Psychosis refers to symptoms that affect the mind, where it has lost some context of reality. During psychotic episodes, a person's perceptions and thoughts and perceptions become confused, so it’s be difficult for them to know what is real and what’s not. Symptoms of psychosis can appear as part of another condition such as dementia or schizophrenia or on their own. The reason for this post is the often unpublicized information that some essential oils might make symptoms of psychosis worse in sufferers and to highlight some of the most essential oils for psychosis.
We’ll begin by stating that this article about essential oils for psychosis is not designed to take the place of medical advice. It would not be appropriate to either use this information to diagnose or to treat any kind of mental health conditions. Rather, it seeks to balance the lack of available information about using aromatherapy if or when someone is experiencing psychosis.
It could be argued that this is rather nice information but Psychosis is not rare. Approximately 3 percent of the people in the United States will experience psychosis at some point in their lives. And while it is hard to gauge specific statistics, studies estimate that between 15 and 100 people out of 100,000 develop symptoms of psychosis every year. With essential oil usage also growing every day, it’s important people understand how they can help and hinder the doctors prescribed treatments. In this post we’ll look at which essential oils for psychosis can help support prescribed medications, and which ones might work against them to cause more issues.
We should also stress our concern that essential oils for psychosis should not take the place of guidance and treatment by a skilled, medically qualified profession. Psychosis can be a very dangerous condition, where people hurt themselves and others and you should always seek professional help to manage it.
This is a long post, so here is a broad outline of what we will cover about essential oils for psychosis and shortcuts if you want them.
Navigating The Article About Essential Oils for Psychosis
- Are Psychosis and Schizophrenia The Same
- Who Develops Psychosis
- Signs and Symptoms of Psychosis
- Warning Signs
- What Causes Psychosis? (Psychological Causes, Medical Conditions, Substance Abuse, Side Effects of Prescription Medications)
- Problematic Essential Oils for Psychosis
- Soothing Essential Oils To Support Overall Mental Health
- The Best Essential Oils for Psychosis
Before we get into the actual bones of essential oils for psychosis, let’s just open our minds to when these issues might be important, and clarify what psychosis is.
Are Psychosis and Schizophrenia The Same
Psychosis and schizophrenia are not the same, but sometimes they may be connected. Schizophrenia is a condition. Psychosis is a symptom. However, people with schizophrenia may, at times, experience symptoms of psychosis. Likewise people may also experience psychotic episodes for reasons completely unrelated to schizophrenia.
Psychosis refers to a collection of symptoms that affect the mind, where there has been some loss of contact with reality. During an episode of psychosis, a person’s thoughts and perceptions are disrupted and they may have difficulty recognizing what is real and what is not.
Who Develops Psychosis?
Psychosis most often develops when a person is in their late teens to mid-20s, but psychotic episodes can also happen to younger and older people of both sexes. It can develop as part of many disorders or illnesses. For example, older adults with neurological disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease have a higher risk of developing psychosis than someone who does not..
Signs and Symptoms of Psychosis
Psychosis typically manifests as experiencing some kind of delusion. For example, a person might think that they are being sent secret messages by people on the television, or that someone is trying to hurt them.
Visual hallucinations are common. When this happens they might see things no-one else can see. Auditory hallucinations can feel like voices in their head criticizing them or telling them to do things they don’t want to do.
There can be warning signs before psychosis develops. They may become more withdrawn and avoid contact with others. Self care and hygiene will also often suffer. You may notice they are having trouble thinking logically, and their thoughts seem confused.
Look out for changes in their behavior.
Are they more uneasy around others? Do they seem suspicious or paranoid?
What are their sleep patterns like? A sign is often that they start to find it difficult to sleep and that their sleep time is disrupted. (This is one of the most important areas where essential oils for psychosis can be helpful)
There might also be a sudden change in performance at work, or fall in grades at school.
Alongside these, a person experiencing psychosis might also display more general behavioral changes including:
- A decline in motivation
- Mood swings and upsets
- Difficulty functioning overall
Sometimes, people experiencing psychotic episodes may behave in unpredictable ways. They may become threatening or violent towards others. Some harm themselves
What Causes Psychosis?
There is no single cause of psychosis. It seems to result from a complex combination of genetic disposition, variations in brain development, and exposure to stress or trauma.
Other possible causes of psychosis include sleep deprivation, certain prescription medications, and the misuse of alcohol or drugs. A mental illness, such as schizophrenia, is typically diagnosed by excluding these other causes.
The following conditions have been known to trigger psychotic episodes in some people:
- Lack of sleep
- Severe stress or anxiety
- Deep depression, including postnatal depression, which some women experience after giving birth
- Bipolar disorder
The underlying cause often influences the type of psychotic episode someone experiences. For instance, bipolar disorder is more likely to cause grandiose delusions. However depression or schizophrenia can manifest delusions of being persecuted.
General Medical Conditions
However other medical conditions have also been known to trigger psychotic episodes:
- Alzheimer's disease
- Parkinson's disease
- HIV and AIDS
- Multiple sclerosis
- Brain tumors and head injuries
Where Psychosis is caused by a medical issue is maybe referred to as delirium (or being delirious) . Then the person becomes temporarily disoriented and confused, disoriented.
