Category Archives: Aromatherapy

Effects of Inhaled Essential Oils

testing essential oilsWhat wonderfully complex liquids essential oils are! They’ve been used since ancient times in multiple systems of medicine as well as for the sheer pleasure of them. Most commonly acquired through steam distillation, authentic essential oils are seeing a Renaissance of sorts, as people look towards natural means of helping support a widening variety of ailments. According to Perry and Perry in a 2006 paper, even the Bible makes implied references to nearly 200 aromatics that were used for “mental, spiritual and physical healing.”

So we are we today, in terms of the science behind the effects of inhaled essential oils, often referred to as the “psychopharmacology” of essential oils? Not surprisingly, due to the highly subjective nature of testing the efficacy of essential oils, as well as the simple fact that there’s not a ton of money to be made from testing results with essential oils, trials are scarer than one might imagine. Also, with such a large variability in the quality and composition of essential oils, this can cause difficulties when trying to discern their effects quantitatively in terms of scientific measurements.

But some facts are emerging. One key fact is that it is now generally agreed upon by numerous studies is that essential oils, when “administrated orally, by means of subcutaneous injections, dermally, or by inhalation do reach and adequately cross the blood-brain barrier.” Wow.

As an example, let’s take a look at citrus-based aromas. A wide range of citrus-based essential oils, including orange and lemon, are thought to have powerful anti-depressant properties. In 1995, a study by Kimori showed conclusively that the inhalation of citrus-based essential oils on depressed patients (in need of antidepressants), “reduced the needed antidepressant doses; but moreover, inhalation of the oil by itself was anti-depressive.”

Equally as exciting is a study by Shaw in 2007. Here, he found that Lavender Oil, when inhaled, demonstrated measurable decreases in anxiety levels. Bradley in 2007 also confirmed these findings in a separate study that showed an increase in exploratory behavior by gerbils when exposed to Lavender Oil. The Lavender Oil used in both studies was very high quality, and was tested to contain 25% of linalool, and 46% of linalyl acetate. We specifically chose the Lavender Oil we offer here on EOX because of it’s similar composition of the two above substances.

And these are just a couple of the numerous scientific studies that can be found in relation to Lavender Oil (and many others). In my “Scientific Proof of Essential Oil Effectiveness”, I discuss more studies that show the effectiveness of various essential oils. What all these studies are telling us is what traditional practitioners have known since ancient times: Essential Oils, as aromatherapy, have measurable effects on the human body and mind. Even though there are just a handful of studies on a few extraordinarily popular essential oils, this does point to a reliable trend; that essential oils in general, in their complexity, have a very complex way of interacting with the human body and psyche as well.

What’s equally as exciting, is that more and more studies are starting to be conducted in relation to individual components of essential oils. One example is “linalool”. It’s a funny name, but it occurs in a number of plants, and in high quantities. Bergamot, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Lemon Grass, Peppermint, Rose, and Rosemary are all examples of plants and essential oils that contain linalool.

And, as you know from reading this article, linalool has been conclusively shown to reduce stress and anxiety in both humans and rats. Not surprisingly, in traditional and folk medicine, the linalool-producing species of plants are often used as sedatives, calming, and anti-anxiety remedies in aromatherapy. I know that anyone who has experienced the amazing and tangible effects of various essential oils don’t need to be told these facts, but it is nice to be validated every once in a while.

And, scientific study after scientific study confirms what us practitioners already knew!

Now that we have solid evidence as to the effects of inhaled essential oils, do we yet understand the mechanism behind those effects? This is where things get a little more complicated. It does seem that different essential oils definitely have measurable effects that differ greatly from one another. It also seems that the quality of the essential oil has an immense amount to do with the intensity and overall effectiveness of these effects. When we factor in the subjective responses of test subjects, as well as a copious amount of information in the literature, a few things become very apparent:

  • Do you research, and buy only high quality oils. I’m proud to say that EOX has only therapeutic-grade oils, and that every oil we offer comes with a Certificate of Analysis and Authenticity
  • Trust your senses when working with essential oils. As long as the information you’ve gathered is agreed upon by the herbalist community, or has solid scientific evidence to support it, don’t be afraid to experiment, to blend, to try out essential oils in a variety of situations and circumstances. That’s part of the joy of essential oils!

Thanks for taking the time to read this. I know there are countless resources available out there, and I do my best to provide unique information that is practical. Mountains of information is one thing, but learning quickly how to apply that information in our daily lives is the goal of every one of my posts here at EOX.



Bradley, 2007.

Perry and Perry, 2006.

Shaw, 2007.

Scientific Proof of Essential Oil Effectiveness

testing essential oilsIntroduction

The title may seem like a bold statement, but there is now what I could safely call a “mountain” of evidence in relation to the uncanny ability of essential oils to have very tangible effects on our brain. That means essential oils are quite “psychoactive,” and actually have the power to affect our mood, to lift our spirits, to help us to relax, sleep, or study, just to name a few. My interest in oils began over two decades ago when I was introduced to Essential Oils during my formal and self-directed training as a Buddhist practitioner.

My passion has only grown since then. I was initially looking for ways of enhancing my mind’s ability to enter meditative states. I was also learning massage therapy techniques and wanted to create my own massage oils blends. This led to deep research on essential oils and then a newfound love of herbs in general. Let’s dig in to the alleged scientific evidence:

The Scientific Proof

Many years ago, I got my hands on a non-medical version of an “EEG”. This is short for electroencephalogram, which is a device that connects to our body to measure our brain waves. Our brain emits electrical waves that can be measured and quantified with great accuracy. The patterns of waves have been broken into four main states:

  • Delta Waves / 1Hz – 3Hz / Deep Sleep
  • Theta Waves / 4Hz – 7Hz / Creating/Thinking
  • Alpha Waves / 8Hz – 13Hz / Relaxing
  • Beta Waves / 14Hz – 30Hz / Alertness

Numerous studies have now been conducted with the goal of measuring the stimulant and sedative effects of essential oils on our brain state. Without even having to see images of the parts of our brain that get stimulated by aromas, we can get an immense amount of valuable information from simply measuring the change in our brain waves as we’re exposed to various essential oils.

What researcher have found is nothing short of astounding. Our states of consciousness, such as sleep, alertness, fatigue, stress, anxiety, creativity, and so on; these can be accurately determined by simply reading the EEG.

If this sounds too simple to be true, read on!

Before the addition of essential oils or other aromas, there are a number of states that are standard, test after test, when it comes to our brains:

  • Alpha states give way to a more alert beta state the moment we open our eyes.
  • Alpha states gives way to beta states when we require cognitive functioning (like problem solving).
  • Beta waves are related to arousal, stimulation, alertness.
  • Theta waves occur during creativity and problem solving, but are mostly associated with sedation and light sleep.
  • Delta waves only occur during deep sleep.
  • Spontaneous EEG patterns correspond predictably with Central Nervous System changes.
  • That means EEG can accurately measure different states – deep sleep, meditation, alertness and so on.

