Anxiety is one of the most common mental health issues in the world. Most people will experience anxiety at some point in their lives, whether it’s nerves before a presentation or fear of an upcoming life event. But for many people, anxiety becomes a chronic issue that isn’t necessarily tied to any event or situation.
Whichever category you fit into, there are many natural ways to help combat anxiety symptoms and essential oils are one of them! We've compiled the best essential oils for anxiety into one easy-to-read blog post, so you can kick back and relax!
People have been using valerian since ancient times to help with anxiety, insomnia, and a variety of other health issues. The herb is believed to contain compounds that help promote sleep while relaxing the nerves. Its mild sedative effect can help ease frazzled nerves.
In one small study, participants took 50 mg of valerian root extract three times daily, and it reduced one measure of anxiety greatly.
Valerian essential oil can be inhaled through a diffuser at night to help ease anxiety and promote healthy sleep.
Lavender for Anxiety
Lavender is arguably the most famous essential oil for anxiety, and that’s because it works so well. Many people find this aromatic flower’s pleasant scent to be soothing and relaxing.
One review of clinical trials found that using lavender oil in aromatherapy helped ease anxiety before surgery and while staying in an intensive care unit.
Another review and meta-analysis found similar results: Inhaling lavender reduced anxiety levels.
There are many ways to use lavender essential oil for anxiety:
- Add to a diffuser and inhale.
- Apply a few drops to a pillowcase to help ease night-time anxiety.
- Mix with a carrier oil to apply topically.
- Add to your favorite moisturizer or massage oil to create a soothing scent.
Also known as tulsi, holy basil has a powerful, soothing fragrance and compounds that may help with anxiety. Holy basil isn’t like ordinary basil. It’s native to Southeast Asia, and it has a long history of medicinal use in India.
Research shows that holy basil is an adaptogenic herb that shows promise for treating stress – both mental and physical. Adaptogens are believed to help the body better cope with stress.
The Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine says that holy basil has both anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects.
Another study found that holy basil helped ease symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress.
Holy basil essential oil is easy to find online and in health food stores. Just add to a diffuser to enjoy the calming properties of this oil.
The ylang ylang flower is believed to help with symptoms of anxiety and stress. The flower, which is native to countries near the Indian Ocean, is used to create a variety of essential oils with varying strengths.
Ylang ylang has a long history of medicinal use, and it’s believed to contain properties that help with anxiety.
- One study found that ylang ylang essential oil not only helped reduce anxiety but also helped improve self-esteem.
- Other studies have found similar results.
- Evidence suggests that inhaling ylang ylang may have a sedative effect. It may reduce blood pressure in healthy males.
Ylang ylang essential oil can be applied topically with a carrier oil or inhaled through aromatherapy.
Many flowers are believed to have anti-anxiety effects, and rose is one of them. Its pleasant, uplifting fragrance can ease nerves and help put you in a better mood.
One 2015 systemic review found that rose essential oil may have a calming effect. The review looked at maze studies and conflict tests in rodents.
Another study from 2014 found that using rose essential oil in a footbath helped ease anxiety in women going into labor.
Try adding a few drops of this essential oil to your next footbath, or add it to your diffuser to inhale this flower’s soothing scent. Rose essential oil can also be added to your skincare products to help soothe anxiety while improving your skin.
Clary sage isn’t like the sage you’re most familiar with. This herb has an herbal, woody scent with purple flowers that look similar to lavender. And like lavender, clary sage is known for its calming effects. It’s also used as an aphrodisiac.
One systemic review found that clary sage helped regulate cortisol (the stress hormone) levels and ease tension in women. High levels of cortisol are associated with depression and anxiety.
Try adding clary sage to your diffuser for aromatherapy or add a few drops to massage oil for a relaxing massage.
Chamomile is another flower that’s well-known for its calming effects, and while it’s commonly brewed as a tea, the essential oil of this flower can also be used for anxiety.
The National Cancer Institute states that a 2-week clinical trial found that massage oil with Roman chamomile essential oil helped ease anxiety in people with cancer.
Try adding chamomile oil to your massage oil, or add a few drops to a diffuser to inhale its calming scent.
Bergamot oil comes from the peel of bergamot oranges, which are native to the Mediterranean. They have a bitter taste, so they’re typically used with other ingredients to create complex flavors.
Bergamot’s citrusy scent is refreshing and invigorating, which may help explain its anxiety-soothing effects.
Trials in humans and animals have found that bergamot can help ease anxiety and boost mood. Just bear in mind that applying bergamot oil topically can increase sun sensitivity.
You can use bergamot just as you would any other essential oil for anxiety:
- Add to a diffuser for aromatherapy
- Dilute with a carrier oil to apply topically
- Add a few drops to your massage oil or moisturizer
Neroli essential oil comes from the blossoms of the bitter orange tree. The oil is known for its sweet, soothing, and uplifting scent. It’s believed to help with anxiety and stress.
In fact, one systemic review found that using neroli oil in aromatherapy had calming effects and even helped with insomnia.
Try adding neroli essential oil to a diffuser or place a few drops on your pillowcase to help promote restful sleep.
Although not as well-known as other essential oils, vetiver is believed to help with anxiety and has a pleasant, sweet scent. The oil comes from a grassy plant that’s native to India.
One 2015 rodent study found that inhaling vetiver oil was able to reduce anxiety in rats to a similar degree as the drug diazepam.
Vetiver essential oil can be used in aromatherapy, or you can apply it topically when diluted with a carrier oil.
Frankincense oil comes from the resin of the Boswellia tree. It’s an ancient oil that has a long history of medicinal use.
In one study, frankincense was used as part of an aromatherapy hand massage. Frankincense was combined with lavender and bergamot as part of the study. Researchers found that the aromatic essential oil blend helped improve depression, anxiety, and pain in people suffering from terminal cancer.
Essential oils have so many uses, and helping with anxiety is one of them. Many of these oils can be blended together to amplify the effects or help produce a combination of effects (like improved sleep and anxiety relief).