Essential Oils for Stress & Our Restorative Mind-Body Blends

Stress is something we all deal with, and 2020 has had more than its fair share of stressful moments. 

Stress is something we all deal with, and 2020 has had more than its fair share of stressful moments. 

Between the pandemic, virtual schooling, and the holidays, I’ve seen first-hand how stress can often cause us to cross the fine line between wellness and distress.mind-body restorative oil

With my clients, I’ve also seen how stress can negatively affect the skin’s health, causing acne flare-ups and dullness. With all this in mind, I remain committed to using essential oils for stress and continually rediscover them as a wonderfully natural and affordable way to stay centered during trying times.

As we approach the holiday season, many of us are looking for simple, enjoyable tools that can help us stay balanced during the increased seasonal stress. We’re also looking for high-quality, sustainably made gifts to help loved ones feel better, too. Our Stony Creek Aromatics line is a wonderful option for anyone who wants to pamper themselves—or their loved ones—with a hand-crafted blend of luxurious, stress-relieving oils. I formulated this line myself based on my experience as an esthetician and certified aromatherapist, and I use it during nearly all of our facials at the spa. 

A Peek Inside Stony Creek Aromatics

When I received my aromatherapy certification, my research paper centered around “10 Essential Oils for Stress.” Since wrapping up my studies, I’ve channeled my knowledge into our Stony Creek Aromatics Restorative Mind-Body Blends, which feature 5 of my favorite essential oils for stress (keep reading to see why each one is so powerful in its own right). 

Our Stony Creek Aromatics Restorative Mind-Body Ritual Oil features 5 of our favorite essential oils for stressOur Restorative Mind-Body Ritual Oil is a concentrated 20% blend of these essential oils that can be applied at pulse points, like your wrists or temples, to help soothe stressful flare-ups. (For more info about pulse points, check out our YouTube video here.) Our ritual oil is a fabulous product to keep in your purse, your car, or on your desk for when you need help finding your inner balance. This calming oil is also wonderful to keep by your bed to help you ease into a restful sleep. We use it during facials at the spa by placing a few drops on warm towels and aromapoints. Crafted with this love, this luxurious blend features only the highest quality oils and makes a lovely gift for anyone struggling with stress. 

 

{Shop our Restorative Mind-Body Ritual Oil, here}

 

Our Restorative Mind-Body Massage Oil is less concentrated than the ritual oil  (2%), making it a lovely option for a full-body application. We use this oil at the spa anytime we finish a facial with a stress-relieving neck and massage oil includes essential oils for stressshoulder massage. But don’t feel like you need to tuck this bottle away for an occasional massage! It also locks in moisture beautifully after a shower or bath, and many of our clients use it regularly to replace their body lotion.

Part of the reason our Restorative Mind-Body Massage Oil makes such a wonderful daily moisturizer is that the stress-relieving essential oils are suspended in super-nourishing, certified organic fatty oils, like jojoba, apricot kernel, almond, and avocado. When your skin is freshly towel-dried, it’s able to soak up and lock in these oils much more efficiently than when it’s dry. (Try applying a body oil after your next bath or shower, and you’ll see for yourself that it’s a completely different experience than the greasy sensation you get when applying oil to dry skin!) In my practice, I’ve found nourishing body oils to be far superior to body lotions if applied to damp skin, and lotions often include preservatives and ingredients that I don’t want on my skin or entering my bloodstream. 

This silky body oil is a wonderful gift for anyone who could use a loving touch during stressful times. 

 

{Shop our Restorative Mind-Body Massage Oil here.}

 

My 5 Favorite Essential Oils for Stress

After receiving my aromatherapy certification and experimenting with essential oils for years, I’ve narrowed in on my 5 favorite essential oils for stress that blend harmoniously. All of these stress-relieving oils are featured in our Stony Creek Aromatics Restorative products. The finished scent is perfectly balanced and includes oils from various plant parts, including the flower, wood, citrus, and leaf. 

Rose Otto (Rosa x damascena)

 

Rose otto is one of our favorite essential oils for stressThis is an exceptional essential oil, and it takes 50 roses to make a single drop. With that in mind, we use each precious drop of rose otto essential oil with the utmost respect. Rose otto is the only essential oil I know of that helps regulate cortisol, which helps suppress inflammation in the body. If the body is chronically stressed, it can release too much cortisol, leading to various health concerns. Rose otto essential oil can also help decrease blood pressure and heart rate (Mohebitabar et al., 2017). In herbalism and other plant-based practices, rose is often called upon to soothe the heart, especially in matters of grief. 

Sandalwood (Santalum album)

Sandalwood essential oil has a woodsy, sensual smell that helps instill a feeling of security and trust, encouraging an inner piece throughout the day. It’s no wonder that it has been used in spiritual ceremonies for centuries! Sandalwood is one of our favorite essential oils for stress.