Let me explain just a bit more to give us some solid context at how powerful EEG can be to measure states of mind: In a situation that requires intense thinking (such as figuring out our taxes), that state of arousal will have a corresponding change in EEG (Oken 2006). Increases in in theta and a decrease in beta waves can be easily measured. Conversely, if someone is getting tired from doing all their taxes, their brainwaves will begin to slow, and all of the beta waves will give way to alpha, then theta, and then to delta.

It works every time!

Now, I have to admit that I am oversimplifying things here. There can be a number of reasons why changes in EEG may occur when test subjects are given various smells. If they’re really focused on analyzing the scent, if the scent triggered a memory, or if the test subject found the scent unpleasant; these all have direct effects on EEG’s as well. Since the point of this article isn’t to validate EEG as an effective means to measure tangible effects of essential oils, suffice it to say that researchers have overcome these potential caveats.

There is some discrepancy on the “placebo effect”, where in several studies, those who expected a stimulating or relaxing effect from their essential oil actually experienced that effect. Do we discount an effect only because we think it into effectiveness?

What this means is this: Say we have an essential oil blend made for relaxation, such as Lavender, Vanilla, and Sandalwood (one of the authors favorite combinations, with a touch of musk). If we simply think it’s a relaxing blend and inhale the aroma — in more than a few studies, the EEG’s will show increased activity in the relaxation centers — physically relaxing the subject!

Some Specific Examples

In a study by Diego in 1998 and Field in 2005, it was conclusively shown that Lavender “increased beta wave power, elevated feelings of relaxation, reduced feelings of depression, and improved both speed and accuracy in cognitive tasks.” When they presented their test subjects with Rosemary Essential Oil, it “decreased frontal alpha and beta power, decreased feelings of anxiety, increased feelings of relaxation and alertness, and increased speed in math computations.”

Wow. Those are quite bold statements for a scent!

What that also translated into, is that the group exposed to the lavender scent had a measurable increase in sedation, while the rosemary group had an increased level of alertness. Both, though, decreased levels of anxiety, and both helped increase the ability to solve problems that involved critical thinking.

Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that either of these oils directly helps to increase performance; there are more than a few studies that point to the contrary. In the researchers own words, this is how they describe their findings:

…pleasant odors enhance task performance by decreasing subjective feelings of stress, that is, by reducing over-arousal, while unpleasant fragrances increase activation from suboptimal to optimal levels, thus having the same beneficial effects on cognitive performance.

In another interesting study in 2005 by Sakamoto, lavender essential oil and jasmine essential oil were used (as well as no scent as a control) continuously over the course of the test. Over five sessions, all in a row with brief resting periods between, test subjects had to take a series of tests that required them tracking a moving target. As the sessions went on, fatigue increased, and arousal decreased for the control group. In the Lavender group; “tracking speed increased and tracking error decreased.”

They concluded that the lavender aroma may have been responsible for decreasing the arousal level during the resting periods, therefore not specifically increasing performance directly, but helping the person to perform better by keeping them more relaxed as they were performing their tasks. Translated into plain English, this means that if Lavender aroma is presented to people during breaks or lunchtime, that it has been shown that the Lavender can prevent the deterioration of work performance.

Think about this in terms of personal use: If you’re studying for a test, one thing you can do it take regular breaks from your studying, stopping to inhale Lavender Oil set in a vaporizer within your break room, or simply by inhaling directly from a bottle of essential oil. You may find that you are better equipped to study and recall your studies than you were without the breaks and the Lavender Oil.  And this is just one imagining of an infinite number of uses I can think of for Lavender Essential oil; I would love to hear what uses you’ve found in your comments below!

Learning and Memory

Basic cognitive functions and the effects that essential oils may have on them have been studied extensively in recent years. What has occurred less, is tests for an increase (or decrease) in an overall ability to learn or increased memory. This is something that interests me greatly as I lost my grandmother to Alzheimer’s a few years ago, and all of my herbal blends, although helpful (such as my Cognihance Capsules), could not stop the march into oblivion that I watched her take day by day.

What about essential oils?

Let’s take a brief look at memory to explain: Memory occurs in three stages. First, we’ve got short term memory. This is sort of our RAM, like the RAM on the computer. It handles tasks in the moment, but can’t do anything with that information other than manipulate it in the present moment, and when we send tasks to the background. The next stage is called “working memory” which transitorily saves memories in waiting room of sorts. It’s here where our brains decide what will happen with those memories; will we forget them, or commit them to long-term memory. Long term memory, by the way, is stage three.

Now that we’re memory experts, let’s take a look at essential oils in relation to memory.

Curiously enough, in several studies conducted on school children, they found an increase in memory functions only in children who exhibited high anxiety levels. In other studies, the results were varied, but relatively consistent. Let me summarize some of the more interesting results for you here:

  • Lavender – reduced the quality of memory, but significantly relaxed subjects
  • Rosemary – increases memory accuracy, reduces calculation speed, increases alertness
  • Peppermint – enhanced memory quality, and increased alertness
  • Ylang Ylang – impairs memory quality, reduces processing speed, but increases calmness
  • Spanish Sage – increases memory speed & quality, alertness, feelings of contentment and calm

I know these are just a few examples, and I’m sure what you would like more than anything right here, is a handy guide of every scientific study and the results from those tests in relation to each individual essential oil in existence. Unfortunately, I don’t have that just yet, but the descriptions on the store side of EOX are definitely getting those one by one.

Essential Oil Encoding

This is the part I find most fascinating when it comes to essential oils and scents in general. It’s the idea of encoding. And what is astonishing to me, is that we can encode scents into our memories, that can trigger different emotions and states of consciousness, depending on what was going on at the time of that memory encoding.

For example, infants who were being soothed were also exposed to a scent at the same time (Lavender oil) that was thought to be calming. When that same scent was introduced at a later time, but without the accompanying soothing from the parent, levels of anxiety were reduced, and overall calmness increased!

Wow, again.

Even more interesting, is that scents that have been encoded into our systems can have effects on us even when we’re not conscious. In a study by Diekelmann in 2012, found that memory consolidation is accelerated during sleep when presented with specific scents. In a similar study by Hauner in 2013, scents presented during sleep acted as triggers when awake.

