Millions of Americans turn to essential oils as all-natural pain relievers, antidepressants, and anti-inflammatories, but which ones are scientifically proven to work? When a practice is so heavily rooted in spirituality, it can be hard to decipher what is fact from what is merely the product of the placebo effect.
Fortunately, naturopath and certified essential oil specialist Scott A. Johnson, PhD, separates fact from fiction in a new article for MindBodyGreen. "Pioneering researchers are beginning to unlock the powerful influence the aromas of essential oils have on brain-wave activity," he writes. "Increasing theta brain-wave activity is a preferred state for meditation because it heightens receptiveness and provides access to knowledge and information that is normally beyond conscious awareness."
More specifically, a study published in Flavor and Fragrance Journal found that inhaling Siberian fir needle essential oil for 40 minutes increased theta brain waves and "promoted a more relaxed state," he explains. "Other essential oils that remarkably influence brain-wave activity include frankincense, balsam fir, copaiba, and lavender essential oils."
Johnson recommends turning to lavender, lemon, and rosemary to boost serotonin; ylang-ylang and bergamot to reduce cortisol; and lemongrass, citronella, and white verbena to ease anxiety. Check out the best essential oils for anxiety relief below and shop the one that suits your needs and preferences.