Stress Pathologies - Plant Power to the Rescue

Published on 15th January 2021


In these times of great tension, uncertainty and change, it is hugely comforting to know that some things remain constant. The ability of plants, specifically their essential oils, to heal and reduce many pathologies has long been recognised and accepted. 

Many of our students who study our anatomy and physiology course go on to be aromatherapists, using essential oils with massage to balance the body and bring it back into homeostasis. However we can all benefit from these special gifts from nature. 

Stress continues to be the number one enemy of health.

The immediate effect fo stress on the body’s physiology

  1. Increased heart rate, stronger contractions of heart muscle
  2. Release of stress hormones - adrenaline, noradrenaline and cortisol
  3. Rapid breathing, shortness of breath
  4. Tightened muscles
  5. Rise in blood pressure

These reactions are a natural and useful response to stress. However, if left unchecked the effects of prolonged and excessive stress on our bodies are ravaging:

  • Cardiovascular disease – heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attack, stroke
  • Respiratory disease - exacerbation of asthma, chronic pulmonary disorder disease, emphysema and chronic bronchitis
  • Weight gain - obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic muscle tension
  • Insomnia
  • Sexual dysfunction and reproductive problems
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Skin and hair problems – eczema, psoriasis, acne, alopecia
  • Gastrointestinal problems – irritable bowel syndrome, gastritis, ulcerative colitis.

Too much stress is devastating, but help is at hand from the most natural of sources; plants.

Aromatherapy, the use of pure essential oils via inhalation or topical application, is a natural solution to help alleviate stress. It works by stimulating the limbic system and amygdala in the brain which are responsible for emotions, mood and memory. They also regulate the autonomic nervous system which can trigger the body into a fight-or-flight response or turn on the parasympathetic nervous system to relax the body.

This explains why scents can have such an immediate physical effect on the body.

These are the top five stress-busting oils to return our body to homoeostasis

Lavender - the ultimate relaxer! It has the ability to calm the nervous system, lowering blood pressure and heart rate. It can help provide better quality of sleep and address insomnia.

Bergamot - a delicious citrus scent, popular in Mediterranean countries, it has the ability to relieve tension and anxiety.

Rose - considered to be the soother of emotions and balancer of hormones, Rose is particularly useful in times of great stress, grief and depression.

Ylang Ylang - this intensely floral, aromatic oil comes from the tropics of Southeast Asia. It has the ability to relax and decrease blood pressure.

Clary Sage - a cousin of the common garden sage, this herby oil deeply relaxes and has been shown to have antidepressant-like effects.

The simplest way to enjoy the benefits of essential oils is inhalation - add up to 8 drops to the water of an oil burner.

Alternatively, mix 2 drops of essential oils with 10ml of a carrier oil for use as a massage oil. This blend can also be used as a bath oil.

Plant power to the rescue.


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