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Orange essential oil may improve symptoms of PTSD, say researchers

Post-traumatic stress disorder affects around 8 million adults in the United States, but treatments for the condition are still limited. Orange essential oil may offer a nonpharmaceutical option to help reduce the stress and fear associated with the disorder, suggests research carried out by scientists at George Washington University.

Early indications show that orange essential plant oil could help to diminish symptoms associated with PTSD.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxietydisorder often triggered by exposure to stressful, distressing, or frightening events, or the sudden and unexpected death of a loved one.

The person with the disorder tends to relive the traumatic experience through flashbacks and nightmares. The severe anxiety caused by PTSD may last months or even years, and it can have a significant impact on the person's life.

Chronic stress is thought to play a role in activating and exacerbating inflammation in the peripheral immune system. Research has suggested that peripherally circulating immune cells may be able to cross the blood-brain barrier and cause inflammation in the central nervous system, which may contribute to mental health disorders, including PTSD. However, the link between fear memory and the immune system is not entirely understood.

Furthermore, treatment for PTSD is currently limited to two FDA-approved medications and psychotherapy practices, including cognitive and exposure therapies.

Cassandra Moshfegh, a research assistant in Paul Marvar's laboratory at the George Washington University, and colleagues sought to investigate the effect of orange essential plant oil on PTSD symptoms. Previous studies have shown that orange essential oil may have a depressant-like effect on the central nervous system.

The team presented the research at the American Physiological Society's annual meeting during the Experimental Biology 2017 conference, held in Chicago, IL.