Aromatherapy: 15 essential oils against autumn depression

Autumn always arrives suddenly. Days become colder and darker, and we rarely see the sun coming out through the thick curtain of clouds. A colorful palette of September transforms to the unbearable greyness. No wonder that we are all feeling a little bit melancholic and more tired than usual. Just one more cup of coffee... Just one more hour to sleep...

There are few ways to get through the cold and gray season. Sports, balanced diet and the warm company of family and friends will definitely cheer you up. I believe that aromatherapy will be a good addition to that. Here is a list of essential oils (EOs) that will lift up your mood and dispel the autumn spleen. You can use just a single oil, or you can make your blend. Have a great rest of the autumn!

1. Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)

Source: Produced by expression from the rind of the fruit.
Description of odor: Delightful citrus aroma with a spicy note. Energizing and uplifting (1).
Blend it with: Other citrus essences, basil, clary sage, frankincense, geranium, ginger, lavender, neroli (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Use rectified Bergamot or Bergamot FCF (furanocoumarine-free). Furanocoumarines present in all expressed citrus oils have phototoxic and potential photocarcinogenic effect. It means that in the presence of UV light fouranocoumarines can cause skin allergy, sun burn and can even damage our DNA, thereby, increasing the risk of cancer. If you have unrectified Bergamot, do not exceed the concentration of 0.4% in the finished leave-on cosmetic products (3), and still I would not recommend using that product in the day time. Always add an anti-oxidant to the preparation. Avoid using oxidized essential oil, because it can cause allergies (3).
You can use the untreated essential oil as a room scent.
Storage: As citrus oils oxidize fast, they need to be stored in a dark glass container in the fridge and used within a year (2; 3). Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $

2. Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)

Source: Produced by steam distillation of the gum exudes of the small tree from north-east Africa (2).
Description of odor: Warm fragrance that improves greatly as the oil ages. Calming and relaxing (2).
Blend it with: Citrus essences, floral essences, cedarwood, cinnamon, sandalwood, vetiver (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Add an anti-oxidant to the preparation. Avoid using oxidized essential oil, because it can cause allergies (3).
Storage: Frankincense oxidizes rather fast, thus, it needs to be stored in a dark glass container in the fridge and used within a year (3). Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $$

3. Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)

Source: Produced by steam distillation of leaves, stalks and flowers (2).
Description of odor: Sweet rose-like scent. Energizing and uplifting to the emotions (1).
Blend it with: Citrus essences, clary sage, clove, jasmine, juniper, lavender, neroli, patchouli, sandalwood (2).
Caution: The oil can be highly stimulating for young children (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Add an anti-oxidant to the preparation. Avoid using oxidized essential oil, because it can cause allergies.
Storage: Store in a dark glass container and use within two years. Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $$

4. Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)

Source: Expression of fresh fruit peel or steam distillation of peel and fruit pulp.
Description of odor: Fresh citrus fragrance. Uplifting to the emotions (2).
Blend it with: Other citrus essences, cardamom, coriander, cypress, geranium, lavender, neroli, palmarosa, rosemary (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Choose the oil produced by steam distillation. Distilled Grapefruit is free of furanocoumarines that can cause skin allergy or sun burn in the presence of UV light. If you use expressed Grapefruit for skincare, avoid sunshine and other sources of UV light for 12 hours. Always add an anti-oxidant to the preparation. Do not use oxidized essential oil, because it can cause allergies.
You can use expressed essential oil as a room scent.
Storage: As citrus oils oxidize fast, they need to be stored in a dark glass container in the fridge and used within a year (3). Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $

5. Jasmine absolute (Jasminum officinale)

Source: Solvent extraction of flowers.
Description of odor: Warm floral scent that improves as the oil ages. Uplifting to the emotions and a reputed anti-depressant (2).
Blend it with: Other floral essences, citrus essences, clary sage, sandalwood (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Jasmine absolute might cause allergic reactions. In addition, precious jasmine absolute is often adulterated that increases the chance of allergies (3). Thus, before using it for cosmetic preparations, make a patch testing. If an allergic reaction occurs, do not use Jasmine for skincare. Do not exceed the concentration of 0.7% in the finished leave-on cosmetic products (3).
Storage: Store in a dark glass container and use within two years. Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $$$$

6. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Source: Steam distillation of fresh flower tops.
Description of odor: Sweet floral aroma. Calming, uplifting and refreshing (1; 4; 5).
Blend it with: Citrus and floral EOs (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Add an anti-oxidant to the preparation. Avoid using oxidized essential oil, because it can cause skin allergies.
Storage: Store in a dark glass container and use within two years. Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $

7. Lemon (Citrus limonum)

Source: Expression of fresh fruit peel or steam distillation of peel and fruit pulp.
Description of odor: Sharp citrus scent is uplifting and refreshing (1; 4; 6).
Blend it with: Other citrus EOs, floral EOs, eucalyptus, frankincense, juniper, oakmoss (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Choose the oil produced by steam distillation. Distilled Lemon is free of furanocoumarines that can cause skin allergy or sun burn in the presence of UV light. If you use expressed Lemon for skincare, avoid sunshine and other sources of UV light for 12 hours. Always add an anti-oxidant to the preparation. Do not use oxidized essential oil, because it can cause allergies.
You can use expressed essential oil as a room scent.
Storage: As citrus oils oxidize fast, they need to be stored in a dark glass container in the fridge and used within a year (3). Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $

8. Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)

Source: Expression of fresh fruit peel or steam distillation of the whole fruit.
Description of odor: Fresh citrus aroma. Uplifting to the emotions (2).
Blend it with: Other citrus EOs, clary sage, lavender, neroli, rosemary, ylang ylang (2). For aroma blends use in little quantities, as its scent can overpower other EOs.
Use for skincare products & perfume: Use lime essential oil produced by steam distillation. Distilled Lime is free of furanocoumarines that can cause skin allergy or sun burn in the presence of UV light. If you use expressed lime essential oil for skincare, do not exceed the concentration of 0.7% in the finished leave-on cosmetics (3). I would still recommend to avoid sunshine and other sources of UV light for 12 hours after application of such products. Always add an anti-oxidant to the preparation. Do not use oxidized essential oil, because it can cause allergies.
You can use expressed essential oil as a room scent.
Storage: As citrus oils oxidize rather fast, they need to be stored in a dark glass container in the fridge and used within a year (3). Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $

9. Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)

Source: Expression of fresh fruit peel or steam distillation of the whole fruit.
Description of odor: Sweet citrus aroma. Calming and uplifting (2).
Blend it with: Other citrus EOs, neroli.
Use for skincare products & perfume: Use Mandarin essential oil obtained by steam distillation. Steam distilled Mandarin essential oil is free of furanocoumarines that can cause skin allergy or sun burn in the presence of UV light.If you use expressed lime essential oil for skincare preparations, avoid sunshine and other sources of UV light for 12 hours. Always add an anti-oxidant to the preparation. Avoid using oxidized essential oil, because it can cause allergies.
You can use expressed essential oil as a room scent.
Storage: All citrus oils oxidize rather fast, thus, they need to be stored in a dark glass container in the fridge and used within a year (3). Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $

10. Neroli (Citrus aurantium var amara)

Source: Steam distillation of flowers.
Description of odor: Floral fragrance with a bitter tone. Calming effect (7).
Blend it with: Citrus EOs, clary sage, coriander, jasmine, lavender, myrrh, rose, ylang ylang (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Add an anti-oxidant to the preparation. Avoid using oxidized essential oil, because it can cause skin allergy. As neroli essential oil is expensive, it is often adulterated (3).
Storage: Store in a dark glass container and use within two years. Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $$$

11. Orange sweet (Citrus sinensis)

Source: Expression of the fresh ripe peel of the fruit or steam distillation of the fruit pulp.
Description of odor: Warm and sweet citrus scent. Uplifting and anti-depressant effect (1; 4).
Blends it with: other citrus EOs, clary sage, frankincense, lavender, myrrh, neroli (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Use Orange essential oil obtained by steam distillation. Distilled Orange is free of furanocoumarines that can cause skin allergy or sun burn in the presence of UV light. If you use expressed lime essential oil for skincare preparations, avoid sunshine and other sources of UV light for 12 hours. Always add an anti-oxidant to the preparation. Do not use oxidized essential oil, because it can cause allergies.
You can use the expressed essential oil as a room scent.
Storage: Store in a dark glass container in the fridge and use within a year (3). Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $

12. Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martinii var. martinii)

