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Essential oils have many health benefits, but anxiety management is where they really shine.

Like a bullet straight to the heart of your biochemistry, their phytochemicals can swiftly enter the bloodstream and relieve anxiety fast.

Essential oils have many health benefits, but anxiety management is where they really shine.

Like a bullet straight to the heart of your biochemistry, their phytochemicals can swiftly enter the bloodstream and relieve anxiety fast.

Here are the four best essential oils for anxiety:

  • Lavender
  • Bergamot
  • Rose
  • Chamomile

What makes these essential oils so effective at calming the nervous system?

Keep reading to find out.

What Are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are extracted from the roots, stems, flowers, leaves, and bark of certain plants.

Their therapeutic compounds can promote relaxation, improve mood, reduce anxiety, and ameliorate depression.

How Essential Oils May Help Anxiety

Most compounds have to be digested or injected in order to enter the bloodstream.

However, the phytochemicals in essential oils, like linalool and linalyl acetate, are small enough to pass through the skin and nasal cavities.

From there, they can readily travel across the blood-brain barrier to potentially relieve anxiety.

People with anxiety often have concurrent digestive issues that inhibit nutrient absorption, making essential oils an especially valuable treatment.

How to Use Essential Oils for Anxiety

Essential oils can be ingested, applied topically, or inhaled.

Aromatherapy massage, however, can provide particularly fast-acting relief.

2008 study found that aromatherapy hand massages with a blend of bergamot, lavender, and frankincense can effectively reduce anxiety, pain, and depression in hospice patients better than regular massage alone. The essential oil blend contained a 1.5 percent dilution of essential oils, using sweet almond oil as a carrier oil.

Carrier oils like almond, coconut, and hemp seed oil can spread the essential oil across a wider surface area and extend its aromatic effects.

However, oral lavender oil can be effective as well.

A 2009 study published in the journal Human Psychopharmacology found that oral lavender oil capsules can reduce anxiety in participants watching stressful film clips.

4 Best Essential Oils for Anxiety

Essential oils can reduce stress hormone production and boost calming neurotransmitters.

Here’s a closer look at the four best essential oils for anxiety:

1. Lavender

Lavender is the queen of anti-anxiety oils, and there’s a mountain of evidence to prove it.

Over the years, lavender essential oil has been studied as a treatment for wounds, burns, and seizures, but recent research suggests that it may also have potent anti-anxiety, mood stabilizing, and sedative effects.

It can also be consumed as a lavender tea.

Here’s what the research as to say about lavender essential oil for anxiety:

  • According to a 2013 meta-analysis, lavender may promote the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA and reduce glutamate, which tends to be overactive in anxious individuals.
  • A 2012 study published in the journal Phytomedicine found that lavender may reduce anxiety by acting on acetylcholine: the primary neurotransmitter involved with higher thinking.
  • Inhaled lavender may target the limbic system by targeting the hippocampus and amygdala: the emotional center of the brain.
  • Animal studies show that inhaled lavender can reduce cortisol: the main hormone linked to chronic stress and anxiety.
  • In a 2014 human study, researchers determined that oral lavender oil can outperform the prescription anxiolytic paroxetine in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Although the FDA does not officially recognize lavender oil as a treatment for anxiety disorders, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) does.

Recent research shows that lavender oil may also reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, and slow heart rate.

2. Bergamot

Bergamot is another widely-researched essential oil that may reduce anxiety, pain, stress, and inflammation.

According to a 2011 rodent study published in the journal Phytotherapy Research, “Both BEO [bergamot essential oil] and diazepam [prescription medication] exhibited anxiolytic-like behaviors and attenuated HPA axis activity by reducing the corticosterone response to stress.

In other words, bergamot treated stress and anxiety by calming the stress response.

Human studies are also promising.

2017 pilot study found that bergamot oil aromatherapy can enhance positive feelings in the waiting room of a mental health treatment center.