Sandalwood essential oil is also found in many skincare products to help soothe redness, blemishes, dry skin, and fine lines. There’s an emerging field of study named “psychodermatology” where scientists are actively studying the links between our mental and skin health. In that field, sandalwood is one of the most potent essential oils for atopic dermatitis and psoriasis because of its ability to inhibit an inflammation-causing enzyme that’s partially triggered by stress (Moy, R.L., & Levenson, C., 2017). 

Sweet orange (Citrus sinensis)

 

Sweet orange is one of our favorite essential oils for stress.Cold-pressed from orange peels, this delightful essential oil smells exactly like a freshly sliced orange. Aromatherapists traditionally use sweet orange essential oil to boost the mood while simultaneously decreasing feelings of depression. This use was confirmed in 2012 by a controlled scientific study. In the study, 40 men were exposed to a stressful situation. The men who smelled sweet orange essential oil before the stressful situation stayed significantly calmer throughout the experience (Goes et al., 2012). More studies are needed to know the full effects of sweet orange essential oil for anxiety and depression, but it’s always exciting to see modern studies align with traditional uses. 

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia

Lavender is a time-tested and beloved essential oil for stress.

Loved around the world, lavender is one of the most popular essential oils for stress and anxiety. Dozens of studies (if not more!) have demonstrated lavender’s ability to ease tension and promote a sense of calm and relaxation (Koulivand et al., 2013).

Lavender is also a very popular essential oil for skincare, where it’s often used to help soothe minor skin irritations, like burns, bug bites, itchy skin, and soreness. 

Patchouli (Pogestemon cablin)

Patchouli is a scent that people either love or hate, and you may have strong scent associations with patchouli if you grew up in the 60s! Fortunately, the strong, earthy patchouli scent blends seamlessly with other aromas, so it’s not overpowering in our Stony Creek blends. In fact, I tested our Restorative Massage Oil on 50+ Google employees at a Stress Fair – many of them hated patchouli, but they loved the smell of our well-balanced oil! 

According to Aromatics International (a wonderful essential oil supplier), patchouli oil helps calm things down – from rising anxiety to irritated, red spots on the skin. In a 2018 randomized controlled trial, emergency room nurses who inhaled patchouli essential oil showed significantly lower signs of stress and compassion fatigue at the end of a shift than nurses who did not smell the oil (You Kyoung et al., 2020).

In Closing,

It’s wonderful to know that these essential oils for stress are readily available and completely natural. If you’ve been experiencing increased signs of stress and anxiety lately, then we hope you’ll consider treating yourself to one of our Restorative Mind-Body oils. Remember that gentle lifestyle practices, including mindfulness, yoga, and exercise, can also go a long way in combating stress naturally.

For more about the connection between stress and our skin, see our blog posts:
Aromatherapy & the Stress Response Cycle
Psychological Stress + Skin Barrier Function

Treat your loved ones to a luxurious, stress-relieving gift this holiday season! Shop our Stony Creek Aromatics line here, or check out our Limited Edition Gift Set, pictured below!

Ritual Wellness kit for a lovely gift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Goes TC, Antunes FD, Alves PB, Teixeira-Silva F. (2012).  Effect of sweet orange aroma on experimental anxiety in humans. J Altern Complement Med. 18(8):798-804. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0551.

Koulivand, P. H., Khaleghi Ghadiri, M., & Gorji, A. (2013). Lavender and the nervous system. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2013, 681304. https://doi.org/10.1155/2013/681304

Mohebitabar, S., Shirazi, M., Bioos, S., Rahimi, R., Malekshahi, F., & Nejatbakhsh, F. (2017). Therapeutic efficacy of rose oil: A comprehensive review of clinical evidence. Avicenna journal of phytomedicine, 7(3), 206–213.

Moy, R. L., & Levenson, C. (2017). Sandalwood Album Oil as a Botanical Therapeutic in Dermatology. The Journal of clinical and aesthetic dermatology, 10(10), 34–39.

You Kyoung Shin, So-Young Lee, Jeong-Min Lee, Purum Kang, and Geun Hee Seol (2020).The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.Nov 2020.1032-1038.http://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2020.0206

Aromatherapy & the Stress Response Cycle

Many of us are experiencing a tremendous amount of psychological stress due to the current worldwide pandemic. I spent the last year and a half researching and writing about Aromatherapy for stress. Since I cannot share this information one-on-one or in the Symposium that we had scheduled for spring, I decided there is no better way than blogging to share this information with you in hopes of helping in your current situation. We need many tools to cope with the crisis. The inhalation of essential oils offers a direct interaction with the limbic system in the brain. The limbic system is known to be a powerful emotion processing center and is responsible for learning, memory, and emotional aspects of behavior. It is also the “brain’s alarm system” according to NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The Limbic system along with the Hypothalamus and Amygdala are functionally linked. The Hypothalamus is in control of regulating various things in the body like heart rate, respiration, hormone secretion, blood pressure, and body temperature. It allows us to respond to our internal and external environment and maintain homeostasis.

