Have you decided the time to take charge of your lifestyle is now by trying essential oils but you don’t know where to start or what oils to try?
Perhaps you’ve heard adding essential oils to your self care routine can help you undo the effects of our stressful, fast paced time but you are skeptical if they even work.
Let’s take a look at the best essential oils for you and your health needs.
Whatever your health woe, chances are there is an essential oil that can help. People have used essential oils since recorded history. And though modern medicine offers a variety of over the counter and other synthetic drugs to better your health, these methods may cause side effects or be too harsh for all users.
Essential oils can provide a good alternative and enhancement to other medications. Essential oils are a natural and safe way to manage stress and anxiety as well as boost your body’s immune system, diminish cravings, and just make you feel better.
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are natural, aromatic oils found in a variety of flowers and herbs. These oils are usually made by distilling or pressing the oil from a plant. As a result, these oils normally smell like a stronger version of the plant they come from.
Homeopaths and natural living enthusiasts have a long history of using essential oils for many uses. These uses include:
- Promoting relaxation
- Better sleep
- Easing digestive woes
- Soothing acne and eczema
- Decreasing inflammation
- Easing muscle aches
- Weight loss
- Relieving allergy symptoms
- Banishing headaches
- Clearing cold symptoms like sore throats and congestion
How Do Essential Oils Work?
Essential oils work in a variety of ways to combat many health related problems. They work in a few ways to provide healing and relief to a variety of physical ailments. Some of these ways are:
- Providing Stress Relief - The American Psychological Association recognises that these circumstances can send our bodies into a chronic state of fight or flight, where we live in a heightened state of anxiety.
Living in this state can increase the risk of heart troubles, headaches, depression and anxiety, and skin conditions and worsen immunological conditions like allergies and asthma.
Chronic stress also leads to stubborn weight around the belly and decreased immune resistance leading to more colds and flus. (1,2)
- Antibacterial and Antimicrobial Properties - Many essential oils have built in antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that help our bodies fight germs and stay healthy.
- Anti Inflammatory Properties - Many essential oils provide anti inflammatory benefits. Inflammation causes unnecessary illnesses and pain.
How Can Essential Oils Help You Manage Your Health Condition?
Most people are familiar with some of the smells associated with essential oils. Fewer people realize just how powerful in promoting your health these enticing aromas are.
Here are some areas of your health that essential oils can help promote:
If you have allergies and come in contact with an allergen your body will suffer an inflammatory response. Allergens trigger your body to release an antibody called immunoglobulin E (IgE).
If you are allergic to a lot of different things, your body will produce multiple kinds of IgE. IgE triggers histamine reactions in many places in the body, and most medications are designed to block IgE, which is where the commonly heard term antihistamine comes from. (5)
According to the United States National Library of Medicine, antihistamines are drugs that treat allergy symptoms. These drugs may have some side effects like sleepiness, dry mouth, and dizziness. Like antihistamines, essential oils also treat allergy symptoms.
Unlike antihistamines, they may also treat an underlying cause of allergies: inflammation. When you treat your allergy symptoms with essential oils, you might be fighting this damaging inflammation and helping restore balance to your body’s stressed out system. (6)
Essential oils can help significantly with anxiety and stress levels. This neurological link between smell and emotion, means fragrant essential oils can manage negative emotions like stress and anxiety.
Korean doctors proved this connection in the study titled “Effects of aroma hand massage on pain, state anxiety and depression in hospice patients with terminal cancer.”that split terminally ill cancer patients into 2 groups.
The first group received a hand massage using a combination of aromatic essential oils.
The second group received a hand massage with unscented oil. The first group showed a marked reduction in pain score and depression, whereas the group that used only unscented oil showed no real changes. (7)
With evidence that cancer patients can reduce their anxiety and depression, it is little wonder that essential oils can help the average person also reduce anxiety.
Not only does the pleasing scent of most essential oils reduce anxiety, but many of the oils can be used as a massage oil as well. Massage is another way to relieve stress and anxiety and a massage with an essential oil really enhances that stress 8)fact, the Mayo Clinic recognises that massages decrease anxiety, pain, and stress related insomnia. (
The medical community recognises several types of headaches that range in severity. Some of the most common are: migraines, tension type headaches, sinus headaches, cluster headaches, medication overuse headaches, and sugar headaches.
