Essential Oils: 11 Main Benefits and 101 Uses
April 5, 2019
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in various cultures for medicinal and health purposes. Because of their antidepressant, stimulating, detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral and calming properties, they are recently gaining popularity as a natural, safe and cost-effective therapy for a number of health concerns.
There’s no wonder why, considering the high cost of healthcare bills and the side effects of conventional medications, adding such oils to your personal medicine cabinet and lifestyle can make a world of difference. This is especially true because essential oils benefits are vast and essential oils uses range from aromatherapy, household cleaning products, personal beauty care and natural medicine treatments.
The particles in essential oils come from distilling or extracting the different parts of plants, including the flowers, leaves, bark, roots, resin and peels. In fact, just one drop of an essential oil can have powerful health benefits.
What is an essential oil? Typically created through the process of distillation — which separates the oil and water-based compounds of a plant by steaming — they are highly concentrated oils that have a strong aroma. In fact, sometimes they are called volatile aromatic oils because of their high concentration of the aromatic compounds. (1) They also are simply called aromatherapy oils.
How do essential oils work? By concentrating the oils of these plants, you are literally separating the most powerful healing compounds of a plant into a single oil.
So, are you ready to harness the power of the world’s most proven therapeutic compounds? Are you ready to learn which pure, organic oils to use in your essential oil diffuser or in other ways?
Explore the many benefits and uses, and open your mind to a whole new way of preventing and reversing health conditions that you’ve been battling for years. Read more to find out how to use essential oils and incorporate them into your healthy lifestyle!
Table of Contents
11 Benefits of Essential Oils 101 Essential Oil Uses for Health, Beauty, Home and More Essential Oils for Body, Oral, Hair and Skin Care Essential Oils for General Health Essential Oils for Home Common Questions About Essential Oils
11 Benefits of Essential Oils
1. Balance Hormones
There are essential oils for hormones that may help to balance your estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, thyroid and testosterone levels.
Some oils, such as clary sage, geranium and thyme, help to balance out estrogen and progesterone levels in your body, which can improve conditions like infertility and PCOS, as well as PMS and menopause symptoms. A 2017 published in Neuro Endocrinology Letters indicates that geranium and rose have the ability to influence the salivary concentration of estrogen in women. This may be helpful for women who are experiencing menopausal symptoms that are caused by declining levels of estrogen secretion. (2)
Certain oils are also able to lower cortisol levels, which can help to improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression, and increase testosterone levels, which can improve a man’s libido. (3)
2. Boost Immunity & Fight Infections
Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties that help to boost your immune system and fight infections. The chemical substances found in the oils, such as terpenes, esters, phenolics, ethers and ketones, have the potential to fight foreign pathogens that can threaten your health. Some of the best essential oils for your immunity include oregano, myrrh, ginger, lemon, eucalyptus, frankincense, peppermint (or Mentha piperita) and cinnamon.
Studies have shown that essential oils effectively destroy several fungal, viral and bacterial pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori and Candida albicans infections. Because antibiotic resistance is becoming such a major threat in modern health care, using these oils as a form of independent or combination therapy can help to fight bacterial infections in a safer and more natural way. (4, 5)
Choose oregano oil for powerful immune-boosting properties, as it’s displayed both antiviral and antibacterial properties in lab research. Oregano oil contains carvacrol and thymol, two compounds that have antimicrobial effects and can inhibit the synthesis and growth of several types of bacteria. (6)
Frankincense oil’s immune-enhancing abilities may include helping to destroy dangerous bacteria, viruses and even cancers. For example, a lab study found that frankincense oil shows strong immunostimulant activity. (7a, 7b)
Frankincense also demonstrates anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects when tested in lab studies and on animals — specifically, helping to fight the cells of specific types of cancer. (7c) A 2012 study showed that a chemical compound found in frankincense called AKBA may kill cancer cells that have become resistant to chemotherapy. (7d)
3. Support Digestion
Another researched essential oils benefit is their role in aiding and improving digestion. Some oils help to relieve upset stomach, indigestion, diarrhea, stomach spasms and even conditions of the gastrointestinal system, such as IBS. Oils can also aid your digestion by helping to stimulate digestive enzymes that make it easier to break down and absorb the nutrients, fats and protein that you need.
