essential oils

Aromatherapy is a treatment of, or preventive measure for, a disease by the use of essential oils derived from plants. In aromatherapy, the brain and particularly the limbic system has an impact due to the fragrance from the oil. Pharmacological effects of aromatherapy also prevents and cures diseases.

Aromatherapy is used both as an alternative medicine and complimentary (therapy) medicine. Curative ability of aromatherapy is not clinically established. But the help provided by aromatherapy in ensuring the overall well-being of a person is widely accepted.

Materials used in aromatherapy are essential oils, absolutes, carrier oils, herbal distillates, infusions, phytoncides, aroma lamp and vaporizers.

Treatment or prevention of a medical condition using essential oils is called aromatherapy.

What is stress?

The term “stress” is generally perceived as the mental pressure experienced by a person. Such pressure or worry is caused by problems faced by the person in life.

Physiological stress is due to the unfavorable effect of environmental factors on the physiological functions of an organism in the body. If allowed to prolong such stress may affect homeostasis of the organism which leads to damaging or pathological conditions.

aromatherapy oil
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When the emotional factors predominate, it is psychological stress. Normally stress is experienced acutely more by mental pressure combined with physical stress.

How does stress affect the body?

The first victim of stress is the immune system of the body. When a person is under stress, the immune system readies itself to counter the symptoms like fever, sleepiness, lack of energy, loss of appetite and flu like situation.

Symptoms identified due to stress are classified into cognitive, emotional, physical and behavioral symptoms.

How to use aromatherapy to relieve stress?

Stress is relieved by various treatments and one such treatment alternative to medication is aromatherapy using various essential oils.

Best aromatherapy oils for reducing stress


Known as ‘universal oil’, Lavender oil is always popular due to its relaxing, calming and balancing effects. It relieves pain in muscles and joints in addition to performing antiseptic functions in curing minor cuts, burns and stings. The oil restores the nervous system by relieving nervous tension.

lavender oil
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Rose oil relieves anxiety and depression particularly during shocks and grief. The oil of rose is particularly helpful in relieving stress in pregnant women, when used carefully ensuring against possible side effects.


The oil from sandalwood called ‘sacred oil’, positively affect the brain’s limbic systems.  It has the ability to balance emotions and the immune system.


Chamomile is not only a healthy drink but has also calming effect. Two different types of oil from chamomile find their use in aromatherapy. Both the types of oils, chamomile, German and Chamomile, Roman are equally good aromatic essential oils. These oils dispel anger and clear the mind and stabilize emotions. These oils also support the nerves and improve digestion. Always dilute the oil and use it as it can irritate the skin. Pregnant women should be cautious in using the oil to avoid possible side effects.


Oil from frankincense has the potential of lowering anxiety and remove depression. Sesquiterpenes molecules present in frankincense penetrate the brain and blood barriers and remove stress. The oil rejuvenates the cells and salvage damaged tissues and calm down the respiratory system.


The aroma of jasmine oil enhances the confidence level and optimism. It reduces depression. Use of jasmine oil relieves stress, cures headaches and insomnia.

Jasmine oil
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Vanilla oil is pleasant when added to cookies and other delightful treats but also relaxes the body. The oil resembles in fragrance, breast milk and has the ability to stimulate mental clarity and relax the muscles. It also relieves stomach disorders.


Bergamot orange is yellow in color like lemon. The essential oil extracted from bergamot has antibiotic, antiseptic, sedative, anti-depressant properties relevant to stress management. Alpha pinere and Limonene in this oil are stimulants and anti-depressants. The calming effect of this oil relieves stress quickly.


This herb is known as ‘herb of happiness’. True to its name, the oil from marjoram is a muscle relaxant which has anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties.  It relieves migraine headache and induces sleep.

Ylang Ylang

It is a popular essential oil to treat anxiety and depression, as it has calming and uplifting effects. Combination of ylang ylang, lavender and bergamot reduces psychological stress and blood pressure.

You can apply all the oils above externally as massage oils depending on specific therapeutic benefits. Since essential oils are highly potent in their pure form, you can blend them with some carrier oil. The oil is useful for massages or as bath oil to relax the muscles.

Caution: Pregnant women must carefully use the oil for aromatherapy preferably after sufficient medical advice. They should assess which oil is safe for the individual.

Ramya Srinivasan, PDGBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. As a result of her passion in native medicine, she got her Diploma in Traditional Siddha Medicine from Bharat Sevak Samaj registered under the Indian Planning Commission. She is certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.