In Eternal Memory of Eric Cech, Ananda’s Founder “The best business model I can hope for is one that will run out of business.” – Eric Cech Eric’s business mindset was otherworldly. He admitted in casual conversation to his wife Anita one day: “The best business model I can hope for is one that […]
Science is validating that ‘aroma’ therapy can significantly reduce stress. Stress is thought to be the basis of much of what ails us and can be measured not only by self-reported standard questionnaires but by blood pressure, cortisol levels and other markers – producing ‘hard’ data on this important topic.
In many studies, the simple inhalation of a variety of essential oils have been shown to reduce the markers of stress.* Utilizing essential oils and absolutes for this benefit is as easy as opening the bottle and breathing them in, or wearing a little as a natural perfume.
On to the Research on these five amazing oils and lowering stress…
The simple inhalation of many essential oils has been shown in peer-reviewed, published research to positively affect biological markers of stress such as cortisol levels & blood pressure.
1. Inhaling Rose Reduces Cortisol1
Cortisol is a hormone produced by our adrenal glands when we’re under stress. It gets us ready for a “fight or flight” response, which we don’t really need these days, and isn’t really all that healthy.
Cortisol is easily measured through analysis of a saliva sample, as was done in this research, before and after inhalation of Rose oil.
As noted in the study’s conclusion: “Inhalation of rose essential oil significantly inhibited…the increase in the salivary concentration of cortisol in humans.” A second marker of stress was also reduced by the inhalation of the oil.
2. Inhaling or Ingesting Lavender Lessens Anxiety, Blood Pressure 2,3,4
Well, we kinda knew that, didn’t we!?! But yes, research has consistently confirmed that Lavender essential oil reduces self-reported anxiety.
Research combining the oils of Lavender, Roman Chamomile and Neroli also reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in coronary ICU patients.4 These oils were blended in a 6:2:.05 ratio (use 6 parts – or drops – Lavender, 2 Chamomile and 5 of the Neroli in the sampler set to replicate this yourself).
It’s also very interesting to note that ingestion of small amounts of the pure essential oil also lowers anxiety in placebo-controlled research. A series of studies performed in Germany demonstrated that a capsule containing 2 drops (60mg) of Lavender essential oil ingested daily had as significant an impact in reducing stress as benzodiazapine drugs.2
3. Inhaling Neroli Reduces Stress and Lowers Blood Pressure5
Neroli significantly reduced scores of stress and lowered blood pressure (as well as increased sexual desire and balanced hormone levels in post-menopausal women) in a randomized, controlled study.5
Further, researchers found that Neroli binds to sites within the GABA system (that part of our nervous system which calms us down). While this study focused on Neroli’s anticonvulsant effects, this GABA-binding action may account for the oil’s potential to lower markers of stress.
4. Jasmine Acts on the GABA System6
“The sweet smell of Jasmine is as good as Valium, with none of the side effects” reported the Daily Telegraph, on research performed by Professor Hanns Hatt at the Ruhr University of Bochum, Germany.
The professor and his team tested hundreds of fragrances to determine their effect on GABA receptors in humans and mice, and found jasmine increased the GABA effect by more than five times and acted as strongly as sedatives, sleeping pills and relaxants which can cause depression, dizziness, hypotension, muscle weakness and impaired coordination.
We just love the aroma of the sweet and floral sambac species of Jasmine, an oil that’s been traditionally recommended for lessening stress for women.
5. Roman Chamomile7,8 Soothes the Bellyaches of Stress
Perhaps one of the most widely used essential oils in aromatherapy, Roman Chamomile is rich in esters, a class of chemical compound known for its muscle-relaxant actions.
We find Roman Chamomile, when a few drops are rubbed into the abdomen, can dramatically and quickly alleviate that “ball of stress” feeling in your belly. It works wonders for children, too!
Roman Chamomile, if you remember, was part of the blend which lowered stress and blood pressure in ICU patients, along with Lavender & Neroli.
While it has yet to be revealed by scientific inquiry whether this is directly related to the anti-spasmodic properties of the oil. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center’s website: “It also helps relax muscle contractions, particularly in the smooth muscles that make up the intestines”, and it’s smooth muscle cells that make up the lining of our arterial walls.*
1. Chem Senses. 2011 Dec 13. Effect of Rose Essential Oil Inhalation on Stress-Induced Skin-Barrier Disruption in Rats and Humans. Fukada M, Kano E, Miyoshi M, Komaki R, Watanabe T. Division of Integrative Physiology, Department of Functional, Morphological and Regulatory Science, Tottori University Faculty of MedicineTottori 683-8503, Japan.
2. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2010 Sep;25(5):277-87. Silexan, an orally administered Lavandula oil preparation, is effective in the treatment of ‘subsyndromal’ anxiety disorder: a randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled trial.Kasper S, Gastpar M, Müller WE, Volz HP, Möller HJ, Dienel A, Schläfke S.
3. Nurs Crit Care. 2015 Jul 27. Effects of aromatherapy on sleep quality and anxiety of patients. Karadag, Samancioglu, Ozden, Bakir.
4. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013. Epub 2013 Feb 17. Effects of aromatherapy on the anxiety, vital signs, and sleep quality of percutaneous coronary intervention patients in intensive care units .Cho MY1, Min ES, Hur MH, Lee MS.
5. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014. Epub 2014 Jun 12. Effects of Inhalation of Essential Oil of Citrus aurantium L. var. amara (ed. note: Neroli) on Menopausal Symptoms, Stress, and Estrogen in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Choi SY, Kang P, Lee HS, Seol GH.