Essential oils are much more than just lovely aromas. Their therapeutic properties have been used for centuries to help with a range of health conditions, both physical and emotional.
Essential oils can be extracted from many parts of a plant, including the leaves, stem, flowers, bark and roots. They are most commonly sourced through the process of steam distillation. This is when steam is passed through the plant, causing the oil sacs to release vapour - an oil and steam mixture. When cooled, the oil separates from the water. Essential oils are the true essence of a plant and are extremely concentrated.
When used appropriately and carefully, essential oils can be a powerful tool to use as part of your wellness routines and rituals.
When inhaled, the aroma of the oil is sent straight to your limbic system, which is also known as your 'emotional centre' and houses parts of your brain that are linked to memory, fear, anxiety, happiness, pain and pleasure.
This is why smell is so intricately connected with our emotions and certain scents can influence us to feel more happy, calm or alert, etc.
We've cherry-picked a number of our favourite oils that can be used to help give your mental health a positive boost, whatever mood you find yourself in!
Alertness & Memory: Rosemary
This Mediterranean herb has been associated with memory for hundreds of years - there's even a reference in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet: “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance.” In its essential oil form, rosemary is thought to boost cognitive function by encouraging alertness and helping reduce lethargy. This study even showed rosemary helped participants increase their memory by a whopping 75%. Working from home at the moment and often find yourself wallowing in that mid-afternoon slump? Instead of reaching for caffeine, try diffusing or inhaling a little rosemary essential oil and see if it helps!
Energy & Positivity - Sweet Orange
Sweet orange is balancing and often a firm favourite in many essential oil collections due to its harmonising, sweet scent. It's loved by most and is a great place to start if you're just starting out with oils. It has a very uplifting aroma and many studies tout its benefits as an anti-depressant. We love diffusing sweet orange first thing in the morning to help set an uplifting, positive tone for the day.
Romance & Love: Jasmine
Jasmine is often used as a 'base note' in aromatherapy due to its heady, intense, floral aroma. It's an exquisite-smelling oil (with a price tag to match!) and is known for its aphrodisiac qualities. If you're in need of a romance boost and overall feeling of love and wellbeing, treat yourself to this divine oil to try at home - you won't regret it!
Anxiety & Stress - Ylang-ylang
The deliciously sweet-smelling ylang-ylang has long been used in aromatherapy to promote calm. This study showed how a group of nurses who inhaled a blend of ylang-ylang, lavender, and bergamot had lower stress and anxiety levels, blood pressure, heart rate and cortisol.
Meditation - Frankincense
Frankincense has a warm, resinous, earthy aroma and is the perfect oil to reach for if you're trying out meditation, yoga or other energy-based practices. It's a particularly grounding oil and can be used to help cleanse stagnant energy in your home. It also helps to encourage introspection and a sense of courage to heal past traumas.
Relaxation - Lavender
Lavender is grown in gardens and farms all over the world for its sweet, intoxicating aroma and versatility. Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils today to promote health and wellbeing, as it can calm the nervous system by lowering blood pressure and heart rate. Numerous studies of lavender suggest that it’s a natural sedative and is particularly useful in times of stress, insomnia and situational anxiety. It has also been shown to help to soothe pain from menstrual cramps. This oil is balancing and softening, just a few deep inhales can provide you with a sense of ease, relaxation and contentment before bed.
Preparing for sleep - Sweet Marjoram
This delicate oil smells sweet, floral, slightly spicy and with camphoraceous (minty) undertones. Sweet marjoram may help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can build up over time due to prolonged stress. This oil is particularly useful if you find you often wake up multiple times during the night. It will help to reset the mind, encourage feelings of calm and serenity, and its natural sedative properties promote a night of deep, rejuvenating sleep.
What are some of your favourite essential oils to use when you're in need of a positive wellness boost?