Essential oils have become all the rage in recent years. What was once a fairly reserved Eastern medicine is now flooding the Western market. People are using essential oils for everything from treating bug bites to improving the health of their skin to helping to treat depression and anxiety.
Before diving down the rabbit hole of essential oils, let’s first take a quick sanity check. There is no robust scientific evidence that suggests replacing prescription medications such as antidepressants or benzodiazepines is possible. There is some promising research but results should still be regarded as inconclusive. Always talk with your doctor before taking a new supplement or natural compound such as essential oils.
In this article, we’re going to discuss the use of essential oils for depression. Once you’ve finished the article, you’ll have a better understanding of what these interesting compounds are so you can decide whether or not you’re going to use them to help manage your depression.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are a highly potent form of oil extracted from plants. They are called ‘essential’ because they are said to contain the essence of the plant from which they were extracted.
Essential oils have been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine for many thousands of years. One of the reasons that they have remained popular and continue to be popular today is because they do, undoubtedly, have some profound medical implications. They are certainly no “magic bullet,” but have shown promising clinical efficacy in the treatment for many health concerns.
Essential oils are often pleasantly fragrant. However, people often mistake this pleasant fragrance for meaning that the oil is just about good for everything. This isn’t the case – the Ayurvedic medicine practitioners don’t recommend the usage of essential oils internally or externally.
This is because the oils are so potent that they can interfere with the cellular metabolism of the site where they are applied. For this reason, the Ayurvedics choose to use essential oils for one main purpose: aromatherapy. And, in regards to aromatherapy, depression is certainly one of the reasons that they choose to use essential oils.
Aromatherapy and Depression
There’s no doubt that one of the uses for aromatherapy was to help treat depression. But how does aromatherapy work, anyways?There are a number of different ways that someone can go about receiving aromatherapy with essential oils.
- One way is to just sniff the bottle of essential oils. This is acceptable if you are in a rush or need a ‘quick fix,’ though doesn’t provide the most therapeutic benefits.
- Having a steam bath. This is a highly effective process in which you boil a pot of water. Once it’s hot enough to be steaming, you can add a couple of drops of essential oil into the water. Inhale the steam that rises off to experience the benefits of the essential oil.
- Vaporizing it. Essential oils can also be used as a form of incense by putting them into a special essential oil vaporizer.
The big question, though, is: does it work? It doesn’t matter how you would go about using aromatherapy if it didn’t work.
Fortunately for anyone considering aromatherapy for depression, it does work! At least, as far as you could expect aromatherapy to work. The study mentioned observed a number of people who were being given aromatherapy to help manage depression. Test subjects showed a ‘statistically significant’ improvement in their depressive symptoms which lead researchers to conclude there was a link between the two worth further research. Results were most commonly noted when people were using aromatherapy massage or inhalation, so if you’re hoping to manage depression, this might be the best route for you.
Essential oils have been a popular medicine for many thousands of years in the East, and nowadays people in the West believe they can be used for everything. While this claim might seem a bit outlandish, but there is a lot of evidence that essential oils can actually be quite helpful for managing a number of issues of conditions – like depression!
It’s important to note, however, that aromatherapy is no replacement for traditional therapy. It can certainly help to improve depressive symptoms and make therapy more approachable but don’t refrain from seeking the help of a trained professional.