Think of the possibilities these findings have for our ability to learn, as well as our overall state of well being. My imagination tends to run away with me with these kinds of revelations, and here are a few scenarios I have since informally tested with both myself and friends, using my personal EEG-type device (i.e. non-medical version):

  • I took a 5ml bottle of my Stressless Blend without doing any relaxation techniques (such as breathing exercises), and measured my typical baseline when in a calm state over the course of a week. (I find that I am often in a 9Hz Alpha state, even with my eyes open, with some additional Theta activity.) This was a good baseline to start from.
  • Then, for a month, while performing breathing exercises, I subjected myself to my Stressless Blend again. The idea was to see if I could encode the association of my Stressless Blend with exercises that actually physically calmed me, to see if I could take away the breathing exercises, but still get the calming effects from the aroma.

I waited only a day, tested myself for a week, waited two months, and then re-tested myself. What I did was to present the aroma to myself when my anxiety levels were higher than usual. This is when I might close my eyes, find a quiet corner, and do some breathing exercises. (Yes, this required me to have my Stressless Blend with me wherever I went, but I carry it with me everywhere anyway!) I cracked open my 5 ml bottle, and simply breathed in the aroma. I did this for 5 minutes each time and would record the results. If I were at my lab, I would connect myself to my electrodes, then present myself with the Stressless Blend for 5 minutes and record the subjective results as well as the EEG results.

I was more than a little surprised at how signifiant the results were!

What I found was a far more significant result in both subjective and measured calmness levels after encoding myself with the Stressless Blend. Whoa. I was able to commit that scent to memory while doing breathing exercises, and not unlike Pavlov’s Dog, I was able to trigger those same physical characteristics of calmness as well as my subjective opinion of my calm state.

That result set my mind reeling, and from what I’ve read, there is really no limit to what we can actually encode ourselves with. So, not only do I create essential oil blends for EOX that have a solid scientific basis, our staff tests every single one of those blends both subjectively and by physically measuring our brain wave patterns and the effects that our essential oils have on them.  This means every one of our blends were built, from the ground up, to have very tangible effects on the human body.

I’m extremely curious to know if anyone else has tried “encoding”, or what other have done in relation to personal experiments with essential oils and tangible effects on different cognitive functions and states of consciousness. “Psychoactive” is sometimes treated like a dirty word, but all of the scientific evidence presented above makes it vividly clear that scents can have very tangible, psychoactive effects on our bodies that can be easily measured, verified, and reproduced outside of the lab. Feel free to share yours below in the comments section.

Find our entire selection of Individual Essential Oils and our growing collection of EOX Blends in the store section of this website.



Diego, M.A., Jones, N.A., Field, T. et al. 1998. Aromatherapy positively affects mood, EEG patterns of alertness and math computations. International Journal of Neuroscience 96(3-4):217-224.

Field, T., Diego, M., Hernandez-Reif, M. et al. 2005. Lavender fragrance cleaning gel effects on relaxation. International Journal of Neuroscience 115(2):207-222.

Oken, B.S., Salinsky, M.C., and Elsas, S.M. 2006. Vigilence, alertness, and sustained attention: Physiological basis and measurement. Clinical Neurophysiology 117(9):1885-1901

Sakamoto, R., Minoura, K., Usuui, A., Ishizuka, Y., and Kanba, S. 2005. Effectiveness of aroma on work efficiency: Lavender aroma during recesses prevents deterioration of work performance. Chemical Senses 30(8):683-691.

Essential Oils for Headaches

Essential Oils for HeadachesHeadaches are one of the most common medical complaints; they can be caused by stress, muscle tension, hunger, eye strain from too much screen time, or deeper medical conditions. Luckily, there are many essential oils for headaches that can help reduce pain and tension. What’s more, using essential oils to treat headaches is often as easy as dabbing some oil on a cotton ball or inhaling some from the bottle. In this article, we explore some of the most popular essential oils for headaches and how to use them effectively.

Please note that this article is not a substitute for trained medical advice. Headaches may be an indication of a more serious medical condition. You should consult a physician if you suffer from headaches that are severe and/or chronic. Many severe, chronic headaches such as migraines and cluster headaches require treatment by a doctor. This article is intended to be an overview of essential oils to treat headaches that are minor and infrequent.

How Essential Oils Can Reduce Headache:

Essential oils containing menthol or 1,8-cineol have cooling properties that can directly numb the pain and discomfort of a headache [1]. Many essential oils also have vasodilating properties that increase circulation [1], may reduce muscle tension, and can even treat emotional stress at the root of some headaches [3]. Essential oils with hormone-balancing properties, such as lavender and clary sage, may be especially effective at reducing headaches caused by hormonal imbalances during a woman’s menstrual cycle [3]. As you can see, as many causes as there are for headaches, there is also an essential oil to combat them!

The Essential Oils – Peppermint:

One of the most popular essential oils for headaches, peppermint contains cooling menthol that can directly numb tissues while also increasing nourishing blood flow to the painful area. People commonly use peppermint oil for tension headache and muscle ache [2]. However, peppermint oil can be stimulating and may interfere with sleep, so we recommend against using it right before bed. You can also use spearmint oil if you prefer the aroma, since it contains many of the same compounds [2].

Essential Oils for Headaches

Peppermint oil is considered one of the best home remedies for headaches and migraines.

Lavender: With its high linalyl acetate content, lavender oil is sedating and can soothe inflammation [2]. The oil also contains phytoestrogens which may help reduce headaches caused by an imbalance of female hormones. Lavender oil’s calming properties can be perfect for treating any underlying emotional stress as well. This oil can be used before bed without keeping you awake, and in fact, lavender aromatherapy is actually recommended for treating sleeplessness[2].

Roman Chamomile Oil: This lovely, apple-scented oil possesses similar properties to lavender oil due to its high ester content [2]. Roman chamomile oil is sedative, reduces tissue inflammation, and may also have direct relaxing effects on the nerves [2].

Essential Oils for Headaches

Roman chamomile oil is one of the gentlest essential oils. Its common name comes from its wide use in medicine since Roman times.

Eucalyptus Oil: This oil is especially effective for sinus headaches caused by congestion. Packed with 1,8-cineol, eucalyptus has powerful expectorant properties and direct analgesic properties similar to menthol [3]. Note that eucalyptus oil should not be used on children younger than 12 (for older children, consult a physician), because it can cause respiratory spasm, especially in larger quantities [2].

Basil Oil: A muscle relaxant similar to peppermint oil, basil oil can be used to reduce tension headaches, as well as aches and pains in the surrounding neck and head muscles [1].

Ginger Oil: This slightly spicy-smelling oil is a powerful vasodilator and circulatory stimulant. Commonly used for painful, aching joints, a little bit of ginger oil can also go a long way toward wiping away that irritating tension headache [2]. Ginger oil is best used sparingly in a blend with another oil such as lavender. Anecdotal evidence suggests ginger oil may be somewhat effective against more severe chronic headaches such as migraines [3].

