Just recently I read [1] that Young Living had partnered with Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Integrative Therapy programme (UZIT) [2] , by donating essential oils to soldiers suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder. In June this year, The UZIT programme launched Operation Warrior Wellness, with the co-operation of the U.S. military, to research how soldiers would react to integrative therapy which includes meditation, yoga, Reiki and the use of Young Living Essential Oils. The programme’s goal is to study how natural therapies can provide soldiers with the tools to reduce stress, anxiety and increase relaxation. The article in question didn’t reveal what oils Young Living had given towards the project, but I can imagine that when the results of the study are in we’ll get more information.

In the meantime, I thought this might be a good opportunity to discuss what essential oils might be beneficial to sufferers of PTSD. PTSD is commonly thought of as a returned soldier’s affliction. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Not that I wish this on anyone, but there is a good chance that at some point in our lives we will encounter someone close to us (or maybe even ourselves), that is suffering this disorder. PTSD affects not just those exposed to a war zone, but also people involved in natural disasters or violent crimes – both rescue workers and victims – adults and children. Before we look at ways to help people, let’s look at what exactly PTSD is and what some of the symptoms are.
PTSD and its symptoms
PTSD is essentially an anxiety disorder that some people get after seeing or living through a dangerous event. [3] Normally humans experience the “fight or flight” response when there is some danger or the risk of harm. This is a healthy response. But in people who suffer PTSD, this reaction doesn’t function properly. They remain in a state of fear or anxiety even when the danger has long passed.
So what are the symptoms that someone is suffering PTSD?
  • They may re-experience symptoms such as flashbacks or bad dreams
  • Avoidance. This includes: staying away from places or objects that remind them of the bad experience, emotional numbness and even difficulty in remembering  the bad experience.
  • Hyperarousal symptoms including: being easily startled, feeling tense or edgy, having angry outbursts or difficulty sleeping.
How is PTSD normally treated
The main treatments for people with PTSD are psychotherapy, drugs, or both. There are 2 drugs that have been approved for treating people suffering PTSD. These are Sertraline (Zoloft) and Paroxetine (Paxil), both of which are classified as antidepressants. The side effects associated with these include headaches, nausea, sleeplessness, drowsiness, agitation and sexual problems such as a reduced sex drive. In addition an FDA review found that 4 percent of people using these antidepressants attempted or actually committed suicide. [4] Doctors also prescribe other drugs such as Benzodiazepines, antipsychotics and the antidepressants fluoxetine (Prozac) and citalopram (Celexa). These all have their own catalogue of side effects.
I have no problem with psychotherapy, but people who follow this website will have become aware over time, that I have a profound scepticism of the pharmaceutical industry. So I was quite happy to hear that Young Living was getting involved in research to identify alternatives to what sufferers of PTSD are currently offered.
Essential oils for PTSD
So what kind of essential oils might Young Living have offered for Operation Warrior Wellness? Off the top of my head these are oils and oil blends I would consider: RutaVaLa, Tranquil, Stress Away, White Angelica, Trauma Life, Release and Frankincense. If we are looking at the kind of trauma one might experience as a result of sexual abuse or rape, I would also add the blend SARA.
  • RutaVaLa is a blend of 3 oils – Ruta (Ruta Graveolens), Valerian and Lavender – and is available as a roll-on. This is a blend that promotes relaxation of the body and mind, as well as easing stressed nerves and inducing sleep (see our article on it : Essential Oils of Ecuador – RutaVaLa)
  • Tranquil (roll-on) is a blend of 3 oils – Lavender, Cedarwood and Roman Chamomile. All 3 of these oils are documented for helping to reduce anxiety and bring calmness. Put together as a blend and you have something that will promote sleep as well as helping to reduce stress.
  • Stress Away (roll-on) is a blend of Copaiba, Lime, Cedarwood, Vanilla, Ocotea and Lavender. This blend promotes relaxation, lowers hypertension and helps to reduce stress. One of our readers has reported using Copaiba to deal with stress [5]. The EODR states that “its hypnotic-like properties work as a sedative to the nervous system and can induce sleep”.[6]
  • White Angelica. White Angelica is an essential oil blend designed to counter negativity and give a feeling of security. The blend includes Ylang Ylang, Rose, Melissa, Sandalwood, Geranium, Spruce, Myrrh, Hyssop, Bergamot, and Rosewood.
  • Trauma Life contains Valerian, Lavender, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Rose, Helichrysum, Spruce, Geranium, Davana and Citrus Hystrix. As the name implies, this blend was created to help deal with trauma and reduce stress. By now you’re starting to see some oils pop up regularly in blends, e.g. Lavender, Valerian, Sandalwood and Cedarwood. Oils such as Sandalwood contain sesquiterpenes which means the oil molecules can penetrate the blood-brain barrier, delivering much needed oxygen to the vital brain centres, as well as stimulating the limbic region of the brain – the centre of emotions and memory.
  • Release is another useful blend for helping to release anger and memory trauma – in this case the liver, as well as stimulating the pineal gland to release deep-seated traumas. It contains Ylang Ylang, Lavandin, Geranium, Sandalwood and Blue Tansy.
  • Frankincense (Boswellia Carteri). This one pops up in the oil blend Trauma Life. Frankincense is another oil with sesquiterpenes that stimulate the limbic region of the brain – the centre dealing with emotions.
  • SARA. SARA was designed to help release the trauma resulting from sexual and ritual abuse. It contains Geranium, Lavender, Rose, Blue Tansy, Orange, Cedarwood, Ylang Ylang and White Lotus.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. The Essential Oils Desk Reference lists a wide range of oils and blends that can help people dealing with PTSD. [7] For the remainder of this article, I’ve listed the experiences of other people. They are not specifically PTSD sufferers, but many of them deal with anxiety and stress. They come from the Oil Testimonials site and in most cases, if you follow the link, there is provision for contacting the user if you have a question.
Experiences and Testimonials

