Have you ever noticed the powerful effect of all scents on your emotions and mood?
Essential oils for anxiety contain aromatic molecules that can pass the blood/brain barrier and have a direct effect on the amygdala – the part of our brain that controls stress, anxiety, panic, and depression.
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Though using essential oils alone may not cure an anxiety disorder, they can definitely help you calm your anxiety, stress,, overthinking, and fears and even stop a panic attack dead in its tracks – without the confusion, fatigue, and addiction associated with pharmaceutical drugs.
👉 Also, make sure to add foods that reduce stress hormones to your daily diet!
- 1 How Does Aromatherapy Treat Anxiety, Stress, and Panic?
- 2 The 3 Best Essential Oils for Anxiety and Panic Attacks
- 3 More Anxiety-Relieving Essential Oils
- 4 My Favorite Essential Oil Blend for Anxiety
How Does Aromatherapy Treat Anxiety, Stress, and Panic?
According to studies, and the John Hopkins Hospital, Essential oils can deliver signals to the olfactory system and stimulate the brain to produce neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine. These agents further alleviate psychiatric disorders.
A meta-analysis done by the Journal of Affective Disorders has looked into 25 randomized and controlled studies from all over the world and found inhalation and massage therapy with essential oils significantly reduced anxiety symptoms, no matter the cause of anxiety.
The 3 Best Essential Oils for Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Though scientific research on essential oils for anxiety is not abundant, there are a few studies proving the positive (and fast!) effect of a few essential oils on anxiety, stress, and panic:
1. Lavender Oil
Lavender EO is scientifically proven to be calming and relaxing and has been used for ages to relieve insomnia, anxiety (and even dental anxiety), depression, stress, and restlessness.
One of the major components of Lavender EO is linalool. In animal models, linalool has been found to inhibit GABA(A) binding receptors in the central nervous system inducing a relaxing state.
A meta-analysis study, examining the effect of Lavender on patients with preoperative anxiety found significantly lower anxiety after treatment with Lavender oil.
In addition, lavender (which can also be taken orally), has many other effects like tranquilizing, anti-seizure and epileptic, anti-pain, anti-addictive, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal. Its neuroprotective action is known as another benefit of aromatherapy.
High-quality lavender oil has a sweet, floral, herbaceous, and slightly woody scent. Its color can range from pale yellow to yellow-green, but it can also be colorless. I always choose organic essential oils.
How to Use Lavender Oil for Anxiety
Here are a few of the best ways to use Lavender essential oil to relieve anxiety and stress:
- Diffuse 10 – 12 drops of Lavender oil with an essential oil diffuser during your workday
- Add 2 drops of Lavender oil to 1 tablespoon of your favorite lightly scented organic carrier oil (like almond oil) and massage your temples for quick relief.
2. Frankincense Oil
Frankincense has a significant meaning in Christianity and is believed to be one of the gifts offered by the three wise men to the newborn Jesus.
Frankincense EO (derived from the resin of the Boswellia tree) is considered the true star of essential oils. It treats skin conditions, nervousness, depression, and anxiety.
It’s known for its comforting properties and is useful for visualizing, improving your spiritual connection, and helping overcome stress and overthinking.
Animal studies have shown that Frankincense oil has anti-depressive effects and reduced hormonal signals of anxiety, through massaging the oil into the skin with a carrier oil (Jojoba Oil)
In my experience, Frankincense EO (which has a sweet, woody aroma) is a very effective sedative that induces mental peace, relaxation, and satisfaction and relieves anger, anxiety, and stress.
How to Use Frankincense Oil for Anxiety
- Inhalation: add a few drops of the oil to an essential oil diffuser or place a drop or two on a tissue or piece of cotton and inhale the aroma.
- Massage: mix a few drops of frankincense oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or almond oil, and use it to massage your skin, especially the templates.
- Bath: add a few drops of frankincense oil to a warm bath. You can also mix the oil with Epsom salt or Magnesium Oil for more stress-relieving benefits.
(See the miraculous health benefits of Magnesium Oil!)
3. Sweet Orange Oil
Sweet Orange Oil is extracted from the peel of the Citrus sinensis orange (through cold compression) and has a sweet, citrusy aroma that I love.
According to one human study, Sweet Orange Oil has been found to have anxiety-inhibiting effects in humans, supporting its common use as a tranquilizer by aromatherapists.