Each headache type has a different root cause, sometimes being illness and other times being a secondary effect.
For severe headaches, be sure to see your doctor to rule out life threatening issues.
For other headaches, essential oils can help reduce underlying causes of headaches by relieving stress, encouraging hydration, treating the cause of allergies, and boosting immunity to colds and infections that cause headaches.
There are over 200 viruses that cause the common cold, and chances are, you have encountered your fair share of them. Unfortunately, antibiotics used to treat bacteria infections have no effect on cold viruses. This leaves you with very few options for easing the misery during a cold. (9)
Most medications come with a range of side effects from mild (dizziness, dry mouth) to severe (heart problems, kidney disease). Luckily, studies show that some essential oils can soothe inflamed nasal, throat, and bronchial passages with their anti inflammatory properties.
Sore throats have many potential causes including colds, allergies, the flu, and over-use. Sore throats are often treated with cough syrups and other cold and flu medications that treat multiple symptoms.
Though this might be tolerable when suffering from a cold, getting extra medication that can have harmful side-effects may not be desirable. (11)
The same properties that help with headaches, body aches, and cold symptoms can help relieve sore throats no matter what the cause and without trying to treat something that is not there.
A lot of people can point to cravings and emotional eating as major roadblocks to successful, healthy changes in diet. Cravings often cloud good judgement and interfere with the brain’s hunger signals.
In fact, because of emotions and other nonphysical factors, brain signals that are supposed to let you know when you are full and when you are hungry often get clouded. Studies have shown that subjects may not actually know when they are full, causing a potential to overeat. (12)
If you find you often give into cravings, essential oils might benefit you. Aroma and appetite are linked, according to Psychology Today. Studies conducted in recent years showed that people were able to satisfy their cravings through smell, thus reducing their appetites. As result, they ate fewer calories than those who did not use aromas. (13)
For those of you thinking that the smell of cooking food makes you more hungry, essential oils might be able to help this as well. A French study found that if you smell something that would stop your hunger signals, you will probably be less hungry overall and less likely to give in to unhealthy cravings. (14)
If you know someone who suffers from eczema or suffer from it yourself, you know the itchy, painful rashes around your body’s creases. Fewer people know that eczema is caused by triggers (such as stress, infection, and foods) that create an inflammatory response in your body.
There are a variety of commercially available treatments. Like cold medications, though, these medications, creams, and soaps can potentially have harmful side effects. Plus, for some sufferers, treatment with one product alone may not be enough to clear the skin. (15)
Similar to eczema, acne is recognized as being both inflammation and caused by triggers your body is responding to. Acne can range from a few white and black heads to widespread, painful acne.
Also similar to eczema, there are a variety of over the counter treatments that range from cleansers and soaps to creams to prescription steroids. Unfortunately, many of the medications can come with severe side effects, such as birth defects, while others are disruptive to the body’s system. What’s worse is that often one treatment type is not enough to effectively treat acne.
However, essential oils can help with acne. Essential oils help with inflammation and in some cases, the antibacterial properties can help kill the bacteria that is causing the acne.
The Link Between Essential Oils and Stress Related Disease
Stress management plays a huge role in our health and well being but it is hard to manage effectively. Essential oils have massive stress relieving benefits by tapping into their aromatherapy potential.
The sense of smell doesn’t often get the respect it deserves. It’s time to pay attention to it. The sense of smell is extremely powerful. This sense is directly linked to an area of the brain that plays a huge role in regulating our moods and emotions.
Regulation of moods and emotions can help manage stress. When stress is managed and decrease, the risk of stress enhanced health problems decreases as well.
So how does smell work to regulate our moods and emotions? Simple. When you smell something pleasant like lemon or lavender, the neurons in the nose pass that information to the olfactory bulb in the brain through the olfactory nerve. This area of the brain along with the surrounding limbic system regulates our moods and emotions. (3)
Therefore, the sense of smell wired to our emotions from positive to negative. Certain smells then are likely to boost good feelings and limit the unpleasant ones.
So because of the neurological link between smell and emotion, it is safe to say that certain fragrant essential oils benefit anxiety and relieve stress which then lessens the effects of stress related health issues.
