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Aromatherapy Benefits for Mental Health

Updated: Aug 5, 2019

How do we, as health & wellness consumers, know that essential oils and aromatherapy aren't just health myths? Essential oils are extracted from flowers, herbs, leaves, plants, roots, stems, etc. leaving the purest form of the botanical it was extracted from. The fragrance or application of essential oils can benefit many physical and mental illnesses; the practice of aromatherapy dates back thousands of years, just recently becoming popular in the United States around 1980.

The neuroscience behind aromatherapy and the use of essential oils for wellness is clear: they work to benefit physical and mental health with very few (if any) side effects. Continue reading below to find out how aromatherapy heals, which essential oils benefit mental health, and how to choose the right aromatherapy blend for you!

essential oils benefit mental health

How Aromatherapy Heals

Like you, I wanted to know exactly how aromatherapy works before using it in my wellness routine. When you smell an essential oil, or an aromatherapy blend, the fragrance travels up your nasal passages by olfactory nerve cells, carrying it straight to the olfactory bulb in your brain. This process is unique compared to our other sensations because our sense of smell travels directly to our brain, compared to our sense of touch for example, which travels through the nerves and up the spinal cord to the brain.

Here's the best part: the olfactory bulb in the brain is actually a part of the limbic system. The limbic system is extremely important, controlling emotion. memory, instinct, arousal, movement, and some thought processes. This means fragrance travels directly to the emotion control center, affecting thoughts, moods, memories, and more.

Also a part of the "smelling process" is the neocortex. Your neocortex intercepts sensations received from the nerve cells and processes them, forming your own individual perception of that sensation. The neocortex controls conscious thought, attention, perception, and more complex human functions, meaning fragrance can vastly affect our brain and how we feel and think!

Inhalation vs. Topical Application

Inhaling essential oils through your nasal passages (or, simply smelling essential oils) is the basic practice behind aromatherapy, sending sensory information straight to the brain. However, you can also apply essential oils topically and receive benefits as well. The amount of antioxidants in essential oils is much higher than superfoods containing high levels of antioxidants.

Blueberries: 2,400 units of antioxidants | Ylang Ylang Essential Oil: 1,300,478 units

When applied topically, essential oils attach to your body's fat cells and automatically boost your immune system. They are then carried through the body via body fat cells to the brain, where the natural materials are processed and utilized for health and wellness. Whether inhaling the scent or applying oils topically, your body and mind will benefit (tip: combine inhalation and application).

Another benefit of essential oils, compared to other substances, is the high vibrational frequency essential oils contain, higher than any other substance on Earth! All substances have their own vibrational frequency scientists can measure; essential oils entrain body cells, causing an increase in vibrations. Below are a few examples of substances and their vibrational scores (according to scientists in Washington using Tainio Technology):

↠ Healthy human range: 62-70 MHz (human cells may mutate or change if frequency drops below 62 MHz, with the healthiest frequencies at 70 MHz +)

↠ Conditions supporting the production of cancer cells: 42 MHz and below

↠ Beginning of brain death: 20 MHz

↠ Dead meat (beef/chicken): 3-5 MHz

↠ Rose Oil: 320 MHz

↠ Lavender Oil: 118 MHz

(Remember to always dilute essential oils with a base oil before applying topically! The pure potency can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted)


Essential Oils that Benefit Mental Health

The list of essential oils that can improve mental health conditions can go on and on. Below, I've divided positive mental health states and the essential oils that, whether inhaled or applied, support and improve that state.


