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Why Most Natural Treatments Don’t Work? Top 5 Evidence-Backed Natural Essential Oils For Anxiety

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4 in every 10 Americans will have an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic uncertainties. 

While seeking professional mental health care is important for diagnosis and treatment, a recent survey by Minded showed that over 80% of participants experienced misinformation, stigma, or fear that prevented them from getting prompt treatment.

That’s why people are choosing natural essential oils for anxiety over pills or oral supplements, as these oils contain natural components to improve mental well-being and regain a sense of positivity and balance without any side effects. However, is there evidence supporting the efficacy of these alternatives? Are the oils safe to use, and do they genuinely offer health benefits?

In this article, our team of independent board of reviewers has compiled a list of the top 5 natural essential oils for anxiety that are proven scientifically to be effective.

Here’s how natural essential oils can give your mental well-being, and even your mood a much-needed boost:

Essential Oils For Anxiety Can Help:

What To Expect With Essential Oils For Anxiety

As soon as you inhale the soothing herbal scent of essential oils, you’ll begin to feel the tension melt away. Those knots of stress in your muscles will gradually loosen, and you’ll finally get that much-needed break after a long day.

After a week of using essential oils for anxiety support, whether alongside your prescribed treatment plan or even as a standalone, you will start to feel more emotionally balanced and experience fewer intense mood swings. Each morning, you’ll wake up with a positive outlook on life. Your motivation will be higher than ever, and you’ll face stress and challenges with an energetic spirit.

You’ll find yourself needing less reliance on prescription medications and fewer visits to the psychiatrist. Whether you’re complementing your current antidepressant with essential oils or not, you can experience a remarkable reduction in stress. It’s as though a weight has been lifted off your shoulders, and you’ll feel more hopeful about the future.

What Causes Anxiety?

Anxiety is a complex mental health condition with multiple causes, stemming from a combination of genetic, environmental, and neurological factors.

One key neurobiological element involves the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA2 is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that helps regulate brain activity, promoting relaxation and reducing excessive neuronal firing. Imbalances in GABA levels or receptor sensitivity can contribute to heightened excitability in the brain, potentially leading to anxiety disorders.

Various genetic and environmental factors, such as stress and trauma, can impact GABA functioning, influencing an individual’s susceptibility to anxiety.

Research show that certain essential oils offer benefits as a complementary therapy alongside conventional treatments like behavioral therapy and antidepressants to treat anxiety. The Mayo Clinic, for instance, has summarized evidence-based benefits of essential oils, and they place relief from depression and anxiety at the top of the list.

They stimulate the olfactory system when inhaled, activating brain areas responsible for regulating mood-related neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine as well as GABA levels to promote feelings of happiness.

Our Picks For The Best Natural Ingredients To Fight Anxiety

In a market flooded with various ingredients for essential oils, you might wonder: which ingredients are the most effective for addressing anxiety? For months, our team of experts tirelessly went through volumes of books and scientific research papers, so that you don’t have to. Here’s our picks that have shown promise in combating anxiety:

Top Ingredients to Look For:

1. Valerian (Valeriana Officinalis)

The valerenic acid present in valerian is known for its unique ability to boost the levels of GABA³, which stands for gamma-aminobutyric acid, in the brain. This increase in GABA is what lends valerian its sedative qualities, turning it into a natural remedy that promotes relaxation that may contribute to balancing serotonin and dopamine in the brain, enhancing one’s mood and promoting a positive outlook in life.  

A review from 2020 investigated the advantages of using valerian for improving sleep and addressing related issues. This review analyzed seven studies related to valerian’s effects on anxiety, with six of them reporting positive results when valerian was used for anxiety.


2. Bulgarian Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)

When compared to other lavender essential oils, this species stands out due to its high linalool⁴ and linalyl acetate⁵ content, which packs a powerful punch to reduce stress and anxiety.

What’s even more intriguing is that Bulgarian lavender has the ability to influence a specific region of our brain, the glutamate NMDA receptor⁶, a key player in mood regulation.

