Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) seriously affects thousands of Canadians during our long, dark, cold winters. The lack of sunlight can cause symptoms like fatigue, oversleeping, sadness, depression, irritation, decreased sex drive, and loss of pleasure and interest in life.
A holistic approach to treating SAD includes light therapy, dietary changes, nutrient supplementation, exercise, and the use of essential oils, which can bring some aromatic light into the dark of northern winters.
Essential oils stimulate the nerve endings of the olfactory bulb, which lies at the back of the nose. These nerve endings stimulate a part of the brain called the limbic system, associated with our most primal instincts, emotions, and memories. Essential oils are particularly effective at stimulating the olfactory system because the molecules of the oils are so small that they enter the bloodstream rapidly and are carried to all parts of the body. This allows the aromatic essences of the oils to affect not just our sense of smell but our entire being.
Essential oils can act as a restorative to the spirit when used in an aromatherapy diffusor, bath, or in a massage oil.
Essential Oils for SAD
Petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara) has an uplifting and fresh-floral, citrus scent. The oil is made from steam-distilling the leaves and twigs of the sweet orange tree. Having nervine properties, petitgrain can be uplifting, balancing, calming, and refreshing when used as an inhalant or with a diffusor. It can also be used on the skin with a carrier oil or used in a massage oil or bath.
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) has a fresh, sweet, fruity scent (it’s often described as being like sunshine in a bottle), and has an uplifting, cheerful effect. Bergamot can help with anxiety, stress, tension, agitation, depression, and insomnia. Bergamot can be used in a diffusor, bath, or on the skin with a carrier oil (do not apply directly to skin). May increase photosensitivity.
Lemon (Citrus limonum) has the unmistakable smell of fresh lemons. The oil can stimulate the white blood cells that defend the body against infection. Lemon is refreshing and cooling, brings clarity to mind and emotions, restores vitality, and encourages clear thinking. Its antimicrobial properties and fresh scent also make lemon a great household cleanser and air freshener. Use as an inhalant or with a diffuser, or on skin with a carrier oil in massage oil or bath. May irritate sensitive skin. When used in skin care, use at low dilution. When used in bath, always use with a carrier oil. It may increase photosensitivity.
Neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara) has a light, sweet floral fragrance. It is extracted from the flowers of bitter orange. Neroli has a balancing tonic effect on the nervous system and can be relaxing and uplifting. It is great for treating anxiety, nervous tension, and depression. Its ability to stimulate new cell growth makes it very valuable in skin care. Use as an inhalant or with a diffusor, or on skin with a carrier. Excellent for massage.
Jasmine’s (Jasminum grandiflorum) heady aroma is considered emotionally warming and is very useful for relieving sexual anxiety and fear. The oil is very relaxing and promotes happiness and relaxation due to the esters it contains. Use as an inhalant or with a diffusor, in a massage oil, or in a bath.
Rise and Sunshine!
Aromatic Inhalation and Diffusor Blend
25 drops petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var amara)
30 drops bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
20 drops lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
25 drops lemon (Citrus limonum)
Makes a 5 mL bottle. Use 5 to 8 drops in a room diffusor or inhale right from the bottle. Can also be added to a bath with a carrier oil, salts, or powdered milk.
Summer Garden Aromatic Bath
5 drops jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum)
5 drops neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
5 drops lavender (Lavendula angustifolia)
5 drops bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
5 drops petitgrain (Citrus aurantium var. amara)
125 mL milk powder
125 mL baking soda
Mix milk powder and baking soda together, knead essential oils into the mixture so that it is well-blended. Add half or all of it to a tub of hot water.