Anxiety can be managed in a number of ways, but essential oils have always been one of the most effective for me. Click through for a list of the 5 best essential oils for anxiety (according to science).

5 Best Essential Oils for Anxiety


Anxiety can be managed in a number of ways, but essential oils have always been one of the most effective for me. Click through for a list of the 5 best essential oils for anxiety (according to science).Alright guys, time for some real talk. Anxiety is something I’ve struggled with my whole life, but it’s become more intense over the past couple of years. Between graduating undergrad and now dealing with graduate school, I’ve been constantly worrying about my future. I’ve tried a few different things to help combat it, including yoga, deep breathing, and essential oils. And while all of that helps, I’ve got to say that having this blog has been one of my greatest escapes, so I want to take a moment to thank all of you who’ve come here to help me start building this community. ๐Ÿ™‚

If you’re not yet part of the community, you can join here ๐Ÿ™‚

5 Best Essential Oils for Anxiety

Here’s a list of what research has shown are the most effective essential oils for anxiety:

  • Lavender
  • Orange
  • Rose 
  • Chamomile
  • Bergamot

 

Lavender Oil

In a study testing 25 different essential oils for anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects, it was found that lavender oil from Lavandula angustifolia (the one most commonly used in aromatherapy) showed the best anxiolytic effect in mice of all oils tested. They tested all their oils against a negative control (no oil) and a positive control (diazepam, a current anti-anxiety pharmaceutical). Further, they tested the component of lavender oil that they believed were responsible for the effect (linalool). They found that this component had an effect similar to the positive control, leading the researchers to conclude that this component is responsible for the anti-anxiety effect of lavender oil.

If mice arenโ€™t good enough for you, there was a clinical trial done on humans in 2012 that showed lavender oil caused significant decreases of blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature. This indicates relaxation of the body. In addition, subjects categorized themselves as more active, fresh, and relaxed than the control group who only inhaled a base oil.

Inhalation of lavender oil has even been found to reduce dental anxiety! In 2015, researchers tested subjects anxiety levels with and without lavender oil diffusing in the waiting room at the dentist. Anxiety scores on the t-test showed that patients in the lavender group tended to have lower anxiety. 

How to Use it:

  • Diffuse 2-3 drops in an ultrasonic diffuser or atomizer
  • Add to bath salts for a relaxing bath
  • Apply sparingly to wrists and temples directly when diffusing isn’t possible (lavender oil can be used neat, or undiluted)

Related: 5 Ways to Diffuse Essential Oils on a Budget

Orange Oil

In 2015, researchers tested the effect of orange oil on the anxiety level of women in labor. They found that the orange oil reduced the stress of the women more than the same intervention technique using only distilled water. 

Another study has found that even being exposed to orange fragrance can reduce anxiety levels before and during dental surgery. Patients were exposed to the fragrance before the surgery, and the researchers measured significantly lower vital signs such as heart rate and blood pressure in the fragrance group, compared to no change in vitals in the control group. 

How to Use it:

  • Diffuse 2-3 drops in an ultrasonic diffuser or atomizer
  • Apply a 50-50 dilution sparingly to wrists and temples directly when diffusing isn’t possible
  • Add to a cleaning spray for relaxation while cleaning ๐Ÿ™‚

Related: Get my free Essential Oil Dilution Guide from my free resource library!

Rose Oil

Research from 2002 identified rose oil as an anti-anxiety oil in rodent models.

However, research in human models is always more reliable. In 2014, rose oil was tested for anxiety reduction in women in labor (this seems to be a common model). The women were divided in 3 groups, one control, one with a foot bath, and one with a foot bath and rose oil inhalation. While the foot bath did reduce anxiety a little, the rose oil showed a significantly higher reduction of anxiety.  

How to Use it:

  • Diffuse 2-3 drops in an ultrasonic diffuser or atomizer
  • Apply sparingly to wrists and temples directly when diffusing isn’t possible (rose oil can be used neat, or undiluted, but because it is so expensive I recommend diluting it as much as possible)
  • Use as part of a homemade perfume for all-day relaxation

 

Chamomile Oil

Chamomile tea has long been used for its calming effect, and the essential oil is no different.

There are two varieties of chamomile that are often used, German (Matricaria recutita) and Roman (Asteracae nobilis). German chamomile is considered the more potent form, so it is used more often for medical applications.

Although chamomile has been used in many cultures over the years for calming, it wasn’t until 2009 that research was actually done. This double-blind study shows that chamomile extract has a mild anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect in patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). 

How to Use it:

  • Take the old school approach and simply drink chamomile tea
  • Diffuse 2-3 drops in an ultrasonic diffuser or atomizer
  • Apply sparingly to wrists and temples directly when diffusing isn’t possible (German chamomile can be used neat, or undiluted, but it is photosensitizing, meaning it will make you burn faster in the sun, so use caution when applying to the skin!)
  • Add to a fizzy bath bomb before bed to help you relax

Bergamot Oil

Bergamot is a little bit different from other essential oils for anxiety, mainly because it is thought to work best as part of a blend. 

In a work done in 2011 out of Thailand, researcher Tapanee Hongratanaworakit found that a mixture of lavender oil and bergamot applied topically to the abdomen reduced anxiety in human subjects. She measured several vital signs, including heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate, and skin temperature to gauge the level of anxiety of participants, as well as their own rating of anxiety. When compared to a placebo, the essential oil blend showed a significant decrease in anxiety of participants.

Additionally, a 2008 study in Korea showed that a blend of lavender, bergamot, and frankincense caused a reduction in pain and depression of hospice cancer patients when applied topically to the hands in a 1:1:1 ratio diluted to 1.5% in sweet almond oil. 

However, there is limited evidence that bergamot alone has some level of anti-anxiety effects. The only study I could find was a 2011 study which showed that bergamot inhalation had the same effect as the control anti-anxiety medication on rats running in a maze. The researchers say that “2.5% BEO [bergamot essential oil]… attenuated the corticosterone response to acute stress.” 

How to Use it:

  • Blend 1:1:1 with lavender and frankincense and diffuse
  • OR apply 1-2 of the blend diluted at least 50-50 to the wrists and temples (Bergamot is a photosensitizing oil, so use caution when applying to the skin)
  • Diffuse or apply bergamot oil alone for a more mild anti-anxiety relief

Related: Carrier Oils – What They Are and How to Use Them

Alright guys! Those are the top 5 essential oils for anxiety! There are other oils that have some anti-anxiety effects, but those are much less studied and/or not strong enough to mention. 

And as a note, many of these oils are also going to be pretty helpful for sleep, if the reason you can’t sleep is anxiety. I know many people look first to lavender especially as a sleep aid.

What oils do you use for anxiety? If you use something I’ve completely missed, let me know and I can add it to the list!

Don’t forget, you can download my FREE Essential Oil Dilution Guide from my library of resources!


About Rachel

Rachel is a blogger and Biophysics Lab Manager who lives in Clemson, SC (go tigers!). After studying conventional pharmaceuticals and how they target specific ailments, she applied that knowledge to figuring out how essential oils can work to treat the same ailments, and ended up creating the blog The Essential Girl.

When sheโ€™s not blogging or sciencing the shit out of something in the lab, she likes to swing dance and teach group fitness classes.