The Mayo Clinic recognises that the following symptoms may all arise from chronic stress:
- Muscle pain
- Chest pain
- Digestive Troubles
- Sleep problems and restlessness
- Sadness or depression
- Changes in appetite
- Substance Abuse
If left unchecked, these symptoms can be warning signs of serious concerns including heart disease, depression, diabetes, and other chronic conditions that stress can impact. (4)
Therefore managing stress is crucial to health and well being and capitalising on the aromatic properties of essential oils can do just that.
What are the Best Essential Oils for Your Health?
Many essential oils can help you get relief from your health without relying solely on medications. The best essential oils for managing everything from headaches and pains to allergies and eczema to anxiety and stress include:
- Lavender Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Lemon Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Chamomile Oil
- Bergamot Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
Each oil has different benefits and ways it can be used. Let’s take a look at these oils.
The distinct, calming fragrance of the flowering herb is recognised as an anti-inflammatory. Recent studies have concluded that lavender oil can reduce inflammation and reduce the production of mucus (16). Studies also indicate lavender has also been linked to calming anxiety. (17)
Benefits of Lavender Oil
Lavender oil can help your body by:
- Reducing Bronchial Inflammation - The calming nature of lavender also calms the airways, making it easier to breathe. Cold medications have similar properties that target inflammation, making breathing easier.
- Supports Sleep - Lavender helps relieve insomnia, which can reduce anxiety and stress.
- Promotes Relaxation - Lavender helps you relax and unwind. The act of relaxing itself lowers cortisol - a stress hormone.
- Eases Pain - Lavender oil can help reduce headache pain. It can also help with other aches and pains associated with the common cold and sore throats.
How to use Lavender Oil
Lavender oil can be used to manage your health by:
- Inhaling - There are several methods of inhaling lavender oil. Some of the most popular methods include: a diffuser, adding a few drops to a bowl of simmering water and breathing it in with a towel around your head and bowl; using a few drops on your forehead in the shower and breathing it in; and as a simple diffuser in the room in a bowl of water.
- Topically - Lavender essential oils can be placed directly on the skin. Rubbing the oil directly around the nose, throat, and head can help reduce the pain associated with colds, headaches, sore throats, and body aches and pains.
Peppermint oil’s minty smell and popular use in candy make it well known world-wide. Many people don’t realize that peppermint oil is great for allergy, cold, and flu relief. Peppermint oil can clear stuffed up sinuses and help relieve an itchy throat. (18)
Benefits of Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oils can help you reduce your allergy, body aches, and headaches by:
- Reducing Inflammation - The pleasing scent of peppermint oil is very soothing and helps to open up airways. This is particularly good for when you have a cold or are suffering from allergies.
- Reducing Pain - Peppermint oil has pain relieving properties that can be used to help treat some of the pain associated with various body parts.
How to Use Peppermint Oil
To use peppermint oil, you can try:
- Inhaling - Breathe in this oil’s soothing aroma by adding a couple drops into a bowl of water and using as a diffuser. You can also add to boiling water and breath in the vapors with a towel over the bowl and head.
Finally, you can rub a couple of drops in your hands and cup them over your nose and mouth as your breath in.
- Topical - One to two times a day, you can apply peppermint oil to the base of your neck. Check a small patch of skin first though to make sure you are not sensitive to it. Also, you can dilute two drops of peppermint oil in a carrier oil and place around your nostrils.
- Chest Rub - You can create your own peppermint oil chest rub by diluting two drops of peppermint oil in a carrier oil and massaging into the chest.
Lemon oil helps with respiratory conditions including cough and congestion plus promotes overall health and well being with strong antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. (19) It also can help promote weight loss as it aides in digestion and aids in hydration that can help reduce cravings.
Benefits of Lemon Essential Oil for Your Health
Lemons have a glowing reputation in the healthy lifestyles world. Long ago, lemons were key to treating and preventing diseases like scurvy. In more recent times, people have taken to using lemon oil as a means to control weight, reduce the severity of colds and allergies, and for overall health.
flush toxins out of the body that make weight loss difficult, but its acid properties aid in digestion. (20)
Additionally, all those lemon smelling, chemical cleaners out there are don’t just use the scent because it is light and refreshing. Lemon oil has been found to help rid surfaces of bacterial growth, which can help keep your home much cleaner.
