Depression is real. It is not something to be ignored, laughed at, scoffed at, nor is it something to be ashamed of. It can come from many different causes-hormonal imbalances, diet, exposure to chemicals, as a side effect from medication, and more. There are also different kinds of depression, seasonal depression, postpartum depression, panic disorders, anxiety, and others. I'm not going to go into the various kinds and causes here. Be aware that in order to fully rid yourself of depression you will need to explore diet, environment, and your health. That's a step you can take a little further down the road. It amazed me as I researched depression how depressing many of the articles and information were that I read! I didn't have a problem with depression and then I started researching it and started feeling low. That's not what we want to do here. I want to give you some good, solid ways to use essential oils to give you a lift, a hand up, a smile, a dose of hope so that you can get to feeling better. Once you've accomplished that then you'll be in a better frame of mind to begin exploring your options to restored health.
Aromatherapy, or the use of essential oils, can have an incredible effect on your emotional outlook. We all know that scents can affect us emotionally. We use perfumes and colognes to make us more attractive. We associate memories with various smells. A newborn baby learns to identify his mother by sense of smell before his eyes are developed enough to focus. Diffusing an essential oil (spreading the aroma throughout a room) can have a profound and almost immediate effect on mood. Scent is a vital part of our lives. The limbic system is considered to be the oldest system in the human body. The limbic system is made up of several organs that together process scents and determine how the body will respond. These responses often involve emotions, especially those that are related to survival such as fear and reproductive urges. The limbic system is also tied in closely to determining which memories will be stored and how they will be recalled. The hypothalamus is also a part of the limbic system. It has a major role in monitoring and regulating hormones.
Essential oils have an aroma that activates the limbic system through smell. Essential oils also have the ability to affect our hormones. They can help us eliminate unwanted toxins from the body. They can help ease pain. They can carry oxygen to the cells of our body. Essential oils applied to the skin can be detected in the blood in as little as twenty seconds! The essential oil molecules are smaller than our cells; they permeate our bodies and affect us on a cellular level. There are ten main systems in our body: integumentary (skin), skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine (hormones), digestive, respiratory, circulatory, urinary, and reproductive and essential oils can affect them all!
Here's a quick list of essential oils that are commonly used in relieving depression:
- Basil (especially good for manic depression and anxiety)
- Blossom blend
- Brain Gem blend
- Chamomile, Roman
- Clary Sage
- Juniper Berry
- Loving Care blend
- Marjoram (especially helpful with grief based depression)
- Peppermint (especially helpful if you can't stay awake)
- Quiet Scent blend (especially good for when you can't sleep)
- Rosemary (especially helpful if you're anxious)
*All blends mentioned are Be Young blends.
**A warm or hot essential oil that you will want to use diluted with carrier oil before applying to the skin. If you use without a carrier and it feels hot DO NOT rinse with water, it will get hotter, apply a carrier oil to the area and it will cool it.
As you can see, there are quite a few to choose from. The best way to choose is to smell each one. If you smell an essential oil and it's just nasty smelling to you, you're not going to want to use it, you'll hesitate because it's not a pleasant experience. When you find that oil that you just want to crawl in the bottle and live there, that's the one for you! I worked with a gentleman whose oil of choice for improving his mood was Birch. Now, that's not on the list above, but Birch oil smelled like root beer to him and started him reminiscing about his childhood days and homemade root beer and always lifted his mood and made him smile. It was the perfect pick-me-up for him. Here we see the perfect example of how powerful smell is in affecting the emotions.
Diffusing an essential oil is a powerful way to impact your mood. You can set a timer so that the oil is released into the air at certain intervals. I use a diffuser that is set to diffuse fifteen minutes out of every hour. You can also purchase a pendant diffuser. This is simply a necklace made of clay you add the oil to or a hollow necklace with a wick inside you put the oil on. Some people prefer a sniff stick-it looks kind of like a tube of chap stick, but inside is a cotton wick that you add the essential oil to. Whenever you need a whiff you open it up and the aroma comes out. Some people simply carry the bottle of essential oil with them and open it up when needed, just be careful the lid doesn't come undone in your pocket so the oil spills. Find what works best for you.
