Essential oils are a natural way to relieve anxiety and stress. The practice of using scents to balance your well-being is called aromatherapy, and it has been practiced for hundreds of years. Aromatherapy is a holistic treatment that you can practice in addition to more traditional therapies. 

Aromatherapy works because certain scents activate the smell receptors in your nose, sending relevant messages to your nervous system. When you feel anxious, it’s because your nervous system has initiated responses like a quicker pulse rate and a rush of adrenaline. 

Smelling a calming scent can change the message that your receptors send to your nervous system, so instead of a pounding heartbeat and shallow breathing, you’re able to breathe slowly and deeply and remain calm.

Before you pick the best essential oils for anxiety, read about ten different products to understand what might work for you.

Lavender

Latin name: Lavandula

Lavender oil from doTerra is highly rated as potent and effective at relieving anxious feelings when used in a diffuser. You can even dilute doTerra’s lavender oil to safely take internally to alleviate stress. Lavender has been used to combat anxiety and insomnia for quite some time, making it one of the most popular essential oil fragrances.

Lavender works to calm anxiety by affecting the limbic system, which is the part of your brain that controls your emotions. By targeting this system, lavender essential oils will ease your anxiety and relax your mind to have logical rather than emotional responses.

A study in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience found that smelling linalool, a compound in lavender, causes reactions in the same areas of your brain as anti-anxiety drugs—without any of the side effects! Linalool made this impact on smell alone, without needing to be put on your skin and absorbed into your bloodstream.

Pros

  • Calms anxiety by regulating your nervous system
  • Lowers your blood pressure
  • Promotes a better mood
  • Treats migraines and headaches

Cons

  • Constant topical use will cause skin irritation
  • Can cause allergic reactions

Jasmine

Latin name: Jasminum grandiflorum

Young Living’s jasmine essential oil has a rich, floral scent. Many big-name perfumiers like Estee Lauder, Gucci, and Dolce and Gabbana use jasmine fragrance in their perfumes. Jasmine oil is so precious that it takes over ten pounds of flowers to make one five milliliter bottle of oil! Adding to the mystery of this oil, the jasmine flowers must be picked at night before sunrise. 

Jasmine essential oil is also very effective when added to lotion and used in aromatherapy massages. That benefit might explain why the fragrance also is used as an aphrodisiac. But don’t worry if a little romance doesn’t alleviate your anxiety because jasmine has plenty of other benefits that will help. Young Living prides itself on making the highest quality jasmine essential oil you can find to alleviate anxiety.

Pros

  • Calms the nervous system
  • Promotes a sense of well-being that triumphs over anxiety 
  • Increases your blood oxygen levels and breathing rates
  • Does not cause drowsiness
  • One of the safest oils to use topically
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Cons

  • Oil is very expensive because it takes so many flowers to make
  • May cause a mild allergic reaction if you use too much of it

Bergamot Orange

Latin name: Citrus bergamia

Bergamot orange essential oil comes from bergamot oranges, which are a hybrid between lemons and bitter oranges. The doTerra bergamot essential oil has an energetic citrus scent that is uplifting and calming.

Due to the widespread sale of adulterated oils, the Italian government started issuing certificates of purity for their oils. You’ll know you’re getting quality oil when you buy doTerra’s bergamot orange essential oil for your anxiety needs. A scientific study in 2016 verified the anti-anxiety claims of bergamot orange essential oils when one group was in a room with diffused bergamot orange oil, compared to a control group with no scents.

Pros

  • Proven to reduce stress hormones
  • Improves your mood by boosting dopamine production
  • Energizes you and reduces feelings of fatigue

Cons

  • Topical use increases sun sensitivity and can cause skin damage
  • Can cause redness, blisters, or hives
  • Harmful if swallowed—edible bergamot flavoring is different from the essential oil

Lemon

Latin name: Citrus limon

doTerra’s lemon essential oil is extracted from leaves and lemon rind, giving the oil a rich citrus scent. This is one of doTerra’s top-selling oils because of its associations with cleanliness, sunshine, and freshness. Some people think that lemon essential oil is better than lavender at relieving stress based on the uplifting association with cleanliness. Using this doTerra oil in a diffuser does purify the air.

Be sure to buy lemon essential oil, not lemongrass. Lemongrass essential oil is also a popular product that smells similar to lemon, but lemongrass does not relieve anxiety. If you buy lemongrass instead of lemon essential oil, you won’t get the anti-anxiety benefits you need.