This might apply in cases of:
- Illnesses that cause sudden changes of temperatures
- Hypoglycemia (Very low blood sugar)
Alcohol misuse and drug misuse can trigger a psychotic episode. This can be especially thru if someone is experiencing substance withdrawal.
It's also possible to experience psychosis after consuming large amounts of alcohol or if you're high on drugs. Drugs known to trigger psychotic episodes include:
- Amphetamine (Speed)
- Lsd (Acid)
- Methamphetamine (Crystal Meth)
- Mephedrone (Mcat Or Miaow)
- Mdma (Ecstasy)
- Psilocybin (magic mushrooms)
Sometimes psychosis can also occur as a side effect or overdose of a prescribed medication. However, it would be inappropriate to cease taking the medication without the advice of a doctor.
Problematic Essential Oils for Psychosis
Essential oils are made up of natural chemicals that can be grouped according to what they do. One such group is called ketones.
Ketones are a very useful group of molecules. They tend to break things down. So they are useful for breaking down scar tissue, for example, or phlegm and mucus.
Ketones also feel like they are breaking down reality. Technically, they are described as being neurotoxic.
Not all ketones are equal. Some are more neurotoxic than others, and we could debate which ones are more likely to be harmful than others, and at what time (and yes, aromatherapists do). However these debates are best conserved for the effects of essential oils on pregnancy or the effects of essential oils on epilepsy (Other conditions where ketones would be problematic.
When it comes to essential oils for psychosis, it makes sense to avoid ketones completely, if you can.
The main plants we would be concerned with about problematic essential oils for psychosis are listed, followed by their potentially problematic components. ( You may see CT in the name. This means the particular chemotype of the plant)
Quick-check List Of Problematic Essential Oils for Psychosis
- Hyssopus (Hyssopus officinalis): pinocamphone
- Sage (Salvia officinalis): thujone
- Rosemary ct camphor (Salvia rosmarinus): camphor
- Rosemary ct verbeone (Salvia rosmarinus): verbeone
- Spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia): Camphor
- French lavender (Lavandula stoechas): Camphor and Fenchone
- Camphor (Cinnamomum camphora): Camphor
- Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium): pulegone
- Blue Tansy (Tanacetum annuum): Camphor
- Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus): Thujone
- Artemisia (Artemisia absinthium): Thujone
- Ho leaf (Cinnamomum camphora): Camphor
- Lavandin (Lavandula x hybrida): Camphor
- Aniseed (Pimpinella anisum): Anethole
- Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare): Fenchone
- Caraway (Carum carvi): Carvone
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita): Menthone
- Spearmint (Mentha spicata): Carvone
- Dill (Anethum graveolens): Anethole
- Silver fir (Abies alba): Acetone
It is important to note that several of these problematic essential oils for psychosis may be suggested to help someone concentrate. Fir, Peppermint and rosemary are often suggested when someone is struggling to focus. Given that psychosis is characterized by distracting thoughts, it is important to avoid these oils if you can.
(A better alternative might be sweet basil and/or vetiver essential oils for psychosis related distracted thoughts.)
In particular, it is advised to avoid using problematic essential oils for psychosis in diffusers.
Several of these are also very good for digestive issues. (Dill, fennel, peppermint, spearmint, aniseed, caraway…)
Since stress and digestive disturbances are often related, again, we would want to be careful using these digestive essential oils for psychosis.
Clarification over Using Lavender Essential Oils for Psychosis
There are a couple of chemotypes of lavender in the list of problematic essential oils for psychosis. However, these are not your “usual” lavender that most essential oil companies sell.
Look for the Latin name “Lavandula angustifolia” for safety and usefulness when you are sourcing essential oils for psychosis. This is the one that most companies sell, and this one is not only safe but extremely helpful.
The Most Useful Ways to Use Essential Oils for Psychosis
Here we are merely aiming to use essential oils for psychosis as a means of calming the nervous system down and for getting the person to sleep.
Sleep Essential Oils for Psychosis
Scientific evidence suggests that reducing sleep can cause psychotic experiences , and that improving sleep in individuals with psychosis might lessen their psychotic experiences. (Reeve, 2015)
Great essential oils for sleep are lavender, Chamomile Roman, Chamomile German, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Rose, Geranium, Marjoram, Valerian.
Any of these would be safe essential oils for psychosis.
There are also some great recipes for essential oils for sleep here.
Soothing Essential Oils To Support Overall Mental Health
The other great way to use essential oils for psychosis, is as a means to soothe the nervous system and to counter the effects of stress.
Psychosis is associated with producing too much dopamine. Animal studies demonstrate that difficulties regulating stress responses lead to deficiencies in the calming neurotransmitter, GABA.
When GABA is destabilized, a surplus of dopamine accumulates in the brain.
We now know that you can influence GABA levels by smelling essential oils.
Olfactory nerves (nerves we use to smell) make and express GABA and other neurotransmitters.