Frankincense is perhaps the most often used essential oil for depression. Many people have been able to discontinue use of antidepressants by using Frankincense. First, make sure you have a 100% pure essential oil of Frankincense. Frankincense is an expensive oil so it is often cut or synthesized. If you're not familiar with the various essential oil companies, you can get a good idea of the oil's purity by its price. I recommend the Be Young brand; they stand strong against diluting an essential oil in any way before you receive it. They also regularly test their essential oils to make sure that the grower didn't dilute it before they received it. Why do you care? If you'll recall, up in the first paragraph I listed some of the causes of depression, among them are exposure to chemicals. If an essential oil is synthesized (made with chemicals) or improperly extracted (with chemicals) those chemicals are now a part of that essential oil and can be carried into every cell in your body.
This will only compound the problems you are experiencing. It is absolutely vital that you get the best essential oil you can or you may be feeding the fires of depression instead of smothering them. To use Frankincense to replace your antidepressant, every morning put a drop of Frankincense under your tongue. Carry Frankincense essential oil with you throughout the day. Some days are one drop days, some are ten drop days. If you have difficulties getting just one drop or can't handle the taste, put it in a little bit of water. You can purchase droppers that can be used with essential oils so you can control how many drops you get. Always consult with your doctor when decreasing any medication! Use an essential oil two hours before or after taking a medication so that they do not interfere with each other.
Ways to use essential oils for depression:
- Diffuse or use the essential oil as a room spray (To make a room spray add 10-12 drops of essential oil to 1-2 ounces of filtered water in a glass spray bottle. Shake and spray. Always shake before each use and use a glass bottle as the essential oils will eat through a plastic bottle.)
- Internally (Frankincense especially and ONLY if you are sure the oil is pure, like the Be Young brand) Apply a drop or two under the tongue, or take in a capsule filled with carrier oil
- Apply a drop to the back of the neck and the temples
- Use in a massage (add 5-6 drops of essential oil to an ounce of carrier oil and massage with this blend)
- In a bath (Add 5-6 drops of your chosen essential oil to 1/4-1/2 cup bath salts or Epsom(tm) salts, then add to your bath water. Soak for twenty minutes and rinse off. Always rinse off, the combination of salt and essential oils will pull toxins from your body to the surface of the skin. If you don't rinse off you will reabsorb those toxins and may develop a rash. Always add to the salts before the water or the essential oils will float on top of the water.)
- Simply open the bottle and inhale
- Use as a perfume, apply a drop or two to your pulse points
- If you're feeling anxious, apply a drop to the tops of your ears
After you start feeling better you'll want to begin modifying diet. Often depression is caused because various chemical receptors within the body are blocked by toxins. Start with the Liver Cleanse (see my article on Liver Cleanse for more information) and begin eliminating prepared foods and other harmful activities from your diet and lifestyle. A lack of calcium can often contribute to depression. Carbonated beverages (especially those in the cola category) leach calcium from the body. The neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin control depression. Trace minerals allow our bodies to use these neurotransmitters. A good source of trace minerals is Masaji(tm) (a whole food supplement created by Be Young, it also contains Frankincense and Rose essential oils.)
Some fun recipe blends you may want to try:
10 drops Bergamot
5 drops Clary Sage
2 drops Rose
(Note, Bergamot can cause photosensivity in some individuals, avoid direct exposure of skin with Bergamot oil applied to it to the sun or tanning beds for 24 hours. As long as the skin is covered by clothing you should be fine.)
Recipe #2 (guilt and depression)
15 drops Geranium
5 drops Lavender
10 drops Bergamot
This should give you some good ideas. Don't allow yourself to get overwhelmed, pick one direction and give it a try, give it a week or so and then evaluate yourself-no change, try a different oil; some change, add something in addition to; great change, congratulations! Start making modifications (slowly, one step at a time) to your diet and environment and enjoy your journey to health and happiness!