Essential Oils for Headaches

Ginger oil is an invigorating circulatory stimulant that works on circulatory problems and muscle pain as well as headaches.

How to Use Essential Oils for Headaches:

As with any essential oil treatment, dilution is the rule. Always dilute a few drops of your chosen essential oil (or blend) in 1 fluid ounce of a gentle carrier like jojoba oil. The general ratio is 10-12 drops of essential oil (6-8 drops if using peppermint, spearmint, or eucalyptus, as these oils are stronger) in 1 fluid ounce of carrier oil. Place your blend in an amber or blue glass bottle with a stopper. 1-4 drops of this blend may be massaged into the painful area—back of the neck, temples, forehead, and so on. You can also dilute a few drops of essential oil in water in a spray bottle to create a room spray, or use the inhalation method: place a few drops of undiluted oil into a diffuser or cotton ball and inhale the vapors. When using this method, use only one drop of essential oil at first until you know how your body reacts to it [2].


Always use any essential oil for headache sparingly and in dilution (unless using the diffusion method above). Using more of an oil will not necessarily be more effective, and may cause a reaction or sensitivity to the oil. We always recommend consulting a physician when considering treating children with essential oils, as they may have sensitivities to certain oils. For instance, oils high in menthol or 1,8-cineol, such as peppermint or eucalyptus, can cause breathing difficulties in children. Furthermore, while this is rare, a few essential oils can actually cause headaches! Ylang ylang oil in particular is a headache trigger for some people, especially when used in excess [2].

Other Headache Treatments:

Certain foods rich in phytochemicals are thought to reduce the frequency of headaches: particularly flax seed (which is high in healthy omega-3 essential fatty acids), and buckwheat, which contains the phytochemical rutin [1]. The pith (white part) of citrus fruit is also a source of rutin. Conversely, people suffering chronic headaches and migraines should consider keeping a food diary to identify foods that may be headache triggers. Common “trigger foods” include caffeinated or alcoholic beverages, chocolate, red wine, foods high in tannins, MSG, red or processed meat, and aged, fermented or pickled foods [1]. Eliminating these foods and then slowly adding in one at a time can be one way to identify foods that may be headache triggers [1].

Even more severe forms of headaches such as migraine and cluster headache may respond to do-it-yourself remedies. At the onset of a migraine, massaging the occipital nerve at the base of the skull can sometimes reduce the severity of an attack, or even prevent it in some cases [3]. This treatment’s effectiveness may be increased by warming the hands about 15 degrees (by soaking them in warm water); researchers think this increase in temperature may treat vascular headaches by regulating circulation [3].

Finally, some people find relief from chronic, severe headache such as cluster headache by use of capsaicin cream [3]. Derived from the compound that makes chili peppers hot, when rubbed into the spot where headaches occur 4-5 times per day for about 4 weeks, capsaicin cream is thought to reduce and even prevent severe headaches by depleting nerve endings of substance P, the neurotransmitter that sends pain impulses to the brain [3]. Capsaicin cream works best as a headache preventative because of the more extended treatment required.

Nature has created many plants with compounds that can aid us in our quest to rid ourselves of headaches and other sources of chronic pain. With a little research and dedication, it is possible to naturally treat headaches and live a more comfortable life!


1. Calabro, Sara. “Home Remedies for Headache and Migraine”. Everyday Health. Accessed January 27th, 2015.

2. “Aromatherapy for Headaches”. Aromaweb. Accessed January 27th, 2015.

3. Keville, Kathy. “How to Get Rid of a Headache With Aromatherapy”. HowStuffWorks. Accessed January 27th, 2015.

Pure Birch Oil and Its Traditional Use as a Muscle Liniment

Pure Birch Oil and Its Traditional Use as a Muscle LinimentPure birch essential oil is almost 100% methyl salicylate—the same therapeutic compound used in liniments to soothe muscle aches and painful joints—which may be why birch oil was a popular folk remedy for sore joints, sprains, and muscle aches caused by overexertion [1]. All parts of this beautiful tree have been used by people living in temperate Europe and North America—as a textile material, medicine, perfume, and even a food!

Several species of birch (genus Betula) can be found in temperate regions of the world; Betula alba is the species typically used to extract birch essential oil. Birches are small to medium-sized trees or shrubs with serrated leaves and characteristic smooth, shiny bark marked by horizontal oval strips called lenticels [2]. Birch bark can be white, yellow, silver, or black depending on the composition of essential oils in the bark tar; common names for different species of birch often use the color of the bark as a distinguishing characteristic.

The name “birch” is thought to derive from an Indo-European root meaning “to shine”, in reference to birch bark’s beautiful sheen [2]. The tough outer bark of the birch tree can be peeled off the trunk in papery sheets, and was used as a durable natural paper by people in continental Europe for hundreds if not thousands of years. In fact, the bark’s tar content makes it so resistant to decay that birch bark drawings dating from 1240-1260 CE have been recovered at archaeological sites near Novgorod, Russia [2]!

Besides being a valued paper analogue, the bark of the birch tree has been used by humans in fragrancing, medicine, and even food—the soft inner bark of the birch tree is edible and was eaten as a starch in times when other starch sources were scarce [1]. Interior birch bark may also have been used as the first “aspirin” in Europe and North America: the soft bark was steeped into a methyl salicylate-containing tea that was taken to treat headaches and congestion [1]. In Russia, birch oil was a jealously guarded fragrance and key component in “Russian Leather”, a perfume so-named because it was once rubbed into book bindings to keep the leather soft, water-resistant, and pliable, as well as to repel insects that could cause damage [1]. Ladies also scented their kerchiefs with a scent called Iceland Wintergreen that contained birch oil [1].

Today, aromatherapists use birch oil in many of the same applications as wintergreen oil: as a topical liniment for sore muscles, joints, and sprains, and in diffusion to treat headache and sinus congestion [3]. In Europe, birch essential oil is also one of the few essential oils approved to treat arthritis and other joint conditions in horses. Pure birch essential oil contains mostly methyl salicylate (the same active compound found in wintergreen oil), as well as creosol and guaiacol [1], which combined give pure birch oil an enchantingly fresh, minty scent!

Aromatherapists also use a drop or two of birch oil in a warm bath to soothe sore muscles, promote circulation and encourage menstruation, especially when the latter has been delayed due to stress or emotional issues [1]. Some people also find relief from the dry rough skin that accompanies eczema or psoriasis when birch oil is added to a lotion [1]. A small amount of birch oil may also be added to a shampoo or conditioner to combat dandruff [3].

