We’ve been using essential oils for centuries. Their use dates as far back as 18,000BC, and today with over 90 different types of essential oils, and almost just as many uses, they’re more popular than ever. Here we take a look at some of the UK’s favourite essential oils and why so many of us incorporate them into our daily routines.
Essential oils to help you ENERGISE
Unsurprisingly perhaps, it’s the zingy zesty essential oils that have been shown in research to help increase energy and relieve fatigue. These include sweet orange essential oil and lemon essential oil, with one study concluding that lemon oil can enhance a positive mood .
Need a spring in your step? Peppermint essential oil has been found to prevent fatigue and improve exercise performance , and essential oil of spearmint, combined with essential oil of sweet orange, was found in a 2016 study to improve athletic performance .
For additional mental pep, look to rosemary essential oil. A 2012 study points towards rosemary oil’s stimulatory effects and how it can impact mood states, brain wave activity and the autonomic nervous system, whilst a more recent study carried out in 2018 on 79 secondary school children, found that rosemary helped with focus and memory .
Essential oils to help you RELAX
Renowned for its calming properties, lavender essential oil, also the most-searched for essential oil in the UK, is used by thousands to help ease feelings of anxiety, with studies showing that using lavender can have a calming effect and improve low mood and anxiety .
Lavender is also a bedtime favourite, and is used by many to promote a better night’s sleep.
Vetiver, sometimes referred to as the ‘Oil of Tranquillity’, is used to calm and balance mind and body, and may prove especially useful for anyone who has a tendency to lose focus and who would like to feel more settled.
Frankincense has a woody aroma and is considered by many as the most spiritual and prized of all essential oils. With its wonderful ability to still the mind, it is traditionally used for prayer and meditation.
And sandalwood has a balancing and grounding effect on the emotions.
Essential oils to help you BREATHE more easily
Struggling with allergy? Essential oils can also be used to help support your respiratory system and ease congestion. For nasal congestion and catarrh, try essential oil of eucalyptus. It can be used to help with blocked noses, coughs, allergies and to help improve general respiratory health.
Tea tree essential oil is another respiratory health favourite, used to help with the symptoms of colds, flu and congestion. The terpinen oils in tea tree oil are believed to open the nose, breathing passages and lungs.
Oregano essential oil may help eliminate bacteria that cause respiratory infections and alleviate bronchial inflammation, and cedarwood essential oil is considered a natural decongestant.
New to essential oils? Here are 5 ways to incorporate them into your everyday
- Pop some in a diffuser – you only need a few drops at a time; the best essential oils for diffusers include: eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, tea tree and patchouli.
- Add some drops to your bath – great for unwinding after a challenging day.
- Inhale them – especially useful if you’re feeling congested or suffering with allergy; put a few drops of your chosen essential oil on a muslin cloth and take three deep breaths.
- Use them on your skin – BUT it’s really important to always blend them with a carrier or base oil before you use on skin.
- Dab them on your feet – a little unusual, but it’s a common practice when using essential oils. Just pop some on the soles of your feet and massage in. Our feet contain key absorption points for essential oils. (Again use with a carrier oil first though).
- And one last friendly reminder, essential oils are not recommended for internal use.
The effect of inhalation of Citrus sinensis flowers and Mentha spicata leave essential oils on lung function and exercise performance: a quasi-experimental uncontrolled before-and-after study - PubMed (nih.gov)