Source: Steam or water distillation of wild grass (2).
Description of odor: Sweet floral scent. Stimulating and uplifting (4).
Blend it with: Floral EOs, cedarwood, geranium, oakmoss, sandalwood (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Geraniol present in palmarosa essential oil can cause allergies. Thus, before using it for cosmetic preparations, make a patch testing. If an allergic reaction occurs, do not use it for skincare. Add an anti-oxidant to the preparation. Avoid using oxidized essential oil.
Storage: Store in a dark glass container and use within two years. Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $

13. Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)

Source: Steam distillation of dried leaves.
Description of odor: Rich sweet scent. Warming and stimulating (2).
Blend it with: Bergamot, cedarwood, clary sage, geranium, lavender, neroli, oakmoss, rose, sandalwood, vetiver (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Add an anti-oxidant to the preparation.
Storage: Store in a dark glass container and use within two-three years. Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $

14. Sandalwood (Santalum album)

Source: Water or steam distillation of roots and heartwood.
Description of odor: Sweet and woody scent. Calming and antidepressant effect (1).
Blend it with: Bergamot, black pepper, jasmine, lavender, oakmoss, patchouli, rose, vetiver (2).
Use for skincare products & perfume: Sandalwood might cause allergic reactions. Thus, before using it for cosmetic preparations, make a patch testing. If an allergic reaction occurs, do not use the oil for skincare. Add an anti-oxidant to the preparation.
Storage: Store in a dark glass container and use within two-three years. Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $$$

15. Ylang ylang (Cananga odorata var. genuina)

Source: Water or steam distillation of flowers.
Description of odor: Intensively sweet floral scent. Antidepressant (8).
Blend it with: Other floral, citrus EOs, frankincense, geranium, vetiver (2). For aroma blends use in little quantities, as the scent can overpower other EOs.
Use for skincare products & perfume: Ylang ylang might cause allergic reactions. Thus, before using it for cosmetic preparations, make a patch testing. If an allergic reaction occurs, do not use the oil for skincare. Do not exceed the concentration of 0.8% in the finished leave-on cosmetic products (3). Do not use it on the damaged skin and on kids' skin.
Storage: Store in a dark glass container and use within two years. Carefully close the container after each use.
Price: $$

Price indicators used:
$ - less than 15 USD per 10 ml
$$ - 15 USD – 25 USD per 10 ml
$$$ - 25 USD – 50 USD per 10 ml
$$$$ - more then 50 USD per 10 ml

At the end I would like to remind you the main rules on the safe use of EOs:

1. Always dilute EOs before use!
2. Be careful using EOs around pregnant or breast-feeding women, kids and pets.
3. Do not ingest EOs!
4. If even diluted essential oil causes dizziness, headache or allergy, do not use it.

You can also refer to my previous post on how to use EOs safely: http://www.halenia.net/content/how-use-essential-oils-aromatherapy-and-p...

Wish you only great experiences in the world of aromatherapy!

 

References:

1. Setzer WN. Essential oils and anxiolytic aromatherapy. Nat Prod Commun. 2009 Sep;4(9):1305-16.

2. Wildwood C. (1994). Create your own parfumes using essential oils. Judy Piatkus (Publishers) Ltd.

3. Tisserand R. & Young R. (2014). Essential oil safety. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.

4. Deng XY, Xue JS, Li HY, Ma ZQ, Fu Q, Qu R, Ma SP. Geraniol produces antidepressant-like effects in a chronic unpredictable mild stress mice model. Physiol Behav. 2015 Dec 1;152(Pt A):264-71. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.10.008. Epub 2015 Oct 8.

5. Louis M, Kowalski SD. Use of aromatherapy with hospice patients to decrease pain, anxiety, and depression and to promote an increased sense of well-being. Am J Hosp Palliat Care. 2002 Nov-Dec;19(6):381-6.

6. Komiya M, Takeuchi T, Harada E. Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice. Behav Brain Res. 2006 Sep 25;172(2):240-9. Epub 2006 Jun

7. Seo Yeon Choi, Purum Kang, Hui Su Lee, and Geun Hee Seol. Effects of Inhalation of Essential Oil of Citrus aurantium L. var. amara on Menopausal Symptoms, Stress, and Estrogen in Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014; 2014: 796518. Published online 2014 Jun 12. doi: 10.1155/2014/796518

8. Tan LT, Lee LH, Yin WF, Chan CK, Abdul Kadir H, Chan KG, Goh BH. Traditional Uses, Phytochemistry, and Bioactivities of Cananga odorata (Ylang-Ylang). Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:896314. doi: 10.1155/2015/896314. Epub 2015 Jul 30.