Like wintergreen oil, birch oil is an oral toxin due to its high methyl salicylate content [3]. Birch essential oil should never be taken internally or used over large areas of the skin [3]. Birch oil is best used in diffusion from an oil burner or diffuser, or topically in extremely limited quantities. The oil’s refreshing, minty aroma blends exceptionally well with woody or floral oils such as jasmine, rose, benzoin, rosemary, and sandalwood.


1. Keville, Kathy. “Aromatherapy: Birch”. HowStuffWorks. Accessed September 12th, 2014.

2.“Birch”. Wikipedia. Last modified September 9th, 2014.

3. “Health Benefits of Birch Essential Oil”. Organic Facts. Accessed September 12th, 2014.

Can Essential Oils Ever Be Ingested?

testing essential oilsThe practice of ingesting essential oils is one of the more contentious issues in aromatherapy. Ask a dozen different aromatherapists and you’re likely to get a dozen different answers as to the efficacy and safety of taking essential oils internally.

Many essential oils are distilled from edible plants such as oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, and so forth, a point that some aromatherapists use to advocate ingesting essential oils from these plants.

However, one point we strive to bring home to readers is that essential oils are much much stronger than the whole herbs from which they are distilled. Furthermore, the chemical content of essential oils can differ from the whole plant, either due to the distillation process or because the oil is distilled from a different part of the plant than that used in cooking. In other words, it’s important not to approach the ingestion of essential oils as you would the whole herb. In this article, we will explore a range of important factors to consider when comtemplating an oral essential oil supplement.

Essential Oils are Highly Concentrated

While essential oils are present in whole plant-based foods such as herbs, nuts, and spices, they occur in very small amounts—usually 1% or less of the plant’s total weight [1]. Likewise, the approved amounts of essential oils used in food flavoring tend to be extremely small, the equivalent of ingesting one drop of an essential oil per day [1]. In contrast, when taking an oral supplement of an essential oil, you are introducing your body to much larger amounts of that oil.

We discuss the difference between food-grade and therapeutic essential oils further in the article “Essential Oils and Aromatherapy: What is Therapeutic Grade?” In brief, essential oils approved in food flavoring have been twice distilled (fractionated) to render them safe for consumption [1]. Therapeutic essential oils, on the other hand, are usually more lightly distilled in order to preserve their medicinal constituents; however, this may also mean that these more concentrated essential oils are not safe to ingest.

Natural Does Not Mean Safe:

“But wait,” you might ask, “I thought all your essential oils were completely natural.” Indeed they are! At Essential Oil Exchange, we pride ourselves on providing 100% pure essential oils with no synthetic adulteration. However—natural does not always mean safe to take internally or in large doses. It’s very important to remember that highly concentrated essential oils are powerful medicines, and can have the same physiological effects on the body as some pharmaceuticals. An essential oil represents the full range of constituents in the whole plant, including compounds that may be harmful to the body in high doses, even though your body can cope with them just fine in the amounts typically used in aromatherapy.

The same rule applies to many undoubtedly healthful foods that we eat every day: apple seeds contain cyanogenic glycosides, compounds that produce hydrogen cyanide when broken down; castor beans produce the poison ricin; and green potatoes contain teratogenic alkaloids that can disrupt proper embryo development [2]. So why don’t we sicken ourselves every day eating fruits and vegetables? Because the body has natural detoxification systems in the liver and kidneys that can efficiently break down the normal amounts of these compounds in your diet and render them harmless [2]. However, by the same token, you wouldn’t want to eat an entire bowl of apple seeds or green potato chips! When toxins are present in an amount higher than the body can effectively detoxify, this is when symptoms of poisoning can result. The same goes with using more than miniscule doses of certain essential oils.

It’s About Safety, Not Purity

Another common misconception when it comes to ingesting essential oils is that it’s an issue of purity. Obviously, ingesting a product that contains synthetic compounds is probably not good for your body, and is another good reason to find a reliable essential oil supplier. Yet even essential oils that are 100% pure may not be safe to ingest. In some cases the compounds in essential oils that are therapeutic at a low dose can be toxic at a high dose. For instance, wintergreen and birch oils contain methyl salicylate, which is soothing to painful joints and muscles when applied sparingly [2]. However, ingesting as little as 101 mg of methyl salicylate can cause toxicity manifesting as respiratory depression, kidney failure and other serious symptoms [3, 4]. 1,8-cineol, the main therapeutic compound in eucalyptus essential oil, has wonderful anti-inflammatory and expectorant properties, but can cause breathing problems in children, especially at higher doses, and should not be given to them in any form without a physician’s advice [2].

Furthermore, an essential oil that is safe to use one way may not be as safe when used another way. For instance, citrus oils such as lime, lemon, orange, and bergamot (non-bergaptene-free), as well as angelica oil, can be photosensitizing to the skin when applied topically but can be inhaled without any issues [5]. Cinnamon and cassia oil are also highly irritating to the skin but may be inhaled from a diffuser in aromatherapy treatments [5]. So even though an essential oil may be perfectly safe when inhaled or used on the skin in dilution, this doesn’t mean it is necessarily safe to ingest.

Risk of Drug Interaction

As mentioned above, essential oils can have physiological impacts on the body just like conventional medicines, so the risk of drug interactions is another possibility you should explore before using a particular essential oil. When applied topically, peppermint, ylang ylang, and eucalyptus oil can increase the body’s absorption of 5-fluorouracil, a topical anti-cancer drug [5]. The methyl salicylate previously mentioned in wintergreen oil can have blood thinning effects that may interfere with anticoagulant drugs such as warfarin [5]. You should research potential drug interactions even if you don’t plan on taking the oil internally. However, the risk of potential drug interactions is higher when ingesting an essential oil supplement simply because the amount you are introducing into your body is larger.

Seek Medical Advice

This is really the final word when you’re considering taking any supplement you’re unsure about. Many holistic healthcare practitioners and even conventional physicians are becoming knowledgeable about essential oils and the best ways to use them to achieve the health results you want. Some doctors now prescribe very small oral doses (usually one drop or less) of certain essential oils for some ailments: peppermint oil in enteric coated capsules is sometimes prescribed to treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and lemon oil may be administered as a decongestant, antiviral, antibacterial, and treatment for gas [6].

Consulting a physician or aromatherapist can help you determine what oils to use at what dosages, as well as the best ways to use those essential oils to get the results you want. It’s always important to have medical supervision when using a medicinal substance such as an essential oil as part of a specific treatment plan. Finally, the health benefits of essential oils when inhaled or topically applied are tried and true: essential oils are composed of small molecules that can readily enter the body through the skin and mucus membranes of the nose and throat via inhalation; this is the reason they can work on internal body systems without the need for ingestion. You may surprised by just how potent and effective essential oils can be when applied externally!



1. “Can Essential Oils Be Ingested?” Plant Therapy. Last modified January 14th, 2014.