Ginger essential oil, for example, is known to promote your digestive health by easing indigestion, constipation and ulcers. A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that ginger oil stimulated gastric emptying in people with indigestion. Ginger oil is also used to relieve gas, reduce nausea and ease abdominal pain. (7)
Another useful essential oil for digestion is peppermint. Research shows that peppermint oil works to provide rapid relief of IBS symptoms. In a 4-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 72 patients with IBS received either peppermint oil or placebo. The peppermint group experienced a 40 percent reduction in total IBS symptoms after 4 weeks, which was superior to the 24 percent decrease of symptoms reported by the patients in the placebo group. After just 24 hours of using peppermint oil, the treatment group experienced a decrease in symptoms of 19.6 percent. (8)
Some other essential oils that may be helpful for digestion include fennel, lemongrass, marjoram, black pepper and juniper berry.
4. Boost Energy Levels
Did you know that essential oils can help to boost your energy levels and even improve your athletic performance? Some oils have stimulating effects and can actually increase oxygen to your brain, which will leave you feeling refreshed, focused and energized.
A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that peppermint oil increased brain oxygen concentration, improved exercise performance and reduced exhaustion in healthy male athletes who consumed peppermint oil with water for 10 days. (9)
Some other great essential oils for energy include grapefruit, lemon, lemongrass, eucalyptus and rosemary.
5. Improve Brain Function
With neuroprotective effects and cognitive performance boosting abilities, essential oil benefits have helped many people who are suffering from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. In a scientific review published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, researchers found that because essential oils possess powerful antioxidants that work to inhibit free radical scavenging, they help to naturally improve brain function and reduce inflammation.
Essential oils have also shown to improve learning, memory and ability to focus. Both stimulating and sedative oils can be useful, as oils like peppermint can improve sustained attention over a longer period of time, while oils like lavender can be useful for people going through tough exercises or situations. Furthermore, they can be useful in relieving agitation in individuals with dementia. This is due to their calming and sedative effects. (10)
6. Reduce Emotional Stress & Anxiety
Perhaps one of the most well-known essential oils benefits is their ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Some have sedative properties and induce a calm, peaceful, uplifting and relaxed feeling. The best essential oils for anxiety and stress include lavender, Roman chamomile, bergamot, ylang ylang, orange, rose, frankincense and vetiver.
A 2016 randomized controlled clinical trial found that inhaling rose water for four weeks significantly decreased the state and traits of anxiety in patients undergoing hemodialysis treatment. (11)
A pilot study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice found that the use of aromatherapy as a complementary therapy helped to reduce anxiety and depression scales in postpartum women. Women between zero and 18 months postpartum were divided into either a treatment group that inhaled a blend of rose and lavender oils or a control group that didn’t receive any type of aromatherapy. After four weeks, the women using aromatherapy had significant improvements in anxiety and depression symptoms compared to those in the control group. (12)
And a 2014 study involving 82 participants evaluated the effectiveness of aromatherapy for elderly people with chronic pain and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Researchers found that after four weeks of treatment with essential oils, there was a significant reduction in negative emotions, including feelings of anxiety, stress and depression, among the intervention group. (13)
These are just some of the studies that have displayed the anti-anxiety and stress-relieving capabilities.
7. Alleviate Aches and Pains
According to a systemic review and meta-analysis published in Pain Research and Treatment, there is a significant positive effect of aromatherapy, compared to placebos or control treatments, in reducing pain. Researchers evaluated 12 studies on this topic and found that essential oils were especially helpful in treating postoperative pain, obstetrical pain and gynecological pain. (14)
There are many oils that may be applied topically or used aromatically to reduce body aches and pains. One study that displays this essential oil benefit evaluated the efficacy of these oils on neck pain. For the study, the experimental group received a cream that was composed of marjoram, black pepper, lavender and peppermint oils, and the control group used an unscented cream. The creams were applied for 4 weeks, directly to the painful area after bathing. Researchers found that the experimental group had improved pain tolerance in the neck and showed significant improvement in the 10 motion areas that were measured. (15)
The best essential oils for alleviating aches and pains include lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, chamomile, rosemary, majoram, thyme, frankincense, turmeric, ginger and myrrh.
8. Boost Skin and Hair Health
Using essential oils on your skin and in hair and beauty products is a natural and effective way to keep up your personal care regimes without having to use products that are made with chemicals and hydrogenated oils. Essential oils may calm irritated skin, reduce signs of aging, like age spots, improve acne, protect your skin from sun damage and thicken your hair.