20 Essential Oils That May Help Relieve Anxiety and Stress, According To Research

Get ready to say "ahhh."


Emilia Benton |

You may associate essential oils with aromatherapy products and fancy day spas. But did you know certain varieties of these fairly inexpensive oils may have legit benefits when it comes to relieving anxiety and stress?

According to Dr Yufang Lin, an integrative medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine, essential oils work through inhalation or through topical application and have mind-body benefits. For inhalation, essential oils can be easily used as a room spray or via diffuser. A few drops on a pendant worn close to skin also allows for a slow release over time.

Topically, essential oils can be added to a carrier oil and used as perfume, massage oil, cream, or salves. Last but not least, adding an essential oil to your bath is a wonderful way to relax at the end of a busy day, says Dr Lin.

“The quickest way to change one’s mood is through smell, thus essential oil is an excellent way to reduce anxiety and support relaxation,” says Dr Lin. “However, it takes a lot of herbs to make a small amount of essential oil, which makes it a strong medicine that should be used judiciously.”

While research on essential oils for mental health benefits is still expanding, there is some info to suggest that certain oils may work for things like stress relief, better sleep, and more. The thing is, though, even if one study shows that a particular scent is great for, say, reducing anxious feelings, it may not work for every single person. If you don’t enjoy a scent, you probably won’t feel much better after sniffing it, for instance.

READ MORE: 10 Essential Oils That Instantly Relieve Itchy Skin

Which essential oils help with anxiety?

The essential oils below have been shown to reduce anxiety in human studies, says Dr Lin. Other scents are also commonly used to reduce anxiety and support relaxation, but research beyond animal studies is needed to know if they have real benefits for people.

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Orange
  • Sweet marjoram

Which essential oils promote relaxation?

The essential oils ahead have been shown to help people feel calmer and more relaxed, says Dr Lin. One potential caveat is that most people have scent memory. So, for instance, if a person has a negative memory associated with a particular scent, they may not feel relaxed when they smell that scent, she explains.

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Sweet orange
  • Peppermint
  • Frankincense
  • Myrrh
  • Rose

What are the potential side effects of essential oils?

It’s important to keep potential side effects in mind, as they can be mild to severe. For one thing, certain essential oils (citrus in particular) can cause photosensitivity — meaning you can get a sunburn more easily after using orange essential oil on the skin, says Dr Lin. (This is why it’s a common recommendation to dilute oils before applying them topically, just to be extra cautious.)

Additionally, some essential oils are safe in small amounts but can dangerous in higher doses. “Tea tree and eucalyptus essential oils are commonly used for their antimicrobial benefits, but in excess, can cause nerve and liver damage,” says Dr Lin. “Some essential oils are toxic in general and should not be used — arnicaparsleyrue, and tansy are a few that fall into this category.”

Finally, do not ingest essential oil without supervision from a trained herbalist, and be extra cautious using essential oils around young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and small pets because they are most at risk for toxicity and side effects, she says.

The bottom line: Research on using essential oils to ease anxiety or for stress reduction is growing, but remains limited. But if you’re a healthy adult and are using essential oils safely and at the guidance of your doctor, there is little harm in testing some oils out to see which ones help you feel mentally better.

This article was originally published on www.womenshealthmag.com

READ MORE ON: Anxiety Health Health Advice Mental Health Stress