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How can essential oils boost your mood?

How can essential oils boost your mood? 1

By Nicole Stine

There are numerous ways in which essential oils can boost your mood. Whether you struggle with depression, anxiety disorder, or just need help getting out of the grumps, essential oils can help.

When inhaled, essential oil molecules travel through the nose and on towards the brain, where they interact with the limbic system. The limbic system is the part of the brain that is responsible for emotions, memory, behavior, and more.[1]

If you struggle with anxiety, essential oils that are known to have anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) or calmative properties can help encourage a relaxed environment. Likewise, if you are feeling down or depressed, essential oils with antidepressant or mood-lifting properties can help lift your spirits.

There are a number of essential oils that are considered beneficial for various mood issues, so finding some that help with your specific needs should be no problem.

Which essential oils are best for boosting your mood?

How can essential oils boost your mood? 3

As I mentioned above, there are numerous essential oils that can help boost your mood. However, today, I’m going to narrow that number down for you and highlight what I believe to be six of the best essential oils to help with mood issues.

LavenderHow can essential oils boost your mood? 4

Lavender essential oil is one of the most frequently used essential oils for dealing with mood issues. As one of the gentlest essential oils, it’s a popular choice for people of all ages, including children.

Lavender herb has a long history as being a calming and balancing herb and the essential oil is no different. Studies have found that inhaling the fresh aroma of lavender can have a positive effect on mood, stress, depression, and anxiety. [2],[3]

Additionally, it contains normalizing properties that can be especially beneficial when dealing with mood swings or abrupt emotional changes.[4]

It truly is one of the most versatile essential oils and is especially beneficial when dealing with mood issues, anxiety, depression, or any situation dealing with the nerves.

Roman chamomileHow can essential oils boost your mood? 5

Roman chamomile is another great option to consider when looking at essential oils for boosting your mood. As one of the oldest forms of herbal medicine, chamomile is well-known for its ability to promote a calm and relaxed environment.

To this day, chamomile is still one of the most popular herbs for stress, anxiety, and insomnia.[5]

In fact, a study conducted in 2013 found that when combined with lavender and neroli, Roman chamomile reduced levels of anxiety and improved quality of sleep in ICU patients.[6]

Chamomile essential oil is generally regarded as safe for most individuals to use, including children. However, if you are allergic to ragweed or other plants in the daisy family, you should avoid using chamomile.

Clary sageHow can essential oils boost your mood? 6

Clary sage is another essential oil that is beneficial for boosting your mood. It is frequently used in formulations to reduce stress and anxiety as well as formulations to help with depression.

In fact, a study conducted in 2014 found that clary sage essential oil has antidepressant-like effects by lowering cortisol levels in patients who had a tendency towards depression.[7]

Additionally, research suggests that inhaling clary sage may be beneficial in lowering blood pressure as well, which can help with feeling more relaxed.[8]

Clary sage is generally considered to be safe for most individuals.

Ylang ylangHow can essential oils boost your mood? 7

Ylang ylang (pronounced: “ee-LANG, ee-LANG”) is one of the most luxurious-smelling essential oils and it also happens to be very beneficial for your nervous system as well.

The strong floral aroma of ylang ylang is naturally relaxing and has long been considered a natural aphrodisiac. In fact, it is still a practice to place the fragrant flowers on the bed of newlyweds in Indonesia.[9]

Additionally, the essential oil contains antidepressant, nervine (calming for the nerves), and sedative properties.[10]

Just make sure not to use too much ylang ylang, as the aroma is very strong and can cause headaches or nausea if too much is used. Only a drop or two (at the most) is needed for you to experience the relaxing effects of its rich aroma.

Citrus oilsHow can essential oils boost your mood? 8

Citrus oils are some of the very best essential oils to support mental health. The fresh, crisp aroma of citrus can help you get out of a bad mood and lift your spirits, all while helping you relax.

Lemon, lime, orange, bergamot, tangerine, and mandarin are all types of citrus essential oils that contain properties that are calming for the nerves, but uplifting for your mood.

