The Healthiest Essential Oils, According To Science

Essential oils have grown into a popular healing alternative in the past couple of years. Scientists have been studying their benefits for even longer. They’ve discovered some groundbreaking properties of essential oils, such as contributing to weight loss and lowering blood pressure through aromatherapy.

Although these oils should never be used in place of medication, they can brighten your life a little bit more. Here are the health benefits of essential oils and information about how to safely use them. Can you ingest clove oil? Should you rub lemon oil on your skin? Keep reading to learn more.

Lemon Oil Aromatherapy Helps People Study

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BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

A 2018 study on citrus essential oils recorded several benefits of lemon essential oil. Aromatherapy with this oil significantly enhanced attention level, cognitive performance, and optimistic moods in students during studying. People inhaling lemon oil vapors have displayed decreased stress after about two weeks and reduced nausea during pregnancy.

Lemon oil can be diluted with a carrier oil and rubbed on the face as a topical antioxidant, according to dermatology research from 1999. However, it may cause a rash if exposed to the sun within 12 hours of applying.

Peppermint Oil Can Reduce Headaches

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BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Peppermint oil is one of the safest essential oils out there. In 2016, researchers from Berlin, Germany recorded the positive effects of peppermint oil on tension-type headaches. “Solutions of 10% peppermint oil in ethanol are licensed for the treatment of tension-type headache in adults and children above six years,” they concluded.

A later study in 2018 illustrated that ingesting a capsule with peppermint oil can assuage irritable bowel syndrome and the digestive tract. If you wish to ingest it, take the oil through an FDA-certified capsule, as ingesting too much will lead to toxicity.

Clove Oil Relieves Toothaches

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Pinterest/Total Wellness Choices

Clove oil helps to relieve tooth pain. A study in 2012 established the oil as a potent antimicrobial, and a later trial in 2015 found that participants who had their molars removed experienced less pain and inflammation after using a gel with minor amounts of clove oil.

To assuage a toothache, lightly dab the oil onto a cotton swab or tissue and wipe it over the gums in the painful area. You can also use a whole clove; place it on the infected area and suck on it. Do not give clove oil to children for risk of seizures and liver damage.

Grapefruit Oil, The “Dieter’s Friend”

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A 2018 analysis of several grapefruit oil trials points to the oil’s ability to help with weight loss. The fragrance sparks nerve activity that facilitates lipolysis, helping to suppress weight gain. One test mixed grapefruit oil with patchouli oil to find that the scent lowered cravings and hunger in most participants.

Grapefruit oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and rubbed on the skin or added to baths. The oil may increase your skin’s sensitivity to sunlight, so remain indoors for several hours after applying. Most of its testing has been limited to aromatherapy, and it should not be ingested.

Tea Tree Oil Helps Skin Blemishes

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BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Tea tree oil made its famous mark for its antibacterial and antifungal benefits. Scientists have only performed a small number of trials on its effect on skin, but a 2007 study found that those who used an acne treatment with 5% tea tree oil developed clearer skin. You may also see tea tree oil in soaps and shampoos, as it’s good for skin and scalp inflammation.

Do not swallow tea tree oil, or place it directly on your face. Always heavily dilute it before applying. Some people have reported side effects of itching, redness, burning, or irritation while using this oil.

Lavender Oil Can Calm Your Nerves And Skin

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BSIP/UIG via Getty Images

Lavender oil often appears in aromatherapy due to its ability to relax and de-stress people. Several trials in 2013 site that lavender oil calms down restlessness and anxiety. This oil is generally safe to inhale after putting it in an infuser, even for most dogs.

In a 2010 study published in Switzerland, scientists found that lavender oil was one of the best antibacterial oils to combat acne (the others being thyme, cinnamon, and rose). To make a skin remedy, mix a couple of drops of lavender oil in one ounce of carrier oil such almond or jojoba and run into your face.