3. Rose

Studies show that rose essential oil may balance hormones, reduce stress, and treat anxiety.

Here’s what the research has to say about the health benefits of rose essential oil:

  • In a 2007 Japanese study, rose oil aromatherapy effectively reduced cortisol levels in both female and male volunteers. Plus, it decreased testosterone in women but had no effect on testosterone in men.
  • According to a 2016 clinical trial, patients undergoing hemodialysis treatment may experience reduced anxiety with rose oil aromatherapy.
  • On a similar note, a 2014 study indicates that inhaling rose oil may increase feelings of comfort by inhibiting neurotransmitter activity in the prefrontal cortex.
  • According to another 2014 study, rose oil foot baths can be significantly more effective at reducing anxiety than regular foot baths.

Rose essential oil also contains eugenol: one of the strongest antioxidants in the world.

4. Chamomile

Chamomile tea is widely used as a natural sleep aid, and that’s because the plant contains several therapeutic phytochemicals, including the soothing compound chamazulene.

These properties also make chamomile well-suited for reducing stress and anxiety.

Both chamomile aromatherapy and oral chamomile appear to be equally effective.

In one 2009 randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, researchers at Pennsylvania State University tested the effects of oral chamomile capsules on 57 patients with mild generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Compared to the placebo, participants experienced a statistically significant reduction in anxiety symptoms.

According to the study’s authors, “These results suggest that chamomile may have modest benefits for some people with mild to moderate GAD.”

At the same time, a 2013 aromatherapy study found a significant difference in the anxiety scores between the chamomile group and the control group.

To top it all off, chamomile contains several terpenes and flavonoids that may treat gastrointestinal inflammation and reduce pain.

What to Know Before Using Essential Oils for Anxiety

Other anti-anxiety oils to check out include, sage, frankincense, geranium, and orange oil.

It’s also a good notion to never ingest essential oils without first making sure they’re food-grade. Many oils are manufactured with synthetic perfumes that can upset and irritate the stomach.

If you have a history of serious medical conditions or are currently taking prescription drugs, make sure to consult a specialist before adding essential oils to your regular health practice.

All in all, many people have found aromatherapy and other essential oil applications to be very beneficial in the reduction of anxiety — and you might too. Read about all the best essential oils here.

Justin Fowler-Lindner, a former EMT turned freelance writer, spends his days popping supplements and soaking up the sun in tropical destinations around the world.

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Евгения Матвеец / Moment / Getty Images

Over-the-counter cough syrups and cough drops only mask symptoms, and that means your cough could return at any time. Instead of hoping for the best, you can use holistic treatments that target the underlying cause of even the worst coughs.

Here are five of the best home remedies for cough:

Over-the-counter cough syrups and cough drops only mask symptoms, and that means your cough could return at any time. Instead of hoping for the best, you can use holistic treatments that target the underlying cause of even the worst coughs.

Here are five of the best home remedies for cough:

Cough management requires a practical, comprehensive approach, and we’ll show you how to beat your cough with these at-home treatments.

How Coughing Works

Have you ever wondered what’s actually going on inside the body when you make that awful coughing sound?

Here’s what’s really happening:

  1. You take a gasp of air.
  2. The glottis covers the windpipe.
  3. The respiratory muscles contract.
  4. Pressure builds in the airway.
  5. The glottis bursts open and… you cough!

What Causes Coughing?

Coughing happens when you need to expel an irritant or cope with symptoms of a respiratory infection.

Acute coughing is coughing that lasts less than three weeks. This includes brief coughing fits and reactions to short-term respiratory infections. Acute coughs are typically “dry,” meaning there’s no mucus in the airway.

Chronic coughing, however, is coughing that lasts eight weeks or longer and requires professional medical intervention. These coughs are typically “wet” and are characterized by heavy phlegm and mucus production as a response to inflammation in the lungs.

