Anxiety and panic attacks are something that many people experience periodically throughout their lives. In fact, anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States. About 18 percent of adults say they have an anxiety disorder. This adds up to 40 million people.
But even those who don’t have anxiety disorders may occasionally experience bouts of panic or stress.
If you’ve been diagnosed with clinical depression or an anxiety disorder, medication and therapy may be a good choice. Anxiety disorders like these physically affect the brain, causing it to produce lower levels of “happy chemicals” like dopamine and higher levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol.
But if you don’t have an anxiety disorder — or if you’d like to use some natural methods in addition to medication and therapy — you may find help in an ordinary houseplant.
Jasmine, the highly fragrant, delicate blossom that’s often found in gardens, has been shown to help many people with anxiety attacks.
So how does an ordinary plant help ease stress and depression?
There are a couple of ways that jasmine might help you if you’ve been feeling blue.
For one thing, research links oxygen quality with a depressive or anxious episode. Jasmine is a natural air purifier, making it a great plant to keep in your house. But that’s not all.
Researchers studying aromatherapy effectiveness noted that in studies, mice relaxed when exposed to the scent of jasmine, sometimes even stopping what they were doing. Jasmine has also been shown to improve the quality of sleep, which is linked to hormone levels and mood.
Aromatherapy is a subject of ongoing research.
Some studies have linked it to a decrease in anxiety and depression. This is largely due to smell’s that link to memory and emotion.
“Incoming smells are first processed by the olfactory bulb, which starts inside the nose and runs along the bottom of the brain,” says Jordan Gaines Lewis, a contributor at Psychology Today. “The olfactory bulb has direct connections to two brain areas that are strongly implicated in emotion and memory: the amygdala and hippocampus.”
People who use aromatherapy may have a preferred scent — such as jasmine — to orient themselves during a panic episode.
As they do this more and more, their brains associate the smell with the message: “Calm down; everything is okay.”
“Interestingly, visual, auditory (sound), and tactile (touch) information do not pass through these brain areas,” says Lewis. “This may be why olfaction, more than any other sense, is so successful at triggering emotions and memories.”
Research is still ongoing about the benefits of aromatherapy and the effect that jasmine can have on anxiety and depression. Currently, it looks like it may not be a good fit if you suffer from chronic depression or an anxiety disorder, in which case, medication, and therapy might be a better solution. However, aromatherapy, especially with a live plant like jasmine, may be a great supplement to other anxiety treatments or it might help with occasional bouts of “the blues.”
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