Written by Amy Galper
Aromatherapist, Author, Clean Beauty Product Developer
All of us have experienced anxiety in some form or another. In fact, it is normal. It is our body’s way of keeping us safe and balanced when faced with challenges.
Imagine feeling nervous before an important presentation or performance; all the worry and anxiety, although unpleasant, can positively motivate us to study and practice, and strive to do our best.
Or think about how you might feel while navigating through busy crowds or heavy traffic. The fear and anxiety that sets in can signal us to pay closer attention to our surroundings, so we don’t get hurt.
But anxiety, if it is non-stop and overwhelming, can also become a terrible problem that harms our health and chips away at our wellbeing – making the simplest everyday tasks feel impossible.
Unfortunately, more and more people are feeling this way. Anxiety is at an all-time high. According to a recent report by the American Psychological Association in March 2022, Americans are experiencing unprecedented high levels of stress, upward of 80% - triggered by rising inflation, post-COVID trauma, and global unrest.
So, what can we do about it?
Try using aromatherapy for anxiety. It is a simple and easy practice that utilises authentic and genuine essential oils to improve the health and wellbeing of our mind and body.
And one of the most effective essential oils to use to combat stress and anxiety is Indian sandalwood.
Sandalwood Essential Oil
Indian sandalwood essential oil is steam distilled from the inner heartwood of the Santalum album tree that is native to a very specific region of India. It has a rich and fascinating history that spans over 4000 years and has had a powerful global impact on spiritual seekers, perfumers and the practice of plant medicine.
Unfortunately, as the demand for sandalwood rose exponentially throughout the late 20th century, so too did its illegal pouching, unethical farming and harvesting- resulting in it being listed as a vulnerable species in 1998 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). It is estimated that 90% of the Indian sandalwood essential oil currently being exported from India has been illegally sourced and adulterated
And yet, despite these serious concerns for purity and sustainability, the global demand for authentic, unadulterated Indian Sandalwood essential oil has continued to grow exponentially.
Recognising this widespread problem in the late 20th century Quintis took it upon ourselves to secure an ethical and sustainable supply of this ancient tree. In 1999, we sourced seeds from Mysore in India, planting the first Indian sandalwood trees in the tropical north of Australia- the ideal climate and conditions for this species to flourish. In doing so we ensured it a viable future
At Quintis, we specialise in the management, harvesting and distillation of authentic, ethically grown Indian sandalwood oil, supplying oil to British Pharmacopoeia standards.
Our raw Indian sandalwood products are created using 100% pure heartwood, which is not genetically modified or subjected to artificial stimulants.
Our trees grow for 15 years until they reach maturity, when we harvest and process each tree with care. We work with nature to provide the best quality steam-distilled Indian and Australian sandalwood oil, as well as providing Indian sandalwood logs, chips and powder.
What is an Essential Oil?
Before we dive into the benefits of Indian sandalwood essential oil blends for anxiety, let’s talk about what essential oils are and where they come from.
Essential oils are the liquid aromatic substances that are extracted from the many different parts of aromatic plants, like seeds, roots, flowers, leaves, citrus peels, wood, needles, cones and resin. The different ways in which we use essential oils, like applying them to our skin and also just by smelling them, is called “aromatherapy.”
Think of the plants you know like peppermint, basil, rose, lavender and rosemary. They are very aromatic. And in order for us to capture their aroma and use it to benefit our health and wellbeing, we extract the scent using a process called steam distillation; drawing out the “invisible” aroma and transforming it into a “visible” liquid extract - which is called an essential oil.
These liquid extracts are very concentrated. In fact, it can take upward of 45kg of plant material to yield just 150 - 250ml of essential oil. This tells us that essential oils are extremely potent and should be used mindfully.
A pure high quality essential oil is composed of only the unique and special molecules that are produced during the distillation process. Nothing has been added or taken away - it is completely 100% genuine and authentic. After distillation, these special aromatic molecules are identified and studied so that we can learn about the beneficial therapeutic properties of the essential oil.
How do Essential Oils Work?
Essential oils via the practice of Aromatherapy have the remarkable capacity to shift our mindset and make us feel calmer and more positive. It works by triggering responses in our bodies and our minds simultaneously.
When essential oils travel into the body through our skin via a blended lotion, cream, gel, oil or cleanser, a small percentage of its molecules can get absorbed into our bodies, connect to our bloodstream and have a therapeutic physiological benefit.
At the same time the essential oil is applied to our skin, we are also able to smell its aroma. And this immediate connection to scent triggers the olfactory nerve cells in our noses to instantly send a message to the part of our brain that controls our emotions, memory and all of our unconscious actions.
That’s why a smell can make us feel a certain way, like calmer, more relaxed, happier or refreshed, or even remind us of a particular memory. And what is really amazing, is that the emotional response we have to the aroma has been shown to have a profound impact on the chemicals our brain produces and releases in order to maintain our body’s health and wellbeing.
What essential oils are good for anxiety and panic attacks?