Calming molecules are dispatched into the central nervous system. Volatiles from inhaled essential oils can get to the part of brain that controls memory, mood and cognition. This is a very fast action, taking around about 5 minutes.
Therefore, taking a few minutes a day to slowly breathe some calming essential oils can have a lovely soothing effect on mental health.
Good practice is to do about 10 mins in the morning and then another ten in the evening, but even five minutes will be helpful.
Think About Energetics of Essential Oils for Psychosis First.
A good guide of how an essential oil for psychosis might affect someone is to look at the size and consistency of the molecule coming out of the bottle.
Base notes take a long time and tend to be thick heavy ones that take an age to get out of the bottle. Base notes slow thoughts down, relax and ground us.
Top notes like lemon, orange and bergamot essential oil drip out almost faster than you can cope with them. These are quick, bubbly and excitable. So we might use these top notes to uplift someone who is depressed, lethargic or withdrawn, but be aware that these will also speed their thoughts up too. If there are situations where the thoughts already race, we want to stay away from this kind of energy.
Likewise oils like peppermint and rosemary (which are on the problematic list anyway, but for illustration) are really stimulating. These are almost agitating essential oils for psychosis sufferers.
So, go for middle and base notes usually.
The Best Essential Oils For Psychosis
Lavender is the most popular choice of essential oils for anxiety and for aiding sleep. It soothes aches and pains and makes the world feel a more restful place.
Evidence for the role of dopamine in psychosis comes from the fact medicines known to reduce the effects of dopamine in the brain also reduce the symptoms of psychosis
Add a couple of drops to warm bath water, and soak for at least 20 minutes.
Use lavender essential oil in a diffuser to create a restful environment (Great if you want to use essential oils for psychosis but you are worried the other person may not be compliant.
Add a couple of drops into a massage oil to do a hand massage. This is beautiful for elderly people who have dementia. It reduces their panic and confusion and often reduces agitation too.
Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
Chamomile (Roman or German)
If I had to choose between the two, I’d go with Roman chamomile but there is very little to choose between them here. Either would be very calming and quietening.
I always say that chamomiles sing “Que sera sera. Whatever will be will be…” This is very liberating energy if someone has developed quite obsessional thoughts or fixed thinking.
It’s quite a humble, grounded oil too, so it's very helpful if someone has gained very grandiose and inflated ideas.
Energetically, it is very slow. It’s a bit like gently rocking on a swing. Mesmeric almost. Like watching the clouds.
As well as using chamomile essential oils for psychosis, I’d also recommend drinking chamomile tea.
So soothing, it is wonderful for helping you to sleep.
We spoke earlier about how many of the problematic essential oils for psychosis are good for digestion so that would rule them out.
Chamomile would be a lovely safe one to use safely for upset tummies.
Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
With psychosis, there is almost too much energy in the head. Thoughts rush and run out of control, so anything that feels slow feels lovely.
Vetiver is the slowest of the essential oils for psychosis. But you could also use other base notes like myrrh, sandalwood or patchouli.
These essential oils for psychosis slow the mind, soothe the spirit and make you feel more grounded.
Vetiver is a great oil if you are struggling to concentrate. It’s a very strong oil, so you would only need a drop at a time to calm, soothe and reassure.
Safety: Not suitable for use in the first 16 weeks of pregnancy.
This is probably the strongest of the essential oils for psychosis. Chemical constituents in valerian oil interact with the benzodiazepine receptors in a similar way to how diazepam works.
This is an extremely tranquilizing oil, and it can make you feel a bit numb and woozy. If someone has not slept for a while, this is a great choice.
Be aware that it’s smell is not great though, and people suffering from depression and psychosis can often already have a bit of a distorted sense of smell anyway.
You are likely going to want to blend this with some floral essential oils for psychosis to sweeten it. I love valerian paired with rose and geranium, as well as valerian paired with lavender and chamomile.
Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 16 weeks of pregnancy. Valerian essential oil and alcohol are not a very nice mix either. It tends to induce rather unpleasant dreams.
Rose is wonderful if someone has been traumatized.
It is also the best oil to choose for postpartum mums.
It is a specific for grief and (like lavender) is also proven to have anti conflict properties.
Rose makes you feel loved.
It is gentle, calming and hypnotic.
Rose essential oil is uplifting, kind and compassionate.
Of all the essential oils for psychosis, this one is likely to be your most expensive purchase, but it will be your most useful if you can’t seem to reach your loved one any more.
Use it in the bath, in a diffuser or topically.
Safety: Not suitable for use during the first 37 weeks of pregnancy. However, recommended after that, and for use in the first few weeks of birth.
Hopefully this post will give you some assurance over using essential oils for psychosis. Use the quick-check list of ones that it would be best to stay away from if someone is experiencing a psychotic episode, otherwise you can use them freely and with confidence. Apart from these problematic ones, just use calming essential oils for psychosis with the normal safety concerns. Always dilute them, and remember we always keep safety documentation on our website too. Check under the picture of the product to find information over maximum dilutions etc.