Ultimate List of Essential Oils for Heart Health

A growing body of evidence is showing that the use of essential oils and aromatherapy can benefit human health. This includes certain heart issues. While essential oils are not directly proven to decrease your risk of heart disease, they do help indirectly by reducing stress and anxiety levels (1, 2). However, for that reason alone, using essential oilsis worth adding to your routine.

A stress-free mind equals a happy heart. So, without further ado, let’s take a peek at the 15 best essential oils for heart health.

Check out the recipe for >>Happy Heart Massage Oil<< while you’re here.

The Link Between Heart Disease and Stress

It should be no surprise that high levels of stress can lead to chronic disease. Both short and long-term emotional stress can increase your risk of coronary heart disease (2). Additionally, stress can trigger cardiovascular events in those with advanced heart disease.

Studies also show an association between specific plant scents used in the Mediterranean and changes in gut microbiota (3). These plant essential oils include:

  • parsley
  • rosemary
  • savory

The results from this study, however, were based on mice subjects, not humans. However, these essential oils still showed significant benefits in reducing inflammation which may benefit those with ischemic heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

There are many other essential oils for heart health as well, which we’ll discuss very soon.

For more information on stress and heart health, check out Maintaining a Healthful Diet During Times of Stress.

What are Essential Oils?

Essential oils are aromatic constituents of certain plant parts such as flowers, fruits, and seeds (4). We call them “essential” because they contain the plant’s “essence” or the smell and taste characteristic of the plant.

woman holding essential oil bottles

Is Using Essential Oils the Same as Aromatherapy?

Essential oils are only a small part of a practice called aromatherapy. Aromatherapy involves using essential oils by either inhaling them or using them on the skin to improve physical, emotional, or spiritual well-being. We consider the use of essential oils part of a complementary health approach.

According to the President of the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy:

Aromatherapy is part of a larger field called phytotherapy (plant therapy). True aromatherapy is the skilled use of genuine essential oils for therapeutic purposes. Science, education, and experience allow aromatherapy to truly become a holistic art. Oils and water are used for their therapeutic properties to heal the mind, body and spirit, returning the body to a state of equilibrium.

Annette Davis, NAHA President
woman smiling and breathing essential oil

How are Essential Oils Good for Your Heart?

Essential oils affect the central nervous system which controls most body functions, including emotion and mood (5). This can affect your heart. What’s more, the physical act of massaging your body using essential oils can improve circulation. Hence, also impacts heart health.

Each essential oil contains specific phytochemicals. These chemicals can have some very impressive health-benefiting properties. Some of these properties include being:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antibacterial
  • antioxidant
  • anti-anxiety
  • antidepressant
  • antifungal
  • antiviral
  • antiarrhythmic
  • and more!

With heart health specifically, a 2012 study found that aromatherapy can lower blood pressure through relaxation. Another study in 2014 shows that the inhalation of bergamot essential oil in a vaporizer over one hour can significantly reduce heart rate and blood pressure.

Multiple other studies show similar findings on aromatherapy and reducing blood pressure, anxiety, stress, and cortisol levels (6, 7, 8).

For this article, many of the essential oils for heart health listed will have anti-anxiety and stress-relieving properties. I will also mention some that have anti-hypertensive effects. This means that individuals with low blood pressure will need to be careful when using them.

For more on heart health, read this article: 5 Things You Can Do to Support Heart Health NOW

Fifteen Best Essential Oils for Heart Health

Basil

Description and Potential Properties: This oil has a warm, sweet, herbal scent. It may help reduce mental fatigue and anxiety, and calm your nerves while also energizing and uplifting your mood. It may also have the potential for aiding in constipation and poor digestion and has antidepressant properties.

Possible Interactions: If you are taking any medicine for high blood pressure, it may be best to stay away from basil essential oil. As it may lead to episodes of very low blood pressure. Also, taking anticoagulant or anti-platelet medications may increase your risk of bleeding.

Bergamot

Description and Potential Properties: Bergamot oil has a sedative, antidepressant, and anxiety-relieving effect. It is cooling, refreshing, and relaxing to the central nervous system. Its scent is sweet, citrusy, and spicy. It is also said to be one of the more affordable antidepressant essential oils. Always a good choice to have on hand!

Possible Interactions: Bergamot oil contains a substance called furocoumarins. This substance could make your eyes sensitive to light if used too often on the skin.

Cassia

Description and Potential Properties: Described as light, warm, comforting, and sweet. Cassia is similar to cinnamon, as it comes from the same plant family. Cassia is sweeter and less spicy than cinnamon, however. Research on its active components shows that it has anticancer, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral, and antioxidant properties. Pretty impressive!

Possible Interactions: If using on the skin, always dilute this with a carrier oil to prevent burning or irritation.

