Are you looking for ways to lower your daily stress levels but don’t want prescription meds or can’t find the time to meditate? As a holistic health therapist, I use essential oils for this and so can you! Several essential oils have demonstrated abilities to lower stress fast - in as little as 10-15 minutes, measured by reductions in cortisol (i.e. - stress hormone) levels, and subjectively as well. Bergamot, lavender, sweet marjoram and neroli are some of the best essential oils for stress relief.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are derived from plants. They’re not like the coconut or olive oil you find in your kitchen cabinet – aromatherapists call those “carrier oils.” Essential oils are highly concentrated, volatile substances, naturally produced by plants in small amounts for a variety of reasons, e.g. - self-defense, protection from bacteria and viruses, and cell regeneration.
Essential oils are extracted from plant stems, flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, bark, etc. Breathing in the volatile molecules produces noticeable changes in brain chemistry and body chemistry, as does applying them to the skin directly or diluted with another oil or cream. There are well over 80 essential oils in regular use by aromatherapists today.
How Do Essential Oils Lower Stress?
Bergamot (citrus bergamia) and neroli (citrus aurantium) essential oils have high levels of esters, which contribute to their “lifting” effects on mood and emotional state. In one study for instance, breathing in bergamot essential oil diffused in water vapor significantly lowered cortisol levels (measured in saliva) within just 15 minutes. Lavender (lavendula angustifolia/officinalis) and sweet marjoram (origanum majorana) similarly have anti-depressant, blood pressure-lowering effects that have been demonstrated repeatedly in scientific studies. Links to studies are appended below.
Other helpful essential oils for stress conditions include rose, lemon, sweet orange, frankincense, and rosemary.
Where Can I Find Essential Oils and How Do I Use Them?
To get the desired effects, it’s important to use therapeutic-grade essential oils. Many products out there claim to be “pure” or “natural,” but unfortunately these labels are poorly regulated under the laws of most countries. The result is that these products are weak or even useless. Some trustworthy brands include: Essential Therapeutics, Veriditas Botanicals, Aura Cacia, and Doterra. You can find these brands in any large online retailer like Amazon, or in most natural foods stores.*
How Do I Use Them?
For stress relief, it is best to diffuse essential oils in water vapour with a water diffuser. You can buy a diffuser almost anywhere that you can find essential oils. To use one you remove the top, fill the internal cup with water and 2-5 drops of your favourite oils, replace the cap, plug it in and turn it on. It should emit a steady stream of very light mist into the air. This “diffuses” the essential oil molecules evenly into the room. Use any combination of bergamot, lavender, sweet marjoram or neroli essential oils that you enjoy - 5 drops maximum - and keep the diffuser on for at least 15 minutes or as long as you like.
If you don’t have a diffuser, you can boil some water, carefully pour it into a bowl, add your desired essential oils (2-3 drops total) and stir it. Then keep your head near the bowl so that you can breathe it in. A side benefit of this method is that you can place your head over the bowl and put a towel over your head and enjoy a nice steam facial (just keep your eyes closed and be careful not to get burned).
You can also ask your local aromatherapist or health food store consultant for an inhaler like this one - a small capped tube with a piece in the center that contains several drops of your chosen essential oils in it. Then you can carry it with you and open it as needed.
If diffusers and inhalers aren't an option, you can dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil like coconut oil or almond oil (try 1-2 drops total of essential oils per teaspoon of carrier oil), stir thoroughly and rub into your wrists, and smell as needed. Some of these oils also have skin-enhancing, regenerative effects on skin, so some even prefer this method.
As much as you may be tempted to, DO NOT ingest essential oils. This is neither necessary nor safe.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me. Thanks.
*I am not affiliated with any essential oil brand. I only list the brands I have used in my aromatherapy practice in the United States and in Australia.
Diarrhoea happens. No matter how strongly we prefer not to think or talk about it, and no matter how much it stresses us out, it still happens. In fact, sometimes the more we stress out, the worse the diarrhoea gets, no matter the original cause! Stress is tied to a range of gastrointestinal problems [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22314561] including diarrhoea, but integrative health & medicine has remedies you can use to successfully treat them both.
