Aromatherapy is also one of the natural cures for anxiety. Do you remember your first kiss? And the first time you have seen the sea? Do you remember that special moment at your grandmother's house? Probably all these memories are accompanied by a perfume. In fact, there's nothing like aromas to awaken particularly vivid memories.
But it is equally true that smell is one of the most underestimated senses, even if in some cases it has a healing power. Smell is also one of the least studied senses, although receptors in the nose are known to send chemical messages through the olfactory nerve to the limbic system, a primitive area of the brain associated with emotions, fear and memory.
In 2013, Xiamen University researchers found that the olfactory signals generated by essential oils have an effect on the production of neurotransmitters, particularly serotonin and dopamine. This means that these aromas also have an impact on a physical level and not simply a psychological effect.
Aromatherapy: A Natural Cure for Anxiety
1. Lavender. Lavender has a very powerful aroma with a calming and relaxing effect. It also helps sleep, relieves fatigue, is helpful in treating the symptoms of panic attacks, and relaxes nervous tension.
A study conducted at the University of Central Lancashire found that oral administration of lavender essential oil helped to reduce people's heart rate when watching a movie that generated fear and anxiety. These researchers are convinced that its scent is useful for fighting anxiety and preventing panic attacks.
2. Rose oil. This is also an essence that has been used for centuries to relieve anxiety, stress and depression. In fact, it is particularly useful when the person is suffering from panic attacks, is in a state of shock or is going through a period of intense suffering.
A study conducted by the Iran University of Medical Studies involved some young mothers immediately after giving birth. These, who underwent a 10-minute aromatherapy treatment with rose oil, reported a significant decrease in anxiety and stress.
3. Chamomile. The calming power of chamomile tea is well known. However, the truth is that its essential oil is also useful for reducing irritability and getting rid of ruminative thoughts and worries.
In a study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, psychologists worked with 59 people, some diagnosed with anxiety and depression. At the end of the experiment it was observed that chamomile had indeed an antidepressant and anxiolytic effect.
4. Ylang-Ylang. Ylang-Ylang improves our mood, so it is also used to relieve anxiety and depression. In fact, Korean researchers have found that a combination of ylang ylang, bergamot and lavender is particularly effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety, the level of cortisol in the blood, and even blood pressure in people with hypertension.
5. Incense. It is a less common aromatic resin than the essential oils mentioned above, but has a very powerful calming effect on anxiety and stress. In fact, a study conducted at Keimyung University involving people with terminal cancer revealed that a blend of frankincense, lavender and bergamot was not only very effective in reducing psychological stress, but also helping to relieve pain.
How is aromatherapy applied?
First, it is desirable to use pure essential oils, which are not mixed with chemical additives. It is also recommended to apply the "treatment" every day, for at least 10 minutes, for over a month.
With reference to the forms of application, the most common is through the inhalation of essential oils. The usual practice is to dilute a few drops of oil in hot water and inhale the steam. You can also dilute the essence in the tub water to take a relaxing bath, while breathing in the aroma.
Another technique consists in applying essential oils directly to the skin, after which a light massage is practiced. However, it should be borne in mind that some of these oils are very potent, so manufacturers recommend diluting them with other oils. It is recommended to always follow the instructions for use.
Can Anxiety Be Treated With Essential Oils?
It depends on the level of anxiety. If it is a state of anxiety generated by a specific situation, such as a job interview, the presentation of an important project or an exam, essential oils can be very useful as they will help you relax and regain confidence. They are also very effective in relieving stress.
But when it comes to chronic anxiety that has been dragging on for years or panic attacks, aromatherapy should be paired with psychotherapy. Essential oils help to calm anxiety and regain tranquility, but it is necessary to work on a psychological level on the traumas, problems and beliefs that underlie anxiety itself. There are no magic formulas, a systematic effort is required.