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Orange Oil May Fight Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

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PTSD is a disorder in people that usually results from a highly frightening or stressful situation. These can include but aren’t limited to acts of violence, combat-related trauma, and disaster survival.

What Is PTSD?

PTSD is a condition in which people who have experienced intense trauma may have ongoing negative mental and physical effects. The following symptoms are just some that a person with PTSD might have:

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  • Vivid flashbacks of the event
  • Nightmares
  • Strong, persistent emotions of anger, fear, or sadness
  • Interruption of personal relationships
  • Strong reactions to ordinary daily occurrences like loud noises
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Irregular heart rhythm
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A person with PTSD experiences these symptoms for months or years after the initiating event.

How Is PTSD Treated?

PTSD is usually treated with anti-anxiety medications and therapy. Prozac, Effexor, Paxil, and Zoloft are commonly prescribed medications for PTSD, and their effectiveness in helping people manage their symptoms is highly variable from person to person. The medications can also have unpleasant side effects.

Remember, we never advocate stopping medications without first talking with your doctor.

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Could Orange Essential Oil Help with PTSD?

Researchers from George Washington University, following up on previous research showing that orange oil has a calming effect on the nervous system, did a study on mice to test the oil’s efficacy for treating PSTD (Nichols, 2017).

The researchers used Pavlovian Fear Conditioning to test orange oil’s effect on PTSD in the mice. This model uses a specific sound followed by a negative stimulus to train the mice. The mice learn to associate the sound with the negative event, and they begin to freeze in fear when they hear the sound, even without the negative stimulus. Over time, if the negative stimulus isn’t repeated, the mice slowly stop responding with fear to the sound.

In this particular study, researchers placed mice into three groups:

  • The first group only heard the audio tone.
  • The second group had Pavlovian Fear Conditioning (heard the tone and had a related negative stimulus applied).
  • The third group had Pavlovian Fear Conditioning 40 minutes after being exposed to orange essential oil through inhalation. The mice also inhaled orange oil 40 minutes after the conditioning.

The Study Results

Mice in the third group, exposed to orange oil before and after fear conditioning, were less likely to exhibit the freezing behavior and, if they did, stopped doing it earlier than mice in the group that had fear conditioning without orange oil.

This study is promising as far as presenting a possible alternative to pharmaceuticals for treating PTSD symptoms in people. Essential oils carry greatly reduced or no side effects when compared to medications, and they tend to be cheaper.

Works Cited

  1. Nichols, H. (2017, April 25). Orange essential oil may improve symptoms of PTSD, say researchers. Retrieved from Medical News Today.

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