Oh, the wonderful world of Essential Oils! Essential Oils have been around since ancient times in history and their medicinal purposes actually became known during World War II, which sparked the beginning of what we now know of as Aromatherapy! Essential Oils have been studied in recent years, which have proven that each unique oil contains specific compounds that possess a multitude of different benefits. I particularly love essential oils because they are the perfect example of plant-healing power as nature’s medicine for healing on a holistic level!
Pure Essential oils are 100% natural as they are steam distilled and are extracted from flowers, leaves, bark, and/or roots of plants. Please keep in mind that not all essential oils are created equally, as some have been filtered down or have been cut with chemicals to reduce cost for the company, so I’ll link the brand I’ve been using for years and fully trust as I list each oil below. Essential oils have the ability to provide much needed relief and healing for a variety of ailments, and in this post, I’ll be listing the top 10 essential oils that are best for reducing anxiety!
Let’s briefly review what Aromatherapy is and how it works:
- First, let’s get into some aromatherapy properties and briefly review what aromatherapy actually is and how it functions in the body to produce these purported effects that I’ll list in further detail down below.
- According to aromatherapy practitioners, inhaling essential oil molecules, or absorbing essential oils through the skin topically allow the oil molecules to transmit messages to the limbic system — a brain region responsible for controlling emotions and influencing the nervous system. These messages are believed to affect biological factors such as heart rate, stress levels, blood pressure, breathing, and immune function.
- In a nutshell: essential oils have the ability to calm our minds, uplift our spirits, give us a grounding sense, which is incredibly helpful when suffering from anxiety due to stressful situations and/or chronic, generalized anxiety.
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Top 10 Essential Oils for Anxiety & Stress Relief!
1. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): I’ve actually dedicated a full, detailed post with 30+ Benefits of Lavender Essential oil because it truly is one of the most multifunctional oils out there! Lavender, in particular, has numerous studies to back up it’s anxiety reducing effects in various scenarios, as it has an overall calming, relaxing effect. Lavender is considered a nervous system restorative and helps create a sense of inner peace, assisting in sleep, reducing restlessness, irritability, panic attacks, symptoms of nervous stomach and general nervous tension.
2. Rose (Rosa damascena): Rose is one of the most highly prized essential oils and has been found to be incredibly helpful for reducing stress, tension, and overall anxiety levels when inhaled and/or applied topically. Rose has been found to relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression, minimizing panic attacks, and alleviating grieving and shock during stressful events.
3. Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides): Vetiver Essential Oil has an earthy aroma that is incredibly grounding, which has a tranquil and reassuring energy. Vetiver is often used when dealing with trauma as it produces a calming, stabilizing effect. Vetiver is considered a nervous system tonic, as it decreases jitteriness and hypersensitivity, making it very helpful for panic attacks and dealing with shock/highly stressful events.
4. Frankincense (Boswellia carteri or boswella sacra): Frankincense is great for treating anxiety, as well as depression, due to its spiritually grounding energy that provides a calming and tranquil effect, which is essential in reducing feelings of anxiety. In aromatherapy, frankincense essential oil has been found to help deepen meditation by assisting with quieting and calming the mind. Meditation is incredibly beneficial for reducing anxiety, so any essential oil that can assist with deepening meditation will help in more ways than one!
5. Chamomile (Chamaemelum nobile): I’ve found chamomile tea to be very helpful for anxiety and now we can take these effects on the go with chamomile essential oil! Chamomile is an herb that has a very relaxing scent with known anxiolytic properties (anxiety reducing), as well as creating a sense of inner harmony by decreasing irritability, overthinking, anxiety and worry, in general.
6. Bergamot (Citrus bergamia): If you’ve ever had Earl Grey Tea, you’ve smelled the unique and potent citrusy scent of Bergamot Essential Oil! Bergamot is a very calming scent and is often used to treat depression due to it’s uplifting aroma; however, it can also help with insomnia, induce relaxation, and reduce feelings of agitation, which is how it provides relief for symptoms of anxiety. It’s been proven to reduce corticosterone response to stress in rats, and another interesting study conducted in 2011 hypothesizes that applying a blend of lavender and bergamot essential oils helps in treating depression or anxiety.
7. Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata): Ylang Ylang is a floral aroma that has both uplifting, as well as calming properties that is helpful for both anxiety, as well as depression. Ylang Ylang essential oil is unique in that it helps with maintaining a positive attitude, increasing feelings of courage & optimism by soothing fearfulness. Ylang Ylang can help give you that much needed boost to get through overwhelming times and take charge of negative thoughts! It may calm heart agitation and nervous palpitations and is a moderately strong sedative, which can help with insomnia.
8. Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea): Clary Sage Essential Oil has a woody, herbal odor that has calming abilities to ease tension and reduce anxiety. Most notably, clary sage has been found to help control cortisol levels in women. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and keeping this hormone balanced is vital in reducing symptoms of anxiety. High cortisol levels may increase your risk of anxiety, depression, and ultimately lead to adrenal fatigue.
9. Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin): Patchouli is probably the first essential oil you may have heard of, since we think of hippies from the 60’s leaving a trail of patchouli in their tracks. There’s a reason Patchouli essential oil has been so beloved in the “free love” hippie movement and continues to be a very popular oil to this day. Patchouli has a very distinctive, unique, musky scent that is earthy and very grounding. Patchouli is used in ayurvedic medicine to relieve anxiety, stress, and depression. It’s often combined with other essential oils such as lavender and is frequently used as a base note in natural perfumery. Patchouli may help reduce anxiety by promoting a sense of calmness and relaxation.
10. Basil or Sweet Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.): Yes, the basil you’re familiar with when it comes to cooking or planting herbs in your garden has amazing aromatherapeutic properties! Basil is from the mint family and has an uplifting scent that is unique in that it not only possesses calming properties, it also increases mental focus, which can be very helpful when battling anxiety. When we feel overwhelmed with racing, intrusive thoughts, it can be incredibly helpful to calm the mind, but to also be able to regain a sense of mental clarity to stop the cycle of anxiety. Basil essential oil can help you be alert, focused, and calm!
As an added bonus, my favorite essential oil brand (After a decade of research, I choose to stay away from the overpriced doterra and young living brands) and after years of searching, my go-to brand has been Plant Therapy, which has undergone vigorous third party testing to ensure the highest standards of quality at an affordable price. Plant Therapy offers many helpful blends that serve different purposes, such as this Stress And Calming Blend. Plant Therapy also offers a whole line of Kid-Safe blends (safe for children 2+)!
I particularly like to blend my own single oils into my own unique combo, depending on what my needs are for that day/moment in time, so I’ve linked my picks for each oil I described above. I love diffusing essential oils when I’m at home and I also enjoy making my own roll-on blends for aromatherapy using fractionated coconut oil with a 10% dilution of essential oils.
Essential Oils have been a life-line for me since I discovered the benefits of aromatherapy about a decade ago! My favorite way to incorporate them into my day is by wearing them as Natural Perfume that doubles as aromatherapy! I also love to diffuse various essential oil blends for different purposes throughout the day and have a diffuser in each main room of my home. For my diffuser recommendations priced from low to high, check out my detailed post on the Amazing Benefits of Lavender Essential Oil!
It’s important to note that Anxiety is a multi-faceted issue that has many different levels and aspects that ideally should be addressed by understanding our specific anxiety triggers, making time for self-care, keeping the body physically active as an outlet for anxiety, and fueling our bodies with healthy food to balance our stress hormones. I’m a licensed counselor and certified wellness coach, and I also personally suffer from chronic generalized anxiety. I find it’s essential to have a wrap-around approach to address the many factors that contribute to anxiety. Essential oils are just one of the tools I have in my “wellness toolkit” that have been incredibly helpful!
I hope you found some inspiration in this post. Nature has so many truly amazing plant-healing medicines and essential oils are the perfect example of the possibilities nature has to offer in dealing with life’s challenges!
Don’t miss these related posts to address the other aspects of anxiety in a safe, effective, and natural way:
Love & Light,