We found 7 studies with 852 patients. 6 of these studies showed that using lavender, alongside regular antidepressant medication, was effective in treating depression. While some reported headaches as a side effect, overall, lavender was considered a safe treatment for depression.


3. Sandalwood (Santalum Album)

In a study from 2006, researchers found that a compound called alpha-santalol⁷, which is found in sandalwood to have the ability to boost mood and calm agitated emotions. Some studies suggest that its fragrance compounds may interact with neurotransmitter systems in the pineal gland after inhalation. These interactions could potentially impact the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which are linked to mood regulation and feelings of well-being.

Fast forward to 2016, in a study, 32 subjects who inhaled sandalwood essential oil were found to experience reduced blood pressure and lower stress levels during relaxation, indicating potential stress-reducing effects in humans.

On the flip side, here’s a list of ingredients you SHOULD avoid with a ten foot pole:

List of Ingredients to Avoid:

Be Wary of Fake Natural Treatments & MLMs!

Found some cheap essential oils on Amazon or Walmart, boasting to be 100% pure and unbelievably affordable? Hold your horses! When products are labeled as “natural” or “herbal”, please don’t lower down your guard just yet, as natural doesn’t always mean safe. 

Many of these essential oils may not be as pure as they claim. The low prices are often due to synthetic ingredients, making them ineffective or worst, harmful

Synthetic essential oils can be processed as toxins by the body, potentially harming your well-being instead of offering therapeutic benefits. Others are diluted with carrier oils, making them useless. That 100% pure label? Fake.

Unscrupulous manufacturers can legally label their products as 100% pure, even when their products contain synthetics. This issue lies in the lack of FDA regulation for natural and herbal supplements, allowing them to make bold claims without consequences. 

On the other hand, multi-level marketing companies (MLMs) in the essential oil industry have left a bad taste in the consumers’ mouths. They include multiple layers of distributors, each taking their own cut from the final sale, which grossly inflate prices. The promise of a ‘business opportunity’ may tempt you to buy into these brands, but the reality is that over 95% distributors fail – and users end up paying more for the marketing and less for the actual quality of the oil. 

Our Editorial Board has reviewed nearly 90 different essential oils specifically for their effectiveness in addressing anxiety. We used a series of comprehensive tests—including quality assessments of ingredients, third-party certifications, Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis, purity tests, and over 7,000 user feedbacks.

After months of rigorous testing and evaluation, we are pleased to present the essential oils that have made the cut:

Top 5 Natural Essential Oils for Anxiety of 2023

#1 Best Overall

Rhythms of Inner Peace by ĒLYSCE

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The Bottom Line

ĒLYSCE’s Rhythms of Inner Peace earns our #1 spot for several compelling reasons. This unique blend features a combination of premium and high-quality anxiety-fighting natural ingredients such as valerian, Bulgarian lavender, and mandarin. Formulated by their in-house chemists and aromatherapists and featuring the highest valerian content known to soothe anxiety and stress, it’s worth noting that the strong scent can be overwhelming for some users due to the high valerian content. However, after a few minutes, the scent tends to become less intense. We found that it helped calm our racing hearts and encouraged us to breathe deeper, contributing to an overall sense of calm.

We also noticed that just a few drops of this blend offer a long-lasting aroma, providing a soothing atmosphere to melt away stress. Notably, ĒLYSCE is a company dedicated to raising awareness about mental health, making its products even more meaningful. This exceptional blend is carefully crafted in small batches, this ensures that the natural ingredients are not overharvested, helping to preserve the environment,  but can make it challenging to purchase.

All in all, our team unanimously agreed that this blend is a great tool for us to unwind, especially on our bad days. We’re talking about a noticeable boost in positive thinking and an all-around feel-good vibe. Surprisingly, this is also one of the lowest-priced options on our list, at just $39.

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#2 Strong Runner Up

Aromatic Stress Treatment by Tata Harper

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The Bottom Line

Tata Harper’s Aromatic Stress Treatment Essential Oil is a high-end option for those looking to manage stress through natural means. With a blend of premium quality Rose Otto, Frankincense, and Neroli, this oil offers a multi-faceted approach to calming the mind. 