2. Tisserand, Robert and Rodney Young. 2013. Essential Oil Safety: A Guide for Healthcare Professionals. 2nd Edition. Churchill Livingstone.

3. “Methyl salicylate | Safety and Toxicity”. Wikipedia. Last modified August 2nd, 2014.

4. “Salicylate Poisoning”. Patient UK. Last modified May 22nd, 2014.

5. Halcón, Linda PhD. “Are Essential Oils Safe?” Center for Spirituality and Healing: University of Minnesota. Last modified July 16th, 2013.

6. Barice, Joan. “Ingesting Essential Oils.” Accessed August 8th, 2014. Dr Joan Barice Dot Com.

The Camphor Content of Lavandin Oil Helps with Sinus and Respiratory Congestion

The Camphor Content of Lavandin Oil Helps with Sinus and Respiratory CongestionWhat the heck is lavandin oil anyway? A brand name, a catchy neologism, or a misspelling of lavender oil? None of the above! Lavandin is actually a real plant: it is a sterile cross between the world-famous true lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and spike lavender (Lavandula latifolia) [1]. As a sterile cultivar of lavender, lavandin is similar in appearance, but its essential oil composition is notably dissimilar; as a result it has different though equally important uses in aromatherapy.

The Latin name for lavandin is Lavandula x intermedia; the ‘x’ represents that lavandin is a hybrid cross between two different species of lavender [2]. Like true lavender, lavandin comes in a number of different cultivated varieties, but the most common varietal used in essential oil production is the “Grosso” strain, so named for its large, prominent flower spikes. In general, lavandin can be distinguished visually from lavender by its taller height and its larger, longer flower spikes. Additional flower clusters also grow laterally up the stems of lavandin plants. Lavandin flowers can be either bluish purple (similar to lavender flowers) or purplish gray like spike lavender flowers. Because lavandin is sometimes found growing near lavender or spike lavender plants, botanists believe it may have come into being as a natural hybrid created by cross-pollination between L. angustifolia and L. latifolia in the wild [1].

Hybrid lavandin plants were first cultivated in 19th-century France for use in the essential oil industry. It quickly became an important oil in perfumery, and has been included in famous perfume blends up through the present era, including possibly the most famous commercial fragrance of them all, Chanel No. 5. In fact, Pierre Wertheimer, a perfumer known as the “perfume king” who worked closely with Chanel in creating this fragrance, even named his prize racehorse Lavandin! His dame was named Lavande, the French word for true lavender [2].

Lavandin is markedly different in the essential oil it produces: lavandin essential oil contains about 7% camphor, the same cooling compound found in the essential oil of the camphor tree Cinnamomum camphora [3]. This ratio of camphor is much higher than that in true lavender oil, giving lavandin oil a muskier, more penetrating aroma than the delicate floral scent of lavender. Lavandin is actually preferred in commercial cultivation of oils used for soaps, detergents and fragrances because it grows faster, produces a higher oil yield per pound, and is hardier than lavender: while lavender does best in higher altitude, Mediterranean climates, lavandin can thrive in a variety of altitudes and climatic conditions.

Many people perceive lavandin oil as being lower quality simply because it is cheaper to produce in volume than lavender oil, but this is a misconception. Although lavandin oil is popularly used in detergents, soaps, and other “industrial” fragrancing applications, due to its high camphor content, therapeutic-grade lavandin essential oil can also be used in aromatherapy, especially for inflammatory conditions [4]. Aromatherapists use lavandin oil in diffusion to clear nasal and respiratory congestion, clear sinuses, and as a mosquito repellent that may be more effective than lavender oil [3]. Once diluted in a carrier oil, lavandin essential oil also acts as an anti-inflammatory for sore muscles and joints: its camphor content produces a direct cooling effect on tissues and stimulates circulation to flush away inflammatory free radicals [4].

Lavandin oil is also known to be both calming and somewhat stimulating to the mental faculties. The oil is sometimes used to reduce nausea while bolstering the appetite and energy levels throughout the body [4]. However, unlike lavender oil which is therapeutic for burns, lavandin oil  should never be used to treat burns or irritated skin, because the camphor content in lavandin oil can actually irritate burned tissue [3].

When it comes to fragrancing, lavandin is simple: even though it has a muskier, more camphoraceous scent compared to lavender, the oil blends well with many of the same oils as lavender does, including clove, rosemary, thyme, sage, and citrus oils (especially bergamot and lime) [1]. Lavandin’s bolder aromatic presence can sometimes put people off this essential oil in favor of lavender, but this hybrid variety of lavender has a lot to offer in aromatherapy!


1. “Lavender vs. Lavandin”. Jersey Lavender. Last modified November 27th, 2010.

2. “Lavandin (horse)”. Wikipedia. Last modified May 10th, 2014.

3. Svec, Susan. “What the Heck is Lavandin?” Susan’s Natural Soap Blog. Last modified August 17th, 2009.

4. “Lavandin Oil Benefits”. Yogawiz. Accessed July 16th, 2014.

Use Benzoin Oil for Congestion and Lower Respiratory Conditions

Use Benzoin Oil for Congestion and Lower Respiratory ConditionsAmong the many essential oils derived from tree resins, there is a little-known product known variously as benzoin essential oil, styrax oil, or storax oil. You may have heard these terms in different places, but they all refer to the same botanical product. Benzoin essential oil is steam distilled from a resinous exudation produced by trees in the Styrax genus, and is used to make incense, food flavorings, and perfume fixatives.

The genus Styrax contains several species of trees, both deciduous and evergreen, that are native to warm and tropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere; most Styrax species are found in Southeast Asia, but some occur in South America as well [1]. With so many different species of Styrax trees out there, it’s more important than ever to know which varieties produce a useful essential oil, so you can arm yourself with that knowledge when it comes time to make a purchase. The two species in the Styrax genus from which an essential oil is produced commercially are Styrax tonkinensis (found in peninsular Southeast Asia–Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam) and Styrax benzoin (from Sumatra) [1]. This article will use the term “benzoin” interchangeably to refer to both varieties.

The resin of S. tonkinensis—also called “Siam” benzoin—is reddish yellow on the outside with a milky white interior; it contains up to 40% benzoic acid, along with benzoresinol, siaresinotannol, and vanillin, giving it a lighter, more vanilla-like scent. It is much more frequently used in perfumery and food flavoring than the “Sumatra” variety S. benzoin, which produces a reddish gray resin with a sharper, more balsamic scent due to a higher content of cinnamic acid [2]. However, both forms of benzoin essential oil have valuable fixative properties in perfumery, as well as expectorant, emollient, and calming properties when used in aromatherapy [2].

