Treating Bipolar Disorder with Essential Oils
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in a person’s mood, energy, and ability to function. But these highs and lows aren’t just your average mood swings. Bipolar disorder affects a person’s ability to function normally in society. And if you’re one of the over 50 million people worldwide who have been diagnosed with it, you know there’s no single treatment that’s effective for everyone.
What Causes Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder varies greatly from person to person and there are many different possibilities for its causes. It has been linked to things such as anxiety, severe abuse, trauma, hormone or neurotransmitter imbalance, or brain injury. And even though there is now some scientific debate over whether or not it’s genetic, chances do increase if an immediate family member is bipolar.
It can also be accompanied by disorders such as obesity and thyroid disorder, making it difficult to diagnose.
How Bipolar Disorder is Treated
This happens to be a mental disorder that’s highly treatable. The trick, however, is to finding the right medication or combination of medications and/or psychotherapy that are effective for each individual. Bipolar disorder can be an extremely debilitating illness and should never be ignored.
Traditionally, a patient will be given a standard medical treatment, and dosages and medications will be modified until they have successful alleviation of their symptoms.
Naturally Treating Bipolar Disorder
However, in certain cases, individuals have some success with natural treatments that they either use alone or as a supplement to medical help. Most of the time, a person shouldn’t only use natural remedies unless under the direct care of a physician, but if the symptoms are mild, it may be effective to try these first.
In severe cases, natural remedies may be used as a supplement to boost the effectiveness of their particular treatment plans. This is the method that seems to work best for most people.
Essential Oils for Bipolar Disorder
There have been little, if any, conclusive studies done on the effectiveness of treating bipolar disorder with essential oils. But the testimonies that can be found just by doing an Internet search of the subject are astounding. For example, Jennifer at Bipolar Mom Life writes about her journey with bipolar I and the amazing effects essential oils have had on her life.
The following essential oils are recommended by users for various symptoms and causes:
To Balance Hormones
- Clary sage
For Periods of Mania
- Ylang ylang
For Periods of Depression
- Clary sage
- Ylang ylang
Depending on a person’s specific symptoms and cycles, different oils are used at different times.
There are a couple of different methods for using essential oil in the treatment of bipolar disorder. In most cases, using it both topically and through inhalation are the most effective.
Topically: to use essential oils topically, they need to be mixed with a carrier oil, such as grapeseed or fractionated coconut oil. The mixture can then be applied behind the ears, the back of the neck, the palms of the hands or bottoms of feet. Although application to any area can be helpful, these areas are proven to be the quickest to send the active ingredients directly to the limbic system of the brain (emotional center).
Inhalation: This method is most often called aromatherapy and has some powerful science to back up its effectiveness. To use this method, essential oils can either be inhaled directly from their containers or added to a diffuser to dispense the molecules into the air. Breathing in these molecules with either method works well, but diffusing the oils is an easier way to blend your chosen oils at different times.
Both: Adding the essential oil blends to your warm bathwater is a great way to employ both methods for faster treatment.
Any of the following mixtures can be used with either method. The mixtures can be prepared ahead of time to carry in your handbag to combat sudden symptoms or they can be blended as needed for specific symptoms.
- 4 drops of frankincense
- 2 drops of jasmine
- 1 drop of vetiver
Useful for manic episodes when thoughts and mood are unstable.
Hormone Balancing Blend
- 4 drops clary sage
- 4 drops lavender
- 2 drops lemon
Use for premenstrual syndrome, particularly when it triggers bipolar symptoms.
Calm Down Blend #1
- 4 drops lavender
- 4 Drop of ylang ylang
- 3 Drops of grapefruit
Use during mildly manic episodes.
Calm Down Blend #2
- 3 drops lavender
- 3 drops ylang ylang
- 3 Drops of sandalwood
- 1 drop jasmine
Use during manic episodes in addition to regular treatment. Can also be used during periods of insomnia for help with sleep.
- 5 drops bergamot
- 5 drops ylang ylang
- 3 drops rosemary
Essential oils are not new in the treatment of mental illness, and are extremely safe when used correctly. As previously mentioned, every person is different, with varying symptoms and needs. Experimenting with various oils and blends, while being sure not to neglect prescribed treatment, will be key in finding the things that work for you.