Essential oils are the “life blood” of plants
They are distilled from shrubs, flowers, trees, roots, and seeds. The chemistry of essential oils is complex. What makes them unique is how similar the chemical structure of these oils is to human cells. Because of this they can penetrate cell membranes and diffuse quickly into the bloodstream. THERAPEUTIC grade essential oils are distilled at very particular pressure and low temperature so to maintain the integrity of the molecules. They are organic and contain no synthetic chemicals. There are many oils on the market that are not of this quality and customers should be aware.
A Little History on Essential Oils
Essential oils have been used for therapeutic purposes for nearly 6,000 years. Lavender oil was used in France during WW1 and WW2 to treat burns and has been used and studied in France ever since. Aromatherapy has been practiced and researched in Europe and Asia for a long time. Now with growing interest in natural healing and integrative medicine essential oils are being researched and applied in the United States. There is compelling research on the antiviral and antibacterial properties of oils as well as studies on the impact of essential oils on emotional health including anxiety, depression, mood, and concentration.
Stress and Anxiety
What we see in our office is how the pace of modern life seems to be increasing stress and anxiety in our patients. People spend increasingly more time on their phones and computers and feel overwhelmed by information. This impacts their bodies (causing pain and tension) and their minds (creating anxiety and stress) People describe feeling disconnected from themselves and seem to have less time for relationships and community. Patients are eager to try natural healing techniques and products rather than drugs if possible to deal with their anxiety and stress.
Combining Essential Oils and Relaxation Techniques
In our integrative wellness center we combine the use of therapeutic grade essential oils with relaxation techniques including: deep breathing, yoga, meditation, massage, and acupuncture. Oils must be keep away from eyes and people should be checked for skin sensitivity. Oils are potent and only very small amounts are needed if the quality is therapeutic. We have patients smell them from bottles or by placing small drops on their wrists or feet. Essential oils can be combined with a carrier oil such as pure coconut oil to reduce skin sensitivity for massage. The following oils can be helpful to lessen anxiety, improve mood and improve sleep.
Choosing the Right Oil For You
When choosing an oil, it is very important that each person smell the oil first and see how it makes them feel. One oil might immediately make a person feel wonderful while that same oil might remind someone else of a painful past experience.
1- Lavender is a relaxant it helps with anxiety and mood. University of Miami researchers found that inhalation of lavender increased beta waves in the brain, suggesting heightened relaxation. It also reduced depression and improved cognitive function (Diegoet al 1998) A 2001 Osaka Kyoiku University Japan study found lavender reduced mental stress (Motomura et al.,2001)
2- Lemon uplifts mood induces relaxation (research by Komori, et al.,1995 Japan)
3- Frankincense stimulates limbic region of brain helping to overcome stress and uplifts spirits. Mixed with bergamot and lavender oils 1:1 ratio in hand massage was found to have positive effect on depression in hospice patients in University study Keimyung Korea
4-Tangerine contains esters and aldehydes that are sedating and calming (Komori et al Japan 1995)
5- Roman Chamomile- inhaling Roman Chamomile is one of the best ways to use essential oils for anxiety. The fragrance is carried directly to the brain and serves as an emotional trigger. A 2013 study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found a blend of lavender, chamomile and neroli essential oil reduced anxiety levels and improved sleep in patients in an intensive care unit compared with conventional nursing
6- Vetiver-comes from the flowers of orange tree. It has a tranquil calming effect decreases jitteriness useful for panic attacks. Studies show that just smelling it can lower cortisol levels. (Kim IH, et al. Evid Based Complete Alt Med Journal 2012)
There is growing interest in the use of therapeutic grade essential oils. Hopefully, more research will be done to continue to prove their benefits for health and wellness that many people subjectively experience.
If you or someone you know suffers from anxiety, you may want to speak with us at Parker Integrative Health. Make an appointment today by calling us at 720-809-7011.