Xanax From Nature: Calming Essential Oils #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter X post in the #AtoZChallenge. Sorry for the weird title, but I had to come up with something starting with X. Xanax (alprazolam) is a benzodiazepine anti-anxiety and sleep medication. Here in the Netherlands, benzodiazepine medications aren’t covered by insurance, at least not when used for sleep or relaxation. In the spirit of finding alternatives to benzos, today I’m sharing what essential oils can do to promote relaxation. Now I don’t say that essential oils are as effective, but in some cases, they might just be, especially since benzos are highly addictive.

The most well-known oil for tranquility is, of course, lavender. Lavender is thought to help relieve anxiety by affecting the limbic region of the brain, the area that involves emotion. You can either use some lavender essential oil in a diffuser blend or enjoy a lavender bath. To do this, combine a few drops of lavender essential oil with a teaspoon or so of the carrier oil of your choice or an unscented bath gel.

Valerian is up next. I don’t own this oil and haven’t talked about it. Valerian is an herb that has been used since ancient times to promote sleep and relaxation. The herb can be used in herbal teas, but there’s also an essential oil derived from it that can be used in a diffuser blend.

Jasmine is also sometimes used in aromatherapy to promote relaxation. It has a beautifully floral scent and, in helping with anxiety, has the advantage that it doesn’t cause sleepiness. Jasmine is usually sold as an absolute and even then can be quite expensive.

Chamomile essential oil, particularly Roman chamomile, is also commonly used for helping reduce anxiety. I do not own this oil, as it is pretty expensive, but would love to in the future. I did at one point use chamomile in herbal tea.

Lastly, frankincense and vetiver essential oil both have calming properties.

There are also oils that have both calming and uplifting properties. For example, I personally didn’t expect patchouli essential oil to help with anxiety, as it is mostly thought of as an uplifting oil. However, of course, oils can do both. I will discuss more uplifting oils later.

Frankincense #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter F post in the #AtoZChallenge. I focus my A to Z posts on aromatherapy and essential oils. Today, I want to talk about frankincense.

Frankincense is a resin (highly viscose substance that the plant uses to protect itself) derived from any of five species of Boswellia. It is used in both incense and in perfume-making or aromatherapy.

Frankincense has been used ever since at least 1500 BC. It was introduced to western Europe by the Franks, who had found it on their journeys to the eastern Roman empire. The name, though, doesn’t refer to the Franks, but is derived from the old French word for high quality incense.

Frankincense has been claimed to have medicinal benefits for many centuries. In traditional Chinese medicine, frankincense and myrrh combined are used for their antimicrobial and blood moving properties. In Persian medicine, frankincense was used for diabetes and stomach ulcers.

Frankincense essential oil is produced via steam distillation of the resin from a Boswellia plant. I only own Boswellia Carterii essential oil.

Frankincense essential oil has a fresh and fruity yet warm, woodsy and spicy scent. It is a stimulating essential oil and can be used to clear the mind and increase focus.

When applied to the skin in massage oils or other skincare products, it is supposed to help prevent skin aging and help with dry skin.

Frankincense essential oil blends well with citrus oils such as lime, lemon and orange. It also blends well with oils such as lavender, geranium, ylang ylang and woodsy oils such as cypress and sandalwood.

Please note that some species of Boswellia are near threatened status. Although they are exempt from the international regulations on trading endangered plants or animals, it may be advised to take their rarity into account when buying frankincense.