Essential Oils for Depression and Anxiety

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Though research on the health benefits of essential oils is limited, what exists indicates their use may relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The real expert on whether using essential oils will help you feel better—is you. By doing a bit of research and experimentation, you may find some oils that help with relaxation or brighten your mood.

Why Essential Oils Work

Essential oils are extracted from the root, leaf, seed, bar, or flower of a tree or plant through a distillation process that separates the plant’s oil from its water compounds.

These aromatic oils are highly concentrated. For instance, it requires 150 pounds of lavender to extract one pound of essential lavender oil. This means the oil has 150 times the healing and protective properties as straight lavender.

The power of an essential oil lies in the size of its molecules. The molecules are small enough to penetrate our cells, and some can even cross the blood-brain barrier. Their minuscule size makes the molecules transdermal—they can pass through skin to enter the bloodstream.

Essential oils can also be assimilated through our olfactory system - our sense of smell - which is directly linked to the brain. When the smell receptors in our nose are stimulated by the oils, messages are sent to the nervous and limbic systems, influencing tranquility and mood.

Using Essential Oils

There are generally four ways to enjoy essential oils: inhaled - using a diffuser or inhaler, applied topically, taken internally, and used as part of personal care. Many essential oils are so powerful they need to be diluted with a carrier oil (e.g., olive, coconut) before being applied to the skin.

Maybe the easiest way to begin using essential oils is diffusing them into the air. By adding about 15 drops of an oil to warm water, or to a purchased diffuser, you can enjoy the oil's benefits. Lavender or rose oil may help you relax. Peppermint can improve energy levels and concentration. Citrus oils, or frankincense might brighten your mood.

It is important to invest in therapeutic grade, organic essential oils whenever possible. They come from plants grown in nutrient dense, pesticide free soil and the oils are extracted without the use of chemicals.

Use Them Wisely

Read about the best way to use the different oils, or consult someone trained in their use, before applying them—especially topically or internally. Some people may have an allergic skin reaction to certain oils. Little is known (researched) about the effects of oils on children, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or how the oils interact with prescription medications.

Source: Mayo Clinic; Aromatic Science; Dr. Josh Axe, The King’s Medicine Cabinet: Essential Oil Uses, Cures, and Recipes for Healing, ebook
Photo credit: uniquegarden

 
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