8 Best Essential Oils for Anxiety

by Jodi Cohen

Anxiety is a common reaction to stressful situations that can impact how you feel and behave and can even present as physical symptoms.

Common Symptoms of Anxiety include:

  • Excessive worry, fear, apprehension, nervousness, or unease
  • Feeling Agitated
  • Restlessness, feeling “on edge” or an “urge to move.”
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Tense Muscles
  • Trouble Falling or Staying Asleep
  • Panic Attacks
  • Irrational Fears
  • Avoidance of Social Situations


Essential Oils for Anxiety

Essential oils are uniquely suited to help balance the brain and calm anxiety.  In fact, several research studies suggest that essential oils decrease anxiety-related behavior and enhance mood.

This is due in part to the ability of essential oils to be assimilated through the olfactory (smell) and transdermal (skin) channels.  The olfactory channel is the most direct pathway into the brain.  Research shows that inhaling essential oils, like Lavender™ and Rose™, can stimulate the brain to release neurotransmitters (like serotonin and dopamine) that help regulate mood and manage anxiety.


Essential Oils to Balance the Brain

Anxiety can be triggered by over-activity and dominance of the right hemisphere of the brain. My friend and colleague, Dr. Titus Chiu of The Modern Brain – Root Cause Neurology explains that the over-activity of the right frontal lobe of your brain versus the left contributes to 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 heightened emotions and anxiety.

Lavender™, in particular, 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.

Similarly, 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 individuals suffering from anxiety.


8 Best Essential Oils for Anxiety


My favorite essential oils for anxiety include:

1.  Parasympathetic™

Parasympathetic™ – Anxiety is triggered when your “fight or flight” sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system goes into overdrive, known as Sympathetic Dominance (Read more about Sympathetic Dominance HERE).  Your brain senses danger and prepares your body to react to the threat, presenting as anxiety symptoms like increased heart rate/racing pulse, sweaty palms, shaky hands, heightened senses and dry mouth. While these effects can helpful in the case of a true threat, they can be debilitating if the fear is all in your head.  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.

2. Adrenal™

Adrenal™ – Anxiety activates your fight or flight system which triggers the adrenal gland to release stress hormones, like adrenaline, to help keep you safe from harm. These hormones contribute to anxiety symptoms like racing heart beat that we experience as anxiety.  Balancing the adrenal glands with Adrenal™ can help calm these hormones and with them the anxiety symptoms.  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.


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.  For best results, inhale  Lavender™ through the left nostril to stimulate the left frontal lobe and balance the over-activity of the right frontal lobe.


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.  In a clinical study, simply smelling Rose oil triggered the brain for relaxation.


6. Frankincense™

Frankincense™ – is known to help enhance mood and combat anxiety.  The sequiterpenes in Frankincense™ help to carry oxygen to the brain and stimulate the the area of the brain responsible for emotions, known as the limbic system, which in turn calms anxious thoughts and feelings.    Frankincense™ can be applied on the nape of the neck or over the heart.


7.  Uplift™

Uplift™ was specifically formulated with oils that assist in building courage, confidence, self-esteem and returning a sense of calm, joy and peace to our lives.  It inspires hope in those who have temporarily lost their optimism and helps users to overcome their fear and reclaim their potential.  When we have more courage to take on new things and/or change, we are better able to release old patterns that are not working for us.  It can also align the physical, mental and emotional energies of the body when applied to shoulders and/and feet.  Apply  2 -3 drops of Uplift™ to the vagal nerve (behind earlobe, on mastoid bone) over heart, wrists, temples and forehead. To keep balanced and confident during the day rub 3 to 6 drops on the bottom of your feet each morning.


8.  Circadian Rhythm™

Circadian Rhythm™ :  Sleep disturbances — Waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble falling asleep — are strongly associated with anxiety disorders. Our sleep/wake cycle, known as our circadian rhythm, requires the release of melatonin, a hormone crucial to sleep.  Melatonin has an antagonist relationship to the stress hormone cortisol and the two hormones in conjunction help regulate our circadian rhythms.  This means that when cortisol is high, melatonin is low.  Chronic and prolonged stress triggers the adrenal glands to release cortisol and throws off the body’s natural cortisol/melatonin rhythm. Cortisol should be high in the mornings when you wake up and gradually taper off throughout the day so you feel tired at bedtime and can fall asleep.  High levels of cortisol at night, drive down melatonin and make it difficult to fall asleep.  To return the circadian rhythms to balance and put the brakes on the nighttime release of cortisol, apply Circadian Rhythm™ above ears, on top of skull and very back of the head before bed.



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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!