Heart Health

When it comes to the leading of cause of death in the United States, cardiovascular disease is at the top of the list. And that’s true for both men and women. Heart disease kills 610,000 people in the United States every year — that’s roughly 1 of every 4 deaths.

Reducing your risk of heart disease involves changes to your lifestyle, like quitting smoking and vaping, cutting back on alcohol, nutritional eating habits, daily exercise (simple walk around the block will help), healthier choices for wellness (reducing stress, meditation, losing weight) and monitoring your cholesterol and blood pressure.

Is aromatherapy good for your heart?

We are all about natural alternatives as a first choice for balance and a healthy lifestyle and aromatherapy is a practice that has been used medicinally for centuries. Essential oils are fragrant compounds derived mainly from distilling flowers, leaves, stems, wood, roots, and plant seeds.

Essential oils are meant to be inhaled for the quickest impact, diluted in a carrier oil and applied to the skin, and with support and guidance of a trained practitioner, some oils (pure and therapeutic in production) can be taken internally through ingestion or suppository. NOT ALL OILS ARE THE SAME… If you buy them retail from the store or online through Amazon, there is no way to know their purity or quality… So as a rule, do not apply essential oils directly to the skin. Do not take ingest essential oils. Not knowing the manufacturer as reputable many are adulterated (blended with other oils or fillers to save money) and may be toxic. I will recommend the oils I trust for sustained quality and purity later in this article.

Most researchers agree that there is no conclusive evidence that aromatherapy has any therapeutic effects on people with heart disease, but there is some evidence that aromatherapy can lower anxiety and stress, which are risk factors for high blood pressure. A 2012 study found that aromatherapy using essential oils can lower blood pressure through relaxation.

However, it’s worth noting that only short bursts of aromatherapy are helpful. According to the same study, exposure that lasts for over an hour has the opposite effect. To much of a good thing can often be too much. Learn more from a trusted practitioner who can guide you and offer more support than just selling you oils.

If you’d like to try using essential oils to lower your heart disease risk, these are some of your best bets:

Basil

I love this in my garden and harvest the leaves for the winter months. This “royal herb” is wonderful in pesto, soup, and on pizza. It packs a solid dose of vitamin K and magnesium. In addition, essential oil extract from basil leaves shows potential for lowering your levels of bad cholesterol, otherwise known as LDL (low-density lipoprotein). LDL plays a major role in atherosclerosis by depositing fat molecules along artery walls.

Description

Basil has a warm, spicy, yet herbal aroma known to reduce anxious feelings. Basil provides great benefits to both the mind and body due to its high linalool content, making it an ideal application to help reduce feelings of tension when applied to the temples and back of the neck. Basil is commonly used in cooking to add a fresh, herbal flavor to meats, pastas, and entrée dishes, and it is also cooling to the skin. The aroma of Basil helps promote a sense of focus and a stress-relieving experience.

Uses

  • Diffuse to promote a sense of focus while studying or reading.
  • Combine with Geranium and Wild Orange essential oils for an uplifting aromatic massage.
  • Add to your favorite Italian dishes for a refreshing taste.

Directions for Use

Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of choice.
Internal use: Dilute one drop in 4 fl. oz. of liquid.
Topical use: Apply one to two drops to desired area. Dilute with doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil to minimize any skin sensitivity.

Cautions

Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.

Primary Benefits

  • Helps to keep the skin looking clean, clear, and healthy
  • Promotes mental alertness and lessens anxious feelings when diffused
  • Supports cardiovascular and nervous system health when consumed internally*

Cassia

Maintaining your blood sugar levels not only helps prevent diabetes, but heart disease as well. That’s because unregulated high blood glucose can increase the amount of plaque that forms on your artery walls. Research shows that cassia flower extract reduces blood glucose levels while increasing plasma insulin.

Cassia Essential Oil

  • Add one drop to citrus blends or diffuse with Clove and Ginger during fall and winter.
  • Take one to two drops in veggie capsules for added immune support.*
  • Combine one drop with doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil and massage for a warming sensation.
  • Combine one to two drops along with Lemon in a glass of water to support healthy digestion and metabolism.*

Directions for Use

Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of your choice.
Internal use: Dilute one drop in 4 fl. oz. of liquid (tea or coffee or a smoothie)
Topical use: Dilute one to two drops with doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil then apply to desired area.

