Essential oils don’t just smell good, these herbal extracts can also improve the way you feel during tough times. Change your mindset with one of these recommended scents for common issues.
Whether it’s juggling a busy schedule, managing your health or your home, life can be demanding. Difficult days come, and when they do, you may feel stressed, distracted, or tired, or experience other mood issues.
Could essential oils, a form of aromatherapy, help you?
Aromatic oils are obtained by vaporizing or pressing plants in order to capture the compounds that give off their unique fragrance. When inhaled or applied topically in a carrier oil, these scents have potential therapeutic effects, including mood stabilization. You can experience essential oils by adding them to a diffuser, sniffing an aroma stick, mixing them into massage oil, or adding a few drops to a cotton ball.
Essential oils are distilled from different plants and all have different potential actions. Some essential oils have calming effects and help you relax and relieve stress, while others promote neurostimulation which boosts energy and improves concentration.
Here’s How Essential Oils Can Affect Your Mood
In theory: When you inhale an oil, the odor molecules pass through your olfactory system (your nose and nasal passages) and affect the brain through the limbic system, also known as the “emotional brain.” It’s the part of the brain that’s involved in behavioral responses, including stress and hormone levels, memory, heart rate regulation, and more.
Each essential oil is thought to interact with the limbic system in a different way, resulting in various positive effects on mood. If you want to incorporate essential oils into your wellness routine, consult a certified aromatherapy specialist or integrative physician to ensure that you are using them safely, to avoid risks such as photosensitivity (when the skin reacts to sunlight), allergic reactions and toxicity from ingesting certain oils. In general, qualified aromatherapists have received training at an aromatherapy school.
Read on to find out what we know about essential oils and mood.
Lavender oil can help you sleep
Lavender, delicate, sweet and floral-smelling, contains plant chemicals that induce relaxation in some people. Lavender and other calming essential oils may indirectly promote sleep by reducing anxiety, which may help you fall asleep. A review and meta-analysis published in the December 2019 issue of Phytomedicine attributes the anxiolytic effects of lavender to linalyl acetate and linalool, key compounds that have proven calming and sedative properties for some people.
However, some essential oils can irritate the mouth and cause stomach ulcers if ingested. Instead, try adding lavender essential oil to a bath or diffuser and inhaling it for possible sleep benefits.
Other essential oils to try for better sleep
Frankincense and chamomile also contain compounds that appear to reduce anxiety and promote sleep. A study in 60 older adults found that those who received chamomile extract capsules saw their sleep quality improve more than those who received a placebo. Previous research has shown that chamomile preparations, such as essential oil tea and aromatherapy, have been used in traditional medicine to treat insomnia and induce calm. Although frankincense oil has yet to be studied in humans, a small study in sleep-deprived rats published in a 2019 issue of the Journal of Oleo Science found that this oil relieved stress. and counteracts the effects of lack of sleep.
Peppermint oil can boost your energy
You might be energized by a bright, stimulating scent like peppermint. Limited human and animal research shows that peppermint oil, with its invigorating and intensely minty scent, can combat fatigue during exercise. In one study, male college students who ingested a peppermint essential oil capsule one hour before activity performed significantly better on grip, vertical jump, and long jump tests than five minutes before activity. taking the pill. They also performed better than students who did not ingest peppermint essential oil.
Although researchers can’t yet explain why peppermint oil can improve energy, it appears that the aroma stimulates areas of the brain responsible for alertness, which speeds up auditory and visual reaction times. Remember that research on this topic is limited. If you still want to try peppermint oil for fatigue, you can inhale it using a diffuser or an aroma stick. You can also apply it to your skin using a carrier oil.
Other Essential Oils to Try for Energy Enhancement
Intense scents like cinnamon, clove, jasmine, and patchouli are other essential oils recommended for fighting fatigue.
Lemon Oil Can Soothe Anxiety
The fresh, pungent scent of lemon essential oil can uplift mood and calm anxiety. Previous research has shown lemon essential oil to significantly improve mood compared to lavender oil or water (the control substances). It may also increase norepinephrine, a brain chemical linked to reduced levels of anxiety and depression.
In addition, another small study showed that patients who sniffed lemon essential oil for 30 minutes were significantly less anxious after orthopedic surgery than the control group. According to a study published in the journal Antioxidants in October 2022, lemon oil may work by accelerating the production of dopamine (a chemical that provides a feeling of well-being in the brain). The mechanisms aren’t yet clear, but a mouse study published in a 2019 issue of the journal Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that limonene, a major compound in citrus oils, may have antidepressant effects.
You can diffuse lemon oil into the air or apply it topically to your skin with a carrier oil.
Lemon oil and other citrus oils react to ultraviolet light and can cause photosensitivity when applied to the skin. You can get sunburned very quickly. Be careful when applying it directly to the skin, and only do so after consulting your integrative medicine practitioner or aromatherapist. If you use lemon oil on your skin, wait at least 12 hours after application before exposing your skin to direct sunlight.
Other essential oils to try for a mood boost
Other citrus oils, such as orange and bergamot, may also have stimulating properties. Again, research is limited, but one study showed that postpartum women who inhaled bergamot essential oil experienced some relief from symptoms of depression.
Rosemary oil can help you focus
Opt for rosemary with the smell of pine and wood. Rosemary has very powerful antioxidant properties and can be great for boosting mental clarity and focus. In a previous study, people who inhaled rosemary essential oil for longer periods of time performed better in visual processing tasks and serial subtraction tests than those who were exposed to the aroma. rosemary for shorter periods. Another small study showed that students remembered pictures and numbers better than the control group when rosemary essential oil was sprayed into the air of the exam room.
Rosemary essential oil contains 1,8-cineole, a compound that may affect learning by preventing the breakdown of a neurotransmitter known as acetylcholine when inhaled. Acetylcholine plays an essential role in learning, memory and attention. Try inhaling rosemary oil or applying it topically with a carrier oil like jojoba or coconut oil.
Avoid rosemary oil if you are pregnant or have epilepsy or hypertension.
Other Essential Oils to Try for Better Focus
Sandalwood, woody, warm and spicy, can also improve concentration. Research has shown that alpha-santalol, the main compound in sandalwood essential oil, can boost attention and mood.