Essential oils are usually used in aromatherapy to alleviate anxiety symptoms. In comparison to traditional drugs, essential oils have fewer side effects and more diversified application ways, including inhalation. This review provides a comprehensive overview of studies on anxiolytic effects of essential oils in preclinical and clinical trials. Most of the essential oils used in clinical studies have been proven to be anxiolytic in animal models. Inhalation and oral administration were two common methods for essential oil administration in preclinical and clinical trials. Massage was only used in the clinical trials, while intraperitoneal injection was only used in the preclinical trails. In addition to essential oils that are commonly used in aromatherapy, essential oils from many folk medicinal plants have also been reported to be anxiolytic. More than 20 compounds derived from essential oils have shown an anxiolytic effect in rodents, while two-thirds of them are alcohols and terpenes. Monoamine neurotransmitters, amino acid neurotransmitters, and the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis are thought to play important roles in the anxiolytic effects of essential oils.
Last modified: August 13, 2019