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5 Best Essential Oils for Panic Attacks

by Jodi Cohen

Essential Oils for Panic Attacks can be life changing.  I know this first hand as I used to suffer from debilitating panic attacks.

They were sudden, intense and paralyzing.  And they would often hit in public places, like the supermarket.  One minute, I would be waiting in line to pay for my groceries, and the next I would feel paralyzed by fear with my heart ready to explode out of my chest.

I can’t tell you how many times I just had to flee the supermarket, leaving my cart of carefully selected nutrient dense whole food by the door in the hopes that the panic would pass.

It rarely did.  I would sit in my car and attempt to will myself back to calm, but often just drive home in defeat.  It turns out that I am not alone. Approximately 6 million Americans suffer from panic attacks and women are twice as likely as men to develop the condition.

 

What are Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks can be defined as an episode of intense fear that often strikes without warning and can trigger severe physical reactions when there is no real danger or apparent cause. Some common symptoms of a panic attack include:

  • Racing heart.
  • Sense of terror, impending doom or danger
  • Hyperventilation or difficulty breathing
  • Feeling detached, or like you are losing your mind
  • Shaking or trembling
  • Feeling weak, faint, or dizzy
  • Tingling or numbness in the hands and fingers
  • Sweating or cold or hot flushes
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Chest pains
  • Fear of loss of control or death
  • Headache

  

What Causes Panic Attacks?

Panic attacks may come on suddenly and without warning, but can be linked to some of the following factors:

 

How Brain Function Impacts Panic Attacks

 

Anxiety and Panic Attacks can be triggered by over-activity and dominance of the right hemisphere of the brain and a collection of brain cells located at the base of your brain, known as basal ganglia.

My friend and colleague, Dr. Titus Chiu of, explains on his site The Modern Brain – Root Cause Neurology that “the basal ganglia acts like the red light and green light of your nervous system. If there’s too much red light, you may experience a slowing of thoughts. If there’s too much green light, you may experience heightened emotions as is the case with anxiety and panic attacks.

Similarly, the over-activity of the right frontal lobe of your brain versus the left contributes to panic attacks and anxiety.  The right brain processes the emotional aspects of the human experience, giving us empathy and compassion, but in overdrive in the right brain can contribute to anxiety.

In the same vein, over-activation of the “fight or flight” sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system can contribute to Sympathetic Dominance which triggers a constant stress response, where stress hormones flood the system and can be experienced as anxiety or panic attacks.  Read more about Sympathetic Dominance HERE

 

Essential Oils for Panic Attacks

Essential oils are uniquely suited to help balance the brain and calm panic attacks.  This is due in part to the ability of essential oils to be assimilated through the olfactory and transdermal channels.

The Olfactory channel is the most direct pathway into the brain.  Research shows that inhaling essential oils, like lavender, can help calm nerves and ease the anxiety behind panic attacks. Inhaling essential oils can stimulate the brain to release neurotransmitters (like serotonin and dopamine) to help regulate mood and manage anxiety.

Further, Lavender™ has been shown to help create balance between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, which then leads to feelings of calm.  Inhaling an essential oil through the left nostril helps to stimulate the left frontal lobe and balance the over-activity of the right frontal lobe.

Topically applied essential oils penetrate the skin and can enter the blood stream within 5 minutes and effect your body’s biochemistry.  Research suggests that topical applications may actually be one of the most effective methods for people with anxiety and panic disorders.

 

5 Best Essential Oils for Panic Attacks

I kicked my panic attacks with the following five essential oils:

1.  Adrenal™

Adrenal™ – This oil was my life line during panic attacks.  I would carry it in my purse and small through my left nostril during moments of panic.  Smell Adrenal™ though the left nostril or apply the adrenal glands (on the lower mid-back, one fist above the 12th rib on each side). Dilute to start or if any redness occurs.  This brings me back to calm within a matter of minutes.  I’ve actually sold a bottle or 2 to people behind me in the supermarket line who must have noticed my visible shift in demeanor.

2.  Parasympathetic™

Parasympathetic™ – The more you activate your parasympathetic system, the less anxiety you may feel.  A drop of the Parasympathetic™ oil placed on the vagal nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone) can help you drop into a more grounded, parasympathetic place.

 

3.  Calm™

Calm™ – This gentle blend helps to calm anxiety and reduce panic, especially with kids.  Formulated with calming oils known to quell anxiety, like Tangerine, Orange, Ylang Ylang, Blue Tansy, Patchouli, Calm™, when smelled or applied over the heart, may help alleviate anxiety, panic, racing heartbeat, feelings of overwhelm and promote calm and relaxation.

 

4.  Lavender™

Lavender™ – Known for its the anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects, Lavender is a great oil for general overall calm.  It can help balance the nervous system, alleviate panic attacks, general nervous stress and tension.  Many research studies confirm lavender’s effectiveness for reducing stress and promoting calmness. In fact, researchers have concluded Lavender™ can help decrease anxiety and stress, including reducing anxiety prior to medical treatments like surgery. In addition, lavender may improve mood and reduce anxiety as well as reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol.

5.  Rose™

Rose™ – The best recipe for instant joy when rubbed over the heart.  Rose™ is known for alleviation of anxiety, stress, and depression. It also helps ease grief, panic attacks, and shock.  You can also apply in conjunction with an Epsom salt bath which help activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

 

Resources:

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About The Author

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.

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Subscribe to Vibrant Blue Oils and receive weekly information on oils and how to use them. As a bonus, we’ll send out Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils to your inbox immediately!