Essential oils (aromatic oils) for anger, anxiety, stress, irritability and other conditions have been used throughout human history. For example, references to them can be found going back to ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, the Vedas (earliest writings from India), traditional Chinese medicine and from the ancient Greek and Roman Empires. In addition, the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas, Native American peoples, aboriginal people of Australia, as well as those of the Middle East, Africa and Europe all have rich traditions of using essential oils for physical and emotional well-being.
The following article will consider what are essential oils, how they can be used safely, as well as the numerous types of plant oil said to be beneficial for anger issues.
What are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are concentrated water-insoluble plant extracts that contain volatile aromatic compounds whose fragrance is characteristic of the plant they were derived from. Essential oils can be obtained by:
- Cold expression e.g. squeezing citrus fruit rind.
- Solvent extraction – for delicate or low yielding plants such as Jasmine or Rose.
- Steam distillation – most common extraction method that utilizes the power of steam.
Essential oils are used in the health, aromatherapy and beauty industry but may also be used in food preparation as well as numerous other applications e.g. cleaning and deodorizing products, insect and pest repellents.
Do all Plants Produce Essential Oils?
Not all plants are capable of producing essential oils even though they may have a distinctive scent. This is because fragrance can be associated with various types of molecules and not just those found in essential oils.
Some plants that do not produce essential oils include:
Therefore, if we take coconut (Cocos nucifera) as an example, coconut essential oil does not exist – even though products labelled in that manner are available through stores and online retailers. A product labelled ‘Coconut essential oil’ is usually coconut fragrance oil which contains artificial chemicals that mimic the aroma of coconut.
However, ‘Coconut oil’ does exist and is a semi-solid product with a coconut aroma derived from the fruit of Cocos nucifera. In Ayurveda (traditional Hindu system of medicine), coconut oil is considered useful for Pitta (element of Fire and Water) and this includes treating anger issues by lubricating and cooling the body internally.
Where an essential oil is not possible, manufacturers (e.g. of a shampoo, perfume or washing-up liquid) mimic the smell of a particular plant or fruit by using synthetic chemical fragrances. When an essential oil is available, synthetic alternatives may still be the preferred option because they are less expensive.
Can Essential Oils be Ingested?
Unfortunately, the answer to this question is both yes and no – it depends on various factors outlined below.
Within the context of ‘Food for Human Consumption’, the FDA lists various essential oils as ‘generally recognized as safe’ (See here) e.g. Basil, Peppermint or Orange. This assumes that high quality 100% therapeutic-grade products are used, that the oil is diluted appropriately prior to consumption and a safe dosage taken.
You may read on the internet that it is possible to ingest essential oils diluted in water, vegetable oil, honey or some other medium. However, be aware that experts differ in opinion regarding both the internal use of essential oils (even those deemed ‘generally recognized as safe’) as well as their use in pregnancy/nursing, childhood or for those who have medical conditions. For example, some experts err on the side of caution and advise against their use throughout pregnancy/nursing whilst others recommend avoiding essential oils only in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Essential oils are highly concentrated chemicals that can cause severe internal irritation, burns, blisters or worse if swallowed or taken internally undiluted e.g. by oral ingestion or suppositories (rectal or vaginal). Furthermore, many essential oils can be highly toxic if ingested and moreover, the potency and quality of essential oils can vary considerably between manufacturers i.e. safety threshold varies with each individual oil.
To add to the confusion, some plant derived products have edible and non-edible forms. For example, never confuse edible lavender products (which should be clearly labelled) with lavender essential oil.
In addition, although numerous studies are available detailing specific aspects of a large array essential oils (such as chemical composition or the safety considerations of various active compounds they contain), there exists no peer reviewed studies concerning essential oil ingestion in general.
Therefore, good practice dictates that one should seek the advice from a qualified and expert herbalist, aromatherapist or licensed healthcare provider before ingesting any essential oil. This view is backed up by many leading professional aromatherapy organizations such as the Aromatherapy Trade Council, AIA, or IAAMA. The consequences of inappropriate self-treatment can be extremely serious or even fatal.
In summary, the advice for a layperson regarding whether to ingest essential oils would be…. DON’T !! ….always seek professional advice first.
How to Use Essential Oils
Essential oils can be used as follows:
- Waft bottle under nose and sniff/inhale.
- Alternatively, place a few drops of essential oil on an organic, pesticide-free cotton ball or handkerchief.
- Palm inhalation simply refers to rubbing a few drops of essential oil into the palms and inhaling from cupped palms.
In the above, inhale a few times and repeat the process as needed throughout the day.
Other variants of direct inhalation include:
- Essential oil smelling salts. These can be homemade by adding essential oil to a small bottle and topping up with sea salt. Use the following dilution factor:
(USA measurements i.e. 1 fl oz = 2 tablespoons = ca. 30ml)
Up to 60 drops of essential oil per fl oz. bottle
For example, if you use a small 1/3 fl oz (ca. 10ml) bottle, use up to 20 drops of essential oil then fill the bottle up with sea salt.
- Essential oil inhaler tube. An organic, cotton pad soaked in approx. 20 drops of essential oil is placed inside an inhaler tube using tweezers.
