Essential oils can be a miracle when it comes to adding small, healthy habits into your day. These sweetsmelling scents soothe busy season bothers with feel-great side effects!
Frankincense sharpens focus and eases joint pain.
Feeling scattered and foggy? Sniffing frankincense oil could sharpen your focus and concentration in one minute. Canadian scientists credit boswellic acids, compounds that stimulate the brain’s focus-enhancing prefrontal cortex.
Bonus: Massaging sore joints with diluted frankincense cuts pain by 33 percent in 20 minutes. To do: Mix 25 drops of frankincense oil into four Tbsp. of carrier oil, then massage into sore joints for two minutes twice daily.
Lavender heals headaches and thickens hair.
Massaging lavender oil (six drops diluted in two Tbs. of lotion) into temple and neck muscles shuts down tension headaches — and eases migraine pain — within 15 minutes for 71 percent of women. Neurologist Ali Gorji, MD, says lavender’s linalool calms pain nerves, raises pain threshold and relaxes spasming muscles.
Bonus: Recent studies suggest that adding two drops of follicle-stimulating lavender oil to a dollop of shampoo and massaging thoroughly into your scalp for five minutes daily can increase hair growth in eight weeks.
Peppermint boosts energy and soothes sinuses.
An energizing Rx for the season’s shorter days and drearier skies: six slow, deep sniffs of peppermint essential oil. British scientists say this sweet scent kick-starts the release of energizing beta brain waves to heighten alertness and stamina by 55 percent.
Bonus: If seasonal allergies hit, inhaling peppermint-scented steam can open swollen sinuses and improve drainage so you breathe easy in 10 minutes. Just put five drops of oil on a washcloth and leave it on the shower floor (out of the water stream) so the oils can infuse the air as you wash.
Vanilla deepens sleep and restores radiance.
The aroma of vanilla spurs the release of calming alpha brain waves, inducing sleep as effectively as prescription sedatives for 92 percent of women studied (place two drops on a cotton ball and leave it on your nightstand).
Bonus: Add one drop of vanilla oil to your face wash twice daily, and its active ingredient (vanillin) will spark epidermal cell regeneration, giving skin a smoother, healthier appearance in one week.
Orange tames anxiety and improves digestions.
Smelling orange essential oil heightens happiness within two minutes and cuts the risk of anxiety in half if you enjoy this citrusy aroma at least five times daily, Italian researchers say. That’s because orange oil contains a compound (d-limonene) that calms the same brain nerves as soothing serotonin.
Bonus: Sneaking one tsp.of d-limonene–rich orange zest into a meal (in salads, smoothies and fish dishes) prompts digestive enzyme release, helping you sidestep indigestion, bloat, and other intestinal miseries.
Cinnamon speeds slimming and balances blood sugar.
Inhale the scent of cinnamon for 30 seconds before eating, and you’ll feel full sooner and effortlessly shed a pound weekly, say scientists at Chicago’s Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation. Thanks goes to a compound (methylhydroxychalcone) that stimulates the feel-full center of the brain.
Bonus: Physiologist Tom Solomon, PhD, says eating half a teaspoon of cinnamon daily steadies blood sugar and cuts the risk of energy crashes in half.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.