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The 12 Best Essential Oils for a Scent Diffuser Machine

The age of self-care has arrived and with it a growing understanding of essential oils and their positive effects on mind and body. Aromatherapy has long been praised for its ability to ease stress, anxiety, and even some symptoms of depression. Studies suggest using essential oils (and maybe even fragrance oil) in a scent diffuser machine can activate some areas of the limbic system, which plays a key role in emotions. Diffusing essential oils can increase the feeling of relaxation and improve sleep quality, act as mood boosters and energizers, and fight symptoms of physical illness. Let’s look at 12 must-have oils for every home.

1. Lavender

This floral-scented oil is famous for its mild, calming effect on the mind and body. Historically, people were known to have placed fresh lavender flowers in and under pillows as a sleep aid. A sprig or two in a handkerchief provided a quick whiff of calm to ease stress throughout the day. Nowadays, we know these effects are largely due to the chemical constituents linalool and linalyl acetate found in the oil, which is why lavender is diffused throughout the home to counter everyday stress and anxiety. It is also a popularly diffused oil in the bedrooms of adults and children alike to promote sleep. Lavender has a variety of uses:

Extracted from the flower of Lavandula angustifolia flower, lavender is by far the most popular essential oil for use in diffusers because of its calming effects. This oil is safe for use around cats or dogs.

2. Peppermint

Peppermint is a cross between water mint and spearmint. With Its strong flavor and fragrance, it is often used as food flavoring and as a fragrance in cosmetics and soaps. However, peppermint oil has other uses as well. Because the primary chemical is menthol, a few drops in a diffuser is helpful for fighting off colds as well as for cleaning the air. Other benefits of diffusing peppermint essential oil include the following:

  • Alleviates headaches
  • Improves mental focus
  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Freshens air
  • Boosts energy

The cool and refreshing scent of peppermint also makes it a great mood booster. Plus, the smell of peppermint brings forth images of hot cocoa stirred with a peppermint stick, bonfires, and the impending holiday season. It also combines well with eucalyptus, cinnamon, lemon, and rosemary

3. Lemon

There is nothing like the smell of fresh citrus to perk up the senses. Especially lemon with its clean, fresh scent. From the Arabic “laimon” meaning “citrus fruit,” lemon has long been touted for its many health benefits. Produced by cold pressing the peel, lemon essential oil can be used for everything from a disinfectant to an energy increaser. When diffused, lemon essential oil can have the following benefits.

  • Reduces anxiety and stress
  • Reduces depression symptoms
  • Improves breathing
  • Boosts mood
  • May improve cognitive function
  • Relieves asthma symptoms
  • Increases energy levels

Recognized as both antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory because of its high levels of the chemical limonene, lemon essential oil is recommended for mental clarity, stress reduction, and mood improvement. For a real mental focus booster, try a blend of lemon, rosemary, grapefruit, and patchouli.

4. Eucalyptus

When most people think of eucalyptus, they probably think of greasy concoctions rubbed on the chest to relieve congestion. While these products may contain eucalyptus, eucalyptus oil is much cleaner and provides the same relief plus more when diffused in the home. Indigenous to Australia, eucalyptus contains eucalyptol (cineole) which is responsible for its expectorant, mucolytic, and decongestant effects. Common benefits of eucalyptus include:

  • Eliminates headaches
  • Reduces congestion/stuffy nose
  • Reduces fever
  • Stimulates the body and mind
  • Boosts immune systems
  • Relieves cough
  • improves breathing

Eucalyptus has anti-inflammatory and bronchodilation properties that loosen phlegm and reduce inflammation of the mucous membranes. It is this ability to open sinuses and breathing passages that make the diffusion of eucalyptus effective in reducing symptoms of sinusitis, cough, colds, asthma, and other common respiratory problems. Along with its health benefits, this minty oil touched with a sweet scent of pine is also an insect deterrent.

