Orange Essential Oil Reduces Anxiety at the Dentist Office and Elsewhere

orange essential oil for anxiety

Photo by Clark H.

By Case Adams, Naturopath

Do you or your child dread the dentists’ office? How about anxiety otherwise? New research has found that orange essential oil can significantly reduce the anxiety of a trip to the dentist – or any other stressful occasion for that matter.

The research, published in the Journal Advanced Biomedical Research, conducted a controlled crossover clinical trial using 30 children – 10 boys and 20 girls – between the ages of six and nine years old.

The children were tested while undergoing two dentist appointments. These included dental treatment, which included the dentist installing sealants onto the teeth of the children.

During one of the dental treatments, each child was given aromatherapy with orange essential oil. The other dental treatment did not include the aromatherapy.

For both treatments, the children were tested for salivary cortisol and heart pulse rates before and during their dental treatment. These two measures have been found to increase significantly during periods of anxiety.

The orange oil aromatherapy significantly calmed the children down compared to their other dental treatment. The orange oil lowered the children’s pulse rate an average of 6.7 beats per minute, and salivary cortisol levels went down by over 1 nmol/liter – a significant difference according to the findings.

The researchers concluded that the orange oil aromatherapy was successful for reducing childhood anxiety.

These findings confirm a study done last year by Brazilian researchers. They tested 40 healthy men with either sweet orange oil, tea tree oil or a control (water). After receiving the aromatherapy inhalation, the volunteers were exposed to videos meant to illicit anxiety. The researchers then tested each of the volunteers for anxiety by testing their heart rate as well as gastrocnemius electromyogram – which tests for muscle response.

The researchers again found that the orange essential oil significantly reduced the anxiety levels of the men in the orange oil group compared to the other two groups.

Orange essential oil is typically made by cold-pressing the rind of the orange (Citrus senenis). The rind contains limonene – which has been found to be a potent antioxidant and anti-aging constituent. Other chemicals within orange oil include linalool, citronellal, sabinene, pinene, myrcene, neral, geranial and citral. Each of these components have been found to promote metabolic changes in one respect or another individually. Put them together in a natural citrus essential oil and you have a potent combination of benefits – including creating a peaceful, relaxed state of mind and emotion.

These effects are obtained as the olfactory receptors within the nose responds to the molecular aroma given off from essential oils, sending signals to the emotional centers of the brain.

>>Orange Essential Oil


Jafarzadeh M, Arman S, Pour FF. Effect of aromatherapy with orange essential oil on salivary cortisol and pulse rate in children during dental treatment: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Adv Biomed Res. 2013 Mar 6;2:10.

Goes TC, Antunes FD, Alves PB, Teixeira-Silva F. Effect of sweet orange aroma on experimental anxiety in humans. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Aug;18(8):798-804. doi: 10.1089/acm.2011.0551.

Case Adams is a California Naturopath with a PhD in Natural Health Sciences, and Board Certified Alternative Medicine Practitioner. He has authored 26 books on natural healing strategies. “My journey into writing about alternative medicine began about 9:30 one evening after I finished with a patient at the clinic I practiced at over a decade ago. I had just spent the last two hours explaining how diet, sleep and other lifestyle choices create health problems and how changes in these, along with certain herbal medicines and other natural strategies can radically yet safely turn ones health around. As I drove home that night, I realized I needed to get this knowledge out to more people. So I began writing about health with a mission to reach those who desperately need this information. The strategies in my books and articles are backed by scientific evidence along with wisdom handed down through traditional medicines for thousands of years.” Case connects with the elements by surfing, hiking and being a beach bum.

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