1. Oils for depression & anxiety

Author: Elisa Max
Questions: 3 have been asked.   Send a comment or question
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Skills: Psychologist
Posted: 2004-08-11

http://www.oil-testimonials.com/essential-oils/267 

2. Anxiety and depression help with the Joy oil blend

Author: Lois Loyek
Questions: 0 have been asked.   Send a comment or question
Location: Battleford, Saskatchewan, Canada
Skills: Raindrop Technique
Posted: 2007-01-05

http://www.oil-testimonials.com/essential-oils/1883

3.  Anxiety and stress goes away

Author: Stephanie Rasband
Questions: 6 have been asked.   Send a comment or question
Location: Santa Monica, CA, United States
Skills: Psychologist
Posted: 2005-11-05

http://www.oil-testimonials.com/essential-oils/1062

4.  Anxiety gone and better skin using frankincense

Author: Latonda Stanford
Questions: 0 have been asked.   Send a comment or question
Location: Hubbard, OH, United States
Posted: 2009-06-23

http://www.oil-testimonials.com/essential-oils/3617 

5.  Depression and anxiety lifted with RutaVaLa

Author: Alicia Warwick
Questions: 1 have been asked. Send a comment or question
Location: Little Falls, NJ, United States
Skills: Raindrop Technique
Posted: 2008-01-17

http://www.oil-testimonials.com/essential-oils/2644

6. Anxiety helped with RutaVaLa

Author: Sandy Rakowitz
Questions: 0 have been asked.   Send a comment or question
Location: Charlottesville, VA, United States
Skills: TTouch
Posted: 2009-06-22

http://www.oil-testimonials.com/essential-oils/3616

7.  Inner Child aids memory recall

Author: Paula Steigauf
Location: MN, United States
Posted: May 29, 2008

http://www.oil-testimonials.com/essential-oils.php?tID=2903&rID=17759

That pretty much concludes this article. I highly recommend people check out the National Institute of Mental Health site (see link in the notes below), as it has way more information on PTSD than I’ve been able to include here. One more thing to note, and this is important. If you are a health practitioner, psychologist or healer working with people suffering PTSD, you may want to consider using some of the oils mentioned here for yourself. An oil blend such as White Angelica would be a good one; perhaps have it diffusing in your office or clinic. Check out our post from a year ago - Setting the Mood.
Till next time
Cheers
Anthony
Disclaimer: Please remember that anything discussed here does not
constitute medical advice and cannot substitute for appropriate medical care. Where essential oils are mentioned, it’s recommended you use only pure, unadulterated therapeutic grade essential oils and follow the safety directions of the manufacturer.
[1] Essential Edge News, P4, Vol 1, Issue No 4
[6] Essential Oils Desk Reference, 5th Edition, Ch 8, p2.128-2.129
[7] Essential Oils Desk Reference, 5th Edition, Ch 17, p4.9-4.11 “Oils for Specific Emotional Challenges”.
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