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.

Patchouli Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Hello and welcome to my letter P post in the #AtoZChallenge. The theme I chose for this challenge is aromatherapy and today, I’ll be talking about patchouli essential oil.

The name of patchouli appears to have come from the Hindi word “pacholi”, which means “to scent”. The plant belongs to a family of other aromatic plants, such as lavender, mint and sage. Its grounding, balancing aroma makes it an ideal essential oil to be used in aromatherapy and cosmetics alike.

Even though you might think of patchouli as “the scent of the sixties” if you’ve lived that long, the history of the plant’s use dates back much earlier. It is believed that Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun was buried with patchouli essential oil.

Early European traders would trade it for gold too. Patchouli was also used by Asian traders to protect silk and other fabrics.

Patchouli essential oil is steam distilled from the young leaves of the Pogosteman cablin plant. The oil is quite thick and ranges in color from light yellow to a deep amber. The scent can be described as earthy, musky and slightly sweet. The scent is pretty strong and may therefore be overstimulating to some people.

The main constituent of patchouli essential oil is patchoulol. This constituent is believed to give patchouli essential oil its grounding, mood-balancing properties. Other constituents of patchouli essential oil include α-patchoulene, β-patchoulene, α-bulnesene, α-guaiene, caryophyllene, norpatchoulenol, seychellene, and pogostol.

Patchouli essential oil can be used in aromatherapy as a sedative yet also anti-depressant and aphrodisiac oil. It is a great oil to use in skincare products too, as it neutralizes body odor.

Patchouli blends well with many different oils. For example, I like to blend it with lavender and ylang ylang for a calming effect. It also blends well with citrus oils, such as orange, bergamot or grapefruit.

Do you like the smell of patchouli?