Essential Oils for Shock and Grief, Jani Bryson, ISP
Essential Oils for Shock and Grief, Jani Bryson, ISP

Both shock and grief can have a debilitating effect on your body. Grief and shock are often combined; for example, the news of a sudden death. In addition, car accidents, falls and other types of unexpected news can force our bodies to go into “emergency” mode to cope with the change in circumstances. The emotional responses to both shock and grief often have physiological effects on the body. The use of essential oils in aromatherapy may help you to cope with some of these responses.

How to Use Essential Oils for Shock and Grief

The quickest way in which your body responds to emotional issues is to use essential oils through inhalation (source: Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, Shirley Price, Len Price). The nose is directly linked to the brain and therefore inhaling an aroma will have a quicker response time than applying essential oils (in a carrier base) to your skin.

You can inhale an appropriate essential oil through a variety of methods; these include:

  • inhalation direct from an essential oil bottle

  • inhalation from a tissue – simply add a couple of drops to a tissue and inhale

  • inhalation in the bath – add a couple of drops of an appropriate essential oil to warm bath water or directly from a bath oil

  • inhalation from an aromatherapy diffuser – add a couple of drops to the diffuser, as instructed (candle diffusers and electric diffusers work differently, so see the manufacturer’s handbook for guidelines). Aromatherapy diffusers disperse an aroma throughout a room.

Essential Oils for Shock

Several essential oils are reputed to be beneficial for shock; these include peppermint (Mentha piperita), neroli (Citrus aurantium var. amara), mandarin (Citrus reticulata) and ylang ylang (Cananga odorata). According to Patricia Davis in Aromatherapy: An A-Z, peppermint is one of the most useful essential oils for treating shock. However, peppermint essential oil is a powerful essential oil and you should use it in moderation, in addition to taking note of other contra-indications for use.

Neroli essential oil is a “gentler” essential oil than peppermint but it is an expensive oil to buy; you may want to inhale it directly from the bottle for shock in order to preserve the quantity of oil. Mandarin essential oil is a member of the citrus botanical family and consequently is a light, uplifting essential oil. Ylang ylang is a heavier essential oil but it is used to treat stress, nervous problems and depression, working on the emotional senses; however, use ylang ylang essential oil with caution as it may cause headaches or nausea if you use it in excess.

Essential Oils for Grief

Essential oils cannot help to heal grief alone, but may help in the overall grieving process. Essential oils such as vetiver (Vetiveria zizanioides), rose (Rosa damascena) and benzoin (Styrax benzoin) might be useful for grief, in addition to the uplifting bergamot (Citrus bergamia) and other citrus essential oils.

In addition to the inhalation methods discussed above, you might find massage combined with essential oils useful in the grieving process.

Cautions for Using Essential Oils

Consult a qualified and experienced aromatherapist before using essential oils for the first time; in addition, seek medical advice for the prolonged treatment of shock and grief. Essential oils carry different cautions for use so it is essential that you are educated on a particular oil before using it; for example, you should not use some essential oils with babies, children, in pregnancy or with certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure of epilepsy. The use of aromatherapy is often not recommended in conjunction with certain homeopathic treatments and/or prescribed medications.

Learn More About How to Use Essential Oils

The Sedona Aromatherapie Foundation Course in Aromatherapy introduces the beginner to the therapeutic properties of essential oils through botany, chemistry, physiology, blending and more. To about other courses too, visit the courses home page.


  • Davis, Patricia, 1999, Aromatherapy: An A-Z, UK: Vermilion

  • Lawless, Julia, 1995, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, UK: Thorsons

  • Price, Shirley, Price, Len, 2002, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals, UK: Churchill Livingstone

  • Author’s personal experience and training.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email