Aromatherapy to calm my nerves and put my mind at ease? That’s precisely what using essential oils for OCD feels like. Sounds like something you’d need? Read on to find out more.

For the people of this generation, mental health is a discussion that has started getting people out of their houses and encouraging them to seek help. Therapy is always the first option, but when they require medication, they might try and look for alternative treatments; this is where essential oils step in.

Essential oils are a part of natural medication that can help relieve you of various symptoms of various conditions, in this context, OCD. It can help your body relax and in turn reduce or help you manage your OCD symptoms better.

This article will discuss what OCD is and if essential oils can help with OCD.

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder, commonly known as OCD, is characterized by obsessions and compulsions. People diagnosed with OCD are often plagued with unwanted thoughts or feel the need to carry out certain behaviors. These obsessions and compulsions will, over time, develop into a cause for anxiety.

A common misconception associated with OCD is that anyone diagnosed with it is a clean freak. Monica Geller from the popular sitcom “FRIENDS” has become an icon for OCD. Although keeping things neat and tidy might be a symptom of OCD, not everyone who likes to keep things orderly is diagnosed with OCD.

People with symptoms of OCD have thoughts and compulsions that can affect their day-to-day lives. It is necessary to get on some form of treatment, in the form of therapy, medication, or natural alternative, to try and control your tendencies.

Can You Use Essential Oils to Treat OCD?

A person with OCD is often on the verge of either having a panic attack or developing anxiety if they’re not diagnosed and medicated. This usually is because their brain is in constant overdrive and can not process and rationalize their thoughts and compulsions.

They have a hyperactivated nervous system and are in a constant state of almost restlessness due to their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. Since their brain can’t just “turn off” and is always “on the go,” their central nervous system is constantly in a stressed sympathetic dominant state.

Essential oils can be used to relax the brain and the nervous system and, in turn, help the brain shut down. If not help treat the condition itself, essential oils definitely can still help with the symptoms, and since the symptoms play a massive role in how the individual’s life is affected, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that essential oils can help with OCD.

Top 7 Best Essential Oils for OCD

Frankincense Oil

Frankincense essential oil is made from the resin of the Boswellia tree. It carries a woody, spicy smell and has been used in traditional Ayurveda medicine for various ailments. 

When used internally, this oil supports healthy cellular, immune, nervous, and digestive functions.

Applying this oil directly on your wrist or the bottom of your feet improves OCD symptoms. Repeat this thrice a day to help calm your nerves and increase your focus.

Geranium Oil

Geranium essential oil is extracted from the leaves and stems of the perennial shrub, Pelargonium graveolens, commonly known as Geranium. This floral essential oil is sweet, long-lasting, potent, and has several beneficial compounds.

Inhale this essential oil for an instant soothing effect. The geranium essential oil can help with fear and anxiety that leads to repetitive thought patterns. You can put a few drops on your palms or on a handkerchief that you can carry around [1].

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil is an essential oil that is distilled from the plant Lavandula angustifolia. This oil has been used by the Egyptians and the Romans for its calming effect, but over time, it has also been used as a perfume and for aromatherapy. 

Apply a few drops of this oil behind your ears and on your wrists to calm nervous tension, a common side effect of OCD. A massage with this oil can also have a calming effect on you. Additionally, lavender oil promotes calmness and mental well-being that helps with OCD treatment [2].

Eucalyptus Oil

Eucalyptus essential oil is distilled from the leaf of the eucalyptus plant, which is a part of the Myrtaceae family and is native to Australia. This oil has been used worldwide for its antiseptic, repellent, and pharmaceutical properties.

Eucalyptus oil is known to decrease symptoms of stress and anxiety. Its property that promotes relaxation is ideal to find relief from OCD symptoms. Apply this oil topically, along with carrier oils, or inhale it, but do not ingest it [3].

Chamomile Oil

The chamomile essential oil is extracted from the chamomile flower. Apart from being used for its extract, this plant is also used for beverages, mouthwash, soaps, and cosmetics. For ages, the chamomile plant has also been used for herbal infusions and traditional medicines. 

If your OCD goes undetected, the chances of you developing depression are pretty high. Studies have shown that chamomile can help with sleep, anxiety, and depression. Using this oil in your aromatherapy can help your body relax, which will essentially help your OCD [4].

Lemon Oil

Lemon essential oil is extracted from the lemon peel because it contains oil-containing cells. Apart from being used for aromatherapy, it is also used for cooking, baking, and making drinks or spice blends. This essential oil can help provide an amazing calming effect that can help bring a sense of balance within yourself. It can help uplift your mood, dissipate stress and negative feelings, stimulate positive energy, and refresh your mind.