Lemon essential oil can help you by:
- Controlling Cravings - Lemon’s fresh fragrance can help you reduce your cravings and help you avoid overeating.
- Boosts Immune System - Lemon oil stimulates the immune system with a cleansing, large shot of Vitamin C.
- Promoting Good Digestion - Lemon’s highly acidic nature helps your body break down food faster and keep it moving through your system so your body doesn’t hold onto it unnecessarily.
- Eases Upper Respiratory Symptoms - Different studies have shown that lemon oil can kill airborne bacteria. Additionally lemon oil can thin mucus. And important for those who suffer from inflammation, lemon oil can soothe inflamed nasal and bronchial passages. (21)
- Promoting Hydration - Getting enough water is key a healthy life. Adding a couple drops of lemon oil to water to make it refreshing, which may encourage you to drink more without adding calories.
- Inhaling - Mix a few drops of lemon oil with water and spray into the air for a fresh scent that helps clear cravings and unclog stuffed up noses. You can also put a drop or two on a cotton ball and breathe it in.
- Cleaning - Mix a few drops of lemon oil with water and use it to wipe down the surfaces in your home. Lemon’s antimicrobial properties cut through pollutants that may make you have an allergic reaction that can lead to colds and sinus infections.
- Drinking - Sprinkle a couple of drops of lemon oil into water and drink it prior to meals. This not only jump starts your digestion, you also get a much needed dose of Vitamin C and other health benefits associated with being well hydrated.
- Topically - Mix a two drops of lemon oil into a carrier oil and use it to massage onto the body. This helps destress you, which can help reduce anxiety. Just be careful not to use this otherwise excellent oil when treating a rash as it will likely burn quite badly.
How to Use Lemon Essential Oil
To use lemon oil try:
Found in many over the counter products, eucalyptus oil helps with a variety of health issues.. Studies have indicated that the chemical found in eucalyptus oil, cineole, has a variety of health benefits that include reducing inflammation and pain. (22)
This indicates that you can use eucalyptus oils for treatment of pain associated with body aches, tension and sinus headaches, cold and flu symptoms, and generally as a means to relax.
Benefits of Eucalyptus for Your Health
Eucalyptus oil helps relieve and fight against a variety of ailments by:
- Relieving Congestion - When used in aromatherapy, Eucalyptus oil can help reduce congestion associated with allergies, colds, cough, and sinus pressure. It loosens mucus and opens airways, making it easier to breathe again.
- Promotes Relaxation - Eucalyptus oil aids in relaxation. Relaxing alone helps to lower the stress hormone, making it an ideal way to reduce anxiety.
- Pain Relief - Eucalyptus oil helps fight pain by blocking the receptors. This property is makes it ideal to help treat a variety of pains throughout your body.
How to use Eucalyptus Oil
Eucalyptus oil can be used to manage allergies in several ways. The most popular ways to use Eucalyptus oil to treat your pain and sinus symptoms and promote relaxation includes:
- As a Bath - Add Eucalyptus oil to bath to help soothe your nerves and relieve some aches and pains. A bonus is the vapor from the bath water will help clear your airways as well.
- Inhaling - Mix a drop or two in boiling water to maximize the effect of Eucalyptus oil on clearing your sinuses. You just need to breathe in the cleansing vapors.
- Topical Rub - Create a topical chest or throat rub by combining several drops of oil with a carrier oil, such as olive oil. Rub onto the chest and throat to create a great way to inhale the vapors and reduce mucus and inflammation.
- Gargle - Mix Eucalyptus oil with some luke-warm water to make a gargle. Gargle for 1 to 2 minutes to relieve the pain of a sore throat.
Chamomile is known as a calming oil but it has many benefits that go beyond soothing frayed nerves. Not only can this herb soothe your nerves and ease cold symptoms, but it is a great choice for treating stress related headaches. Roman Chamomile has analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties which make it ideal for treating headaches associated with tension and migraines. (23)
Chamomile oil is one of the best oils for treating and soothing rashes, eczema, hives and other skin conditions caused by allergic reactions. Chamomile comes in two varieties that are both used heavily in the Western world. The two varieties include German and Roman chamomile (24).