However, the product’s luxury comes at a price; retailing at $68 for a 4.7ml bottle, it’s the most expensive option on our list. That said, some of us here did put it to the test and can vouch for its efficacy in bringing positive thinking, comfort, contentment, and inner peace after a stressful day. 

But a heads-up: we found ourselves running out in less than two months. So, if you’re in the market for premium relaxation and boosting your mood, and are okay with the splurge, this aromatic treatment could be your go-to.

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#3 A Good Valerian Alternative, Just Not Intended for Anxiety

 Sleep by Campo

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The Bottom Line

Campo’s ‘Sleep’ is another exceptional essential oil blend that caught our attention and it stands out as one of the closest blends available that contains Valerian. It comprises a harmonious combination of soothing ingredients such as Valerian Root, French Lavender, Palmarosa, and Roman Chamomile

While its primary goal is to promote a restful night’s sleep, what truly fascinates us is the uplifting effect it has on our mornings, providing a boost of positivity to start the day and reducing irritability. This makes it an excellent choice for individuals seeking relief from the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

One thing to note though, this essential oil is not recommended for use when you’re starting your day, especially if your job involves operating heavy machinery as it can induce drowsiness. Otherwise, for those dealing with depression or anxiety, Campo’s ‘Sleep’ essential oil remains a solid choice.

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#4 Effective, but MLM

Peace & Calming II by Young Living

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Peace & Calming II™ essential oil blend is a delightful combination of Tangerine, Orange, Ylang Ylang, Patchouli, German Chamomile, Vetiver, Cistus, Bergamot, Cassia, Davana, and Northern Lights Black Spruce. It’s designed to bring peace into your daily life, perfect for creating a serene environment, especially during naptime for your little ones.

We were skeptical at first, but using this blend has indeed brought a profound sense of “zen” in just a few minutes of inhaling it. Its ability to reduce overthinking and irritability is quite remarkable and Peace & Calming II™ has proven to be a valuable product for helping us maintain composure and stay calm, even during those particularly stressful workweeks.

Since Young Living is a multi-level marketing (MLM) business model, some consumers have raised concerns about the affordability of their products and whether the perceived value justifies the higher price points.

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#5 Solid Budget Option

DE-STRESS by Aromatherapy Associates

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De-stress is one of the essential oil blends by Aromatherapy Associates, and it was created to be your companion when the pressures of life are getting a little too much and your emotions are being put to the test. 

This blend contains chamomile, frankincense, and petitgrain, all known for their relaxing properties. Our initial impression was that we needed to add a few more drops to the diffuser after only a couple of hours to ensure the scent lingered longer. But we didn’t mind because we genuinely enjoyed the aroma and it still got the job done when we needed a pick-me-up to unwind and feel calm after a challenging day. 

Overall, we’ve had a pretty good experience with De-stress.

Just a friendly tip: go easy on it in the morning or during the day to avoid feeling too sleepy.

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Our Top Choice

Within our Independent Board of Reviewers, Valerie Kendall, our editor-in-chief, is widely recognized as an expert with a deep understanding of essential oils and their impact on mental well-being. She has dedicated years to exploring the efficacy of various natural oils in alleviating the symptoms of anxiety.

Elysce’s Rhythms of Inner Peace has particularly caught her attention due to its main ingredient, Valerian (Valeriana officinalis), which is a scientifically proven ingredient to reduce anxiety, stress, and other depressive symptoms. Drawing upon her experience and expertise, Valerie shares her personal journey and evaluation of Rhythms of Inner Peace:

Dealing with anxiety is tough, especially when it feels like you can’t catch your breath or your heart feels like it’s beating out of your chest. That’s why I’m particularly passionate about recommending this unique blend of Valerian, Bulgarian Lavender, and Mandarin by ĒLYSCE.

Before, I’d catch myself overthinking everything. But since I started with this blend, it’s like a weight lifted. I’ve learned to slow down, take deeper breaths, and the constant overthinking? Not as much. And I’ve begun to feel calmer in general, which translates into better sleep at night.