How are Stress and Diarrhoea Related?
Stress in this context can be defined as an acute threat to “homeostasis,” or internal balance, of the body. The mind-brain, body and gut are always influencing each other in every moment — even right now. When one area is affected - positively or negatively - the others respond in kind. For instance, remember a time when you had a negative thought about something (brain) and then experienced a sinking feeling in your gut? Or another time you got really angry at somebody (brain) and felt tension and heat in your chest (body) or stomach? Or another time when you were in pain (body) and found yourself reacting more strongly and feeling more irritable (brain) around a coworker? These are just a few examples of the connection between these seemingly separate aspects of our existence. Diarrheas are another such response. When these connections are thrown off balance, really anything can happen. And when you experience reactions like those above, diarrhoea, or any other kind of upset, it helps to think of them as your body’s attempts to make the imbalance known to you so that you can do something about it!
Natural Remedies for Diarrhoea
1. Probiotic Supplements
Diarrhoea is a common response to gut disturbances, including problems with gut bacteria, which are supposed to help us digest our food, regulate hormone production, promote good blood pressure, and encourage brain health. [http://ow.ly/VxeBA]. Antibiotic usage is the biggest disturbing factor, as they kill off good bacteria as well as the bad. Poor diet (processed foods, large amounts of sugar, etc) and inflammation - often caused by poor diet - are other common culprits. The right probiotics, i.e. - good bacteria in supplement form, can help reverse this damage, replace the good bacteria that were lost due to the antibiotics, and reduce pain and inflammation as well.
But not all probiotics are created equal. It’s best to take a multi-strain probiotic with at least 10 billion units (total) including lactobacillus acidophilus, lactobacillus casei, lactobacillus bulgaricus, bifidobacterium lactis, and lactobacillus reuteri - shown to be a particularly helpful remedy for children’s diarrhoea and abdominal pain. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20626584] Some products that have may be helpful include:
2. Gentle Multivitamin & Mineral Supplement
Diarrhoea means your body is not absorbing your food properly. This creates an unfortunate cycle where ongoing diarrhea depletes your body of nutrients, which worsens the imbalance and your body’s state of physical and mental stress, which in turn further prolongs the diarrhoea. You can restore balance faster by breaking this cycle. To do this, add a quality multivitamin to your probiotic supplement and take it even during acute diarrhoea.
“Quality" means a food-based vitamin (it should say food-based on the label) that is gentle on the stomach and that includes a broad range of vitamins and minerals in good, absorbable forms. Sadly, not many brands fit the bill, but two that work for my clients without any issues of stomach upset are:
Another option besides the multivitamin supplement is to use himalayan pink salt on your food - it contains many different mineral types and can assist with the process of mineral replenishment. Plus it really tastes great.
3. Essential Oils
Essential oils, volatile substances distilled from plants, can be a great ally when trying to restore balance, reduce inflammation and pain, and relieve stress associated with diarrhoea. In my practice, peppermint, lavender, and chamomile (german or roman) essential oils have been the most helpful. You can find these oils in most natural foods stores or at large online retailers like Amazon. Brands I recommend are Veriditas Botanicals, Springfield, Essential Therapeutics, Aura Cacia, or Doterra.
There are a few ways you can use them. For chamomile, I recommend putting one drop of it directly under your tongue and leaving it for as long as possible, then swallow. You can also make the following blend:
4. Energy Work
Relieving stress helps relieve diarrhoea. Any form of relaxing complementary therapy that you like, such as Reiki, Emmett therapy, or a gentle massage, can quickly put your mind and body at ease and contribute to the restoring of the internal balance that is key to healing.
I recommend experimenting with as many of these remedies as you can. The more you do to support your healthy return to balance, the sooner you will see results. If you have any questions, or would like help finding the right complementary therapy for you, contact me at the firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
James L Poole
I am a holistic health therapist: Emmett Technique practitioner, aromatherapist, nutritional therapist, and Reiki healer. This is my blog about natural healing. For more frequent updates, please check my Facebook group page.