Pros

  • Stimulates serotonin production to alleviate anxiety symptoms
  • Boosts dopamine levels to elevate your mood
  • Helps suppress weight gain

Cons

  • Increases skin’s sensitivity to sunlight if used topically
  • Should not be ingested, as lemon essential oil differs from lemon flavoring

Neroli

Latin name: Citrus aurantium

While bergamot orange essential oils give off a vibrant orange scent, doTerra’s neroli essential oil has a rich, floral scent with citrus overtones. This is a great scent to blend with other oils for maximum anti-anxiety benefits. Neroli pairs nicely with other citrus scents, like lemon and bergamot orange, and also works well with jasmine’s floral fragrance.

Due to the fragrance’s floral essence, neroli oil is often used in perfumes and body lotions. Aromatherapy is often more effective if partnered with massage, so using a neroli-scented lotion is a great way to get the maximum benefits from this essential oil.

Inhaling neroli essential oil transmits messages to the limbic system, which then influences the nervous system to slow your heart rate, lower your stress levels, and calm your breathing. Thee factors will help decrease your anxiety.

Pros

  • Promotes a positive mood by easing anxious feelings
  • Boosts serotonin production
  • Reduces cortisol levels
  • Helps alleviate insomnia
  • Can decrease high blood pressure

Cons

  • Increases skin’s sensitivity to sun when used topically
  • Should not be used to treat a condition without doctor’s care

Chamomile

Latin name: Matricaria chamomilla

Chamomile is a well-known variety of tea because sipping this beverage can calm your anxiety and soothe your stomach all at once. Drinking chamomile tea before bedtime will also help you get a restful night’s sleep. But you don’t have to be a tea drinker to get the benefits of chamomile. 

Young Living’s Roman Chamomile essential oil is a high-quality oil that relieves stress and anxiety. Chamomile has a sweet and fresh scent, but there is also a smoky base note that has a grounding effect on your moods, keeping your emotions balanced.

Pros

  • Has anti-anxiety properties that relieve stress and calm an overactive mind.
  • Increase cortisol levels, which reduces anxiety levels
  • Guarantees a restful night’s sleep
  • Alleviates skin conditions like eczema when added to bathwater
  • Works as an anti-inflammatory for back pain and arthritis
  • Can be used topically without severe risk

Cons

  • Can’t use if allergic to daisies, marigolds, or ragweed
  • Might interact negatively with other drugs
  • Can’t ingest chamomile essential oil—only chamomile tea

Ylang-Ylang

Latin name: Cananga odorata

Young Living Essential Oils makes a potent ylang-ylang oil that smells fruity and flowery. The ylang-ylang plant has yellow star-shaped flowers, and the ylang-ylang fragrance is often used in perfumes and colognes. The ylang-ylang plant is native to tropical countries that surround the Indian Ocean. 

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In countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines, ylang-ylang has a history of being used to treat ailments like stomach problems, headaches, and inflammation, and it also has a lot of other health benefits. In fact, a scientific study conducted in Portugal also found that sniffing ylang-ylang oil led to heightened self-esteem, which is a nice side effect when it comes to trying to ease your anxiety! 

Pros

  • Lowers your blood pressure to calm your mind
  • Decreases your heart rate to alleviate your anxiety
  • Has a sedative effect that helps you get quality rest
  • Can treat headaches and digestive issues
  • Has antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Stimulates oil production on skin and scalp
  • Repels insects

Cons

  • Contains the allergen isoeugenol, which can irritate your skin when used topically
  • Is poisonous for dogs and cats

Sweet Basil

Latin name: Ocimum basilicum

Young Living’s sweet basil essential oil comes from the same family as the basil herb you may use while cooking, but it has different effects in oil form. This oil has a warm, crisp floral scent with a faint hint of licorice. 

Basil, which is also called “Tulsi,” is considered sacred when it is used in Indian medical practices as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibiotic, and more. According to a study done on mice, sweet basil essential oil has compounds to relieve stress similar to that found in the anxiety medication diazepam, without the sedating side effects. An added benefit of sweet basil essential oil is that it also works as an insect repellent and can eliminate odor-causing bacteria.

Pros

  • Calms, energizes, and uplifts your mind, leaving your anxiety behind
  • Promotes alertness and mental clarity
  • Help soothe headaches and digestive issues
  • Can be used topically (after carefully testing a small area) to exfoliate and repair skin
  • Possesses anti-cancer, anti-fungal, and antibacterial properties
  • Stimulates healthy hair growth, hydrates the scalp, and soothes itchiness and irritation

Cons

  • Contains estragole, which is a chemical that increases your risk of liver cancer
  • Do not ingest sweet basil essential oil—unlike the herb basil, the oil is toxic

Rosemary

Latin name: Salvia rosmarinus

As with basil, you might be familiar with rosemary from using it in the kitchen. This evergreen shrub has needle-shaped leaves and adds a lemon-pine flavor to food. doTerra’s rosemary essential oil is extracted from the plant’s leaves and gives off a robust, woody fragrance.