Lemon essential oil is known for its properties that aid in relaxation. You could use these in the form of supplements or via aromatherapy. Once your body is relaxed, and you’re not on edge, your OCD will be more manageable [5].

Rosemary Oil

Salvia Rosmarinus, commonly known as rosemary, is an aromatic evergreen shrub whose leaves have been used for culinary practices for as long as we can recall. The flowering tops of this plant are used to extract Rosemary essential oil. This oil is also used to support healthy digestion and internal organ function when ingested.

Rosemary essential oil is said to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Once your stress is reduced, your body starts to relax, which can help your OCD. You can spritz this oil on your pillow or infuse it in your humidifier. 

How to Use Essential Oils for OCD?

Essential oils can be used in various ways to help relieve you of OCD symptoms. You can use it topically or through inhalation.

To use topically, ensure that you first mix the essential oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc.

If you prefer inhalation, there are quite a few methods you can try before choosing one that works for you.

You can,

  • Use a diffuser to spread the aroma of your essential oils throughout your room.
  • Add a few drops on a handkerchief or napkin to have them on you at all times.
  • Spritz a few drops on your pillow
  • Add them to your shower

Precautions to take while using Essential Oils

Essential Oils are generally safe to use; however, you may want to look at their chemical composition, concentration, and other components before usage.

You should also keep in mind your age, allergies, and other medications that you might be on before using these oils.

Mentioned below are certain general precautions you might want to take,

  • Always dilute the oil before use unless advised not to by a professional.
  • Conduct a patch test before using these oils to ensure no allergic reaction.
  • Consume these oils orally only when prescribed by a doctor or a professional.

Apart from these general precautions, each essential oil might come with its own set of precautions; always ensure to read up on said oil before usage.

Note – OCD is a mental condition that can be diagnosed only by a professional. Although it can not be fully treated, the symptoms of OCD can be controlled. Essential oils will not “heal” you of this condition but will only bring relief from certain uncomfortable symptoms.

FAQs

Q: What is the most effective treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder?

A: Since the obsessive-compulsive disorder is a mental disorder, the first and most effective treatment would be therapy. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is said to be the most effective type of therapy. At times medication might also be prescribed.

Q: How do you get rid of an obsessive-compulsive disorder?

A: Continuous therapy, which may or may not includes medication, can help cure OCD. Sometimes, there may be no permanent cure; there might be certain triggers that might cause symptoms. To avoid this, continuous therapy is suggested, and even if you are not permanently cured of it, you will still learn how to control your symptoms.

Q: How do you treat obsessive-compulsive disorder without medication?

A: Therapy is the most effective treatment for OCD that doesn’t involve medication. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is the recommended type of therapy that is said to show positive results. However, consistency is key in this form of treatment.

Q: What is the root cause of OCD?

A: OCD can be a result of genetic and hereditary factors. The chemical, structural, and functional abnormalities in the brain could be another factor that might play into an individual developing OCD. Sometimes, the parenting and lifestyle of an individual could also be a significant factor.

Wrapping Up

Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is a condition that can take over an individual’s life. The constant thoughts and compulsions that limit your day-to-day activities can be more than just inconvenient. 

Although therapy is the most effective form of treatment, sometimes, you might just want instant relief from some of the side effects like anxiety, stress, and depression; this is where essential oils come in. Essential oils can help your body relax and give your brain some downtime to regroup and refocus.

However, do not neglect your therapy sessions or medications that you might’ve been prescribed. Treatment for medical conditions is always a process, and staying consistent will take you a long way regarding your treatment.

What next?

References

  1. Shirzadegan, Razieh et al. “Effects of geranium aroma on anxiety among patients with acute myocardial infarction: A triple-blind randomized clinical trial.” Complementary therapies in clinical practice vol. 29 (2017): 201-206.
  2. Koulivand, Peir Hossein et al. “Lavender and the nervous system.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2013 (2013): 681304. 
  3. Kim, Ka Young et al. “The effect of 1,8-cineole inhalation on preoperative anxiety: a randomized clinical trial.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2014 (2014): 820126. 
  4. Mao, Jun J et al. “Long-term chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla L.) treatment for generalized anxiety disorder: A randomized clinical trial.” Phytomedicine : international journal of phytotherapy and phytopharmacology vol. 23,14 (2016): 1735-1742.
  5. Komiya, Migiwa et al. “Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice.” Behavioural brain research vol. 172,2 (2006): 240-9.