Essential oils have been trending for a while now, but if you’re new to the scene it might feel a little overwhelming. There are so many different brands, varieties, and methods of using them. How do you know where to start, and which is the best for you? For this reason, we’ve put together a list of the top 10 best essential oils for aromatherapy. We will also look at where essential oils come from, how they work, and what they have to offer you. Finally, we’ll cover how to use essential oils for aromatherapy, and the precautions you need to take. We hope this post will get you comfortable enough to take the first step into the wonderful, fragrant world of aromatherapy!
What are Essential Oils?
The name “essential oil” insinuates that it must be something that is essential for us. This might be close to the truth for some of our more enthusiastic aromatherapy fans, but the real meaning stems from the word “essence”. Essential oils are oils that are extracted from the essence of a plant. This can be from stems, flowers, leaves, bark, needles, or any other part of a plant that makes up its whole. These oils are considered to be very potent and are commonly used in traditional medicine, including in aromatherapy. The oils retain the main components of the plant, including flavor and fragrance, which gives them their individual, aromatic, aromas! In our list of the best essential oils for aromatherapy, we will cover some of each oil’s unique benefits and uses.
How do Essential Oils Work?
Essential oils work in relation to the limbic system. The limbic system is a small area of the brain that works to process memories, stimulation, and emotions. Scents play a huge role in memory, due to the way the brain recognizes them. When you are smelling something the aroma goes straight through to your brain’s olfactory bulb, which is directly connected to the processes of the brain responsible for memory and emotion. More recent studies even indicate memories may be stored in the olfactory bulb itself! The strong link between scent and memory is part of the reason why aromatherapy essential oils can have such a strong effect on our mood. Additionally, other studies indicate that they can actually cause physiological effects, such as slowing heart rate. While more study is necessary, anecdotal evidence indicates there are many benefits to be found in using aromatherapy! So now, let’s take a look at our top 10 best essential oils for aromatherapy:
The Top 10 Best Essential Oils for Aromatherapy
Otherwise known as the gateway oil, lavender essential oil is usually the first pick for most beginners. They are already familiar with its herbaceous, floral fragrance, and know all about its reputation. Lavender is one of the most famous aromatherapy oils in terms of being able to calm and soothe the mind, reducing feelings of stress, depression, and chronic anxiety. Lavender is also believed to be a natural sleep aid, helping to treat those who suffer from insomnia.
Eucalyptus essential oil is another oil you are likely already well-acquainted with. Famous in its native Australia for all of its medical benefits, eucalyptus contains eucalyptol, which is in many over-the-counter cold and cough suppressants. Diffusing eucalyptus can help those suffering from colds, allergies, and other respiratory ailments breathe easier. It doesn’t help that the scent of eucalyptus is also fresh, minty, and invigorating! One of the best ways to use eucalyptus oil is to place a few drops in a hot bowl of water, then cover your head and neck completely with a towel. Bend over and inhale the steam, taking deep slow breaths.
A favorite of those who practice yoga and meditation, frankincense is one of the best essential oils for aromatherapy. In addition to being one of the oldest commodities known to man, frankincense can help you center your mind, promoting a grounding effect when you use it to focus during practice. It is often considered to be one of the more spiritual oils, helping you to connect with a higher power. If you are a yoga or meditation enthusiast, then frankincense essential oil might be one of the best aromatherapy oils to start off with!
Smelling of summer and sunshine, the scent of lemon essential oil is a great option for those new to aromatherapy oils. It is also a very versatile oil! You can diffuse lemon oil for its mood-lifting effects, or add it to beauty and bath products to enjoy the effects of aromatherapy during your daily routine. You can also use it to create natural cleaning products, taking advantage of its antibacterial properties. No matter which way you choose to use it, VINEVIDA’s lemon oil comes from Italy, and is strong, aromatic, and uplifting!
Peppermint essential oil comes from the popular herb, which is actually a hybrid of two different types of mint plants. The oil carries its characteristic minty aroma and offers many benefits in terms of aromatherapy. The scent of peppermint is energizing and invigorating, making it perfect to diffuse in spaces such as the office, or kitchen. You can also use this oil to make DIY soaps, which also offer up peppermint’s tingling and cooling properties. To top it all off, in spite of how much we all love the clean scent of mint, insects do not! Deter wasps, spiders, mice, and rats by spraying a diluted mixture of peppermint near windows and doors.
