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Keep the Winter Blues at Bay!

Have you tried the aromatherapy way?

As the winter nights draw in, cloudy days thrive, and the pressures of Christmas loom ahead, it’s not uncommon for us to feel a little low. I see an increased number of clients complaining of feeling weary, irritable and run down. These symptoms of mild depression and often accompanied by headaches digestive disorders and aches and pains.


While many historical and anecdotal reports of the calming and cheering effects of several essential oils recent scientific studies also support these claims for some. I am always pleased to discuss the use of oils to relieve stress and promote good health. Why not come in for a consultation and aromatherapy massage or discuss a recommended blend of oils for home use?


Here’s the top three aromatherapy oils to carry you through the winter doldrums.

Bergamot:


Many citruses are known for their uplifting effects, but bergamot (Citrus aurantium (L.) var. bergamia) is the most powerful mood booster. It can help reduce stress levels and promote positive feeling.


In a recent study, researchers selected elementary school teachers, known to work under significant stress, and used an inhalation of bergamot essential oil as the method of administration. A short weekly inhalation of the oil resulted in a significant reduction of blood pressure and heart rate, and drove autonomic nervous activity toward a balanced state. These effects were greatest in participants with moderate and high degrees of anxiety.


Bergamot oil is also good for

  • Helping digestion

  • Pain reduction

  • Preventing infection

  • Skin care

  • Reducing infection


Clary Sage:

Clary sage oil, Salvia sclarea (L.), has a reputation for clearing the mind and helping users to see things differently. It is known for its uplifting and euphoric actions and this is backed by research.


A recent study showed clary sage oil’s uplifting effects, suggesting that it could be a useful holistic routine for those coping with depression and anxiety. Further research suggested that clary sage oil may be useful—more so than lavender - in reducing stress for female patients undergoing urodynamic assessments.


You can use this oil in a diffuser before bed or add a few drops to the bath for a relaxing, restorative soak.


Clary Sage is also used for

  • Asthma

  • MPs and menstrual cramps

  • Hair care

  • Acne

  • Promoting sleep


Lavender:

Not only does lavender oil smell heavenly, it is one of the most versatile and popular of all essential oils, lavender is great for relaxation, heart health and well-being in general. There are many studies proving the effectiveness of lavender on stress, depression and anxiety.


A study in 2007 showed that lavender aromatherapy reduced serum cortisol—which plays a central role in the body’s response to stress—in healthy men.[9] The researchers concluded: “These findings suggest that lavender aromatherapy has relaxation effects and may have beneficial acute effects on coronary circulation.. It may be blended with other floral oils to enhance its effect on stress or sadness.


Lavender oil is also used for

  • Promoting sleep

  • Treating minor burns and insect bites

  • Treating and cleaning cuts

  • Improving skin conditions


Using essential oils at home

You can use essential oils for home aromatherapy treatments. They can be experienced in several ways:

  • Use an aromatherapy diffuser to spread the oil’s scent around a room.

  • Rub a few drops in your hands, rubbing them together to warm the oil and cupping your hands to your face.

  • Mix essential oils with an unscented carrier oil like almond oil or a favorite unscented body lotion and massage into the hands or other parts of the body.

  • A warm bath containing a few drops of essential oil is a great way to encourage relaxation while enjoying the scent and healing powers of your favorite essential oil.

Using blends of oils

Here are some other blend suggestions that will give a wonderful relaxing and restorative experience when added to your warm bath. Add the oils to warm water in the bath once it has run.


To relieve with stress or sadness:

  • Lavender Lavandula angustifolia oil: 5 drops

  • Ylang ylang oil: 3 drops

  • Bergamot oil: 2 drops

To improve relaxation:

  • Clary sage Salvia oil: 3 drops

  • Ylang ylang oil: 2 drops


Healthy warning

Its important to note that while essential oils are wonderful additions to healthy living, depression and anxiety are serious mood disorders. If you are experiencing severe symptoms of depression or anxiety, you are advised to consult your doctor, who may in fact suggest an aromatherapy regime. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure, or prevent disease.


Keep oils out of reach of children.


If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician.

Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.


References

[1] de Gage, S., Moride, Y., Ducruet, T., Kurth, T., Verdoux, H., Tournier, M., et al. (2014). Benzodiazepine use and risk of Alzheimer’s disease: case-control study. BMJ, 349:g5205.

[2] Chang, S.Y. (2008). Effects of aroma hand massage on pain, state anxiety and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer. Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi., 38(4):493-502.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Chang, K. & Shen, C. (2011). Aromatherapy Benefits Autonomic Nervous System Regulation for Elementary School Faculty in Taiwan. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved from: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/946537/

[5] Saiyudthong, S. & Marsden, C.A. (2011). Acute effects of bergamot oil on anxiety-related behaviour and corticosterone level in rats. Phytother Res., 25(6):858-62.

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