Did you know that almost one quarter of the Australian population suffer from stress each year? Our busy lives and high pressured jobs often contribute to these high levels of mental strain, but did you know that something as natural and simple as essential oils can be incorporated into your daily routine to help alleviate some of this stress? If you're looking for a natural way to free your mind of anxiety and lower your blood pressure, aromatherapy could well be the way forward.
Read on to discover our top 5 essential oils and dry herbs to help with stress and anxiety.
Why Essential Oils and Dry Herbs Can Help With Mental Health and Relieving Anxiety
In many people's lives nowadays, stress is almost a given. However, a simple drop of oil has the ability to relieve anxiety without turning to pharmaceutical anxiety medications. By targeting your brain's limbic system, a complex collection of structures responsible for our emotions, and our body's nervous system, herbs and essential oils can induce a positive effect and help us to feel less stress and anxiety with few side effects. A huge body of scientific studies, conducted at institutions around the world, support these claims, and are referenced throughout this post. This is why aromatherapy is such a popular treatment for anti anxiety, but which are our top 5 herbs and essential oils for relieving stress and anxiety?
1. Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is a tried and tested way to help with anxiety
Lavender is widely renowned as an anti anxiety; its wonderful aromas are said to induce a calming effect on users and reduces anxiety, and it is no surprise that it features on our list. The claims about lavender's stress relieving properties are not without truth - there have been a number of studies that have discovered supporting evidence for lavender oil's ability to limit the impact of anxiety disorders; these studies have been conducted by respected institutions from around the world (1) (2) (3)
It is difficult to argue with such evidence, and when you breathe in the delicious and calming smells of lavender, or the more concentrated lavender essential oil, for yourself, the benefits are obvious. This is why lavender is often a go to for aromatherapists and why they recommend essential oils to their customers so readily.
2. Passion Flower
Passion Flower, otherwise known as Passiflora, has been used by Native American communities for centuries to treat a variety of conditions, including stomach upsets, boils and earaches. While there is no evidence to support some of these uses, in aromatherapy, passion flower has been found to help with generalized anxiety (4). It has also been found to be helpful in reducing stress as a premedication before surgery (5).
Passionflower releases a calming aroma
So, perhaps the Native Americans deserve some credit? It turns out Passion Flower is beneficial in reducing stress and calming users down, however, it's not the most fragrant of herbs, so don't expect the same kind of tastes you get when using lavender or lemongrass, but it's calming properties should make it worth your while.
3. Roman Chamomile Essential Oil
Chamomile is one of the most commonly known herbal remedies for treating stress and inducing a calming effect on the user, and rightly so. Chamomile essential oils are packed full with bioactive phytochemicals which have resulted in users experiencing therapeutic effects (6), with no adverse side effects. Chamomile has also been found to reduce generalized anxiety disorder (7) and one study published found that an essential oil blend of chamomile, lavender and neroli not only reduces anxiety, but also increases sleep quality of users (8).
With so many studies raving about the stress relieving benefits of Chamomile Oil, not to mention your Grandma, it's well worth a go if you're interested in trying to reduce anxiety in your stressful life.
4. Lemon Balm
Although Lemon Balm is often used in food, it is also commonly used in aromatherapy, often as a blend with other herbs. However, it can also be used in aromatherapy for relieving anxiety, as well as filling the room with that refreshing lemon fragrance; this is why lemon balm is often used in combination with other herbal products. One study in particular found significant calm-inducing effects from lemon balm, and interestingly the possibility of its use in the treatment of dementia, although more research is needed in this area; the full study is available here (9).
5. Basil Oil
And so we come finally to the humble basil, probably sitting there quietly in your kitchen cupboard as you read this; unassuming, chilled-out Basil. Just your everyday herb not wanting to draw attention to itself. However, Basil, also known as Saint-Joseph's-Wort (apparently), is also known to provide the user with anti-anxiety effects (10). So not so humble after all it seems.
If you don't fancy ingesting the basil in your cupboards, you can also find basil as an essential oil and benefit from its effects in that form, the choice is up to you.
How Do These Oils Work?
In order to release the active ingredients locked in essential oils and dry herbs, the user must heat up their material to an appropriate temperature. This is what activates these properties which provide the user with the benefits described above.
Tea, Incense, Bathing or Vaping - the Choice Is Up to You
There are many different methods which can be used to take in the beneficial active ingredients of essential oils and herbs, such as burning oils while relaxing in a warm bath, or brewing dry herbs in tea. However, as is probably indicative by our name, here at Australian Vaporizers we strongly recommend getting your hands on an oil-compatible vaporizer, such as the PAX 3 (with the additional concentrates insert).
Not only do vaporizers allow you to inhale essential oils and dry herbs through vaporization rather than combustion, which is perceived to have several benefits, but this method is also a more efficient use of your oils and herbs, meaning you consume less for the same effect. Not to mention the fact that it's a really enjoyable way to enjoy these essential oils! Just make sure not to overdo it at first as the oils and herbs can be quite potent.
Whatever you choose to do, we hope you feel the calming effects of these anxiety relieving oils and herbs! If you'd like to know more about essential oils from our very own country, check out our blog about our favourite Australian essential oils!