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.

Vetiver Essential Oil #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter V post in the #AtoZChallenge. My theme for this year is aromatherapy and today, I want to discuss the oil I most recently purchased: vetiver essential oil.

Vetiver essential oil is derived through steam distillation of the aromatic roots of the Vetiveria zizanoides plant. The aroma is strong on its own and can be described as woody, earthy, herbaceous, smoky and spicy. Vetiver essential oil has potent emotional balancing properties and is, for this reason, also referred to as the oil of tranquility. It is also sometimes called the fragrance of the soil.

Almost the entire vetiver plant has been used since ancient times. For example, in tropical countries, people used to make coolers from vetiver plants. They were woven together with coir ropes to make grass mats, which were soaked in water and then hung in doorways. That way, the warm air from outdoors would be cooled.

Since the Middle Ages, vetiver essential oil has been used for its scent. Its deep and woody aroma, its low evaporation rate and its sollubility in alcohol make it great for use in perfumes. Opium by Yves Saint Laurent, Miss Dior by Dior and Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel are some well-known perfumes that incorporate vetiver. Vetiver is also used in many if not most men’s fragrances.

Vetiver essential oil can be used on the skin to treat acne, reduce the appearance of scars, help with wound healing and lessen the effects of aging on the skin. Its maximum usage rate in a carrier oil is 15%.

However, it is even more useful in a diffuser blend. It has warming, grounding, balancing and sedative properties. It is also thought to be an aphrodisiac scent.

Vetiver essential oil blends well with many other oils, including sandalwood, patchouli, lavender and clary sage. If you happen to have rose absolute, this is also a great aphrodisiac to be used with vetiver essential oil. Some sources recommend using as many as five drops of vetiver essential oil in your blends of ten drops. However, AromaWeb’s author recommends using the oil sparingly in blends to prevent it overpowering other scents. I agree with that.