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5. Tea Tree

Also known as melaleuca, tea tree oil comes from the Melaleuca alternifolia, which is a small tree native to Australia. The germ-fighting properties of tea tree have long been touted by Australian aborigines, and modern medicine has confirmed that the chemical cineole is what provides the anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-viral effects of tea tree oil.

  • Purifies the air
  • Freshens the air
  • Awakens the senses
  • Eliminates moldy, musty odors
  • Improves respiratory symptoms (cough, congestion)

Some describe the scent of tea tree as crisp and earthy, while others say it has a strong, medicinal odor when used alone. If the scent is unappealing, consider using a blend. For instance, if you have a cold, try diffusing a blend of tea tree, lemon, peppermint and eucalyptus.

6. Rosemary

Derived from the plant Rosmarinus officinalis, rosemary’s benefits have been documented from as early as the 16th century. This oil contains cineole, camphor and limonene, making it useful for a wide variety of ailments. The earthy, woodsy scent of rosemary essential oil not only gives the home a warm, inviting feel but also provides these health benefits:

  • Improves cognitive function
  • Stimulates memory
  • Improves mood
  • Relieves stress
  • Boosts immune system
  • Improves alertness
  • Reduces tension and fatigue

Antiseptic properties of rosemary oil are also beneficial in relieving symptoms of respiratory infection as well as cough, congestion, runny nose, and headaches. Increases autonomic nervous system activity and brain wave activity were found after inhalation of rosemary essential oil. Furthermore, inhaling a diffusion of rosemary and lavender essential oils has been shown to reduce the cortisol (or stress hormone) levels in saliva which account for the stress relief and mood-boosting benefits.

7. Cinnamon

The scent of autumn, cinnamon conjures thoughts of snickerdoodles and pumpkin pies, of warmth and coziness, and of apple cider by a crackling fire. An added bonus is the health benefits of this versatile essential oil. The main chemical constituent of cinnamon oil is cinnamaldehyde, which gives the oils its antibacterial, astringent, antiseptic, expectorant and antifungal properties. In a diffuser, the antibacterial properties can help prevent respiratory infections and remove bacteria from the air. There are other great reasons to diffuse cinnamon oil, as well, such as these:

  • Relieves headaches
  • Calms negative thoughts
  • Boosts brain function & clarity
  • Improves blood circulations
  • Maintains a healthy immune system

harsher than that made from the leaf. Because both types of cinnamon oil are so strong, experts recommend using them in tandem with other essential oils. To boost brain function and clarity, try a blend of cinnamon, peppermint and rosemary. Cinnamon essential oil also blends well with frankincense, lavender, tea tree, or patchouli.

8. Frankincense

Renowned as one of the gifts of the Magi to the Christ child, frankincense was valued in ancient times for healing and spiritual practices. It is still burned as incense in religious ceremonies and is used topically and aromatically for medicinal purposes. The presence of the chemical constituent alpha-thujene is what gives this oil its antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, and antimicrobial effects. Today, frankincense is often diffused to achieve these effects:

  • Improves mood
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Improves mental focus
  • Decreases stress
  • Eases anxiety
  • Eases respiratory afflictions

Diffusing frankincense can also promote healthy sleeping patterns as well as kill germs and bacteria. The warm, spicy tone and clean, woody scent blend well with other essential oils like lemon, lavender, grapefruit, peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary, and patchouli.

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9. Patchouli

Sometimes called “the scent of the 60s,” patchouli oil is said to be first used in Southern India by the Tamil people who valued it for, among other things, its medicinal properties. Part of the mint family, patchouli has an intense, musky scent that may require getting used to but works equally well in a blend or on its own. The earthy tones provide a calming, grounding atmosphere when diffused.