Cautions

Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.

Primary Benefits

  • Promotes healthy digestion when taken internally*
  • Ingest to support healthy cardiovascular, metabolic, and immune function*
  • Warming, uplifting aroma

Clary Sage

Research from Korea shows that oil vapors from the white-pink flowers of this wide-leafed shrub are effective at decreasing systolic blood pressure (that top number in a blood pressure reading).

Clary Sage is a biennial or perennial herb that grows up to six feet in height. Clary Sage is known for its calming properties and benefits to the skin. The main chemical component of Clary Sage is linalyl acetate, part of the esters group, making it one of the most relaxing, soothing, and balancing essential oils. In the Middle Ages, the Clary Sage plant was frequently used to soothe skin. Inhaling Clary Sage promotes feelings of relaxation, allowing for a restful night’s sleep.

Uses

  • During your menstrual cycle, rub three to five drops on the abdomen for a soothing massage.
  • Combine with Roman Chamomile and add to bath water for a stress-relieving bath.
  • Diffuse or apply to pillow at night for a restful sleep.
  • Add to shampoo or hair conditioner to promote healthy hair and scalp.
  • Combine with Coconut Oil to massage, soothe, or rejuvenate skin.

Directions for Use

Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of your choice.
Internal use: Only as directed by a trained practitioner.
Topical use: Apply one to two drops to desired area. Dilute with Coconut Oil to minimize any skin sensitivity.

Cautions

Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. Clary Sage can impact hormone levels, if you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician or a trained practitioner. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.

Primary Benefits

  • Promotes healthy-looking hair and scalp
  • Promotes a restful night’s sleep
  • Calming and soothing to the skin

Cypress

Stress and anxiety have a direct effect on blood pressure and overall heart health. Consider cypress oil which, when used in aromatherapy massage, provides short-term relaxation, ease, and relief from fatigue.

Description

Native to Southern Europe and Western Asia, Cypress essential oil is derived from tall evergreen trees. Cypress has a fresh, clean aroma that’s energizing and refreshing. This is a very popular and effective oil in massage therapy and as a therapist most of my massage blends include this beautiful oil. Cypress contains monoterpenes, making it beneficial for oily skin conditions. One of the main chemical compounds and monoterpenes in Cypress, α-pinene, helps to reduce the appearance of blemishes. The monoterpenes in Cypress are beneficial for oily skin and overall skin health. It also has a grounding, yet stimulating effect on the emotions, making it a popular oil to diffuse during times of transition or loss.

Uses

  • Prior to a long run, apply to feet and legs for an energizing boost.
  • Apply two to three drops to chest before gardening to promote feelings of vitality and energy.
  • Diffuse with Lime essential oil for an invigorating scent.
  • Mix together Cypress and Grapefruit essential oil with carrier oil for an invigorating massage.
  • Add one to two drops to toner to help improve the appearance of oily skin.
  • Often used to strengthen vascular organs. Often beneficial in minimizing appearance of veins in legs and commonly recommended for bladder control

Primary Benefits

  • Promotes feelings of vitality and energy
  • Helps improve the appearance of oily skin
  • Commonly diffused with citrus oils for an uplifting aroma

Eucalyptus

Commonly associated with cold relief products like cough drops, eucalyptus is also good for your heart. According to one study, inhaling air infused with eucalyptus oil can significantly lower your blood pressure.

Description

Eucalyptus trees are tall, evergreen trees that grow up to 50 feet in height and are sometimes referred to as Gum Trees. The main chemical components of Eucalyptus radiata are eucalyptol and alpha-terpineol, making it an ideal oil to promote feelings of clear breathing and open airways and for creating a soothing massage experience. Eucalyptus has purifying properties that can be beneficial for the skin and for cleansing surfaces and the air. Studies have shown that Eucalyptus is effective in helping lessen tension. Eucalyptus can be found in mouth rinses to freshen breath and promote oral health.

Uses

  • Combine with Lemon and Peppermint in a spray bottle and use it to wipe down surfaces in your kitchen or bathroom.
  • Add one drop to moisturizer and apply to skin for revitalizing benefits.
  • While showering, place a few drops in the hands, place over nose, and inhale deeply to invigorate and promote vitality

Directions for Use

Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of your choice.
Topical use: Apply one to two drops to desired area. Dilute with Coconut Oil to minimize any skin sensitivity.