Research has shown that the scent of rosemary essential oil improves cognitive function and decreases the levels of your stress hormones, which will help reduce your anxiety. This is a huge benefit if you have test anxiety—you can relieve your anxiety and boost your brainpower with one essential oil! 

Since rosemary essential oils stimulate your mind, it makes sense that one of its other popular uses is to strengthen memory. Inhaling rosemary oil helps prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, which is a brain chemical vital for memory and concentration.

Pros

  • Stimulates your brain and allows you to focus on tasks
  • Improves cognitive function to uplight your mind
  • Decreases stress hormones to reduce your anxiety
  • Stops hair loss when regularly used on the scalp
  • Relieves joint pain associated with arthritis
  • Improves blood circulation

Cons

  • Has an energizing scent so it will not calm you down or help with insomnia
  • Oil cannot be ingested like the herb 

Sage

Latin name: Salvia officinalis

Like basil and rosemary, yet another herb that you might find in your spice cabinet is sage. All of its benefits—flavor, scent, and more—come solely from its leaves. Sage gives food an earthy, peppery taste, and can be used in fresh, dried, or oil form. Young Living’s sage essential oil has a strong and spicy aroma. 

In the Middle Ages, sage was nicknamed “Sage the Savior” because it was known to “save” people’s physical and mental health. Diffusing sage essential oil will stimulate and clarify your mind while balancing your moods and eliminating your fatigue. These qualities are very similar to rosemary essential oils, so if you like one oil, it might be a good idea to try the other to see how they can both benefit you.

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When buying sage essential oil, read the label carefully. There is also a clary sage essential oil. Clary sage can also calm you down and alleviate anxiety symptoms, but it will have a different scent and different overall effect than sage essential oil.

Pros

  • Shifts negative emotion, like anxiety, into a positive emotion, like courage
  • Stimulates the mind and improves memory while dispelling anxiety 
  • Works as a decongestant—while clearing your mind, clear your sinuses as well
  • Has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
  • Can be used topically to eliminate cold sores

Cons

  • Should not be ingested because it might be toxic compared to the herb sage
  • Might cause seizures if ingested by children

Essential Oils FAQs

You know the best essential oils to use for anxiety, but make sure you’re using the products properly with these quick tips.

How do you use essential oils?

Oil diffusers are a popular way to use essential oils. For room diffusers, you add a portion of warm water to the diffuser base, then sprinkle in your chosen scent of essential oil. The machine mixes the scent with the water and releases it in a calming vapor, allowing the smell to waft through your space. 

There are also miniature car diffusers that plug into your cigarette lighter. Personal diffusers are handheld and easily transported in your bag or pocket. These diffusers typically come preloaded with a scent, so instead of putting drops of oil into the container, you will just buy your preferred fragrance. 

If you want to wear the benefits of anti-anxiety essential oils, you can invest in diffuser jewelry. Put a drop of your favorite oil on the small sponge inside of a pendant or charm and wear your scent with style.

You can mix a few drops of essential oils to an unscented body lotion or dab it on your wrists and neck. Be sure to test a small patch of skin before you apply the oil to sensitive places on your body because some people have allergic reactions to pure oil. Mixing a few drops of essential oil with water in a spray bottle is a great way to add a light scent to your furniture and bedding.

Are essential oils healthy?

Essential oils are not regulated by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but therapeutic-grade oils are your best options because they do not contain synthetic fragrances. Essential oils should not be consumed, and if you put them on your skin, they might cause irritation. 

The best way to use essential oils is to dilute them with a carrier oil such as coconut, almond, or jojoba. Typically, adults need to dilute up to fifteen drops of oil in one ounce of carrier oil. For children, this ratio is about three drops of essential oil diluted into one ounce of carrier oil. Adults should always closely monitor essential oils use with children.

What brand of essential oils should you buy?

Any reputable brand will make a quality essential oil, but doTerra and Young Living Essential Oils are two of the best in this market. More important than the brand name, you need to carefully read the label. A quality essential oil brand will include the plant’s Latin name on the label, which is why it is included in this article. 

The country of origin and the date of production should also be stamped on the bottle. If a certain brand sounds good to you, research them more before buying. The brand’s website should have information about safety tests they conducted and the standards they meet.

What is the best essential oil for anxiety?

Picking the best essential oil for anxiety is a personal decision, as it depends on each individual’s smell receptors. A fragrance might smell calming to you, but it might irritate someone else. 

Anxiety is also very personal, so it might affect you in one way, and a certain smell might not be the best compliment for that feeling. After reading about the oils above, you might want to buy a sampler kit and test out different fragrances on your own.

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