  • Relieves anxiety
  • Reduces fatigue
  • Helps fight depression
  • Promotes relaxation
  • Improves concentration
  • Improves mental clarity
  • Lifts mood

The presence of patchouli alcohol in this essential oil gives it antiseptic, antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antidepressant properties that are accessible through diffusion. If you find the scent of patchouli too strong for your tastes, try using it in a blend. Patchouli mixes well with lavender, frankincense and most other floral or woodsy, earthy oils.

10. Grapefruit

Grapefruit oil comes from compressing the peel of the fruit and, like many citrus oils, has a vibrant, invigorating scent. The fresh, tangy aroma of grapefruit oil stimulates the nervous system and improves enzyme and hormone secretion in the endocrine system, which helps increase metabolic rate.

  • Increases energy levels
  • Eases stress and tension
  • Improves mood
  • Helps control stress hormone production
  • Reduces food cravings
  • Increase brain function

The anti-viral properties of grapefruit essential oil that come from the chemical limonene make it a good choice for protection from colds and chills. These same properties work to kill bacteria in the air, as well. Grapefruit essential oil is equally effective by itself or in combination with other oils such as rosemary, lavender, cinnamon, peppermint, and/or patchouli.

11. Ylang Ylang

Ylang ylang, a star-shaped yellow flower, is found on the tropical tree of the same name. It was originally used for weddings and religious ceremonies. Ylang ylang has two main components: benzyl acetate, which works as a calmative, antidepressant, and relaxant, and linalool, which is antimicrobial and bactericidal. Ylang ylang has a head, rich, fruity, flowery scent that produces these benefits:

  • Boosts mood
  • Alleviates anxiety
  • Reduces stress levels
  • Decreases heart rate
  • Reduces feeling of depression
  • Lowers blood pressure

Ylang-ylang oil is also beneficial for cough, fever, headaches, and sinus infections when used in a diffuser. Try it with a drop or two of eucalyptus frankincense to ease a cold or pick up your spirits on blue days with a blend of ylang-ylang and grapefruit or lemon oils.

12. Clary Sage

Clary sage is traditionally used for its relaxing, calming effects. The floral, herbaceous scented oil gets its calming, grounding properties from linalyl acetate, one of the main chemical constituents in clary sage. When it feels like emotions are running wild, this oil will help tame them.

  • Reduces blood pressure and breathing rates
  • Induces relaxation
  • Improves attention and memory
  • Reduces feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Relieves insomnia

When restless and fighting sleep, try a blend of clary sage and frankincense or clary sage and ylang-ylang. Clary sage is also an excellent alternative for those sensitive to lavender.

The Science of Aromatherapy

Using essential oils to promote and maintain psychological, spiritual, and physical well-being is called aromatherapy. Unlike chemically perfumed candles and air fresheners, essential oils are natural compounds with actual health benefits. Aromatherapy works by activating smell receptors in the nose. These receptors send messages to the brain via the nervous system. This, in turn, may activate the limbic system, which is a factor in emotions and the hypothalamus which creates serotonin, a mood-regulating brain chemical.

While essential oils are administered in a variety of ways, the most common and the safest is through inhalation using a scent diffuser machine. A Whole Home Scenting Diffuser allows the scent of your favorite essential oils to reach every room of your house (via your HVAC). It is perfect for when the kids need calming down, when cold germs threaten the entire family or when you just want a little peace and relaxation in your life.

**Please note that essential oils should not be taken internally without professional guidance as some oils are toxic when ingested. Also, not all oils are safe to diffuse around children and pets. Of the oils listed here, those safe for cats include lavender and frankincense. Oils safe for dogs include lavender and clary sage. With physician approval, John’s Hopkins medicine approves the use of the following oils for children: lavender and frankincense for anxiety, and peppermint for nausea and headaches (but only in children over 30 months old).

Photo credit: Pixabay (living room)

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Don't Fragrance Your Home Until You've Eliminated These Five Common Odor Areas.

In 5 easy steps, we show you how to get your home ready for scenting, so you can be confident it smells the way you want.

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