The festive scent of cinnamon is a favorite for many during the fall and winter. Cinnamon essential oil makes the perfect addition to candles, soaps, and other DIY beauty and bath products. You can add it to massage oil for a unique warming experience, blend it in your diffuser, or even create your own diffuser by using a boiling pot of water. Either way, the delicious and fragrant scent of cinnamon will have your family and friends making excuses to drop by.
Hailing from the flowers of the Cananga tree, ylang ylang essential oil smells rich and tropical. In some countries, ylang is actually thought of as an aphrodisiac, though it also offers plenty of essential oil aromatherapy benefits. When diffused, ylang-ylang can help lower feelings of stress and tension. It also helps to boost mood, increasing feelings of well-being and self-confidence.
Tea tree essential oil is also referred to as melaleuca essential oil. It is another oil, similar to eucalyptus, that is very common in many traditional medicines. Tea tree is an antiseptic, antibacterial, AND antifungal, which means it’s excellent for cleaning and air purification. You can also add tea tree oil to shampoos and conditioners to help fight itchy scalp and dandruff. Most essential oils also help to improve circulation, which can help hair grow faster and thicker.
Though lemongrass comes from a grass and not a fruit tree, it still offers up a delicious citrus fragrance—with an exotic twist! When it comes to aromatherapy essential oils lemongrass is an excellent way to get that burst of citrus, without it dissipating too quickly. Citrus oils are top notes, which means you smell them first and they evaporate off the quickest. Lemongrass, however, is a middle note, which means it helps round out the other fragrances in a blend and helps them smell smoother and last longer! It is also a very effective insect repellent, so diffusing lemongrass oil on the patio can help keep away mosquitoes and other pesky outdoor annoyances. This makes it one of our favorites on the list of the best essential oils for aromatherapy.
Another famous cooking herb, rosemary is native to the Mediterranean but is hardy enough that it can be grown almost anywhere. When used in aromatherapy, it can act as a stimulant. Research shows that it can boost heart rate, and brain wave activity, as well as helping to sharpen memory and focus. Interestingly enough, though it does stimulate the brain, it actually decreases levels of cortisol, which is the stress hormone. This makes it an excellent choice to diffuse while you are working, studying, or want a little bit of extra focus.
The Best Essential Oils for Aromatherapy: Different Methods of Use
After reading our list of the best essential oils for aromatherapy, you hopefully have an idea of some of the more popular oils out there, and what you can use them for! The next step is deciding which method works the best for you. Here are the most common ways to achieve essential oil aromatherapy benefits:
How to Use Essential Oils for Aromatherapy
This is probably what most people think of when they picture aromatherapy. Using a diffuser is a super-easy way to diffuse aromatherapy oils into the environment around you. This can help improve mood, reduce tension, and increase focus depending on which oil you choose to use. You can also blend them together to create your own essential oil blends! There are many different kinds of diffusers on the market, offering something for everyone. In a pinch, you can simply place a few drops of essential oils on a cloth or cotton ball, and inhale that way, or simply breathe in the essence from the bottle!
Before going into detail about topical application, it is very important to understand that you cannot apply essential oils directly to the skin. You need to dilute them first, paying careful attention to your dilution rates. We recommend using this guideline put out by the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapists. Topical application allows for a whole host of different methods to achieve the benefits of aromatherapy. Here are just a few of the qYA you can incorporate essential oils:
- Massage Oil
- Bath Salts & Scrubs
- Bath Bombs
- Shampoos & Conditioners
For those just starting out on their essential oils or aromatherapy journey, there are a few important things to keep in mind to use them safely and sustainably.
- Never ingest essential oils. They are very potent and can cause cell irritation and burning in the soft tissues of the mouth or even internally. Many oils are also toxic!
- Always dilute essential oils to the proper rate before applying topically. Sometimes, less is more!
- Keep away from pets and small children, even when diffusing. Children and pets may react differently, and the essential oil particles can travel through the air and land on your pet’s fur, where they can be ingested during grooming
- There are limited studies done on how essential oils affect pregnant women, so we recommend checking with a health professional before using aromatherapy
- If you take any medication or suffer from any underlying/unknown health conditions you should always consult with a health professional first. This is to ensure there is no risk of interaction, and that you can proceed with using essential oils safely
- If you show any signs of allergies or discomfort after using essential oils, refrain from using them
Essential oils and aromatherapy can be very beneficial in terms of health and well-being. While there is currently a lack of scientific evidence, particularly when it comes to human trials, preliminary research and anecdotal evidence tell us that oils can offer many benefits. We hope our list of the best essential oils for aromatherapy offers you some valuable information in making your own choice about whether or not to try aromatherapy. If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our team! We would be more than happy to answer them for you.