The Arabic name for benzoin is luban jawi, or literally, “frankincense from Java”; this ancient name points to the role of benzoin resin and oil in the ancient world as an incense ingredient and medicine that was equated with frankincense oil. Official records of the international trade in benzoin date from the Middle Ages, but the linguistic and archaeological evidence suggests benzoin was important in the Western world far earlier than that. The Phoenicians were importing the resin of a Styrax (probably Styrax officinalis) into Greece from the Ancient Near East before the common era, and benzoin resin has been one candidate proposed for nataf, a component of the sacred Hebrew incense recorded in the Old Testament [3]. Later on, the Orthodox Christian Church burned benzoin resin as incense along with other rich middle notes such as opoponax and labdanum; various Styraxes also show up in Heberew rituals and in the Muslim world. One interesting use of benzoin was actually as a “snake repellent”: farmers in the Middle East burned bowls of benzoin during the frankincense harvest to drive away snakes that were believed to guard the trees [3]!

Medicinal uses for benzoin included as a skin antiseptic and mild emollient for irritated skin, an expectorant agent, and an analgesic for sore joints [2]. Though usually benzoin resin was dissolved into a tincture to treat these conditions, the essential oil could also be inhaled, especially to treat bronchitis and other lower respiratory infections. The Muslim physician Avicenna (Ibn Sina) even recommended a combination of benzoin resin with other antiseptic oils as a dental amalgam to replace lost or damaged teeth [3]!

Today, aromatherapists will sometimes use benzoin essential oil in dilution to treat sore joints, chapped or dry skin, coughs, bronchitis, and stress-related conditions [4]. Benzoin has a rich grounding scent that is calming to the psyche, making it useful for alleviating anxious states of mind induced by stress; it is traditionally associated with opening the root chakra in Buddhist meditation practices [5].

Benzoin oil should always be diffused or used in dilution for topical applications, to avoid possible skin sensitization. Blending best with resinous, woody and citrus oils, benzoin oil yields an intriguing aroma that may be suitable for meditation when mixed with frankincense, myrrh, cedarwood, sandalwood, patchouli, and vetiver [5]. For a brighter, more uplifting scent with pleasant “orange” notes, combine benzoin oil with citruses such as bergamot, mandarin, tangerine, or sweet orange oil!


1. “Benzoin Resin”. Wikipedia. Accessed May 20th, 2014.

2. Grieve, M. “A Modern Herbal | Benzoin”. Accessed May 20th, 2014.

3. “Styrax”. Wikipedia. Accessed May 21st, 2014.

4. Lawless, Julia. 2013. The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils: The Complete Guide to the Use of Aromatic Oils in Aromatherapy, Herbalism, Health, and Well-Being. Conari Press.

5. “Styrax Benzoin Resin/Styrax Benzoin Absolute”. AromaWeb. Accessed May 22nd, 2014.

Use Verbena Oil for Chronic Stress, Tension and Nervous Exhaustion

Use Verbena Oil for Chronic Stress, Tension and Nervous ExhaustionThere’s nothing quite like the study of essential oils to make one realize the deep relationship between the chemistry of plants and their outward characteristics, including their distinctive smell, taste, and therapeutic effects. Verbena essential oil is a case in point: because it contains high levels of citral [3], verbena oil has an unmistakable lemony fresh smell usually associated with lemons and other citrus fruits! Hence, verbena is often called lemon verbena, and in the Latin name for the plant (Lippia citriodora), “citriodora” actually means “lemon-scented” [1].

Verbena essential oil also shares some therapeutic applications with citrus-based oils: it is used to stimulate digestion, center the mind, and clear away mental cobwebs that are the result of fatigue, lack of sleep, or chronic stress [3].

Verbena is a perennial flowering shrub native to Chile and Peru. It can grow 2 to 3 meters (6 to 10 feet) tall at maturity, with small clusters of white or pale purple flowers and lance-shaped green leaves that are slightly rough to the touch [1]. The leaves are the part used to distill verbena essential oil, and they emit a strong scent of lemon when crushed due to the presence of the compounds citral, nerol, and geraniol [4].

When the Spanish and Portuguese first came to South America, they fell in love with verbena’s crisp citrus aroma and imported the plant back to Europe so they could cultivate it for its essential oil [2]. Verbena oil became an instant must-have in soaps, facial toners, and toilette water, while the fragrant leaves were used to flavor everything from fish and poultry to vegetable marinades, salad dressings, jams, and puddings [1]. A Spanish botanist went so far as to name verbena Yerba Louisa in honor of the Spanish princess Maria Louisa of Parma, who later went on to become the queen of Spain [1].

In aromatherapy, verbena essential oil is most commonly used to stimulate digestion and soothe indigestion, wind, and an upset stomach [2, 3]. The oil can also soften the skin and reduce puffiness when it is added to facial creams and lotions [2]. Verbena also has a reputation for helping with liver congestion, and has a mild calming effect on the respiratory and cardiac systems [3]. Perhaps this is why verbena essential oil is often used to address nervous tension, anxiousness, stress-related insomnia and other symptoms of chronic stress [3]. The oil’s sweet yet sharp aroma can calm the emotions and focus the mind on the present moment when life’s demands seem overwhelming.

Because of its citral content, the same caution should be taken when using verbena essential oil as with citrus oils such as orange, lime, and lemon. Always do a patch test with verbena oil diluted in a carrier oil before working with this oil in a massage, and do not expose treated skin to sunlight for 24 hours after application to avoid possible photosensitization [3]. With its floral-citrusy fragrance, verbena oil blends well with resinous and citrus oils such as elemi, frankincense, lemon, neroli, and palmarosa.


1. “Aloysia citriodora”. Wikipedia. Accessed February 24th, 2014.

2. Roberts, Margaret. 2003. A-Z Herbs: Identifying Herbs, How to Grow Herbs, and the Uses of Herbs. Struik Publishers.

3. “What is Lemon Verbena Oil?” Accessed April 9th, 2014.

4. Gomes, P.C.S., H.R.C. Oliveira, A.M.S. Vicente, and M.F. Ferreira. 2006. “Production, transformation and essential oils composition of leaves and stems of lemon verbena [Aloysia tryphilla (L’Hérit.) Britton] grown in Portugal”. Rev. Bras. Pl. Med. 8: 130-135.

Spiritual Uses of Jasmine Oil

Spiritual Uses of Jasmine OilIn India and throughout the Himalayas region, jasmine is a sacred flower associated with love, sensuality and spiritual awakening: garlands of jasmine flowers are offered to Hindu deities such as Kama, the god of love, and given to bridal couples to ensure their love lasts. Jasmine’s wonderful ability to calm the mind and bring balance to turbulent emotions has created a strong basis for the many spiritual uses of jasmine oil in South Asia. Jasmine is probably best known in the West as an aphrodisiac oil for both men and women, but the physical and spiritual uses of jasmine oil go far beyond that. Read on to learn about jasmine’s healing actions on the mind and spirit!