For Bliss ⋄ Enliven, Uplift, Embolden ⋄

Rose Oil

- Dissipates negative thoughts

- Promotes self-confidence and boosts self-esteem

- Reduces symptoms associated with depression and anxiety

- Relieves stress and cultivates positive emotions/moods

- Antiviral properties improve immune system function

- Promotes healthy blood circulation and natural toxin detoxification - Balances women's hormones, relieves menstrual cramps & headaches

Geranium Oil

- Calms nerves associated with nerve disorders

- Relieves anxiety and balances moods

- Reduces infertility and menopausal symptoms in women

- Drains Lymphatic System of impurities

- Reduces cellulite

- Stabilizes mental health and enhances sensory perception

Hypericum Infused Oil (St. John's Wort)

- Hippocrates mentioned Hypericum Oil in his writings for its mental benefits

- Beneficial for those with alcoholism, going through benzodiazepine withdrawal, and other substance abuse

- Increases number of serotonin receptors in the brain & helps serotonin better stick to those receptors

- Contains hyperforin, which boosts serotonin, dopamine, noradrenaline, GABA, and glutamate in the brain

- Contains flavonoids which promote healthy brain function

St. John's Wort is a natural supplement, oil, and herb commonly prescribed 20x more than anti-depressants in Europe than in America. One caution when using this oil (or any form of Hypericum) is it should not be taken with other anti-depressants until you've discussed dosage amounts with your doctor. Hypericum oil is very similar to anti-depressants and could cause your brain to produce too much Serotonin, which is dangerous. If using Hypericum oil, it's best to apply in small amounts if also taking other medications.

For Serenity ⋄ Calm, Tranquil, Rest ⋄

Lavender Oil

- Relieves mental anxiety and some physical symptoms of anxiety

- Mildly sedative, leading to more regular and deeper sleep

- Correlated with changes in the autonomic nervous system

- May reduce perceptions of physical and mental pain

- Reductions in anxiety results in better mental clarity & alertness

Clary Sage Oil

- Boosts self-esteem, confidence, hope, and mental strength

- Relieves feelings of anxiety and nervousness

- Promotes better vision

- Sedates tense nerves

- Promotes peace of mind or quieting negative thoughts

- Reduces impulsive spasms and convulsions

- Relaxes body, including internal functions leading to lowered blood pressure and inflammation

- Promotes the regulation of oxygen in the body, leading to less painful menstruation in women, and better digestive, circulatory, and immune function

Ylang Ylang Oil

- Improves self-esteem and general self-image

- Improves blood flow and immune system

- Relieves general symptoms of anxiety

- Boosts mood and emotion regulation

- Naturally energizing

- Aids digestion

essential oils benefit mental health

For Revival ⋄ Revitalize, Fortify, Renew ⋄

Eucalyptus Oil

- Alleviates mental sluggishness

- Promotes blood flow to the brain

- Dispels mental exhaustion

- Promotes mental clarity

- Cleanses impurities from the body

- Relieves stress and nerve pain

Rosemary Oil

- Increases concentration and attention

- Stimulates mental activity

- Relieves boredom and forgetfulness

- Stops mental fatigue

- Slows the onset of Alzheimer's disease

- Studies show Rosemary oil decreases the amount of cortisol found in saliva

- Relieves headaches and arthritis

Vetiver Oil

- Cools high body temperatures

- Boosts energy levels associated with exhaustion

- Treats symptoms of ADHD and ADD

- Relaxing and calming properties for nervousness and anxiety

- Balances hormones

- Improves insomnia for better sleep

- Restores and stimulates immune system

For Pleasure ⋄ Stimulate, Inspire, Satisfy ⋄

Camphor Oil

- Reduces muscle pain and stiffness

- Reduces arthritis and inflammation

- Relieves worries and anxieties

- Powerful stimulant

- Increases libido and blood flow

- Stimulates areas of the brain responsible for sexual desire

- Helps cure erectile functions

Sage Oil

- Promotes healthy cognitive functioning

- Prevents some neurological disorders

- Slows down physical signs of aging

- Stimulates the mind and stops mental fatigue

- Activates the hormone estrogen in women

- Stimulates circulatory function

- Reduces skin inflammation

- Reduces bloating

Jasmine Oil

- Stimulates the release of serotonin in the brain

- Increases libido

- Reduces coughing and snoring

- Helps cure premature ejaculation

- Helps cure frigidity and impotence

- Relieves stress and anger


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