Common causes of chronic cough include:

  • Allergies
  • Viral infections (bronchitis, pneumonia, cold, flu)
  • GERD (acid reflux disease)
  • Asthma
  • Pulmonary fibrosis
  • Sinus infection (due to persistent nasal drip)

Chronic coughing may also be caused by a reaction to certain medications like ACE inhibitors and beta-blockers, which can irritate nerve endings in the throat.

5 Home Remedies for Cough

From therapeutic essential oils to immune-boosting foods, here are five of the top natural remedies for cough:

1. Essential Oils

Essential oils are extracted from the roots, stems, flowers, and leaves of various medicinal plants. Most essential oils have a broad spectrum of antibacterial, antiviral, antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, all of which can be ideal for fighting infection and treating the underlying causes of coughing.

Some essential oils, however, can also relax the muscles of the respiratory system and help expel mucus. Eucalyptus, peppermint, and rosemary are some of the best essential oils for colds and coughs.

Research suggests that these three essential oils can have many benefits, including the reduction in frequency of coughs, relief from scratchy throats and congestion, as well as reduced inflammation and mucus production.

How to Use Essential Oils for Cough

You can add a few drops of essential oil to any hot shower, which will incorporate the oil with the steam and open up your sinuses for less irritation and coughing. Additionally, you can make your own essential oil vapor rub by mixing 1-2 drops of essential oil with half a teaspoon of coconut or MCT oil. Apply this DIY vapor rub to the chest and back of the neck for fast-acting relief.

2. Raw Honey

Raw honey’s immune-boosting antioxidants and antimicrobial effects are perfect when it comes to finding a home remedy for coughing. According to a 2011 meta-analysis, researchers think that raw honey may treat coughs by reducing inflammation and relieving irritation.

In a 2007 study published in The Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, honey was tested against the cough-suppressing medication dextromethorphan in children with nighttime coughing. The honey group experienced a greater reduction in coughing than the dextromethorphan group.

To make your own DIY honey elixir, mix 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey in a cup of warm water with a few drops of lemon juice. However, if you are trying to alleviate coughing in children, you should not give raw honey to any child under one year of age due to the risk of infant botulism.

3. Marshmallow Root

Marshmallow root extract has long been used in Germany as a main ingredient in natural cough remedies. It has a high mucilage content, which eases coughing by coating the throat with a thick, gluey substance.

One small study found that an herbal cough medicine containing marshmallow root, thyme, and ivy can effectively relieve coughing caused by respiratory tract infections in humans after just 12 days of treatment.

In a 2018 study published in the journal Complementary Medicine Research, consumers reported on the efficacy of marshmallow root syrup as a treatment for irritative cough. The majority of participants reported a significant reduction in dry cough symptoms within 10 minutes of administration.

4. Gargle Salt Water

This simple, natural remedy for coughing is great for soothing a sore throat as well. Gargling salt water has been shown to reduce respiratory infections up to 40 percent, and can lessen the need to cough by reducing phlegm and mucus in the throat.

Mix a teaspoon of salt with 8oz of hot water. Stir the mixture until the salt has fully dissolved. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, then take a swig of the salt water and gargle for 15 to 30 seconds. After this, you can spit out the salt water, and repeat three times a day.

5. Eat Right

Eating immune-boosting foods can be extremely beneficial in preventing and fighting off a cough, and here are some of the best foods for supporting immunity, reducing inflammation, and thinning mucus:

  • Probiotic foods: If you get frequent, recurring coughs, you may be more susceptible to illness due to a weakened gut lining. Probiotics like kombucha, coconut kefir, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut, and kimchi can reinforce the gut lining and fortify the immune system.
  • Bone broth: Drinking hot bone broth made from chicken or beef cartilage can thin the mucus and help repair the gut lining with collagen.
  • Ginger root: Ginger contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds like zingibain and may relax the muscles in the upper airway that control coughing.
  • Stay Hydrated: This may seem like a no-brainer, but in order to be fully cough-resistant, you’ll have to drink plenty of fluids. Studies show that staying hydrated is essential to the treatment of coughs, and it may also soften mucosal secretions and help clear the airway.

