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Enhance Your Mood with Essential Oils


Updated July 12, 2013

In aromatherapy, practitioners harness the healing properties of potent essential oils extracted from plants. Drawn from flowers, leaves, steams, buds, branches, or roots, these essential oils can produce a powerful effect on the body and the brain when their aromas are inhaled. By stimulating brain regions that influence emotion, for instance, essential oils may help calm your mind and lift your mood.

Essential Oils to Boost Your Mood:

Here's a look at several essential oils shown in recent studies to improve mood.

1) Lemon Essential Oil

One of nature's cheeriest scents, lemon essential oil "reliably enhances positive mood," according to a 2008 study of 56 healthy men and women. After breathing in the citrus fragrance, study members had an increase in their levels of norepinephrine (a brain chemical involved in mood regulation).

2) Lavender Essential Oil

Known for its stress-easing abilities, lavender essential oil was found to lessen severity of depression in a 2006 study of 42 female college students. The study also showed that lavender-oil-based aromatherapy treatments helped ease the students' insomnia.

While aromatherapy may be helpful in relieving depression symptoms, it's important to remember that depression is a serious condition that shouldn't be self-treated.

Learn more about depression.

3) Rosemary Essential Oil

While working in cubicles scented with this energizing essential oil, participants in a 2003 study were more content and alert than those who were placed in fragrance-free workspaces. Rosemary essential oil also appeared to improve cognitive performance.

How to Use Essential Oils

If you need a mood boost, try shaking a couple drops of an essential oil onto a tissue and then inhaling the uplifting aroma. You can also use an aromatherapy diffuser to scent an entire room with your selected oil, or add a few drops of essential oil to your bath or massage oil.

Since essential oils are so concentrated and potent, even small amounts can be dangerous if used improperly. Never take essential oils internally, unless under the guidance of a health professional. Some essential oils (including lavender) can cause harmful drug interactions, so consult your doctor if you're currently using any medication. Learn more about using essential oils safely.


Kiecolt-Glaser JK, Graham JE, Malarkey WB, Porter K, Lemeshow S, Glaser R. "Olfactory influences on mood and autonomic, endocrine, and immune function." Psychoneuroendocrinology 2008 33(3):328-39.

Lee IS, Lee GJ. "Effects of lavender aromatherapy on insomnia and depression in women college students." Taehan Kanho Hakhoe Chi 2006 36(1):136-43.

Moss M, Cook J, Wesnes K, Duckett P. "Aromas of rosemary and lavender essential oils differentially affect cognition and mood in healthy adults." International Journal of Neuroscience 2003 113(1):15-38.

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