Essential oils for depression
Essential oils can be used for many ailments and health issues. They relieve stress and nervousness, improve sleep disturbances and pregnancy issues and are used for back and neck pain. Yes, they can even help children with ADHD. Numerous studies have shown that essential oils can also support the treatment of depression in a natural and significant way.
Essential oils for depression
Of course, essential oils alone will not cure depression. So they are not an alternative to psychotherapy and a comprehensive holistic concept, but they can be perfectly integrated into it and enhance its effect. Some essential oils can relieve certain psychological and physical symptoms that are often associated with depression. For example, essential oils can reduce sleep disturbances, improve mood and improve the quality of people’s lives.
Essential oils can also reduce feelings of anxiety, which can also frequently occur in depressive states. No miracle use about 43 per cent of all persons with fear conditions and stress symptoms some form of the alternative therapy, in order to improve their condition.
Essential oils in aromatherapy
Essential oils are components of plants. They are extracted from bark, blossoms, leaves, stems, roots or other parts of plants mostly by distillation (steam). In some cases the essential oils can also be obtained by cold pressing.
In aromatherapy, essential oils are either inhaled or massaged into the skin. Since essential oils are never applied pure to the skin – otherwise skin irritations can occur – the oils are mixed with a so-called base oil. This can be for example a fractionated coconut oil, an almond oil, an avocado oil or also a high-quality olive oil. If you have allergies, you should first test the selected essential oil very carefully.
Essential oils – the mechanism of action in depressions
The active ingredients of the essential oils are now absorbed through the skin and enter the bloodstream or they stimulate certain areas of the brain through the nose because they are constantly inhaled due to their constant presence on the skin.
When specialized nerve cells in the upper part of the nose perceive a scent, they send an impulse to the so-called olfactory bulb in the brain. The olfactory bulb in turn sends the corresponding information about the respective scent to another area in the brain, the limbic system. This area of the brain is an expert in emotions. Here endorphins are released, the body’s own opioids, i.e. those substances which – depending on the dose – provide us with joy, enthusiasm, well-being and ecstasy.The limbic system is therefore the most relevant when it comes to mood and memories.
Why essential oils can have a different effect on everyone
Surely you know this: you take a fragrance and suddenly you are well – or not so well – depending on the memories you associate with the fragrance. Perhaps it is a floral scent that reminds you of your grandparents’ garden, where you have always spent wonderful hours. This fragrance will give you a relaxed feeling of well-being.
Or it’s the scent of a colleague’s aftershave, who has a lot of fun thinking up little intrigues. This scent puts you on alert and certainly does not improve your mood. If another person wears the same aftershave, you won’t find him so likeable at first, even if you don’t know him yet.
People are so sensitive to scents that each person can recognize millions of different aromas and store them with the respective information.
Accordingly, essential oils cannot have the same effect on everyone in the same way. Because every human being has different memories with regard to scents and of course also completely different stored scents. So there can be scents again and again, which you do not know yet at all and therefore also not with memories in connection bring – neither with good nor with bad.
Essential oils that can help with depression
On the one hand, those fragrances which remind you of beautiful experiences and dear people can help with depression, on the other hand, those fragrances which have not yet been stored in the respective person but have been proven in studies to be antidepressant, sleep-promoting, anxiety-relieving and mood-lightening can help.
Of course, of the essential oils presented below, you only use those that you personally like and find pleasant. Because if, for example, you had to drink chamomile tea as a child when you were ill, you may not be able to enjoy the scent of chamomile when you drink it.
Basil, on the other hand, emits a fragrance that reminds most people of summer, sun, holidays and tasty food and can therefore often spread an extremely good mood.
Essential oils for depression – The list
There is scientific evidence that each individual essential oil or the respective mixtures of essential oils have an antidepressant effect.
Bergamot can reduce anxiety and stress.
Bergamot, lavender and frankincense have been shown to be analgesic and antidepressant in people with terminal cancer. The three oils were mixed in a ratio of 1 : 1 : 1 in an almond oil (50 ml) with a concentration of 1.5%. The oil was massaged into the patient’s hands for 5 minutes each day for seven days.
Lavandin clearly reduced fear of surgery in a study of 150 patients in the test group. The control group, which had received only one jojoba oil, remained anxious. The study was published in 2009 in the Journal of Perianesthesia Nursing.
Lavender can relieve anxiety in people with dental anxiety – according to a 2010 study of 340 patients – and reduce stress and anxiety symptoms in students (Holistic Nursing Practice, 2009).
Rose also helps as a single oil with anxiety, depression and stress.
Lavender, Roman chamomile and neroli (in a mixing ratio of 6 : 2 : 0.5) reduced the fear of patients with percutaneous coronary intervention in a study conducted in 2013. This is a technique for dilating a narrowed or closed coronary artery without open surgery. Instead, a catheter is inserted via the inguinal or forearm artery, which is then led to the heart and dilates the constriction there. The patients inhaled the essential oil mixture from a scented stone with 10 deep breaths each before and after the procedure. Compared to the control group, the essential oil group had less anxiety and was able to sleep much better after the procedure.
Lavender promotes good sleep and is therefore a good fragrance for sleep disorders.
Rosemary also has an antidepressant effect.
Orange reduces anxiety and prevents it – as a study in 2012 showed. The study was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Thanks to the essential orange oil (inhaling the scent of 2.5 drops), the participants had significantly less anxiety than the control groups, who inhaled either the scent of tea tree oil or water, the latter of course not emitting any scent.
- Ginger prevents depressive behaviour patterns.
- Ylang Ylang can slow down the stressed heartbeat, lower blood pressure and calm the breath.
- Other essential oils for which studies and evidence are not yet available are the following:
- Basil reduces stress, anxiety and depression.
- Roman Chamomile calms emotions and nervous tension.
- Clary Sage relieves anxiety, reduces stress, calms panic attacks and has an antidepressant effect.
- Geranium also relieves anxiety, relieves stress and improves stress-related fatigue.
- Grapefruit has a calming effect – both in anxiety and stress situations.
Essential oils and the scientific evidence
It is not easy to objectively and scientifically prove the effect of essential oils on humans. This is because the participants will automatically notice from the scent whether it belongs to the verum group (test group which receives the actual essential oil) or to the control group (which receives only a placebo). Blinding is therefore difficult to achieve here and it will be a long time before therapists and doctors can prescribe aromatherapy as the first-line treatment for depression.
However, aromatherapy can also be used very effectively now, especially if the person concerned specifically selects those essential oils which he or she perceives as very pleasant. Aromatherapy can then support conventional therapies in the case of depression and reinforce the success of the overall therapy concept.
Possible side effects of essential oils in depressions
As with any remedy, essential oils can of course be overdosed or misapplied – and then also have side effects, such as the above-mentioned skin irritations. Infants, pregnant women or breastfeeding women should be careful with aromatherapies and only discuss them with their doctor.
Translated from Center of Health