Bergamot Oil Rests The Heart

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Twitter/@DrOz

Along with calming people down, bergamot oil inhalation also lowers heart rate and blood pressure. For this reason, researchers in 2017 proposed that bergamot aromatherapy can assuage anxiety and the heart with minimal side effects. 17% of participants even opted to partake in more sessions, implying that even 15 minutes of exposure produces pleasant results.

Bergamot is not recommended as a topical since it can make the skin more sun-sensitive. Otherwise, the oil is safe at moderate levels, though its only scientific health testing has featured the oil in aromatherapy.

Rosemary Oil Sharpens Memory

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MediaForMedical/UIG via Getty Images

The herb rosemary has been tested to improve memory, and the essential oil is no different. The International Journal of Neuroscience published research in 2003 which reported that rosemary oil aromatherapy increased memory in participants. (In contrast, lavender oil smell seemed to reduce memory function.)

A different study in 2015 found that rosemary oil could improve hair growth over six months, but no differences were observed in dry hair, greasy hair, or dandruff. You can add five drops to one ounce of your shampoo and wash your hair normally.

Rose Oil Reduces Emotional Pain

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STR/AFP/Getty Images

Exposure to rose oil alleviates emotional pain, even extending to sexual dysfunction. In 2017, researchers analyzed several clinical trials on rose oil and found that it offers “psychological relaxation” from anxiety and depression when inhaled or applied topically.

For this reason, many massage oils and lotions include rose oil. You can diffuse the oil or add two drops to one teaspoon of carrier oil and rub onto the skin. This oil has few side effects, but should only be used in small amounts with children.

Eucalyptus Oil Clears Up Sinuses

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Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Eucalyptus oil can clear up congestion when inhaled. Michigan Medicine researchers at the University of Michigan report that the oil can clear up sinus and nasal congestion by acting on receptors in mucous membranes. It is safe to diffuse for asthma symptoms but is unsafe to take by mouth, especially in children.

In 2013, researchers confirmed that eucalyptus essential oil has strong anti-inflammatory properties. The participants, who underwent total knee replacement surgery, inhaled eucalyptus oil and experienced decreased pain and lower blood pressure.

Jojoba Oil, A Mild Skin Topical

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Jojoba is one of the many carrier oils used to dilute other essential oils. It has unique fatty acids that lower inflammation in the skin, according to Italian dermatology researchers. You may have used sunscreens and moisturizers that contain jojoba oil for its anti-aging and soothing properties.

Research in 2018 adds that jojoba oil can repair altered skin barriers, making it suitable for acne, eczema, dermatitis, and skin infections. Because jojoba is a mild carrier oil, you can apply it directly to your face. Rub one to three drops of the oil into your skin until absorbed.

Chamomile Oil Comforts The Mind And Body

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NOAH SEELAM/AFP/Getty Images

Chamomile is known to pacify anxiety and depression, and the essential oil can help both through aromatherapy. A 2017 Chinese experiment observed that inhaling Roman chamomile essential for two weeks lowered depressive actions in rats. An earlier study in 2011 recommended smelling the oil to quell anxiety as well.

When mixed into a topical, chamomile oil can alleviate skin irritations such as burns and eczema. Further research explains that the topical can also smooth and soften skin. Add two or three drops to one ounce of a carrier oil to apply topically.

Sandalwood Oil Soothes The Nervous System

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Sandalwood is a fragrant wood that excretes oil, and it turns out that this oil relaxes nerves and muscles. Researchers at the H.S.K. College of Pharmacy report that sandalwood essential oil relieves nerves, muscles, spasms and cramps. It also loosens the urinary system, useful for treating urinal infections.

Another study published on ScienceDirect highlights sandalwood oil as a sedative and nerve relaxer. You can diffuse sandalwood oil for the fragrance, or mix it with coconut oil for a skin-soothing topical. It is not meant to be ingested.

