Essential oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder
Does Seasonal Affective Disorder get you down in autumn and winter? Don’t be SAD, let me help you. It’s not uncommon to feel a little blue when the hot bright sunny days give way to rain, and cold grey days and snow. Seasonal Affective Disorder is common and characterised by changes in emotional health. Most people may feel that they just don’t feel like their usual self, and lose interest in their hobbies, without realising what is causing it.
Robert Tisserand describes the symptoms as “difficulty waking up in the morning, nausea, tendency to oversleep and overeat, cravings for carbohydrates, lack of energy, difficulty concentrating or completing tasks, withdrawal from friends, family and social activities and decreased sex drive. While sharing many symptoms with clinical depression, the main distinguishing factor of SAD is its seasonal character.”
Essential oils are a powerful tool for dealing with Seasonal Affective Disorder because our sense of smell involves our olfactory system. The olfactory system is linked to our limbic system which helps us create changes in emotional state.
How does the olfactory system work?
Let’s not get too complicated- a simple video will explain to you how your body uses your nose to smell, and how what you breathe aromatically can create direct changes in the body:
Essential oils stimulate the brain to exert neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine helping combat Seasonal Affective Disorder
In a 2013 article, researchers at Xiamen University, China, commented: “Most studies, as well as clinically applied experience, have indicated that various essential oils, such as lavender, lemon and bergamot can help to relieve stress, anxiety, depression and other mood disorders. Most notably, inhalation of essential oils can communicate signals to the olfactory system and stimulate the brain to exert neurotransmitters (e.g. serotonin and dopamine) thereby further regulating mood.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23531112.
Research has shown that citrus essential oils have a positive effect on boosting mood.
Robert Tisserand continues:
Many studies have found that vaporized citrus oils are particularly effective for mood enhancement. In one, a mixture of bergamot, orange and lemon (with lemon predominating) was slowly vaporized throughout the day over a two-week period, and depressed patients exposed to this fragrance were able to reduce their dose of antidepressants (Komori et al 1995).
Bergamot and lemon oils are among the most widely-researched for positive effects on mood. Rodent studies show that lemon oil is antidepressant (Komori et al 1995) and invigorating (Komori et al 2006). It also reduces anxiety and boosts both serotonin and dopamine (Komiya et al 2006), two neurochemicals that are often reduced in SAD. In addition to lemon oil, other essential oils that positively impact dopamine and/or serotonin, and are also antidepressant, include clary sage, Atlas cedarwood, eucalyptus globulus and orange (Costa et al 2013, Kako et al 2008, Martins et al 2015, Seol et al 2010)
Which citrus essential oils are good for Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Other essential oils for Seasonal Affective Disorder:
- Clary Sage
- Litsea (otherwise known as May Chang)
Helpful blends for Seasonal Affective Disorder:
- Cheer (Wild Orange Peel, Clove Bud, Star Anise Fruit/Seed, Lemon Myrtle Leaf, Nutmeg Kernel, Vanilla Bean Extract, Ginger Rhizome, Cinnamon Bark, Zdravetz Herb)
- Motivate (Peppermint Plant, Clementine Peel, Coriander Seed, Basil Herb, Yuzu Peel, Melissa Leaf, Rosemary Leaf, Vanilla Bean Absolute)
- Elevation (Lavandin Flower, Lavender Flower, Hawaiian Sandalwood, Tangerine Peel, Melissa Flower, Ylang Ylang Flower, Elemi Resin, Osmanthus Flower, and Lemon Myrtle Leaf essential oils)
- Citrus Bliss (Wild Orange Peel, Lemon Peel, Grapefruit Peel, Mandarin Peel, Bergamot Peel, Tangerine Peel, Clementine Peel essential oils and Vanilla Bean Absolute)
- Sunny Citrus (Grapefruit, Wild Orange and Peppermint)
How to use essential oils to feel uplifted rather than SAD this winter:
- For portable support, use the essential oils on a piece of aromatherapy diffuser jewellery such as lava bead bracelets and earrings and necklaces.
- When at home, diffuser using a diffuser- 4-6 drops in a diffuser should be enough. Diffuse as required.
- Use “touch” rollerballs, portable roll on versions of the essential oils, which have been diluted in fractionated coconut oil for ease of application. Wear it like a perfume and apply to pulse points when required.
To purchase these essential oils, and a diffuser so that you can diffuser the aroma in your home and workplace, click on the image below.
- Please note that these are the reference articles provided by Robert Tisserand on his website.
Bradley, B., Starkey, N., Brown, S., & Lea, R. (2007). The effects of prolonged rose odor inhalation in two animal models of anxiety. Physiology & Behavior, 92, 931–938.
Chang, K.-M., & Shen, C.-W. (2011). Aromatherapy benefits autonomic nervous system regulation for elementary school faculty in taiwan. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM, 2011, 1–7.
Costa, C., & Cury, T. (2013). Citrus aurantium L. essential oil exhibits anxiolytic-like activity mediated by 5-HT1A-receptors and reduces cholesterol after repeated oral treatment. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 42, 1–10.
