The use of essential oils in the healing arts dates back over many thousands of years. According to the University of Michigan Medical Center, the practice of aromatherapy, which is based on the use of essential oils, can be traced back more than 6,000 years!
To ancient civilizations, essential oils were simply that – essential. They were used to heal wounds in body, heart, mind and spirit, and apparently with such high efficacy they are still in use today.
What is Aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy is a term used to describe the use of essential oils for healing purposes.
Depending on the patient’s condition and needs, essential oils can be massaged into the skin topically, inhaled via use of an aromatherapy diffuser or even taken orally (although this last should not be attempted without guidance from a trained aromatherapy practitioner).
When choosing the best essential oil for diffuser use, look for organic-grown ingredients and the purest distillation methods. Also be sure to follow any manufacturer dilution recommendations as some essential oils can be harsh or even toxic when used in their pure un-diluted form.
In this post, learn about the best essential oils used in aromatherapy today for relaxation.
NOTE: If you are currently pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive, please consult your healthcare professional before using essential oils.
The Best Essential Oils for Relaxation
Lavender essential oil, or Lavandula angustifolia, is one of the best-known essential oils for reducing anxiety.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reported that research subjects who inhaled lavender essential oil with the help of an aromatherapy diffuser experienced a measurable reduction in serum (salivary) cortisol.
This is significant because cortisol is commonly known as the “stress hormone” and it has been implicated in everything from heart attacks to weight gain to inflammation and panic attacks.
Lavender is a natural sedative that has been proven to reduce cortisol levels and provide a natural, non-toxic and non-habit-forming sedative effect.
Bergamot essential oil, or Citrus bergamia, is actually the same citrusy floral ingredient that gives Earl Grey tea its unique and refreshing taste.
According to the American College of Healthcare Sciences (ACHS), when bergamot is used in essential oil form, bergamot can produce relief from insomnia, agitation, depression, anxiety and stress.
Like lavender, bergamot can also reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the human body. In clinical trials, bergamot performed well as a method of reducing blood pressure and heart rate.
Chamomile essential oil, or Chamaemelum nobile, is not only a well-known sleep aid (especially in tea form), but is also one of the hands-down best choices for easing anxiety and promoting relaxation.
The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine conducted research into the anti-anxiety and anti-depressant effects of chamomile and found it to be highly effective in alleviating both symptoms when inhaled via aromatherapy.
NOTE: If you have a ragweed or hay fever allergy, ask your doctor before using chamomile.
4. Ylang yang.
Ylang ylang essential oil, or Cananga odorata, is a particularly popular essential oil distilled from the flowers of the tree by the same name.
Known as a powerful natural anti-depressant, ylang ylang also puts a uniquely positive spin on its uplifting effects by promoting a more optimistic, cheerful life outlook as well.
Ylang ylang can be used alone or in combination with lavender and/or bergamot as a natural aid to relaxation.
NOTE: Use with care if you are being treated for low blood pressure.
Vetiver essential oil, or Vetiveria zizanioides, is recognized as a tonic for the central nervous system, providing calm and tranquility after any kind of stress, shock or trauma.
In Asia, India, Africa and Sri Lanka, vetiver is very well known as a natural anxiety easer. One unique property of vetiver essential oil is that it can ease anxiety and increase energy at the same time, which is something many anxiety sufferers really need.
For people who struggle to get to sleep or stay asleep, vetiver is also a particularly beneficial choice to treat insomnia.
Rose essential oil, or Rosa damascena, is one of the hands-down most popular essential oils of all times. Its sweet aroma and safety of use for women who are pregnant makes it a particularly welcome addition to the list of essential oils that can promote relaxation and peace.
Rose essential oil is also a natural hormone balancer, which is particularly appreciated among women who are struggling with hormone fluctuations due to pregnancy, monthly menses, peri-menopause or other reasons.
Frankincense essential oil, Boswellia carteri/sacra, includes among its chief claims to fame its historically-recorded presence at the birth of Jesus.
Biblical historians hypothesize that frankincense, a pricey and prized fragrance of the day, was offered not just for its ceremonial meaning but for its medicinal properties as well.
Today, frankincense is known to help with the stilling and calming of the mind that is so essential for meditation and relaxation. It can also ease pain and depression, promote tranquility and calm the immune system.
Like rose essential oil, frankincense is also a natural hormone balancer, which can be safely inhaled (but should not be used topically during pregnancy).
If you are just beginning to learn about the amazing properties of different essential oils and choosing the best essential oil for diffuser use, you may be feeling a little overwhelmed by the richness each offers in terms of healing for body and mind. Happily, it isn’t necessary to know everything there is to know about essential oils for relaxation before you can begin to experiencing their benefits.
You can just pick a couple essential oil options from this list and give them a try to see which ones you like the best and go from there!
Now that you have an idea of what essential oils to use check out our article on the top rated aromatherapy diffuser to use for your essential oils.