Beauties…. here’s part two of Lisa Basso’s feature about stress and aromatherapy.
A remedy for every body
On a physical level, EO’s can be helpful in combatting and alleviating so many diverse conditions that it is impossible to list them here. For massage, EO’s are diluted and ‘carried’ to the bloodstream by vegetable oils (sweet almond, grapeseed etc), hence the use of the term ‘carrier oils’ in aromatherapy. Unlike many mineral oils (baby oil etc), vegetable oils’ molecular structure allows them to quickly penetrate the skin and travel (via the bloodstream) throughout the body, taking effect on every system of the body in some way or another. Essential oils trigger a process of physiological reactions which account for their demonstrated therapeutic effects.
Proving the effectiveness of Aromatherapy and EO’s in a scientific context is often not without challenges for several reasons. Large amounts of our knowledge of EO’s and their therapeutic effects are based on subjective and anecdotal evidence and therefore not easily replicated under scientific conditions. Research methodology is not a component of Aromatherapy training (1a), so many superb and experienced aromatherapists are unfortunately unable to tap into their wealth of knowledge and use this to produce research simply due to lack of research skills. On the other hand, Aromatherapy lovers and proponents of EO’s argue (because we KNOW) that scientific research methodology such as randomized controlled trials just don’t capture the “essence” of Aromatherapy, often described “in esoteric terms as ‘energies,’ ‘vibrations,’ and ‘subtle effects.’” (1b)
This said, there is an ever-growing evidence-base to support Aromatherapy’s value as a powerfully therapeutic practice. Several EO’s have been demonstrated to have a significant effect on reducing levels of stress and anxiety, and even a few that are valuable for individuals with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).
One controlled clinical trial on Chamomile (Chamomilla recutita) EO for GAD suggests that it may have modest anxiolytic (anxiety relieving) activity in patients with mild to moderate GAD (2).
Lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) EO exhibits many desirable properties of an anxiolytic agent, including a calming effect without sedation, as well as a lack of dependence, tolerance, or withdrawal (3)
Silexan, an oral lavender oil capsule preparation, when taken over six weeks was shown to effectively relieve generalized anxiety comparable to a common benzodiazepine (Lorazepam), a powerful psychoactive drug (4)
From my recipe book
With so many essential oils to choose from there are endless combinations and possibilities for fabulous aromatherapy blends. Below are just a few of my favourite blends for stress and feelings of anxiety and tension:
Marjoram, Lavender and Clary sage – Very relaxing with a deep herbaceous aroma, this blend contains a high content of Linalool, a chemical constituent naturally present in certain EO’s and known to exert a sedating effect. This is a great combination for use at night to help bring about a feeling of deep restfulness and is a good blend for individuals with sleep difficulties
Neroli, Lavender and Petitgrain – Calming and soothing with a slightly sweet floral yet mildly herbaceous aroma. This blend is relaxing yet non-sedating, and suitable for use at any time of the day. Great added to a rollerball that can be popped in a handbag and used on-the-go to help alleviate feelings of anxiety
Bergamot, Lavender and Ylang Ylang – Soothing yet uplifting, this floral-fruity combination has a calming yet uplifting aroma and effect. This blend will calm anxiety and also help to uplift low mood without sedating.
Chamomile and Rose – With a sweet and comforting floral aroma which I think of as very feminine, this beautifully calming blend is akin to a hug in a bottle, cossetting and gently uplifting to the mind, body and spirit.
Incorporating EO’s into our daily lives and routines need not be yet another thing on our to-do list, in fact its incredibly easy to do and after a while will become second nature and intuitive. Use EO’s in the bath, in massage, in a diffuser (or on a tissue for on-the-go inhalation) or dabbed onto wrists and pulse points (once diluted in a carrier oil). You can even place a few drops on the floor of the shower – the heat of the water will help evaporation and soon you’ll be cocooned in an aromatic cloud as curative and cleansing as water itself!
Powerful yet gentle, uplifting or soothing, invigorating or relaxing, and intrinsically healing, balancing and restorative, EO’s are powerfully therapeutic allies in the quest to minimize stress and alleviate its symptoms. Do enjoy the beautiful aromatic delights that Mother Nature has gifted us, they’re waiting to help!
If you have any questions, or would like to know more about using essential oils to combat stress, feel free to email me at Lisa@innersenses.co.uk
1a /1b Basso, L (2004) “Aromatherapy and scientific research: the current status of aromatherapy in relation to scientific research methodology.” International Journal of Aromatherapy
2 Amsterdam JD, et al (2009) “A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of oral Matricaria recutita (chamomile) extract therapy for generalized anxiety disorder.” Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology
3 Malcolm, BJ (2017) “Essential oil of lavender in anxiety disorders: Ready for prime time?” The Mental Health Clinician
4 Woelk, H. & Schläfke, S. (2010) “A multi-center, double-blind, randomised study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder.” Phytomedicine