Lemongrass Is An Antibacterial and Antioxidant

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FlowerPhotos/UIG via Getty Images

Lemongrass oil has antibacterial properties. A 2010 report in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine illustrates that the oil can defeat drug-resistant organisms. Another study in 2011 found that lemongrass oil mouthwash works as an antioxidant.

The Journal of Alternative and Contemporary Medicine reports that smelling lemongrass oil can briefly relieve anxiety, although more trials need to be conducted. You can also mix it with a carrier oil to rub on the skin or add to a bath. Stop using if you experience stomach pains, exhaustion, or headache.

Oregano Oil, The Strong Healing Oil

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Pinterest/Enjoy Natural Health: Essential Oils + Herbs + Natural Living

Dozens of studies have demonstrated oregano oil’s ability to halt bacterial and viral growth. A 2018 study found that oregano oil has antiviral properties that can help treat wounds and infections. However, the same study determined that the oil can damage DNA on skin. To prevent this, make sure to dilute the oil before applying it topically.

In 2005, research printed in the Journal of Infectious Diseases added that oregano oil can help fight toothaches and earaches. You may take oregano oil orally in capsule form, although it can interfere with certain medications and pregnancy, so always ask your doctor first.

Pine Oil Reduces Physical Pain

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MediaForMedical/UIG via Getty Images

In Turkish folklore, pine was used to treat rheumatic pain. In 2012, research in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology backed up these claims. The researchers discovered remarkable wound healing in pine oil’s anti-inflammatory activities. A 2011 study also noted that pine oil has an anti-depressant effect.

You may find small doses of pine oil in lotions and hair products for its soothing effect on the skin. You can dilute it for a topical or diffuse it. Although pine oil has a low human toxicity level, it can cause breathing problems for some if it irritates mucous membranes. It can also bother the skin if undiluted.

Lemon Balm Oil Prevents Insomnia

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FlowerPhotos/UIG via Getty Images

Lemon balm reduced nervousness and sleeplessness in several studies. In 2014, researchers discovered that lemon balm oil eases symptoms of anxiety. They believe that the rosmarinic acid in lemon balm boosts the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain, which lowers stress.

A 2013 study combined lemon balm with valerian to improve sleep for women in menopause. Lemon balm can cause side effects in some people and has only been observed as a safe topical for up to four months. Most people use lemon balm oil as aromatherapy.

Sweet Orange Oil Keeps You Calm And Acne-Free

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According to a 2018 study review on citric essential oils, breathing in sweet orange oil for 90 seconds decreases oxyhemoglobin in the prefrontal cortex, which releases calm, comfortable feelings. When dental patients smelled the oil in the waiting room, they went into their appointment more relaxed than those who did not have the fragrance.

In many trials, sweet orange oil cleared up acne when added to solutions in 43-75% of cases. Some people did experience side effects such as burning or redness, though these disappeared quickly. This oil is safe when used in moderation.

Cinnamon Oil, A Potent Anti-Inflammatory

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A 2014 analysis of cinnamon’s compounds provides evidence that cinnamon oil acts as an antifungal, antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory. Several studies have backed the oil in lowering inflammation, including a 2017 study from Wiley Phytotherapy Research observing how the oil acts on skin diseases.

The oil can be added to skin care topicals, but only diluted at about 0.5%. That’s 1-2 drops for every one ounce. People with sensitive skin may want to stick to using this oil as aromatherapy. It is included in some candies, but at minor amounts, less than 0.05%.

Frankincense Oil Could Destroy Cancer Cells

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Twitter/@Essentialkelly1

Frankincense contains boswellic acid, which combats inflammation. The oil is often added to skincare treatments, although we have little evidence to support its skin-healing properties. A 2017 trial did find that this oil can help repair skin wounds.

In a 2009 study, scientists discovered that frankincense oil could distinguish normal bladder cells from cancerous cells, and go after the cancer cells. However, scientists need to conduct more tests before attempting clinical trials on humans. You can apply diluted frankincense oil to your skin in small amounts, but do not ingest it.