Lavender essential oil is one of the most studied essential oils in terms of its relaxing effects. One study found that lavender oil aromatherapy calmed the nervous system—lowering blood pressure, heart rate, and skin temperature as well as changing brain waves to a more relaxed state.
Lavender has also been found to help reduce anxiety in many medical settings, such as dental offices, the intensive care unit, and during preparations before surgery.
The scent of lavender stimulates brain pathways, including our limbic system, which is connected to our emotional response and memories. Studies using electroencephalography (EEG), which measures brain waves, and brain imaging using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) show significant changes during lavender aromatherapy consistent with its relaxing effects.
Citrus bergamot is a hybrid fruit somewhere between a bitter orange and lemon or lime and is used to create bergamot essential oil. It has been traditionally used in Italian folk medicine but has many new studies to support its ability to relieve tension and anxiety. bergamot essential oil is often used in fragrances as well as food flavoring, and has also been thought to have antibacterial properties.
Ylang Ylang essential oil is sweet floral aromatic extracted from the flower of a tropical tree in Southeast Asia. Ylang Ylang aroma has been shown to be relaxing and decrease blood pressure in many small studies. One study found that Ylang Ylang aroma calmed the nervous system, leading to lower heart rate and blood pressure and heart rhythms on electrocardiogram (EKG).