Other Helpful Tips for Relieving a Cough at Home

As you seek to use home remedies for cough relief, you’ll also want to avoid pro-inflammatory foods like gluten, sugar, soda, fruit juice, dairy, hydrogenated oils, and processed foods.

If your nasal passages are congested, irritation from nasal drip can make your cough worse. If this is the case, you may want to try using a neti pot, which can flush out irritants and thin the mucus.

If you experience persistent coughing for longer than eight weeks, we recommend seeing a doctor for medical advice and treatment. At-home remedies are a great way to alleviate common cold or flu symptoms, but more serious complications may arise that require professional treatment.

Justin Fowler-Lindner, a former EMT turned freelance writer, spends his days popping supplements and soaking up the sun in tropical destinations around the world.

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Anna Blazhuk / Moment / Getty Images

The holidays can be overwhelming for many people. With shopping lists to check off, holiday dinners to cook and visitors to make room for, it's usually an eventful time of year. But in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, herbal supplements help you stay calm, cool and collected. Whether you're trying to avoid the in-laws or learning how to make a new meal for the first time, you can stay prepared with the best herbs for stress.

While the holiday season is a cheerful time to spend with friends and family, it is also one of the most stressful times of the year. With all of the added pressure related to finances, traveling and family commitments, your health can suffer.

The holidays can be overwhelming for many people. With shopping lists to check off, holiday dinners to cook and visitors to make room for, it’s usually an eventful time of year. But in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, herbal supplements help you stay calm, cool and collected. Whether you’re trying to avoid the in-laws or learning how to make a new meal for the first time, you can stay prepared with the best herbs for stress.


Holiday Stress, Cortisol and You

While the holiday season is a cheerful time to spend with friends and family, it is also one of the most stressful times of the year. With all of the added pressure related to finances, traveling and family commitments, your health can suffer.

Ultimately, the body ends up produces too many stress hormones, which elevates blood pressure, heart rate and breathing. At the same time, glucose is released into the bloodstream, digestion slows and the immune system becomes suppressed. Over time, this can lead to increased anxiety, hormone imbalances, sickness and gut health issues.

In the end, many of these complications are linked to cortisol, whose job it is to regulate several essential functions, including:

  • Keeping you alert
  • Preventing brain fog
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Promoting healing
  • Burning fat for energy
  • Controlling blood pressure
  • Supporting memory

With cortisol levels out of control, it’s easy to see how holiday stress can make you feel scattered, tired and overwhelmed. Luckily, the right herbs for stress may offer you some relief.

9 Herbs for Holiday Stress

Many of the best herbs for stress are adaptogens, which reduce cortisol, normalize bacteria levels and affect stress in a variety of ways. Others are familiar teas and essential oils that work to calm the mind and body.

The best herbs to reduce holiday stress are:

1. Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha has been widely studied for its effects on stress tolerance and cortisol production.

In one 2012 human study published in the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine, 64 test adults with a history of chronic stress were treated with either ashwagandha extract or a placebo for 60 days. According to the study’s authors, “The findings of this study suggest that a high-concentration of full-spectrum Ashwagandha root extract safely and effectively improves an individual’s resistance towards stress and thereby improves self-assessed quality of life.”

This herbal supplement can also help with chronic stress, which if left untreated can lead to hormone imbalances throughout the body, including the thyroid. A 2018 human study found that supplementing with ashwagandha for eight weeks can help regulate thyroid levels in patients with underactive thyroids.

To top it all off, animal studies show that ashwagandha can prevent weight gain due to chronic stress, as well as prevent stress-related gastric ulcers.

2. Astragalus Root

Astragalus is an adaptogenic herb that’s been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years to support the immune system and guard against stress. Now, modern research is beginning to support these claims.

