stressAromatherapy in the Workplace  – A No Brainer

There is no question that the work place can be stressful.  Meetings, deadlines, difficult bosses and employees, and even our own personal lives add stress to our work day.  A hectic schedule, kids, and other influences can wear us down and make it difficult to concentrate.   Consider that most of us spend at least 8 hours a day at work, and add in our commutes to and from  – that’s a majority of our waking hours and a large portion of our lives!  Aromatherapists and those familiar with essential oils know there are easy and pleasurable answers to these issues.  Many essential oils offer quick, effective solutions to reduce stress and increase focus and productivity.

Essential Oils to Reduce Stress

Lavender is a balancing, calming and uplifting oil.  It relaxes the nerves, brings clarity to the mind and reduces anxiety.  In 2007 a study was conducted on healthy men administered lavender aromatherapy.  They found that lavender reduced serum cortisol levels — which plays a central role in the body’s response to stress [1].   Another study found lavender essential oil could be an effective substitute for common and addictive prescription drugs used for anxiety.   Researchers tested Silexan, an oral lavender oil capsule preparation, in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  When the oral lavender was administered for 6 weeks it was shown to effectively the symptoms of generalized anxiety but without the side effects seen with the pharmaceutical alternatives [2].

Bergamot is a wonderful mood enhancer and anxiety reliever.  A study conducted in Taiwan in 2011 supports this claim.  Elementary school teachers, known to work under significant stress, were administered an inhalation of Bergamot essential oil.  They found that a 10-minute-long weekly inhalation of aromatherapy resulted in a significant reduction of blood pressure and heart rate – two methods of measuring anxiety levels.  Additionally, autonomic nervous activity moved toward a balanced state [3].  Another study revealed that Bergamot  essential oil’s anxiety relieving properties can be as strong as diazepam (valium),but of course w/out the addictive properties and other side effects we find with prescription-grade anxiety medications [4].

Other stress reducing anti anxiety oils include frankincense, ylang ylang, grapefruit, orange, blue tansy, sweet marjoram, lemon balm and many others.  Blends like our Balance Roll-On for women, Peace and Exit Plan all offer many of these oils in synergy to provide even greater relief.

Essential Oils to Increase Focus and Productivity

Rosemary is a stimulating essential oil proven to enhance memory and focus. Rosemary improves memory and alertness via acetylcholine esterase inhibition. By inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, more acetylcholine will temporarily be left in the brain to enhance memory and alertness [5].  Rosemary oil was also studied for its effect on behavior and cognitive performance.  Adult volunteers displayed an improvement in mathematical computation scores and a decrease in anxiety. The volunteers also reported feeling more alert and stimulated [4]. Another study showed increase in alertness and improvement of memory, when rosemary was compared to the more relaxing oil, lavender [7].

Peppermint is another stimulating oil that energizes even the most fatigued, upon inhalation.  It’s a great pick me up first thing in the morning to get you going, it’s helpful when employees slide into that post-lunch hour slump by both stimulating the mind and the digestion and it can even help you stay alert while sitting in traffic.   Peppermint was found to enhance both memory and alertness, when compared to the more relaxing oil, ylang ylang [8].  Other studies found peppermint essential oil to enhance exercise performance[9] and stimulate central nervous system activity [10].

There are many other stimulating oils including cinnamon, basil, and lemon and blends like Expand awaken the mind and breath and Clarify supports memory.  Grounding oils are also helpful for concentration and attention span including, cedarwood, patchouli, and vetiver. Our blend Collected harnesses earth energy to bring you back to center.

Want to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy at work?  Portable diffusers are great for small offices and inhalers allow you direct inhalation without offending others that might not like aromas in the workplace. Whether you need stress reduction, a mood boost, a pick me up or all of the above, using these oils alone, or together throughout your day can  make your work life easier and more productive and even send you home to your family or roommates in a better, well balanced mood.

Sources:

[1] Shiina Y., Funabashi N., Lee K., Toyoda T., Sekine T., Honjo S., et al. (2007). Relaxation effects of lavender aromatherapy improve coronary flow velocity reserve in healthy men evaluated by transthoracic Doppler echocardiography. Int J Cardiol., 129(2):193-7.

 

[2] Woelk, H. & Schläfke, S. (2010). A multi-center, double- blind, randomized study of the Lavender oil preparation Silexan in comparison to Lorazepam for generalized anxiety disorder. Phytomedicine, 17(2):94-9.

 

[3] Chang, K. & Shen, C. (2011). Aromatherapy Benefits Autonomic Nervous System Regulation for Elementary School Faculty in Taiwan. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Retrieved from: http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/946537/

 

[4]  Saiyudthong, S. & Marsden, C.A. (2011). Acute effects of bergamot oil on anxiety-related behaviour and corticosterone level in rats. Phytother Res., 25(6):858-62.

 

[5] Ilkay Orhana, Sinem Aslanb et al, “Inhibitory effect of Turkish Rosmarinus officinalis L. on acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase enzymes”
DOI:10.1016/j.foodchem.2007.11.023, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308814607011685

 

[6]  Diego MA1, Jones NA et al, “Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations.” Int J Neurosci. 1998 Dec;96(3-4):217-24.,  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10069621

 

[7] Moss M1, Cook J, “Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults.” Int J Neurosci. 2003 Jan;113(1):15-38.

 

[8] Moss M1, Hewitt S, Moss L, Wesnes K. (2008). Modulation of cognitive performance and mood by aromas of peppermint and ylang-ylang. Int J Neurosci.,  118(1):59-77.

 

[9] Meamarbashi, A and Rajabi, A.  (2013). The effects of peppermint on exercise performance.   J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 10: 15.

 

 

[10]  Umezu T. (2012)  Evaluation of the effects of plant-derived essential oils on central nervous system function using discrete shuttle-type conditioned avoidance response in mice. Phytother Res., 26(6):884-91

 

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