Benefits of Chamomile Oil for Your Health
Chamomile oils are most effective tension headaches, but can used to treat migraines as well by:
- Reducing Tension – Chamomile has a tension reducing property that helps to greatly reduce headache pain associated with tension headaches.
- Banishing Stress - Chamomile oil helps reduce stress that is a leading cause of tension headaches. Reduction in stress can help with overall health as well, but its impact on reducing headaches is also something to note.
How to Use Chamomile Oil for Your Health
To use chamomile oil, you can:
- Bathe - When you have a painful tension headache, taking a bath mixed with chamomile oil is a great way to get some relief. An added perk: the bath will relax and soothe you helping to diminish stress and fight underlying inflammation.
- Topical - Add one or two drops of chamomile oil to a carrier oil and then rub on the forehead, neck, and shoulders to help reduce tension and alleviate the headache pain.
- Brew a cup of tea - Chamomile tea is a home remedy for common ailments for a reason. You can make your own by purchasing a chamomile blend or you can simply add a drop of food grade chamomile essential oil to a cup of hot water with honey and lemon.
Bergamot oil comes from a citrus fruit that grows in southeast Asia. It has a sweet, subtly spicy scent that promotes relaxation. It has been shown to help with weight management as well.
Benefits of Bergamot Oil for Your Health
Bergamot oil may not be well-known world-wide. But this oil originates from a citrus fruit found in southeast Asia. It has a sweet, fruity taste with just a hint of spice.
One of the best benefits of bergamot oil is its pleasant aroma that may help you relax and unwind, but it’s metabolism boosting properties should not be overlooked.
Bergamot oil can help you with your health by:
- Aiding in Relaxation - The pleasing scent of bergamot oil is very soothing and helps eliminate stress. Excess stress raises hormone levels and makes it very difficult to lose weight. Additionally when you are under stress, you are more likely to give into emotional eating.
- Boosts Metabolism - Bergamot oil is full of polyphenols, which are found in green tea. This natural chemical helps speed up the metabolism by burning sugar and fats.
How to Use Bergamot Oil
To use bergamot oil try:
- Inhaling - Breathe in the relaxing scent of bergamot by adding a couple drops on a cotton swab and inhaling deeply. Like other oils, you could use a diffuser. Similarly, you can use a pot of boiling water to inhale the steam.
- Soaking - Add a couple drops of bergamot oil into a bath for the ultimate in relaxation and destressing.
Tea Tree Oil
Tea Tree Oil is known for its healing abilities. Aborigines on the continent of Australia are recognized it’s healing properties many years ago. However, it took until only a short time ago that made tea tree oil became much better known worldwide.
Benefits of Tree Oil
Tea tree oil helps relieve allergies, headaches, and helps keep things sanitary by:
- Home Cleaner - When mixed with water, tea tree oil can wipe away mold, fungus, and bacteria from surfaces. Using tea tree oil as a cleaner is much like lemon oil in that it helps to kill potentially harmful microorganisms living on the surfaces of many areas around your home.
This also helps with deodorizing areas of your home prone to unpleasant smells such as your garbage can.
- Cut Disinfectant - Tea tree oil can be used to help clean and disinfect minor cuts and burns.
- Relieves Congestion - When used in aromatherapy, tea tree oil can help reduce congestion associated with colds and allergies. It also helps kill bacteria when inhaled.
How to use Tree Oil
Tree oil can be used in a variety of ways. The most popular ways to use tree oil include:
- Inhaling - Mix a one to two drops in water and boil it to maximize the effect of tea tree oil on clearing your sinuses. As with other oils, placing a towel over your head and the bowl and breathing in is very effective.
- Topically - Mix tea tree oil with other oils to create a skin relief perfect for areas affected by allergies and other skin conditions.
- Cleaning - You can use tea tree oil as part of a cleaner by mixing a drop with a cup of water. Spray the mixture onto various surfaces to remove mold and fungus. Use on particularly smelly areas to help remove bad odors.
Other Uses for Essential Oils
These health conditions, stress relief and self care aren’t the only uses for essential oils. Essential oils are powerful tools to use around your house. Try using essential oils as an alternative to harsh cleansers and chemicals. To use essential oils around the home:
- Try cleaning with lemon or tea tree oil.