A 2005 animal study found that astragalus root can decrease stress hormones and reduce inflammation in piglets. At the same time, a 2019 study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that astragalus root can boost antioxidant levels and support immunity in sheep.

3. Chamomile

Nothing takes the edge off of holiday stress like a hot cup of tea, and chamomile is just the tea for the job.

For starters, it’s full of potent antioxidants like flavonoids and terpenes to help you fend off colds. Studies also show that chamomile tea can improve sleep quality and relieve depression in postpartum women. Quality sleep is important for reducing stress and chamomile is an ideal way to unwind and catch some Z’s. Chamomile essential oil can also have stress reducing benefits when used in aromatherapy diffusers.

4. Cordyceps

Cordyceps is an adaptogenic medicinal mushroom with potent antioxidant properties. Not only can it calm the stress response and strengthen immunity, but it can also boost energy and improve exercise performance.

For example, a 2016 randomize, double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that cordyceps can improve tolerance for high-intensity exercise after just 1-3 weeks of supplementation. At the same time, a separate human trial found that cordyceps can reduce cortisol and help you recover from stress faster.

5. Ginseng (Panax)

Ginseng is another adaptogen that has been shown to promote calmness, improve memory and reduce certain functions of the stress response. There are several strains of ginseng, but Panax ginseng contains the highest concentrations of therapeutic compounds.

In a 2010 human study published in the journal of Human Psychopharmacology, 30 healthy volunteers received either panax ginseng or a placebo for eight days. Researchers found that a 400 mg dose of ginseng improved calmness and enhanced mental arithmetic. A separate study also found that ginseng can reduce several indicators of chronic stress in rodents.

6. Holy Basil

Holy basil, also known as tulsi, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years as an anti-aging treatment, as well as for skin disease, infections and the common cold. More recently, researchers have conducted several studies on its ability to reduce stress and enhance cognition.

For example, a 2015 human study found that holy basil can improve reaction times, reduce error rate and decrease cortisol compared to a placebo.

7. Lavender

Lavender is one of the most widely-studies herbs for reducing stress and anxiety. It’s also one of the most common essential oils worldwide. Most importantly, lavender aromatherapy can reduce stress fast because its phytochemicals are small enough to pass through the nasal cavity, enter the bloodstream, and immediately cross the blood-brain barrier.

One 2016 human study found that inhaling lavender can reduce stress, anxiety and depression in postpartum women. However, lavender oil can also be absorbed through the skin and taken orally as lavender tea or an herbal supplement. Lavender oil is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral that can boost immunity while reducing stress.

8. Passionflower

Passionflower can reduce stress and anxiety, and promote sleep by acting on GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is the primary neurotransmitter that’s responsible for calming overactive brain activity.

One comparative study in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics tested passionflower against the prescription anti-anxiety medication oxazepam. 36 patients diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) were treated with either passionflower, oxazepam, or a placebo. Researchers concluded that passionflower extract can be an effective treatment for GAD and exhibits fewer side effects than oxazepam.

9. Rhodiola

Rhodiola rosea is another powerful adaptogen that boosts the body’s resistance to stress. A 2007 study published in the journal Drug Target Insights found that Rhodiola can improve mental performance under stress. A separate 2009 human trial found that rhodiola can decrease cortisol, improve mental performance and increase energy in patients with burnout syndrome and stress-related fatigue.

Other Ways to Avoid Holiday Stress

The holidays have a stressful side that many of us know all too well. When your head is spinning with family events, shopping and gift wrapping, plus your bank account is dwindling, stress can get the best of you. This can take a toll on your sleep quality, mental health, and general well being, but natural herbs can help combat holiday stress when it’s at its worst.

In addition to taking natural herbal supplements, other practices like mindful meditation, exercise and healthy eating (even though it may be hard to do during the holidays) can be great ways to stay stress-free during the holiday season.

Justin Fowler-Lindner, a former EMT turned freelance writer, spends his days popping supplements and soaking up the sun in tropical destinations around the world.

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