Rhythms of Inner Peace is the perfect blend for anyone seeking natural mental health relief. My team and I genuinely believe it warrants consideration as a valuable complementary tool for individuals on their journey to overcome anxiety.” -Valerie K, EIC

Rhythms of Inner Peace 

By ĒLYSCE

  • Effective in easing anxiety symptoms
  • Made in the USA with premium natural ingredients
  • Non-MLM
  • Artisan-Crafted in Small Batches to preserve the environment
  • Formulated by in-house chemists and aromatherapists
  • Reasonably priced
  • Mental health awareness
  • Clinically proven formula
  • Vegan, Cruel-Free, and Paraben-Free

Based on 4877+ Reviews

Comparison Table

Quick Summary:

Elysce

Tata Harper


Campo

Young Living

Aromatherapy Associates


Size

10ml

4.7ml

10ml

10ml

10ml

Retail Price

$39

$68

$49

$62.50

$39

Value for Money

Exceptional Value
Very Good Value

Decent  Value

Below-average Value

Decent  Value

Therapeutic Efficiency

Highly effective

Highly effective

Very effective

Moderately effective

Moderately effective

Ingredients Quality

Exceptional, top-tier ingredients

Exceptional, top-tier ingredients

Good quality, above average

Good quality, above average

Average Quality

Customers’ Trust Rating

Very high

Very high

High

High

Moderate

Requires a Membership Fee

No

No

No

Yes, $50 for an annual membership

No

CITATIONS
  1. COVID-19 pandemic triggers 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. (2022, March 2). https://www.who.int/news/item/02-03-2022-covid-19-pandemic-triggers-25-increase-in-prevalence-of-anxiety-and-depression-worldwide
  2. Nuss P. (2015). Anxiety disorders and GABA neurotransmission: a disturbance of modulation. Neuropsychiatric disease and treatment, 11, 165–175. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S58841
  3. Bak, L. K., Schousboe, A., Waagepetersen, H. S. (2006). The glutamate/GABA-glutamine cycle: aspects of transport, neurotransmitter homeostasis, and ammonia transfer. J Neurochem, 98(3), 641-53. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16787421/
  4. Dos Santos, E. R. Q., Maia, J. G. S., Fontes-Júnior, E. A., Maia, C. D. S. F. (2022). Linalool as a therapeutic and medicinal tool in depression treatment: a review. Curr Neuropharmacol, 20(6), 1073-1092. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34544345/
  5. Rai, V. K., Sinha, P., Yadav, K. V., Shukla, A., Saxena, A., Bawankule, D. U., Tandon, S., Khan, F., Chanotiya, C. S., Yadav, N. P. (2020). Anti-psoriatic effect of Lavandula angustifolia essential oil and its major components linalool and linalyl acetate. J Ethnopharmacol, 261, 113127. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32623016/
  6. Deutsch, S. I., Luyo, Z. N. M., Burket, J. A. (2022). Targeted NMDA receptor interventions for autism: developmentally determined expression of GluN2B and GluN2A-Containing receptors and balanced allosteric modulatory approaches. Biomolecules, 12(2), 181. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35204682/
  7. Bommareddy, A., Brozena, S., Steigerwalt, J., Landis, T., Hughes, S., Mabry, E., Knopp, A., VanWert, A. L., Dwivedi, C. (2019). Medicinal properties of alpha-santalol, a naturally occurring constituent of sandalwood oil: review. Nat Prod Res, 33(4), 527-543. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29130352/
  8. Tammadon, M. R., Nobahar, M., Hydarinia-Naieni, Z., Ebrahimian, A., Ghorbani, R., & Vafaei, A. A. (2021). The Effects of Valerian on Sleep Quality, Depression, and State Anxiety in Hemodialysis Patients: A Randomized, Double-blind, Crossover Clinical Trial. Oman medical journal, 36(2), e255. https://doi.org/10.5001/omj.2021.56

Henry G. Richardson

Henry holds a profound passion for aromatherapy and recognizes its significant influence on mental well-being. When he’s not immersed in writing, he actively participates in various events, sharing his knowledge about the potent effects of essential oils.