Essential Oils and their Effects on Perceived Stress Level
Life stressors are everywhere, and they do not discriminate whether it be from financial issues, family struggles, internal standards, etc. In fact, stress can have an immense effect on physical and mental health (Keller, Litzelman, Wisk, Maddox, Cheng, 2012) and in high volumes can cause depression, brain damage or even premature death. (Monroe, Torres, Guillaumot,, Harkness, Roberts, 2006). Stress has been shown to have damaging effects on the area of the brain associated with memory, emotions, and autonomic nervous system (Bremner, 1999).
A substantial negative effect is seen especially on college aged individuals experiencing stress (Burwell, 2018). One study found that there is a correlation between academic stress and abnormal eating patterns (Emond, Eycke, Kosmerly, Robinson, Stillar, Van Blyderveen, 2016). Another study found a significant negative correlation with college students’ levels of stress and rated life satisfaction (Weinstein, Laverghetta, 2009).
Although there are medical treatments to help the strenuous effects of stress, continuous consumption of such medication can be harmful. Consistent use of medication for stress and anxiety can cause a person to become dependent on the prescribed medication. (Robinson, Sareen, Cox, Bolton, 2011). In addition, self-medicating can become a problem. Some individuals are unaware they are over self-medicating, because they lack the knowledge of how to properly read medical information. In a study done by Chun-Hsien and colleagues (2017), Taiwanese adolescents were evaluated to see whether they were properly taking their medication and whether or not they understood the prescription label. Chun-Hsien and colleagues found that almost one-third of participants were either incorrectly reading the medication label or wrongly self-medicating themselves (e.g. taking too much or too little) (Chun-Hsien, Chang, Sheng-Der, Hsueh-Yun, Li-Jung, Ming-Kung, 2017). Also, individuals who are prescribed medication by a medical provider for stress, tend to increase the usage of the medication overtime (Schofield, Khan, 2014).
Stress and anxiety can be treated in alternative ways without the use of medication. Studies have shown that the use of aromatherapy can be an effective method in treating symptoms of stress and anxiety. One study shows that the inhalation of lavender aromatherapy, reduced the levels of stress in nurses over a four-day period (Chen, Fang, Fang, 2015). One study evaluated patients anxiety levels while waiting in the dental office, four conditions were assessed, including a control, a music condition, an orange essential oil and a lavender essential oil condition. Participants in both odor conditions reported lower levels of anxiety and an overall improved mood (Lehmer, Marwinski, Lehr, Johrn, Deecke, 2005).
Lemon-based aromatherapy can help relieve feelings of physical and psychological pain. (Takeda, Tsujita, Kaya, Takemura, Oku, 2008). Studies have shown the effects of treatment for patients in psychiatric hospital dealing with stress and anxiety and show that meditation aided by aromatherapy could be a effective and beneficial treatment option for perceived feelings of anxiety and stress (Redstone, 2015). A recent study looked at women who were undergoing a breast biopsy and found that those who were exposed to aromatherapy including scents of lavender and sandalwood felt lower levels of perceived anxiety compared to those in the control condition while having their biopsy (Trambert, Kowalski, Wu, Mehta, Friedman, 2017). In a study done by Dong and Jacob (2016) individuals yielded lower heart rate levels, lower blood pressure and increase well-being over a five-day period.
Along with its benefits essential oils have on the physiological state of humans, an increase of overall well-being related to occupation can be seen. Researchers evaluated the exposure of aromatherapy on workers in a company, the results showed that work-related stress and functions like heartbeat, and breathing decreased for individuals in the group who were exposed to diffused essential oil (Huang, Capdevila, 2017).
Increased stress levels of college students shown in a study done by Burwell, S. M. (2018) are addressed in a study done on a science class of undergraduate students in which the researchers compared stress and anxiety levels from a control group to an experimental group who underwent aromatherapy over a seven-week period, recorded stress and anxiety levels were shown to decrease significantly in those who were exposed to aromatherapy (De Lyra, Nakai, Marques, 2010).
The purpose of this study was to determine whether “”stress blend essential oil by Young Living decreases the levels of perceived anxiety and changed heart rate after being put in a stress induced situation. Participants who are exposed to two drops of Young Living Stress Blend essential oil will yield lower levels of stress measured by a perceived stress test.