Cedarwood

Description and Potential Properties: Cedarwood essential oil comes from cedar trees. As you can imagine, this scent is woody and coniferous. Analysis of this plant’s properties shows that it has significant relaxing effects in humans. This may benefit those dealing with situational stress.

Possible Interactions: Do not use cedarwood essential oil if you are allergic to cedar.

Clary Sage

Description and Potential Properties: There are hundreds of different sage species. Here, we are talking about clary sage (S. scleria). The essential oil from this plant has a calm, woody, earthy, and herbal aroma. It induces a sense of well-being and has a sedative effect. One 2017 review, shows its potential in improving depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Another study shows that it balances hormones during menopause and reduces menstrual cramps in women by reducing cortisol levels.

Possible Interactions: No known medicine or supplement interactions.

Cypress

Description and Potential Properties: If you like the smell of the forest, you’ll love the woody, masculine, smoky scent of cypress. According to research, the smell of this oil can help decrease blood pressure and heart rate, promote feelings of relaxation, and improve immune function.

Possible Interactions: There is little information known on the safety of cypress oil. However, it may cause side effects such as kidney irritation.

Eucalyptus

Description and Potential Properties: Eucalyptus is a smell you’ll never forget. It’s a fresh, woody, and spa-like scent. It has anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. Research reports that it may help reduce post-op pain. It is also great for clearing a stuffy nose during the cold season!

Possible Interactions: Using eucalyptus too often may induce or provoke seizures, epilepsy, migraine, or cluster headache.

Geranium

geranium flower

Description and Potential Properties: Geranium oil, just as you would expect, has a floral scent. Research shows that it has a calming effect, helping to reduce anxiety. Because of these anxiety-reducing properties, it may help lower blood pressure and heart rate.

Possible Interactions: No known interactions with drugs or supplements.

Ginger

ginger root

Description and Potential Properties: Ginger essential oil has a strong, warm, and spicy smell. It is known to help reduce nausea if eaten, although studies show minimal effectiveness in managing nausea if inhaling the oil. It does however help improve immune function, pain, and stress levels.

Possible Interactions: If you take certain anti-hypotension medications or coumadin, ginger essential oil may cause episodes of hypotension and increase the risk of bleeding.

Helichrysum

yellow helichrysum flowers

Description and Potential Properties: Helichrysum is known for its soothing properties. Oddly enough, it smells like a mix of honey and hay. It is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant abilities.

Possible Interactions: This oil is generally safe for humans to use but one study on cells shows it may inhibit liver enzymes from working.

Juniper Berry

juniper berries on branch with greens

Description and Potential Properties: Another oil coming from a conifer, juniper berry oil smells woody, sweet, and fresh. It has antibacterial uses but may also have brain benefits, which is noted in mice studies. This suggests possible cognitive benefits for humans as well. If used in a massage oil, it may also help relieve muscle cramps.

Possible Interactions: No known interactions with drugs or supplements.

Lavender

lavender flowers in a white bowl

Description and Potential Properties: Lavender is likely the most familiar of all the essential oils on this list. Its smell is light, floral, and powdery. It has long been known to promote relaxation and lower stress levels. You may have lavender-scented room sprays, candles, or even laundry dryer sheets. This is wonderful! Why you ask?

Well, studies show that lavender decreases stress and cortisol levels. This can be especially beneficial for heart health. Additionally, the chemical, linalool, present in lavender decreases the incidence of arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats) in rat models.

Possible Interactions: There are a few known side effects with lavender.

Lemongrass

lemongrass plant with essential oil bottle

Description and Potential Properties: As the name suggests, this oil has a light, lemony scent. It may help reduce inflammation and also prevent fungus from growing. In terms of mood, breathing in lemongrass essential oil also helps relieve stress and anxiety.

Possible Interactions: Lemongrass stimulates menstrual flow, so pregnant women should avoid it.

Marjoram

marjoram plant

Description and Potential Properties: Consuming marjoram the herb shows cardiac benefits. The essential oil, however, can protect against certain bacteria and oxidative stress and may have antiplatelet and cardioprotective benefits (9).

Possible Interactions: No known interactions with drugs or supplements.

Ylang Ylang

ylang ylang plant with yellow flowers

Description and Potential Properties: The smell of ylang-ylang is spicy but sweet, and also floral. If put on the skin, it has a sedative effect. But it is also antiseptic, hypotensive, and an aphrodisiac. If inhaling it, ylang-ylang is calming and may help increase cognitive function. Studies show that it can decrease nervousness and depression and also lower blood pressure in otherwise healthy adults.

Possible Interactions: No known interactions with drugs or supplements.

Ways to Use Essential Oils for Heart Health

Essential oils have many therapeutic uses. Here are a few ways in which you can incorporate these heart-healthy essential oils into your life.