Do not allow the bottle/oil residue to come in direct contact with sensitive facial skin. People who are prone to chemical sensitivity, other hypersensitivity issues or asthma should exercise caution when undertaking direct inhalation. Furthermore, care should be taken with palm inhalation, as there exists the possibility of developing skin dermatitis and the risk of cross contamination e.g. inadvertently rubbing oil into eyes or touching mouth and mucous membranes etc.
Other Inhalation Methods
- A spray (i.e. aromatic spritzer) can be homemade by adding essential oil, 1/2 teaspoon brandy (oil dispersant) and filling up a small plastic bottle with spring water. Use the following dilution factor:
(USA measurements i.e. 1 fl oz = 2 tablespoons = ca. 30ml)
10 drops of essential oil per fl oz of spring water
For example, if you have a 2 fl oz (ca. 60ml) spray bottle use approximately 20 drops of essential oil, 1/2 teaspoon brandy and top up with spring water.
Shake well before spraying as required (avoid face and eyes) e.g. Rose spray makes an effective anti-anger air freshener.
- Steam inhalation simply refers to adding approximately 5 drops of essential oil to very hot/boiling water in a bowl and covering your head with a towel and breathing through one’s nose. Always place the bowl on a stable surface, close eyes and take great care when with using hot water.
Mix a few drops of essential oil with a teaspoon of dispersal agent e.g. milk or vegetable oiI. Stir this mixture into a bathful of water.
As the name implies, an aromatherapy diffuser is a device that facilitates airborne dispersal of the essential oil for fragrant or therapeutic purposes. 4 types of diffuser are available and each have their respective pro’s and con’s. Always follow the manufacturers instructions for correct usage of the essential oil.
- Evaporative diffusers e.g. ceramic diffuser, are the cheapest option and utilize the principle of essential oil evaporation to scent the environment. Being passive, they are better suited to smaller indoor areas.
- Heat diffusers e.g. candle diffuser, use a heat source to disperse the essential oil. Although relatively inexpensive, heating the oil may diminish its therapeutic properties.
- Utrasonic (humidifying) diffusers produce an airborne mist of negatively charged particles by employing high frequency ultrasonic vibrations. Pro’s include reasonable cost to buy, easy cleaning and good therapeutic benefits although by their nature, a potential downside is that they tend to increase air moisture – this may be problematic in damp environments.
- Nebulizing diffusers are typically the most expensive solution and make use of mechanical power to produce an airborne mist of the essential oil. Good therapeutic benefits need to be weighed against possible noise and ongoing maintenance issues.
Given the highly concentrated nature of essential oils, they should always be diluted before applying topically to the skin or hair. Undertake a small patch test, particularly for those with sensitive skin, before applying to large areas topically.
When essential oils are used for massage e.g. back, temples or wrists, they must be highly diluted by mixing them with a carrier oil (also termed base or vegetable oil). Common examples of carrier oils include:
- Sweet Almond (Prunus amygdalis var. dulcis).
- Avocado (Persea americana).
- Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis).
- Coconut (Cocos nucifera).
- Jojoba (Simmondsia chinensis).
- Rosehip Seed (Rosa rubiginosa).
- Sesame (Sesamum indicum).
- St.Johns Wort (Hypericum perforatum).
In this context, typical dilution factors of essential oil to carrier oil are:
Children 0.5% – 1%
Adults 2.5% – 10%
An approximate guide to the above dilution factors:
(USA measurements i.e. 1 fl oz = 2 tablespoons = ca. 30ml):
0.5% dilution= 3 drops of essential oil per fl oz of carrier oil.
1% dilution = 6 drops of essential oil per fl oz of carrier oil.
2.5% dilution = 15 drops of essential oil per fl oz of carrier oil.
10% dilution = 60 drops of essential oil per fl oz of carrier.
Skin and Hair Products
Scented skin and hair products can be bought or made at home.
For example, if one chooses to make your own homemade facial cream, simply add essential oil to an unscented facial cream.
Typical dilution factors of essential oil to facial cream are:
Sensitive skin 0.5% – 1% (i.e. 3-6 drops of essential oil per fl oz of facial cream).
Normal skin 1% – 2.5% (i.e. 6-15 drops of essential oil per fl oz of facial cream).
Can Essential Oils be Combined or Blended?
Essential oils may be used in combination/blended – mixtures up to 3 are common e.g. 1 part Jasmine to 1 part Ylang Ylang to 3 parts Bergamont. Not all essential oils can be blended together successfully and a qualified aromatherapist will be aware which ones work best synergistically.
Therefore, although a person can experiment to find what works best for themselves, seeking the advice of an expert can be a wise decision. Even though there will be a outlay associated with the consultation, one has to weigh that against the downside to self experimentation i.e. time involved, the frustration of failures and the cost of using expensive essential oils unproductively.
Remember that the more oils used in a blend, the greater the number of active ingredients and therefore, the higher the risk of adverse reactions e.g. skin sensitivity.
