Essential oils for heart health: Can they help?

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Some people believe that essential oils can help to improve heart health. However, limited evidence exists, and experts need to conduct more research.

Cardiovascular diseases are the leading cause of mortality in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), they account for around 1 in 5 deaths.

Maintaining heart health involves a combination of beneficial lifestyle choices, regular monitoring, and, when necessary, medical intervention to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as coronary artery disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Essential oils have gained popularity in recent years for their potential health benefits, including claims related to heart health. However, people should approach these claims with caution and rely on scientific evidence.

This article looks at which essential oils may improve heart health.

There is insufficient recent scientific research on the direct effects of essential oils on heart health. The available studies are generally preliminary or based on animal or in vitro (laboratory) experiments.

While some essential oils may have compounds with properties that could theoretically support heart health, such as anti-inflammatory or antioxidant effects, researchers have not established their effects on the cardiovascular system.

Learn more about improving heart health.

There is some evidence to suggest that bergamot essential oil may play a role in treating cardiorenal metabolic syndrome. This is where cardiovascular, renal, and metabolic diseases overlap and coexist in the same person.

A 2019 review of studies found that bergamot may have cholesterol-reducing properties. Another study found that bergamot’s lipid and glycemic effects may result in a reduction of cardiovascular risk.

Read more about bergamot.

Cassia essential oil comes from a type of cinnamon. Some older research associates it with warmth and stimulation.

While people may less commonly discuss it with regards to heart health than other oils, cassia may have potential benefits due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation is a risk factor for heart disease, and cassia’s anti-inflammatory effects could theoretically contribute to cardiovascular well-being.

Read more about cinnamon.

Some people believe clary sage essential oil has calming and hormone-balancing effects. Hormonal imbalances, especially in females, can sometimes affect heart health.

Clary sage may help manage hormone-related stress and discomfort, potentially promoting cardiovascular wellness.

Read more about clary sage oil.

Ginger essential oil may have anti-inflammatory properties. Some people use it for circulation support.

High blood lipids are a main contributor to atherosclerosis and, later, heart disease. Many studies have explored the potential of ginger as a means to lower lipid levels.

A 2021 review showed biological effects, potential health advantages, and heart-protective characteristics of ginger, providing insight into potentially novel approaches for addressing cardiovascular diseases.

Read more about ginger.

Some research suggests that lavender essential oil has calming and stress-reducing properties, which may indirectly support heart health by helping manage stress and anxiety.

According to a study published in 2013, lavender shows promise in alleviating symptoms associated with heart disease.

In animal studies, researchers observed that lavender essential oil played a role in regulating elevated blood sugar levels and protecting against oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to reduced heart health.

Read more about lavender.

Researchers found marjoram to have a blood pressure-lowering effect when a person inhales its essential oil. This natural remedy induces the relaxation of blood vessels by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, which may help enhance blood flow.

Researchers in one study found that rose essential oil has calming effects and may help reduce stress and anxiety, which could indirectly support heart health.

Reducing stress can improve heart rate management, help with blood pressure, and reduce arterial inflammation.

Some people use ylang-ylang essential oil for relaxation and stress reduction, potentially aiding in stress management, which can benefit heart health.

One older study from 2013 found that ylang-ylang had sedative effects on participants, lowering their blood pressure and heart rate.

Using essential oils for heart health can carry certain risks, and people should exercise caution when considering trying them.

Some of the risks include:

Also, individual responses to aromatherapy can vary. What works well for one person may not have the same effect on another.

Early detection and intervention can be crucial in managing and helping to prevent heart-related conditions. People should speak with a doctor if they have concerns about the health of their heart.

Signs that warrant a conversation with a healthcare professional include:

As well as the above warning signs, having routine screenings and assessments can help monitor heart health and identify potential issues early.

A person should not use essential oils as a primary or sole treatment for heart-related conditions.

Lifestyle factors such as a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management, and following a healthcare professional’s recommendations should always come first.

However, if a person’s healthcare team approves using essential oils, they may be a harmless complementary therapy.

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