Essential Oils for Relaxation and Health

Essential oils

Essential oils are distilled or mechanically extracted from different parts of plants including flowers, seeds, bark, roots, twigs and more. These scented liquids can be inhaled, added to a carrier oil for direct application on the skin and consumed orally (some, not all).

Some research has shown that certain essential oils have calming, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and anti-viral properties. However, others are not so sure about their health benefits.


Essential oils can give your mood a lift with just a whiff, or be used to alleviate symptoms of many common conditions. Their uplifting scents can promote a burst of energy, while calming floral ones can help you fall asleep.

Peppermint oil is a cooling and refreshing addition to drinks or food, and its menthol content helps relieve headaches. Ingestion can also boost exercise performance. A study published in the Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine found that participants who ingested peppermint oil experienced greater grip strength and peak flow rates during exercise than a control group.

Because there’s no FDA grading system for essential oils, it’s important to choose high-quality products, says Dechen. Check labels for purity and avoid any added ingredients.


Lavender essential oil is one of the most popular and versatile oils used in aromatherapy. Distilled from the flowers of the lavender plant (Lavandula angustifolia), it is known to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

When inhaled, the scent of lavender activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates bodily functions associated with anxiety — like heart rate and hormone secretion — and helps calm the mind and body. Lavender is also an antiseptic and a strong anti-microbial, making it a great choice for skin care.

When applying to the skin, diluted lavender oil moisturizes dry, itchy skin and soothes abrasions. Make sure your lavender oil is 100% pure, therapeutic-grade to reap the full range of benefits.


The bright scent of lemon is a natural mood enhancer, uplifting the spirits and dispelling feelings of lethargy. It is also used to treat digestive issues and to cleanse the body.

Inhaling the aroma of lemon essential oil can calm the mind before sleep and reduce stress levels. It is also a great choice for cleaning and purifying the air in your home.

When diluted with a carrier oil and applied to the skin, lemon oil acts as a mild skin moisturizer, restoring suppleness. It also works as an astringent to tighten and tone the complexion. It is an excellent addition to massage blends and face washes, helping to revitalize dull skin.


Eucalyptus is a multi-tasker that supports the immune system and soothes physical discomforts. This oil can clear sinuses, ease coughing and a stuffy nose, relieve headaches, treat fevers, help skin heal from cuts and stings, reduce odor, and kill germs.

The oil is steam distilled from the fresh or partially dried leaves of the tree. The chemical composition varies depending on the botanical species and environmental conditions. Its invigorating scent is recognized by the body’s olfactory receptors to promote mental alertness and boost energy. Its antiseptic properties make it great for cleaning surfaces around the house. It can also be used to remove mold and mildew.

Tea Tree

Known for its antibacterial properties, tea tree oil has an earthy, camphoraceous and medicinal aroma. It’s a great ingredient for purifying DIY cleaners and a natural deodorant, but can also be used in a relaxing room spray or diluted in the skin.

Keep in mind that if applied to wet or interior places like the mouth, nose and vagina, tea tree essential oil can be irritating, so always apply it with a carrier oil. It’s best to store in an opaque, airtight container.


Rosemary oil has stimulating properties that can combat mental fatigue, promote alertness and increase focus. Add a few drops to a diffuser and inhale to create a relaxing environment.

Use diluted rosemary oil to soothe skin irritations, hydrate dry skin and boost skin tone and texture. Rosemary oil also has anti-fungal, antiseptic and antiviral properties.

Rosemary essential oil contains several compounds that have insecticidal properties, such as camphor and cineol, which interfere with the nervous system of insects and cause paralysis and death. Place a few drops of rosemary oil around your home to repel pests. Rosemary oil can also help to stimulate hair growth and prevent hair loss when massaged into the scalp.