The HPA Axis includes the Hypothalamus, Pituitary gland, and Adrenals. Acute exposure to stressful stimuli activates the HPA Axis. The Hypothalamus releases a hormone which stimulates a release of hormones from the Pituitary gland. Those hormones travel through the bloodstream to the adrenal glands where several types of hormones like cortisol are then released. Cortisol follows a circadian rhythm and is beneficial in many ways including the formation of glucose and suppression of inflammation in the body. With high levels of stress and chronic stress, however, the body releases high levels of cortisol which can lead to various health problems. People experience stressors in different ways based on our life experiences, and patterns of coping with stressors are effected by our environment.

Enter Essential Oils! Though my research was on “10 Essential Oils for Stress”, here I will highlight the five that I included in my Restorative Mind-Body Blend. Rose Otto, Sandalwood, Sweet Orange, Lavender, and Patchouli create a harmonious spa experience in a bottle.

In my research Rose Otto (Rosa damascena) was the only essential oil (EO) I came across that was shown to regulate cortisol. Rose Oil also caused significant decreases of heart rate and blood pressure (Songklanakarin J. Sci. Technol. V 26, 2004). The eugenol and linalool rich EO of Rose has the powerful ability to inhibit the HPA activation that occurs during acute and chronic stress (Chemical Senses Journal 37, 2012). From a Chinese Medicine perspective it regulates the liver and relieves stagnant conditions like tension and irritability (Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit, Mojay, G.).

The preferred essential oil of my 20’s, Sandalwood (Santalum album), has proven its place in anyone’s aromatic medicine cabinet in recent years. There is an enzyme in various cells of our body called PDE4 that triggers inflammation in the skin and activation of the HPA Axis. Sandalwood has been shown to inhibit PDE4, thereby deactivating the stress cycle (Frontiers in Pharmacology, V 9, March 2018). In a new field called psychodermatology discoveries are being made, specifically in the link between our mental health and skin health. It has been further shown to be one of the most potent EO’s for atopic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Many studies on the therapeutic properties of Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) EO confirm its helpfulness in aiding depressive symptoms. In a human study, Sweet Orange EO “caused significant increases in heart rate as well as in subjective alertness” and suggest the relief of mild forms of depression and stress. (Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants V 5, 2005, p. 75). It can also support in times of anxiety. There is a noteworthy study suggesting that Orange EO has an acute anxiolytic activity, “giving some support to its use as a tranquilizer by aromatherapists”. (Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry V34, 2010).

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the most highly regarded EO for moderate anxiety, evident in the overabundant commercial (and often adulterated) use. Essential Oils that are high in linalyl acetate have a calming effect on the nervous system (Aromatic Medicine, Skipper C.). Clinical study after clinical study, involving dental patients, hospital patients, and people receiving an Ayurvedic Shirodhara treatment demonstrate lavender’s anxiolytic properties (Flavour and Fragrance Journal V 26, 2011). On a side note, for high anxiety I would recommend Melissa, or Lemon Balm. I have personal experience helping someone out of a panic attack with a couple drops of Melissa on a handkerchief.

Lastly, Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin) is an oil you either love or hate. Even if you’re a hater, blended with complementary oils Patchouli added a sweetness that cannot be matched. It contains the constituent, b-patchoulene, which exhibits a greater reduction in locomotor activity (Journal of Natural Medicine, 2011). Another study showed that Patchouli EO “caused a 40% decrease in relative sympathetic activity” (Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, 2002). At the same time, however, it helps with concentration and attentiveness as it has a stimulating effect on the brain (Songklanakarin J. Sci. Technol. V 26, 2004). Andrea Butje of Aromahead Institute speaks of it so beautifully when we look at it from the perspective of the plant part used in distillation: “We can use oils made from leaves to support respiration and deeper breathing. These oils can also protect us from infection. They can help us breath when we feel stress and anxiety, while supporting expansion and creativity. Leaf oils can also support us when if we get into over-thinking and need a calm, clear mind.”

Whether you look at clinical studies, Chinese Medicine, chemical constituents, or the plant part distilled there is both science and intuition that can guide you towards the essential oils that can help you achieve greater equilibrium. 7% of the aromatic constituents that you inhale goes through the olfactory nerves and 93% goes through the lungs, so make every breath count! My blends are available here.

Video introduction of the Restorative Mind-Body Ritual here: