While the term ‘OCD’ is often used casually, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a serious disorder. In fact, it is the fourth most-common psychiatric disorder. OCD is an anxiety disorder that makes a person have unwanted, repetitive, recurring thoughts or sensations called as ‘obsessions’ that drive them to repeatedly do something else. These are usually called ‘compulsions. Common repetitive behaviors involve hand washing, cleaning, counting or re-checking certain things. Needless to say, after a point, compulsive behavior can interfere with daily life and a person’s mental well-being.
Let’s be honest. We all have been fixated or obsessed over something. However, in most cases, these don’t come in the way of leading a fairly stable and structured daily life. However, for people who have OCD, things are slightly different. Their compulsive behavior makes it difficult to function normally and impacts their social well-being among other things.
Are There Any Natural Remedies for OCD?
In most cases Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and medication are the first line of treatment for OCD. However, while many people find this effective, it doesn’t work for everyone. Some people who try the drugs and therapy combo don’t experience long-term relief from their OCD symptoms. On the other hand, most people who opt for therapy find some degree of success with it.
The American Psychiatric Association recommends OCD patients to undergo at least 12 weeks of drug therapy and 20 weekly therapy sessions. As per the association this is enough time to gauge whether this strategy is aiding the patient. If the symptoms remain unaffected after this time, they recommend trying a different strategy.
In extreme cases, alternative treatment techniques include deep brain stimulation (DBS), Gamma Knife Treatment, or even transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). However, these are intensive techniques that can cause serious and even permanent side effects. Consequently, such treatments are not considered unless all else fails.
If you are an OCD patient who is resistant to standard treatment pathways, opting for a natural remedy can be an option to consider. Not just that, even if you find relief with prescription drugs and therapy, natural remedies for OCD can boost your recovery. In recent years we’ve seen a big leap in the availability of natural remedies and supplements that can aid in helping those with anxiety or OCD. Although OCD is a disorder that can’t be fully cured, with the right natural remedies you may notice significant relief from symptoms.
One of the most popular natural remedies for OCD includes aromatherapy. Using the right essential oils with proper treatment could help you manage OCD symptoms effectively.
The Best Essential Oils for OCD
Let’s look at our comprehensive list of the best essential oils to use for OCD.
Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender oil is among the most versatile and widely used oils in aromatherapy. Not only is it antifungal and antiseptic, but it also has sedative, analgesic and detoxifying effects. This essential oil is distilled from Lavandula angustifolia. We’ve all heard that lavender oil can help with insomnia and irregular sleep. But did you know that it can also help with anxiety disorders and OCD?
In this study from 2008, around thirty men between that ages of 24 and 40 participated to determine if lavender oil could aid in improving coronary circulation in healthy male adults. It was found that aromatherapy that employed lavender essential oil could effectively promote relaxation and reduce stress levels. Another research that was conducted found that lavender oil capsules were successful at reducing stress and anxiety levels among participants who had to watch an anxiety-inducing film.
How lavender essential oil helps with reducing OCD is simple. With its calming properties, this oil reduces stress, reduces anxiety and eases nervousness. Additionally, it promotes calmness and mental well-being that helps with OCD treatment.
Chamomile Essential Oil
Anyone who has ever looked for natural remedies to help them sleep better has surely come across chamomile tea. Chamomile is potent as a sleep aid and relaxant. However, its not just the tea that helps, even the essential oil has a similar benefit.
Stress, nervousness and anxiety are common symptoms of OCD. By effectively countering these effects, chamomile essential oil is a great aid for OCD patients. In this study from 2017, reports showed that Roman chamomile oil effectively reduced depressive behavior among lab rats. Another study from Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine had around 57 participants with various anxiety issues. One group of these participants was treated with chamomile capsuled while the other group was on placebos. On completion of the study reports found that the group which received chamomile pills experienced significant anxiety reduction.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary is a popular herb used in many cuisines around the world. While it has culinary merits, rosemary essential oil offers a host of health and remedial benefits. It can aid in strengthening the immune system and promoting healthy hair growth. Moreover, it has many positive benefits for human neural connections. Given how it acts in the body, rosemary oil can aid in reducing OCD effects.
People who have anxiety related to OCD have found relief from their symptoms with regular use of rosemary oil. Since it soothes OCD symptoms, it also effectively reduces stress levels.
Geranium Essential Oil
Geranium essential oil comes from the leaves, stems and even flowers of the geranium plant. This oil has a wide variety of benefits and it is extensively used in aromatherapy treatments. The uplifting sweet scent of geranium oil is known to calm your nerves and promote relaxation. Moreover, it can also help in promoting restful sleep.
Anxiety, nervousness and fear are some of the most common OCD symptoms. Additionally, research has shown that these feelings are linked to repetitive though patterns that cause compulsive behavior. Since geranium essential oil is known to help in reducing these feelings of fear and anxiety, it can provide relief.
This research study found that aromatherapy with geranium essential oil could effectively reduce stress and anxiety in patients with AMI. The finding of this research show that anxiety that stems from OCD is best treated with geranium essential oil.
Valerian Essential Oil
Valerian essential oil originates from the root of Valeriana Officinalis. The wholesome oil is extracted via steam distillation. In ancient times, many cultures used to use the extract of Valerian to aid with hysteria or nervous disorder treatments. Native Americans often used it for its antiseptic properties.
A study from 2004 found that valerian essential oil significantly impacted neurotransmitter ‘GABA’ in lab rats’ brains. The study shed light on how this oil could calm anxiety and promote restful sleep. While there are a few studies and reports that have found a link between use of this oil and better sleep patterns, there still isn’t enough reliable evidence to say that this can treat OCD symptoms. However, many people have found it to aid in reducing stress and calming anxiety.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
Ylang ylang essential oil comes from the flowers of the Cananga Odorata. Just like Valerian, even ylang ylang is extracted via steam distillation. In many ancient cultures, ylang ylang was used for its sedative properties and even to improve memory. This essential oil is used in aromatherapy for its stimulating effects on the mind and body.
This study from 2014 found that the effects of ylang ylang oil can positively sooth the nerves, and ease built-up stress. According to a study from Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine this essential oil has relaxing effects and can be used to calm people with anxious disorders.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Frankincense essential oil comes from the distilled resin of the tree by the same name. The Frankincense tree is native to regions in Africa and parts of the Middle East and its woody, earthy oil derivative is used extensively in aromatherapy. Not only is it believed to eliminate airborne bacteria, but it can also aid in respiratory health. Moreover, its comforting fragrance and other properties are believed to reduce feelings of stress, nervousness and anxiety.
General anxiety is one of the most common OCD symptoms, and one that can cause a lot of disturbance to those suffering from the disorder. So, frankincense essential oil’s ability to reduce this stress makes it an effective OCD remedy. Moreover, the anxiolytic effects of this substance can calm your nerves and promote restful sleep that can further reduce the severity of OCD symptoms.
How to Use Essential Oils for OCD
By now it is surely clear that essential oils have a great deal of therapeutic benefits to offer. Not only do most of the oils on our list help with stress and anxiety, they also can help in reducing other OCD symptoms to help you lead a better life.
As far as using essential oils go, you can either go for topical application, or take them through inhalation. If you choose inhalation, a diffuser might be a good bet. Simply pour a few drops of your favorite essential oil into the diffuser and give it some time to spread throughout the room. If you suffer from sleep issues, keeping a diffuser near your sleeping area will help promote restful sleep.
For those who wish to topically use essential oils, you can take a few drops of essential oil and mix it in with a carrier oil. Usually coconut or olive oil make for good carrier oils. Only this mixture is ready, apply well to your wrist, feet, back and neck areas.