Important Considerations Before Using Essential Oils For Anger
It is important to read the advice given in the article 35 Amazing Herbs For Anger concerning various things one should be aware of before starting any herbal or natural remedy/therapy. The advice applies equally to the use of essential oils for anger issues. In addition, remember that:
- You must always follow the product label for correct usage.
- Some people may experience hypersensitivity/allergic reactions to essential oils. Most common issues are skin reactions (e.g. localized itching, mild dermatitis or less common but more severe, hives) or asthma-like symptoms. Anaphylaxis, though fortunately rare, is a potentially life-threatening severe allergic reaction that typically occurs within seconds to minutes of exposure and requires immediate medical assistance.
- Essential oils may not only be toxic if ingested but some may also be problematic if used in otherways e.g. topically. For example, the official body for the fragrance industry, the International Fragrance Association, lists in their standards library various compounds and essential oils deemed to be ‘Restricted’ (e.g. Cumin oil – Cuminum cyminum – is considered phototoxic) or ‘Prohibited’ (e.g. Fig Leaf Absolute – Ficus carica – associated with phototoxicity and sensitization). Useful references concerning the toxicology of essential oils include Burfield and Sheppard-Hanger (2005) and Dweck (2009).
- Professional opinions vary regarding the use of essential oils during pregnancy/nursing and this area is a controversial topic at present. However, there is broad agreement that essential oils should not be used if there is an history of bleeding, miscarriage or if the person has notable health issues such as heart problems, diabetes, epilepsy, blood clotting problems or kidney, liver or thyroid disease.
The International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists (IFPA) pregnancy guidelines can be found here.
Types of Essential Oils for Anger Treatment
The article 35 Amazing Herbs For Anger described numerous herbs associated with anger treatment and many of these are readily available in essential oil form. For example, Chamomile, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Peppermint and Rose are said to help anger and its associated stressors, such as anxiety i.e. function as a anxiolytic (antianxiety or antipanic) medication, stress, irritability and depression.
As we discovered, herbs can be used in many ways and achieving optimal therapeutic benefit depends on various factors such as the choice of herb, the plant part used (e.g. root or flowers), the form of herb (e.g. live plant or powder), or the method of preparation (e.g. capsules or tincture). Therefore, using an essential oil of a particular herb is just one of many possibilities; in some instances it may represent the best approach to using a particular herb therapeutically, at other times it may be more beneficial to use it in conjunction with other types of herbal treatments and furthermore, it may sometimes be more useful as a complementary option to various anger control techniques and therapies or even conventional pharmaceutical anger treatment.
In addition, variables such as gender, age, racial and ethnic groups, physical and emotional well-being, immune system status, gut flora etc. mean that people respond differently to the same treatment, for example with regard to clinical effectiveness or side effects. Also, scents are highly personal and what may be pleasant and relaxing to someone may prove unpleasant or even offensive and stressful to another.
Unlike the reductionist world of modern conventional pharmaceutical medicine that is geared to treating a particular condition with a ‘one pill suits all’ approach, herbal treatments are holistically driven and should take into account the patients overall physical and mental health. Therefore, the individual must be prepared to try various herbs and herbal preparations to find which one’s work best for them.
Below are listed numerous essential oils that are associated with anger treatment and related stressors. Remember, NEVER ingest essential oils unless under strict supervision of a qualified expert herbalist or licensed healthcare provider.
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Citrus Essential Oils For Anger
There is a long tradition dating back millennia of using citrus essential oils to tackle various medical condition including anger and its possible stressors e.g. anxiety or depression.
Citrus oils typically have a refreshing, uplifting and invigorating fragrance. However, assume that citrus oils are phototoxic (type of photosensitivity) i.e. sunburn-like appearance photoirritation caused by exposure to prolonged sunlight and topically applied chemical. Moreover, even though certain citrus oils are commonly cited as being non-phototoxic e.g. Orange/Sweet Orange or Yuzu, be aware that there are conflicting scientific reports regarding their phototoxicity.
The following information will be divided into:
- Bitter Orange group of essential oils.
- Orange (Sweet Orange) group of essential oils.
- Mandarin group of essential oils.
- Other citrus essential oils.
Bitter Orange Group of Essential Oils For Anger
Orange/Sweet Orange Group of Essential Oils For Anger
The generic name ‘Wild Orange’ refers to various orange-like fruit bearing plants including some that are not related to the true orange family Rutaceae. ‘Wild Orange essential oil’ is usually derived from the plant Citrus x sinensis i.e. Orange/Sweet Orange.
Madarin Group of Essential Oils For Anger
Other Citrus Essential Oils For Anger
As you can see, the choice of essential oils for anger and anger-related stressors (such as anxiety, stress and depression) is extensive and offers something to suit all tastes. When used appropriately and safely, essential oils can prove a useful tool for dealing with various anger issues, especially for those seeking a complementary and alternative option to conventional anger management medication.
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18. Barceloux 2009 Cinnamon (Cinnamomum Species)
19. Rattanachaikunsopon and Phumkhachorn 2010 Potential of cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum) oil to control Streptococcus iniae infection in tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)
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36. Komaitis et al. 1992 Composition of the essential oil of marjoram (Origanum majorana L.)
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The article is for educational purposes only and has not been evaluated by the FDA. The information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.