need to make sure that you are buying therapeutic grade oils, rather than oils that just have a scent. You will not get the desired effect from synthetic or adulterated oils.
These are my 10 favourite and most commonly used oils for dealing with feelings of anxiety and stress. I never go anywhere without been armed with at least 2 of these oils.
Do you use essential oils for emotions? If so, what are your favourites?