Cautions

Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.

Primary Benefits

  • Helps to clear the mind
  • Promotes feelings of relaxation
  • Promotes feelings of clear breathing

Ginger

A staple of Asian cuisine, mildly sweet smelling ginger not only possesses antioxidant properties and helps with nausea, but drinking ginger extract in water also shows promise in inhibiting LDL.

Description

Newly sourced from Madagascar, the oil I personally use and recommend is doTERRA Ginger essential oil. Derived from the fresh rhizome of the ginger plant—the subterranean stalk of a plant that shoots out the root system. A featured ingredient in many Asian dishes, Ginger has a hot, fragrant flavor when used as a kitchen spice. In Western tradition, Ginger is most often used in sweets—gingerbread and ginger snaps being two examples. Internal use of Ginger is best known as a digestive aid and for helping to ease occasional indigestion and nausea.* Ginger essential oil can also be applied topically or inhaled for a soothing aroma.

Uses

  • During a long car ride, diffuse or place a drop of ginger in the palm of your hand and inhale.
  • Apply over lower abdomen for a soothing massage.
  • Use Ginger essential oil in your favorite sweet and savory dishes.

Directions for Use

Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of your choice.
Internal use: Dilute one drop in 4 fl. oz. of liquid.
Topical use: Apply one to two drops to desired area. Dilute with Coconut Oil to minimize any skin sensitivity.

Cautions

Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.

Primary Benefits

  • May help to support healthy digestion*
  • May help to reduce bloating, gas, and occasional indigestion*
  • May help reduce occasional nausea*

Helichrysum

Perhaps not as recognizable as others on this list, helichrysum, with its reedy flowers, came through in a study that focused on its cardiovascular effects. It proved to be another potential option for managing high blood pressure. In short the The observed cardiovascular effects of Helichrysum in the study partly support the basis for its use in the management of high blood pressure in folkloric medicine.

Description

Helichrysum italicum is a small perennial herb with narrow, silver leaves and flowers that form a cluster of golden yellow, ball-shaped blossoms. The name “Helichrysum” is derived from the Greek “helios” meaning sun and “chrysos” meaning gold, referring to the color of the flowers. Helichrysum has been used in herbal health practices since ancient Greece and the oil is highly valued and sought after for its many health benefits. Helichrysum is best known for its restorative properties to the skin. Also referred to as the Everlasting or Immortal Flower, Helichrysum is used in anti-aging products for its rejuvenating benefits to the skin. So in addition to its positive effects on cardiovascular health as stated in the earlier study, Helichrysum can help reduce the appearance of blemishes, and it promotes a glowing, youthful complexion.

Uses

  • Apply topically to reduce the appearance of blemishes.
  • Apply to the face to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and to promote a glowing, youthful complexion.
  • Massage into the temples and the back of the neck for a soothing sensation.
  • I also use this oil in massage for stress reduction and for those with hypertension.

Directions for Use

Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of your choice.
Internal use: Dilute one drop in 4 fl. oz. of liquid.
Topical use: Apply one to two drops to desired area. Dilute with Coconut Oil to minimize any skin sensitivity.

Cautions

Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.

Primary Benefits

  • Improves appearance of the skin
  • May help promote a healthy metabolism*

Lavender

A longtime fixture of backyard gardens, this blue-violet flower finds its way into perfumes, soaps, and is even relied on to ward off mosquitos. Research into the scent of Lavender oil found that it produces an overall calm and relaxed mood in those inhaling it.

Description

Lavender has been used and cherished for centuries for its unmistakable aroma and myriad benefits. In ancient times, the Egyptians and Romans used Lavender for bathing, relaxation, cooking, and as a perfume. Its calming and relaxing qualities, when taken internally, continue to be Lavender’s most notable attributes. Applied topically, Lavender is frequently used to reduce the appearance of skin imperfections. Add to bath water to soak away stress or apply to the temples and the back of the neck. Add a few drops of Lavender to pillows, bedding, or bottoms of feet to relax and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. Due to Lavender’s versatile properties, it is considered the must-have oil to have on hand at all times.