  • Mix essential oils with a carrier oil (such as grapeseed or sweet almond oil) and massage it into the skin as you would a body oil or lotion.
  • Add a drop or two to a small roller ball bottle and apply to the temples or under your nose.
  • Create an essential oil chest rub by mixing essential oils with melted shea butter and then storing it in a sealable container.
  • Add a few drops of essential oils to a warm bath and soak away your stress.
  • Use an aromatic diffuser to infuse a few drops of essential oil(s) of choice throughout any room of your house.
  • Make an essential oil candle.
  • Make a bath salt using Epsom salt and essential oils.

Essential oils can also be ingested but I don’t recommend doing this- see “Oral Ingestion” below.

For other ways to enjoy the use of essential oils, check out these suggestions from the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy.

Happy Heart Massage Oil Recipe

The next time you’re feeling stressed, try this easy mixture of essential oils and a carrier oil. Click here for more carrier oils you can use.

Ingredients:

  • lavender essential oil
  • ylang-ylang essential oil
  • bergamot essential oil

Instructions:

  1. Mix 5 drops lavender essential oil, 4 drops ylang-ylang essential oil, and 2 drops bergamot oil in 1 fl. oz. of jojoba or almond oil.
  2. Massage anywhere on your body, avoiding eyes, OR use as a bath oil. RELAX.
  3. Store in a glass amber or cobalt blue colored air-tight bottle for up to 2 years. Keep away from direct sunlight and heat.

Precautions When Using Essential Oils for Heart Health

The safety of aromatherapy is always going to depend on the type of oil you are using, the dose and dilution of the oil, and the method of administering it.

You also have to consider the route you are taking- inhaler or rubbing on skin. Here are four important things to consider before buying and using your essential oils.

Direct Skin Exposure

Not all essential oils are created equal. They each have their properties and chemical makeup, containing different substances that may be harmful, or cause you irritation and sensitivity. Certain oils are even known to cause pruritis and dermatitis.

A 2% dilution of essential oils is considered safe in the adult population, while it is 1% or less for the older population and children.

Before using ANY essential oils, experts recommend you do a skin test to avoid any allergic reactions, irritation, or sensitivity. Alternatively, you can get a skin test from your dermatologist.

How to Perform a Skin Test

A skin test consists of diluting 1 drop of the essential oil in 4 drops of carrier oil and applying one to two drops of this dilution to your inner forearm or back. Put a band-aid over the area and check the area for any irritation after 24 hours.

Keep in mind that even after conducting a skin patch test, there is no guarantee that you will not develop sensitization, irritation, or an allergy over time. Some sensitivities may be delayed or develop the longer you use an oil.

Oral Ingestion

Some people take essential oils orally in teas, supplements, or even via a drop or two on their tongue. I do NOT suggest doing this without instruction from a trained herbalist or NAHA-certified professional.

Essential oils are very concentrated so even a few drops can cause harm to your mucous membranes, or even burning the lining in your mouth.

Routine Usage

Another thing to consider is how often you are using your essential oils. Some experts say that if you use them routinely, your body can get familiar with them. Thereby, lowering their effectiveness. One study even states that exposure lasting over an hour has the opposite effect of what you’re trying to achieve (10).

For this reason, I’d suggest only using short bursts of aromatherapy when you need a mood booster.

At-Risk Populations

Certain populations should be careful when using essential oils. These populations consists of:

  • children
  • older population
  • pregnant women
  • those with weakened immune systems

This is because some essential oils can be harmful to your liver, kidneys, and nervous system. Two examples are tea tree and eucalyptus oil, which have been known to cause seizures. If using them, it is important to let your doctor know and mix them at the correct ratio to prevent harm.

Conclusion

Essential oils and aromatherapy are both an art and a science. Treat your essential oils just as you treat your medications. They should not be used without 1) letting your doctor know and 2) consulting with a trained herbalist or aromatherapist first.

We can conclude that essential oils play an important role in the functioning of our central nervous system. Studies show numerous benefits of using essential oils for heart health and other ailments. They can help with depression, nervousness, sleeping disorders, and much more.

Perhaps someday, it may even become an effective nursing intervention in reducing psychological stress, anxiety, and blood pressure in patients worldwide.

IMPORTANT NOTE:

I am not an herbalist or a NAHA certified aromatherapist. Inhaling any essential oils may increase risk of respiratory issues. Additionally, if used on skin, any essential oil may cause dermatitis if not used appropriately or on broken skin.

Those seeking medical care to manage moods, behaviors, or disorders should treat essential oils as a complementary medicine, not a replacement for medicinal treatments or prescriptions. In the event of any adverse reaction, discontinue use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.

This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, and certain essential oils should not be used by pregnant or lactating women unless under the care of a medical practitioner.

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