- Use them to freshen laundry by adding 15 drops to a load of laundry rather.
- Pest control. Orange oil can help fend off annoying bugs.
- Cook with them. Try adding drops of essential oil to baked goods for new flavors.
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Essential Oils: Tips and Tricks
Essential oils offer a variety of preventative and symptom reducing properties. Make sure you get the best from your essential oils by following these general tips and tricks:
- Choose the right oils for your symptoms.
- Try mixing the oils together for even more powerful symptom relief.
- Try mixing the oils together for even more powerful symptom relief.
- Always consult a doctor prior to changing your self care routine.
- Use some oils to improve your overall health. Some great examples are lemon oil and lavender, both of which have multiple health benefits that can go beyond immediate use.
- For skin rubs, make sure to test the oil solution out on a small portion of skin first. Some oils, such as peppermint, can be a bit strong for some people.
Top 5 Essential Oil Brands
There are so many brands of essential oils on the market today. With so many on the market it can be difficult to pick the right brand for you. When you are in the market for essential oils try one of these reputable companies.
- Radha Beauty Essential Oils - Founded in 2014, this skin care company believes that beauty can be sustained and achieved with natural products that are all natural, organic, and cruelty-free. These products have helped make Radha the best selling beauty and essential oil brand on Amazon.
- NOW Foods Essential Oils - NOW Foods Essential Oils have been around since 1968. This company offers a wide selection of oils. According to their mission statement, the company strives to provide value in products and services that empower people to lead healthier lives. (26)
- Sun Essential Oils - Sun Essential Oils uses premium products to make over 100 different essential oils. This company provides good smelling, well made oils at a reasonable cost.
- Majestic Pure Essential Oils - This company is a top online seller of nature inspired personal care products including a full line of essential oils. They provide quality products from ethical suppliers.
- Art Natural Essential Oils - Art Naturals aims to offer affordable products made from cruelty-free, all natural, and organic materials. Their goal is to prevent and undo damage from negative internal and external factors.
Essential Oils: Myths versus Facts
Myth: Peppermint oil is a safe way to reduce fever.
Fact: While peppermint oil has a lot of other benefits, relieving fever is not one of them. However if you are suffering from a fever as a result of a cold or flu, peppermint oil may relieve some of your other symptoms and help you be more comfortable.
Myth: Some essential oils can make you feel more energetic.
Fact: This has some truth. Limited studies have been done, but one in particular titled “Effects of inhaled rosemary oil on subjective feelings and activities of the nervous system” shows that participants that inhaled rosemary oil did feel more alert and energetic due to an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. Unfortunately, there was no control group during this study so it can be said for sure if this was a placebo effect. (27)
Myth: Essential oils can reduce anxiety.
Fact: Studies have proven that essential oils can reduce anxiety. Research has proven that many different oils can prevent anxiety. A study titled “ Aromatherapy Benefits Autonomic Nervous System Regulation for Elementary School Faculty in Taiwan” showed that participants that inhaled bergamot oil every day for the study duration had reduced physical signs of anxiety. (28)
Myth: Essential oils have antibiotic and antimicrobial properties that can prevent illness.
Fact: Research has proven that essential oils can kill viruses and diseases. A study conducted in MIT’s department of biological engineering titled “Selected Antimicrobial Essential Oils Eradicate Pseudomonas spp. and Staphylococcus aureus Biofilms” showed that essential oils disrupt the environment of a virus enough to kill it or at least hinder its development. (29)
Conclusions: Can Essential Oils Help Improve Your Health?
Yes, essential oils have many health benefits that you can take advantage of. Some essential oils, such as lemon oil, may help you prevent some sickness and flare-ups.
Others can help relieve symptoms of everything from headaches and body aches to congestion and sore throats. Unlike medications that have potential risky side-effects, oils generally don’t have complications beyond being a potential skin irritant.
While essential oils may be a powerful tool in your self care tool box, please note that essential oils are not the end all be all. Using essential oils will not counteract other bad habits like not getting enough sleep, drinking too much alcohol or smoking.
They are merely one more way for you to take charge of your health. Using an essential oil is never intended as a substitute for a doctor’s care. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor for chronic health problems.