Goes, T., & Antunes, F. (2012). Effect of sweet orange aroma on experimental anxiety in humans. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18(8), 798–804.
Gupta, A., Sharma, P. K., Garg, V. K., Singh, a. K., & Mondal, S. C. (2013). Role of serotonin in seasonal affective disorder. European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, 17(1), 49–55.
Haze, S., Sakai, K., & Gozu, Y. (2002). Effects of fragrance inhalation on sympathetic activity in normal adults. The Japanese Journal of Pharmacology, 90(3), 247–253.
Heuberger, E., Hongratanaworakit, T., & Buchbauer, G. (2006). East Indian Sandalwood and alpha-Santalol odor increase physiological and self-rated arousal in humans. Planta Medica, 72, 792–800.
Jafarzadeh, M., Arman, S., & Pour, F. (2013). Effect of aromatherapy with orange essential oil on salivary cortisol and pulse rate in children during dental treatment: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Advanced Biomedical Research, 2, 1–10.
Kako, H., Fukumoto, S., Kobayashi, Y., & Yokogoshi, H. (2008). Effects of direct exposure of green odour components on dopamine release from rat brain striatal slices and PC12 cells. Brain Research Bulletin, 75, 706–712.
Komiya, M., Takeuchi, T., & Harada, E. (2006). Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice. Behavioural Brain Research, 172, 240–249.
Komori, T., Fujiwara, R., & Tanida, M. (1995). Effects of citrus fragrance on immune function and depressive states. Neuroimmunomodulation, 2, 174–180.
Komori, T., Fujiwara, R., Tanida, M., & Nomura, J. (1995). Potential antidepressant effects of lemon odor in rats. European Neuropsychopharmacology, 5, 477–480.
Lee, K.B., Cho, E., & Kang, Y.S. (2014). Changes in 5-hydroxytryptamine and cortisol plasma levels in menopausal women after inhalation of clary sage oil. Phytotherapy Research, 28(11), 1599–1605.
Lehrner, J., Marwinski, G., & Lehr, S. (2005). Ambient odors of orange and lavender reduce anxiety and improve mood in a dental office. Physiology & Behavior, 86, 92–95.
Levitan, R. D. (2007). The chronobiology and neurobiology of winter seasonal affective disorder. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 9(3), 315–324.
Liu, S., Lin, T., & Chang, K. (2013). The physical effects of aromatherapy in alleviating work-related stress on elementary school teachers in Taiwan. Evidence-Based Bomplementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013, 1–7.
Martinez, A., & Gonzalez-Trujano, M. (2013). Antinociceptive effect and GC/MS analysis of Rosmarinus officinalis L. essential oil from its aerial parts. Planta Medica, 75, 508–511.
Martins, D.F., Emer, A.A., Batisti, A.P. et al (2015). Inhalation of Cedrus atlantica essential oil alleviates pain behavior through activation of descending pain modulation pathways in a mouse model of postoperative pain. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 175, 30–38.
Moss, M., Cook, J., Wesnes, K., & Duckett, P. (2003). Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults. International Journal of Neuroscience, 113(1), 15–38.
Moss, M., & Oliver, L. (2012). Plasma 1,8-cineole correlates with cognitive performance following exposure to rosemary essential oil aroma. Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology, 2(3), 103–113.
Negoias, S., Croy, I., Gerber, J., Puschmann, S., Petrowski, K., Joraschky, P., & Hummel, T. (2010). Reduced olfactory bulb volume and olfactory sensitivity in patients with acute major depression. Neuroscience, 169(1), 415–421.
Ni, C., Hou, W., Kao, C., & Chang, M. (2013). The anxiolytic effect of aromatherapy on patients awaiting ambulatory surgery: a randomized controlled trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013, 1–5.
Peng, S., Koo, M., & Yu, Z. (2009). Effects of music and essential oil inhalation on cardiac autonomic balance in healthy individuals. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(1), 53–57.
Postolache, T.T., Doty, R.L., Wehr, T.A. et al (1999). Monorhinal odor identification and depression scores in patients with seasonal affective disorder. Journal of Affective Disorders, 56(1), 27–35.
Postolache, T.T., Wehr, T.A., Doty, R.L. et al (2002). Patients with seasonal affective disorder have lower odor detection thresholds than control subjects. Archives of General Psychiatry, 59(12), 1119–1122.
Sayowan, W., Siripornpanich, V., Hongratanaworakit, T. et al (2013). The effects of jasmine oil inhalation on brain wave activities and emotions. Journal of Health Research, 27(2), 73–77.
Schablitzky, S., & Pause, B. M. (2014). Sadness might isolate you in a non-smelling world: olfactory perception and depression. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(45).
Seol, G., Shim, H., Kim, P., & Moon, H. (2010). Antidepressant-like effect of Salvia sclarea is explained by modulation of dopamine activities in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 130(1), 187–190.
Watanabe, E., Kimura, M., & Rauwald, W. (2015). Effects of Bergamot (Citrus bergamia (Risso) Wright & Arn.) essential oil aromatherapy on mood states, parasympathetic nervous system activity, and salivary cortisol levels in 41 healthy females. Forschende Komplementärmedizin, 22, 43–49.