In addition to Indian sandalwood essential oil as an anxiety soother, here is a list of seven other essential oils that have also been shown to be effective in combating anxiety and soothing panic attacks. These seven essential oils were selected specifically because they smell beautiful when blended with sandalwood essential oil, creating soothing and effective essential oil blends for anxiety.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)- Bergamot essential oil is cold pressed from the peel of this fruit. Its aroma has deeper, more floral and spicy undertones than orange or mandarin, and its composition of molecules is more similar to Lavender, making it a deeply sedating and calming citrus oil.
Coriander Seed (Coriandrum sativum) -Coriander Seed essential oil is steam distilled from the crushed seeds of the common cilantro herb. Its aroma is fresh, earthy and herbaceous and its unique composition of molecules include ones that we also find in Lavender and Bergamot, making it an effective anti-inflammatory that soothes the central nervous system and eases tension caused by stress.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)- Lavender essential oil is steam distilled from the flowering tops of the Lavender plant. The essential oil has been shown to reduce inflammation, calm the central nervous system and trigger the relaxation response.
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)- Frankincense essential oil is steam distilled from the resin of this ancient tree that has a deep and rich history of use in both ritual and ceremony as well as medicinal use. A powerful anti-inflammatory with a great affinity to skincare, Frankincense can ease away worry, calm our breathing and make us feel comforted and supported.
Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens)- Geranium essential oil is steam distilled from the fragrant leaves of this rose-scented bush. The essential oil has been shown to ease away inflammation, calm irritation topically and emotionally, and help us find balance when we feel uncertain.
Red Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)- Red Mandarin essential oil is cold pressed from the peel of this common citrus fruit that is known for its uplifting and positive impact on our mood and our state of mind. Symbolising good fortune and abundance across cultures, the aroma of Sweet Orange can make us feel happier and more at peace.
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)- Ylang Ylang essential oil is steam distilled from the large powerfully fragrant flowers of a beautiful tree that primarily grows in humid tropical climates. Its fragrance has been used for centuries in cosmetic applications and perfumery and has been known to calm anxiety and ease away physical tension that comes from mental stress.
Sandalwood Essential Oil
Although Indian sandalwood essential oil has many aromatherapeutic benefits that range from skincare to digestive disorders and boosting immunity, its notable effect on our nervous system to reduce anxiety and trigger the relaxation response, demonstrates its powerful ability to support mind-body wellbeing. When inhaled or applied topically, it acts upon the body’s regulatory systems to reduce anxiety and increase relaxation.
When we feel stressed or anxious, our body releases hormones that can disrupt the balance of our internal chemistry. And when this happens continually, without a break to rest and reset, we can feel depleted and worn down, making ourselves more susceptible to illness and injury.
By reaching for essential oil blends when we are feeling stressed and anxious, and simply smelling them or blending them into our skincare products, we can instantly trigger our parasympathetic nervous system to reset, rest and restore - and bring our wellbeing back into balance.
The following anxiety relief essential oil blends can be used to help us better manage our stress, reduce anxiety and support the balance of our mind and body to improve our overall health and wellbeing.
Here are three diffuser blends. All you need to do is add the following amounts of essential oils into the water compartment of your cool mist diffuser.
To sleep better.
This essential oil blend features the synergistic power of the specific molecules found in these three essential oils. Both Lavender and Bergamot essential oils share identical chemical constituents that have been shown to soothe the nervous system and reduce anxiety. When combined with sandalwood they enhance and support sandalwood’s ability to ease away stress and tension.
Indian sandalwood essential oil: 5 drops
Lavender essential oil: 7 drops
Bergamot essential oil: 8 drops
To calm a nervous belly.
This essential oil blend features the synergistic power of the specific molecules found in these three essential oils. Both Lavender and Coriander Seed essential oils share similar chemical constituents that have been shown to soothe tension in our bellies, and ease digestion. When combined with Indian sandalwood they enhance and support sandalwood’s ability to ease away nervous butterflies in our bellies.
Indian sandalwood essential oil: 5 drops
Coriander Seed essential oil: 7 drops
Frankincense essential oil: 4 drops
To ease away mental stress and worry.
This essential oil blend features the synergistic power of the specific molecules found in these three essential oils Geranium has specific molecules that have been shown to reduce inflammation, both physically and emotionally, while Red Mandarin citrus oil can help us shift our perspective from the negative to the positive. When combined with Indian sandalwood they enhance and support sandalwood’s ability to quiet overactive thinking that makes us feel uneasy.
Indian sandalwood essential oil: 5 drops
Geranium essential oil: 3 drops
Red Mandarin essential oil: 5 drops
Indian sandalwood, both on its own as a single essential oil, or used in combination with other essential oils that are known to reduce anxiety and promote feelings of calm and wellbeing, can be a powerful natural remedy to combat anxiety and stress. Just by simply sniffing it straight out of the bottle or adding it to your aromatherapy diffuser can offer almost instant relief.