In fact, a study conducted in 2019 found that the inhalation of sweet orange essential oil and limonene (the main component of sweet orange), had antidepressant-type effects on mice.[11]

Sweet orange, mandarin, and tangerine are the gentlest of the citrus oils and are a great choice for children. However, it’s important to remember that many citrus oils are phototoxic and can cause sensitivity or other adverse reactions when they’re applied to the skin and then exposed to sunlight.

Because of this, it is best to utilize the therapeutic benefits of citrus oils via inhalation, rather than topical application.

Black pepperHow can essential oils boost your mood? 9

While it may surprise you to see black pepper on this list, it does in fact have properties that may help with mood issues. Black pepper essential oil is considered to be a general tonic that calming to the nerves and restorative.[12]

A clinical trial conducted in 1994 found that black pepper essential oil reduced cigarette cravings in participants, as well as symptoms of anxiety associated with those cravings.[13]

Black pepper also contains limonene, which is the same component found in many citrus fruits that may have antidepressant-like effects.

The aroma of black pepper essential oil is dry and spicy and blends well with many other essential oils, so it would do well in essential oil blends formulated for boosting your mood. Just remember to properly dilute black pepper and not to use it on sensitive skin, as it may cause irritation.[14]

Additional mood-boosting essential oils

Some other essential oils that are considered beneficial for boosting your mood include:

  • Neroli
  • Petitgrain
  • Patchouli
  • Vetiver
  • Sandalwood
  • Rose

How do you use essential oils to boost your mood?

How can essential oils boost your mood? 10

Because of their potency, essential oils are not recommended for internal use (for more safety information see, What are essential oils and how can you use them?).

That said, there are a couple of options you have when it comes to using essential oils to boost your mood:

1.  Inhalation

Inhalation is by far the easiest and safest way to use essential oils to help with mood issues. I personally like to use a diffuser to enjoy the mood-boosting benefits of essential oils since it has the added bonus of making the entire area smell nice. However, personal inhalers can be purchased from essential oil companies as well and are especially nice for if you’re traveling or are trying to be mindful of others around you.

2.  Topical application

Mood-boosting essential oils can also be applied topically. The best way to apply them topically is to use a carrier oil (like coconut oil) to properly dilute the essential oil.

For children over two years of age, the elderly, or those with sensitive skin, use a 1% dilution.

  • For a 1% dilution: Combine one drop of essential oil and one teaspoon of carrier oil.

The diluted essential oil can then be applied to the skin, such as on the back of the neck or on the temples. However, if you’re dealing with stress and/or anxiety, massage is a great choice as it is a relaxing and effective way to apply the essential oils topically.


Essential oils are a great way to naturally boost your mood without having to deal with unwanted side effects. There are numerous ways that essential oils can help with mood issues—from helping to promote a calm environment to naturally giving your spirits a lift—due to their ability to interact with the limbic system.

When used properly, essential oils are generally very safe and because there are so many that have mood-boosting properties, you should have no trouble finding one or more that will suit your specific needs. So, next time you’re feeling down or you need help relaxing, grab a couple of the essential oils that I’ve listed here and breathe your way to a better mood.



Nicole Stine is a certified herbalist who thoroughly enjoys researching and writing about herbs, essential oils, and natural health. She’s passionate about using herbs and essential oils safely and loves sharing her passion with others. She currently resides in the Midwest with her husband and two boys.




[1] https://www.news-medical.net/health/Limbic-System-and-Behavior.aspx

[2] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4815377/

[3] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7897075

[4] Robert Tisserand, The Art of Aromatherapy, (England, The C.W. Daniel Company, Ltd., 1977), 247.

[5] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2995283/

[6] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3588400/

[7] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24802524

[8] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3700459/

[9] Julia Lawless, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils, (New York, Barnes & Nobles Books, 1995), 104.

[10] Valerie Ann Worwood, The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy, (California, New World Library, 2016), 631.

[11] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30905156

[12] Worwood, The Complete, 472.

[13] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8033760

[14] Lawless, The Illustrated, 202.

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