I’m so very excited to share with you today an article written by a beautiful person, soul sister, and talented psychologist, Dr. Melissa Mahon. She is a wealth of information about mental health AND essential oils and I asked her to write an article to help our community incorporate healing scents into our lives. It’s something that I have recently returned to and I am exploring for my own sense of emotional well-being. You can also find recipe suggestions on her blog: Journey to Present!
When you walk into a room, home, or office, you often notice the scent right away. It is warm or cool, relaxing or unpleasant. “Aromatherapy” is a term that is maybe too loosely used by candle companies and the like. However, I would venture to say that using essential oils are a bit more researched (John Hopkins University is doing research with Doterra right now) and have more medical backing in actually being an effective aid in various disorders.
If you’re not familiar with essential oils, they are basically the essence of the plants that give them their distinctive smells. “They are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds that are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They can be both beautifully and powerfully fragrant.” (https://doterra.com/US/en/what-is-an-essential-oil)
The most common use of essential oils regarding mental health I believe is for sleep. There are a variety of blends that work well for sleep, some made by individual companies that are pre-mixed and others that work well together from mixing a few individual oils. I think my favorite, especially for kids, is mixing equal amounts of lavender and chamomile in a diffuser or a roller bottle mixed with coconut oil for rolling on the bottom of feet, neck, or temples. Vetiver, Cedarwood, Valerian, Ylang-Ylang, and Bergamot are just a few of many oils that have shown to improve sleep. Young Living makes a blend called Peace and Calming that I quite like and DoTerra makes a blend called Serenity which many people swear by.
The essential oils that have found to be most effective with depression are generally the citrus oils (Wild Orange, Bergamot, Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit) and the woodsy scents (Cedarwood, Cypress, Sandalwood). Peppermint generally has an energizing effect so this is often thrown into blends to help motivate as well.
Anxiety is probably the complaint people are generally coming to see me for. There are tons of anxiety blends out there and you can do some of your own research on Pinterest or other sites. The oils that help with anxiety are sometimes the same that help with sleep, though there are a few additions as well. Lavender, Basil, Bergamot, Valor, Patchouli, Vetiver, and Chamomile are some of the best. A few drops of lavender on the bottom of your feet will generally calm the nervous system down fairly quickly. I love the scent of patchouli and often mix this with ylang-ylang and lavender in my diffuser for a relaxing environment.
ADHD and other Behavior Issues
Parents who are struggling with the idea of medication for their child diagnosed with ADHD or other disorders that can involve behavior disturbances (Oppositional defiant Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, etc.) often start with essential oils and have found them to be helpful. Some of the most common oils for concentration and calming are Valor, Vetiver, Cedarwood, and lavender. DoTerra makes a blend called In Tune that is a blend of Amyris, Patchouli, Frankincense, Lime, Ylang Ylang, Sandalwood, and Roman Chamomile that many people have reported finding helpful.
This is certainly only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the ways that oils can be helpful for mental health. I always have something diffusing in my office whether it is Thieves oil (Young Living) mixed with orange to stave off illness (and smells amazing), a blend of Pine, Basil, and Bergamot (helps with irritability), or something I found online that morning, I want my office to be a place of serenity and calm for my clients.
*It should be noted that I do not work for or get any benefits from any company for writing about essential oils. Also, I write this as a lay-person and that while I have seen results from clients using essential oils, this is not something I am recommending medically as from the standpoint of a Licensed Psychologist. You should always check with a medical professional prior to using essential oils for yourself or your children.