For centuries people have been using essential oils – natural substances extracted from plants and seeds – to heal the mind and body. The positive effect essential oils can have on us is astounding, and people with post traumatic stress disorder often find that aromatherapy can help them to manage their symptoms. Once you understand how to safely administer essential oils, and have identified oils which provide you with the best results, you might find that aromatherapy offers relief from even the most severe PTSD symptoms.
Essential oils for PTSD symptoms
Lavender is a wonderful essential oil for PTSD because it can help to alleviate fear, anxiety, stress, panic and depression, as well as reduce nightmares and sleep disturbances. Bergamot can relieve anxiety and fear too, and if anger and rage is a symptom you experience, you might find that ylang ylang and clary sage help. Frankincense, chamomile and sandalwood are all also known to improve a variety of PTSD symptoms.
Safety of aromatherapy
Essential oils are incredibly potent, so it’s important to understand the risks associated with them. Generally speaking, they should never be applied directly to the skin unless diluted with another oil, such as sunflower oil.
Try to use high-quality, pure oils where possible, and read the contraindications of each oil carefully before using, because some oils may interact badly with certain medications or be unsuitable for people with certain health conditions. Pregnant women should take particular care to avoid oils which are known to be dangerous to their baby.
If in any doubt, visit a trained aromatherapist to get the benefits of essential oils in a safe environment, rather than using them yourself.
How to use essential oils
To get the benefits of essential oils, you could apply them, in diluted form, directly to your skin. You could add a couple of drops of oil to a moisturising lotion and apply this to your hands and arms each day in order to carry the scent with you.
Many people like to use essential oils in the bath. A few drops into the water is enough to release the beneficial aroma of the oils, and the process of taking a warm, relaxing bath can also help to relieve anxiety or stress.
You could also use essential oils in home diffusers; simply add a couple of drops to the water chamber and allow the oil to be diffused around the home. Alternatively, add essential oils to water in a spray bottle and gently spritz the mixture onto pillows, curtains, cushions, sofas or other soft furnishings.
It’s important to note however, that while choosing your PTSD recovery path you need to address both the symptoms and the underlying condition. NICE guidance from 2005 and 2011 recommends the use of trauma focused psychological treatments for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in adults, specifically the use of Eye Movement Desensitisation Reprocessing (EMDR) and trauma focused cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
Please remember, these aren’t meant to be medical recommendations, but they’re tactics that have worked for others and might work for you, too. Be sure to work with a professional to find the best methods for you.
IMAGE: Neon essential oil diffuser misting on table by Your Best Digs essential oil diffusers