The very smell of orange essential oil reminds you of happy moments and brings pleasant thoughts to mind. That’s why this oil is so often used in aromatherapy. It creates a happy, relaxed feeling and works as a mood lifter, perfect for people who suffer from depression or chronic anxiety.
How to Use Sweet Orange Oil for Anxiety
You can use this wonderful essential oil in the same ways listed above – diffusing, massaging the templates, and in a bath. When used in a bath, add a few drops more than you use for inhalation and massage – to make the best of it.
- Add a few drops to a tissue or a cotton ball and place it in your car, in your office, etc.
- Add 2 drops on a cloth and put it in the dryer for calm-smelling clothes.
- Add 2-3 drops on a cotton ball and put it in the vacuum cleaner.
More Anxiety-Relieving Essential Oils
Generally, all pure and organic essential oils are beneficial for stress relief. It’s like walking in the forest or anywhere in wild nature and taking it into your lungs through a long, deep breath.
The essential oils below are especially helpful:
1. Rose (Rosa damascena)
2. Sandalwood (Santalum album)
3. Bergamot (Citrus aurantium) – People exposed to bergamot essential oil aromatherapy prior to surgery had a greater reduction in pre-operative anxiety than those in control groups.3
4. Clary sage (Salvia sclarea)
5. Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)
6. Rose-scented geranium (Pelargonium spp.)
My Favorite Essential Oil Blend for Anxiety
Here’s an essential oil blend that I make regularly that helps me and my family at more challenging times. It’s easy to make and we all love it:
- 4 drops Clary Sage EO
- 3 drops Geranium EO
- 3 Drops Lavender Oil
- 2 drops Sweet Orange Oil
- 1 drop Sandalwood EO
Combine the EOs in a small dark glass bottle and open it to take a sniff or add 1-2 drops into the palms of your hands and rub them together to sniff. You can also use this blend in any of the ways listed here – in a bath, diffusing, massaging, etc.
Making your own essential oils blend is more cost-effective in the long term, but you can also find many pre-made blends that are very popular, such as the Aura Cacia Panic Button Blend.
Essential Oils Side Effects and Warnings
Some people may develop an allergic reaction to any essential oil. Some experience skin irritation (redness, itching) especially when used undiluted. In this case, washing it off with water and soap will help quickly.
Pregnant women and nursing moms may need to check with their doctor before inhaling or massaging any oils, and so people who take medication regularly – to avoid possible contraindications.
Before You Go…
If you suffer from ongoing anxiety, panic attacks, or just the “usual” stress – check out my other guides with practical tips and strategies for managing anxiety that can be easily implemented in your daily life. Small steps can lead to a huge change.
To your health and happiness,
Minmin Gong, Hui Dong, Yueheng Tang, Wenya Huang, Fuer Lu, Effects of aromatherapy on anxiety: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 274, 2020
Soares GABE, Bhattacharya T, Chakrabarti T, Tagde P, Cavalu S. Exploring Pharmacological Mechanisms of Essential Oils on the Central Nervous System. Plants (Basel). 2021 Dec 22;11(1)
Goes TC, Antunes FD, Alves PB, Teixeira-Silva F. Effect of sweet orange aroma on experimental anxiety in humans. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Aug;18(8):798-804. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0551. Epub 2012 Jul 31. PMID: 22849536.
3 thoughts on “The 3 Best Essential Oils for Anxiety & Stress (According to Studies)”
I am so glad that I found this helpful post. I love lavender oil. If you want some facts, then there are over 500 studies on lavender showing its potential effectiveness for anxiety, stress, pain, PMS, postpartum depression, infections, cuts, sleep issues, and hyperactivity.
Anxiety can greatly affect a person and bring him/her down, and in the long run affect daily living. It is therefore important to find the best treatments for anxiety. I believe in alternative therapies and these essential oils are some of the must-try remedies that will no doubt deliver awesome results to overcome anxiety problems.
Great information thank you. Been using essential oils for many years now. They are definitely coming into their own now which is very rewarding after promoting their benefits for more than 18years. I am also interested to know if you have heard of Modere? This company could complement your already existing database. I am a Social Marketer with Modere and looking forward to the way online shopping is changing fast for everyday essentials. Check out the shift is here – You tube clip by Justin Prince. Cheers!