Uses

  • Add a few drops of Lavender to pillows, bedding, or bottoms of feet at bedtime.
  • Keep a bottle of Lavender on hand to soothe occasional skin irritations.
  • Freshen your linen closet, mattress, car, or the air by combining Lavender with water in a spray bottle.
  • Take internally to reduce anxious feelings.*
  • Use in cooking to soften citrus flavors and add a flavorful twist to marinades, baked goods, and desserts.

Directions for Use

Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of your choice.
Internal use: Dilute one drop in 4 fl. oz. of liquid.
Topical use: Apply one to two drops to desired area. Dilute with Coconut Oil to minimize any skin sensitivity. See additional precautions below.

Cautions

Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.

Primary Benefits

  • Soothes occasional skin irritations
  • Taken internally, Lavender reduces anxious feelings and promotes peaceful sleep*
  • Helps ease feelings of tension.*

Marjoram

When inhaled, the oil from this Mediterranean herb (and close relative of oregano) lowers blood pressure. It relaxes blood vessels by rousing the parasympathetic nervous system, which improves the flow of blood.

Description

Also known as “wintersweet” or “joy of the mountains, ” Marjoram was known to the Greeks and Romans as a symbol of happiness. Marjoram has been used in culinary dishes, imparting a unique flavor to soups, stews, dressings, and sauces. In Germany, this herb is known as the “Goose Herb” for its traditional use in roasting geese. In modern applications, Marjoram is valued for its calming properties and its positive effect on the nervous system when used internally.* It also supports both healthy cardiovascular and immune systems when ingested.*

Uses

  • Apply to the back of the neck to lessen feelings of stress.*
  • Apply to a fussy child’s feet prior to a nap.
  • Replace Marjoram essential oil in your next recipe that calls for dried Marjoram. 
  • Apply to muscles before and after exercising.

Directions for Use

Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of your choice.
Internal use: Dilute one drop in 4 fl. oz. of liquid.
Topical use: Apply one to two drops to desired area. Dilute with doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil to minimize any skin sensitivity.

Cautions

Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.

Primary Benefits

  • Valued for its calming properties and positive effect on the nervous system when taken internally*
  • Supports a healthy immune system when consumed*
  • May promote a healthy cardiovascular system when ingested*

Ylang Ylang

In 2013, researchers took a look at what effect inhaling the scent of this native Southeast Asian tree flower would have on a group of healthy men. They reported that the fragrance had something of a sedative response, and lowered both their heart rate and blood pressure.

Description

Ylang Ylang essential oil is derived from the star-shaped flowers of the tropical Ylang Ylang tree and is used extensively in making perfumes and in aromatherapy. Similar to Jasmine, Ylang Ylang has been used for centuries in religious and wedding ceremonies. In aromatherapy, Ylang Ylang is used to lessen tension and stress and to promote a positive outlook. Ylang Ylang is frequently used in luxurious hair and skin products for its scent and nourishing and protective properties. Taken internally, Ylang Ylang provides antioxidant support.* Ylang Ylang blends well with Bergamot, Geranium, Grapefruit, and Vetiver.

Uses

  • Put Ylang Ylang into an Epsom Salt bath for relaxation.
  • Refresh your skin with an aromatherapy steam facial using Ylang Ylang essential oil.
  • Put on your wrists for a sweet, floral perfume.
  • Add Ylang Ylang to Fractionated Coconut Oil for a deep hair conditioner.
  • Take internally for antioxidant support.*

Directions for Use

Diffusion: Use three to four drops in the diffuser of your choice.
Internal use: Dilute one drop in 4 fl. oz. of liquid.
Topical use: Apply one to two drops to desired area. Dilute with doTERRA Fractionated Coconut Oil to minimize any skin sensitivity.

Cautions

Possible skin sensitivity. Keep out of reach of children. If you are pregnant, nursing, or under a doctor’s care, consult your physician. Avoid contact with eyes, inner ears, and sensitive areas.

Primary Benefits

  • Provides antioxidant support*
  • Promotes appearance of healthy skin and hair
  • Lifts mood while having a calming effect

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Jennifer Knourek has been a Massage Therapist for over 14 years and has continued education and training in Herbal Remedies and Phyto-Aromatherapy as a certified practitioner.

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