Jasmine holds the same status as a symbol of love in the East as does the luscious rose in the West. Hindu legends connect jasmine with undying love, sometimes in tragic ways: for instance, one legend tells of an Indian princess who falls in love with Surya-Deva, the sun god; when he rejects her, she is so heartbroken that she dies of grief. Upon cremation, her ashes are scattered and the jasmine flower grows up where they land. Because the sun spurned her, jasmine flowers open only at night to release their delicate perfume. Another myth relates that Kama, the Hindu analog to Cupid in Roman myth, would drape his arrow tips with jasmine flowers to ensure that they pierced the human heart and filled it with love.

When the effects of pure jasmine oil on the emotions are examined, it’s no wonder this flower has so long been associated with love and compassion, including the kind of cosmic compassion that is so valued in Eastern spiritual practice. Jasmine oil is listed as a calming sedative in aromatherapy, but some research has suggested that jasmine oil also activates beta waves in the brain—the type of brainwaves that indicate feelings of alertness.

Because of jasmine oil’s ability to promote calm alertness, one of the invaluable spiritual uses of jasmine oil is in helping those struggling with emotional issues to sort out their feelings in a tranquil, self-aware manner. Jasmine oil can be used to help someone confront emotional dilemmas, especially those that relate to love and relationships; to address states of shock, trauma, emotional stress, low self esteem, or body image issues. Overall, jasmine oil seems to offer the emotions a reset button, helping the user gain clearheadedness and perspective when they have become demotivated, mentally lethargic, or discouraged for any reason.

When employed in meditation, a common spiritual use of jasmine oil is to balance the body’s chakras—collection points of energy throughout the body in Hindu and Buddhist practice. As an anointing oil, jasmine is used to faciltate the opening of the third eye chakra, as well as the sacral chakra. The third eye chakra, located in the forehead, is associated with the pineal gland—the symbolic seat of wisdom, imagination, creativity, and clairvoyance. As you might expect, the sacral chakra, located around the sacrum or tailbone, is associated with sensuality, being in touch with the physical body, and being comfortable in one’s own skin. Jasmine oil tends to be quite yang, meaning it encourages outwardly directed energy, helping the practitioner to put themselves forward and be more confident in who they are.

We will leave you today with Peter Holmes’ beautiful invocation on the value of pure jasmine oil for universal healing in Western society: “We’re all survivors of trauma. Western culture has a deep need for jasmine. Our individual sensual repression and our social sensual deprivation in the alienated Western lifestyle cry out for the sensuous euphoria that jasmine provides. The Queen of the Night can connect us to the feminine source of life, presently stirring from a deep unconscious sleep. Her night-blooming pearls can lead us once again to the fragrant dawn we yearn for.”

From Peter Holmes. “Jasmine: The Queen of the Night” in International Journal of Aromatherapy 8 (4): 8-12.

Use Jasmine Oil to Center the Mind and Relieve Stress

Use Jasmine Oil to Center the Mind and Relieve StressOften called the “king of oils”, jasmine has been revered in South Asia and the Middle East for its divine scent, calming effect on the emotions, and wide range of medicinal applications. In these regions of the world, jasmine is a well-known women’s herb that is used to address menstrual pain or discomfort, encourage uterine contractions, and ease the pain of childbirth. When you consider the number of healing properties jasmine oil  provides to humans, the origin of the flower’s name—yasmeen, Persian for “gift of the gods”—makes a whole lot of sense.

Jasmine (Jasminum grandiflorum) is a flowering tropical vine native to South Asia, part of the wide-ranging Jasminum genus that has members in tropical regions throughout the Old World. The jasmine plant has green vines and leaves and small white flowers. Jasmine absolute oil is the only kind of oil that can be obtained from jasmine flowers: too delicate for traditional steam distillation, the compounds in jasmine must be extracted using a cold solvent such as liquid carbon dioxide. One pound of jasmine oil requires 1,000 pounds of flowers to make—equivalent to 3.6 million fresh blossoms!

Despite its delicate, floral, tea-like scent and traditional associations with women, jasmine oil is called the “king of oils”. (Rose oil, from Rosa damascena, is considered the “queen of oils”.) In South and Southeast Asia, women use fresh jasmine blossoms as hair ornaments, and garlands of jasmine and orchids are sold in Thailand to mark religious occasions and festivals.

Use Jasmine Oil to Center the Mind and Relieve Stress

Garlands of fresh jasmine adorn a market stall in Thailand before a festival.

In China, jasmine tea has been popular for centuries: a combination of fresh jasmine flowers and dried green or oolong tea is mixed together and allowed to steep for a few hours, until the tea leaves have absorbed the volatile compounds from the flowers. After it is refired to prevent spoilage, the jasmine flowers—now dried and odorless—are either removed or left in for decoration. Jasmine was likely brought to the Middle East by Persian traders, and from there disseminated to Europe via trade with Morocco by the 17th century, where it exploded in popularity as a perfume ingredient and even became part of a signature scent favored by King Louis the XVI of France.

Jasmine oil has been used since antiquity as a sedative, nervine, analgesic and anti-inflammatory[1]. The oil is believed to ease mental and emotional stress and tension while promoting feelings of calm and groundedness. Jasmine is still used by aromatherapists today to address stress-related conditions, nervousness, and anxiety, either by massage or vapor therapy. Inhaling jasmine oil can also help discharge excess mucus or nasal catarrh, while a gentle massage with jasmine oil does wonders to address dry, irritated or inflamed skin and to diminish the appearance of scars [2] and stretch marks. With its analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects, jasmine oil is also useful for pain, stomachaches, muscle aches, menstrual discomfort, and as a general uterine tonic [2]. One modern-day use for jasmine oil is to assist people going through addiction treatment, since it is thought to calm the mind and center the emotions during this turbulent experience.

Jasmine is also known as the “Queen of the Night”, since the flowers open only after dusk and must be picked at night to ensure maximum fragrance. Next time you take a whiff of pure jasmine oil, imagine the moon shining on fields of this night-blooming beauty as farmers pluck the flowers one by one to begin their journey from the Far East to your aromatherapy cabinet.


1. Paarakh, Sandeep and Padmaa M. Paarakh. 2009. “Jasminum grandiflorum. Linn. (Chameli): Ethnobotany, Phytochemistry and Pharmacology – A Review”. Pharmacology Online 2: 586-595.

2. Vidyalakshmi, A. and S, Esaki Selvi. 2013. “Protease activity of floral extracts of Jasminum grandiflorum L., a wound-healing herb.” Journal of Medicinal Plants Studies 4(1): 11-15.