Orange Aromatherapy for Anxiety

aromatherapy is the use of concentrated essential oils extracted from plants to treat disease and is commonly used to treat anxiety symptoms anxiety disorders in the most prevalent class of psychiatric disorders in the general population however their treatment is still challenging is that drugs used for the relief of anxiety symptoms can have important side effects thankfully double-blind randomized placebo-controlled clinical trials performed to evaluate the effects of essential oils on anxiety symptoms are gradually starting to appear in the medical literature however most of these studies exposure to the essential oil odor was accompanied by massage this makes it difficult to draw firm conclusions about the effect of the aroma itself here’s a typical example patients in the intensive care unit the day after open-heart surgery getting foot massages with orange scented oil why not back massages because they just had their chests cracked open so of this huge store not to be wound and it may be a preventive plant-based diet rather than a post-op plant-based massage might have been the better choice but the massages felt great restful peaceful calming you know it’s a British study because one described the effect is smashing but how do we know the essential oil had anything to do with it maybe it was just a massage that was so bloody good in which case great let’s give people massages I’m all for more ICU foot rubs there’s considerable evidence randomised trials that massage alone reduces anxiety so massage is effective then aromatherapy plus massage is also effective so aromatherapy may work even if it doesn’t in fact one study where cancer patients got massaged during chemo and radiation even found that the massage without the fragrance may be better and they thought it might be like a negative Pavlovian response you know people smell the citrus and their bodies like oh no and you know cancer treatment more recently the ambient odor of orange was tested in a dentist’s office to see if it reduces anxiety and improves mood ambient odor of orange was diffused into the waiting room it appeared to have a relaxant effect less anxiety better mood and calmness compared to the control group where there was no odor in the air no odor that is except the nasty dentist office smell maybe the orange scent was just masking the unpleasant odors maybe it had nothing to do with any kind of orange specific molecules more research was necessary The effect of sweet orange aroma on experimental anxiety in humans they exposed some grad students to an anxiety producing situation and tested the scent of orange versus a non orange aroma versus no scent at all and the orange did appear to have an anxiety reducing effect interestingly the observed anxiety reducing effects was not followed by physical or mental sedation on the contrary at the highest dose the orange oil made the volunteers feel more energetic so potentially less anxiety without the downer effect of Valium type drugs does that mean we can get the benefits without the side effects well I’ve talked about the concerns about using scented consumer products even ones based on natural fragrances there have been reports of adverse effects of aromatherapy in fact some pretty serious reactions alternative medicine isn’t necessarily risk-free like there’s dozens of reported cases of people having their hearts ruptured by acupuncture ouch but the adverse effects of aromatherapy were mostly from skin irritation essential oils being applied topically to the skin or even worse swallowed certain citrus oils can make our skin sensitive to sunlight the less of a problem in France evidently where they’re known to stick them where the Sun doesn’t shine you you

7 thoughts on “Orange Aromatherapy for Anxiety

  • Dr. Greger,
    Could you please have your video editor turn up the sound on your video's? I can barely hear your commentary even with the youtube volume turned all the way up.
    Thanks, Jack

  • Ugh …. is that guy at 1:40 with his chest cracked open … alive or dead?  He has a big hole in his chest, where the sutures seemed to have healed.  This is the kind of study that I think is invalid … orange and any strong fruit smell is to be expected in dentist offices … like that grape flavor they always use for fluoride treatment.  Weird.

  • A knowledgeable aromatherapist would never put EO directly on a person’s skin for fear of burning or dermatitis.

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