You may have seen headlines in the news about how the scent of lavender can help calm anxiety.
The news isn’t totally surprising, considering that essential oils and aromatherapy have been used in alternative medicine for hundreds of years.
The new study, published in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, suggests that sniffing a compound in lavender — called linalool — affects the same parts of the brain as anti-anxiety drugs, only without impairing movement the way medicines such as Valium can.
Linalool was also found to affect the brain by smell alone, without being absorbed into the bloodstream — another potential plus for people worried about medication side effects or interactions.
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In a recent 2014 study by the American College of Healthcare Sciences, 58 hospice patients were given hand massages once a day for one week with an essential oil blend in 1.5% dilution with sweet almond oil. The essential oil blend consisted of these essential oils in equal ratios of bergamot, frankincense and lavender.
All patients who received the aromatherapy hand massage reported less pain and depression, concluding that aromatherapy massage with this essential oil blend is more effective for pain and depression management than massage alone.
1. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Considered the most common essential oil, lavender oil benefits include having a calming, relaxing effect. It’s considered a nervous system restorative and helps with inner peace, sleep, restlessness, irritability, panic attacks, nervous stomach and general nervous tension.
Springing from the branches of the Cananga tree, native to Indonesia, ylang-ylang flowers produce an oil that is effective in reducing hypertension because of its sedative effects. Not only can it help you fall asleep faster, but a little aromatherapy with this oil can also alleviate stress and anxiety. It also boasts a sensational scent.
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Valerian may not have the same reputation as chamomile or lavender when it comes to promoting sleep, but it's actually been used to ease insomnia since the 17th century. Utilizing this oil can help you not only fall asleep faster but also actually improve the quality of your sleep.
Chamomile is one of the best known natural sedatives, which in turn, makes it one of the most brilliant essential oils for sleep. Whether it's being steeped to make tea or extracted in the form of an oil, chamomile's use as a sedative has been documented for centuries and is one of the most popular ways to fight off insomnia.
Peppermint oil is one of the most versatile essential oils out there. It can be used aromatically, topically and internally to address a number of health concerns, from muscles aches and seasonal allergy symptoms to low energy and digestive complaints. It’s also commonly used to boost energy levels and improve both skin and hair health.
Lemon essential oil is a well-known, versatile oil that offers benefits for the body, mind, and environment. Like most citrus oils, lemon works to boost mood and uplift spirits. In fact, the oil has been shown to reduce stress levels more effectively than traditionally-calming oils like lavender.
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