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Aromatherapy for Calming Anxiety and Depression

Mell Green
Written by Mell Green

No matter the root cause, anxiety is a common yet complicated condition that will affect many of us throughout our lives. Fortunately, if you live with anxiety, aromatherapy may be able to help.

Believed to rejuvenate both the mind and the body, aromatherapy is a branch of herbal medicine used for its therapeutic potential that involves the essential oils found in plant sources such as flowers, leaves, seeds, fruits, and roots. Many studies have been done on the benefits essential oils may have on alleviating mood-related conditions. Anxiety, in particular, has been studied in this context. [1] There are many ways to use essential oils, including inhalation, topical application, or through air distribution.

Inhale: For anxiety relief, you can squeeze a few drops of essential oil on a cloth to keep in your pocket (they’re volatile, though, so you may need to reapply to the cloth periodically), on an aromatherapy jewelry piece, or apply topically around your nares to provide continuous relief.

Dilute: As they are highly concentrated, essential oils may cause irritation in some people. Before using, you should dilute the oils using a carrier oil such as coconut oil, or even add a few drops to your bath to provide stress relief and help you relax.

Diffuse: To ease your mind and promote a better night’s rest, you can add a few drops of essential oil in a diffuser or oil burner to allow the scent to disperse in the air as a mist or vapor.

Top Essential Oils for Anxiety& Depression

Generally, desired effects depend on the essential oil that you choose. In the list below we have shown some of the most common essentials oils used for anxiety. We also recommend reviewing Abscal and Yarnell’s study from Bastyr University for a more general discussion about the current research on this topic. [2]

  • Bergamot
  • Clary Sage
  • Chamomile
  • Fennel
  • Frankincense
  • Geranium
  • Jasmine
  • Lavender
  • Lemon balm
  • Marjoram
  • Patchouli
  • Rose
  • Sweet basil
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang Ylang


While essential oils might make a wonderful contribution to your wellness routine, understand that essential oils should never be considered replacements for health management, as many have not been evaluated by the FDA. If you struggle with anxiety, we obviously recommend speaking with your doctor or healthcare practitioner for medical guidance. We also recommend consulting a reference like Tisser and and Young’s Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals to get the skinny on individual ingredients in the oils and their known toxicity. [3]


  1. Barati, Farzaneh et al. “The Effect of Aromatherapy on Anxiety in Patients”Nephro-urology monthly, 2016,Volume 8: e38347. [journal impact factor = N/A; cited by 11]
  1. Abascal, Kathy & Yarnell, Eric. “Nervine Herbs for Treating Anxiety”,Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 2004,Volume 10: 309-315. [journal impact factor = N/A; cited by 44]
  1. Tisser and, R. & Young, R. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Health Care Professionals, 2014, Churchill Livingston Elsevier, Edinburgh, UK. [cited by 653]

Image Credit: Holistic Health and Living

About the author

Mell Green

Mell Green

Mell is a published writer and advocate of the legal cannabis movement who’s dedicated to all things wellness. You can catch her work in a number of publications including Plant People,, and the Weed Blog. She’s a proud volunteer of the National Hemp Association and enjoys consuming cannabis medicinally and recreationally.

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