Today marks one of the most heated, debated, and internationally–emotionally charged elections for Americans. 52% of Americans report being stressed over the campaign. Learn how to use essential oils to calm your stress during this nail-biting and relationship-trying time.
The spooky holiday of October and its scary “treats” are now a distant memory. As we move into the end of 2016, there exists an interesting dynamic. The focus usually devoted to preparing for a day of gratitude over this year’s blessings is interrupted by election day in the United States. November 8th, a day which signifies American’s freedom to choose, has also become a day when one of the most heated, debated, and internationally–emotionally charged elections will finally end. This is to many voters’ relief.
A recent survey by the American Psychological Association reported that, across party lines, 52% of United States citizens are stressed out over the election. This is not just bad news for an increase in relationship quarrels. Some of the top health and integrative headlines, which you can find here, listed many articles on how mood and stress negatively impacts our health. For example, there were connections linked to:
- Depression and Lung Cancer Survival
- Depression and Heart Health in Women
- Stress and Obesity
- Worrying Your Heart to Death
- Physical Maladies and Depression
Thankfully, we have tools to help us stay grounded during these nail-biting, passion-provoking, and stressful times. For example I have written on how essential oils can help calm our moods and brain. The amazing benefits of essential oils aren’t just related to their “relaxation” effect on our psychology, but also due to the benefits they have on our physiology and biochemistry. For example, lavender, probably one of the most recognized essential oil for calmness, has other uses. These include acting as an antioxidant, being neuroprotective (in rodents), and as microbe-inhibitor.
A 2015 systematic review of essential oils in Asian Journal of Tropical Biomedicine further reported on the current popularity of essential oils’ impact on mood, emotions, and the brain. These benefits seem to be derived from authentic versus synthetic fragrances. The authors state (bold emphasis mine):
The therapy of these oils is known to relieve the stress, rejuvenate and regenerate the individual for a next day’s work. Olfactory nerves from nose to the brain are the site of action for these essential oils. These oils have well proven antibacterial, antibiotic, and antiviral properties and many published reports elsewhere as well as folkloric practitioners have suggested them to be useful in many other diseases like alzheimer, cardiovascular, cancer and labor pain in pregnancy etc , , ,  and . There is an increased trend nowadays to use this therapy in the treatment of cancer and sleep disorder ,  and . Their organic character and to act in a supportive manner with the body, provide a feeling of well-beingness . It was found that the locomotor activity of mice increased significantly by inhalation of rosemary essential oils, which are used in phytotherapy as activating and refreshing remedy for exhaustion .
The use of aromatherapy in holistic medicine has taken a long leap within a couple of years . On reviewing the literature on this therapy, it is found that numerous studies have been carried out to study the effects of this therapy on human brain and its emotions. Its role in mood, alertness, and mental stress in healthy subjects was a topic of hot discussion among scientific community recently. Some researchers tried to investigate the effects on work ability, reaction time, and some spontaneous actions on the brain through electroencephalograph patterns and functional imaging studies . This therapy was found to be superior when compared to synthetic odors. Synthetic fragrances generally contain irritants, like solvents and propellants causing irritation in some people ,  and . According to aroma therapists, synthetic odor does not match the importance of essential oils as they are deficient in natural or vital energy; however, this has been remained a matter of debate between odor psychologists and biochemists .
It is unlikely that synthetics and isolates can exhibit the same benefits as the synergism of essential oils. Furthermore, certain man-made chemicals can actually contribute to diseases including cancer, asthma, reproductive issues, and many other health challenges. In fact, a recent report in the Lancet estimated that endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) contributed a significant financial burden to our healthcare pocketbooks. The abstract states:
The disease costs of EDCs were much higher in the USA than in Europe ($340 billion [2·33% of GDP] vs $217 billion [1·28%]). The difference was driven mainly by intelligence quotient (IQ) points loss and intellectual disability due to polybrominated diphenyl ethers (11 million IQ points lost and 43?000 cases costing $266 billion in the USA vs 873?000 IQ points lost and 3290 cases costing $12·6 billion in the European Union). Accounting for probability of causation, in the European Union, organophosphate pesticides were the largest contributor to costs associated with EDC exposure ($121 billion), whereas in the USA costs due to pesticides were much lower ($42 billion).
Lavender, lemon or lilac: Whatever the artificial aroma, more Americans are avoiding scented spaces and products, a new survey shows.
Fragranced products such as soaps, candles and air fresheners cause more than one-third of U.S. adults to suffer ill health effects, including headaches, dizziness and breathing difficulties, researchers said.
Surveying a nationally representative group of more than 1,100 Americans, the research team also found that more than 20 percent of people quickly leave a business place if they smell air fresheners or other scented products.
So, basically, essential oils have the potential to protect us from microbes, pollution and environmental contaminants as they support our respiratory tract and calm our brain. This is true for essential oils that are pure quality and not adulterated with the synthetics we are trying to avoid!
The same article above states that essential oils can be boosted in their benefits when used in combination with other lifestyle approaches:
This type of therapy utilizes various permutation and combinations to get relief from numerous ailments like depression, indigestion, headache, insomnia, muscular pain, respiratory problems, skin ailments, swollen joints, urine associated complications etc. The essential oils are found to be more beneficial when other aspects of life and diet are given due consideration. This review explores the information available in the literature regarding therapeutic, medical, cosmetic, psychological, olfactory, massage aromatherapy, safety issues and different plants used in aromatherapy.
Therefore, in combination with a healthy diet and stress-relieving exercise, make sure you inhale some essential oils on election day. Some of my favorite ways to use essential oils for calming the brain and body include:
- Diffusing cedarwood and lavender in the evening for a peaceful night’s sleep
- Ensuring rest for a busy day ahead by dabbing a few drops of a secret recipe for “sweet dreams” (Find it here)
- Applying a drop of clary sage on the wrists for supporting hormonal balance and brain calming. Clary sage can also be combined with the inhalation of chamomile for more relaxing effects.
- If a woman is also going through hormonal shifts and has nervous symptoms, I like to suggest neroli for its calming action on the nerves and stress relieving actions.
You can also use distraction to take your mind of the stress of the election. Here’s a link to a good skim of the top headlines in health and integrative news for October 2016.
If you’re not on my essential oils E-blast list, you may have missed my latest post on being grateful for some of my favorite essential oils that remind me of the holiday season. You can read it here on my Saratoga.com blog.
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This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Independent Distributor, Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
Please note that the studies from PubMed aren’t specific for any essential oils company.