Can essential oils help lower hypertension?

 

Can essential oils help lower hypertension?

 

Essential oils are often used as a remedy for high blood pressure, or hypertension. However, there is actually little evidence that essential oils can reduce blood pressure.

It is important not to rely on essential oils completely as a remedy, as untreated hypertension can result in heart attacks or strokes. It is important to talk to a doctor before including essential oils in your treatment plan.

In this article, we will look into essential oils that have evidence to suggest that they may help people manage hypertension, as well as how to use them safely and any risks that are involved.

 

Oils to use

People who use essential oils for high blood pressure often recommend:

Bergamot

A small study used data from 52 participants to examine whether inhaling an oil blend containing bergamot helped to reduce hypertension. The blend also included lavender and ylang-ylang. The results of the study concluded that the oils may help to reduce high blood pressure.

Citronella

Citronella, although generally used as an insect repellent, may also benefit heart health. A small 2012 study revealed that inhalation of citronella vapours may significantly reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate.

Clary sage

2013 study involved 34 female participants who were experiencing urinary incontinence. Clary sage oil was used to reduce the participants’ heart rates while undergoing urodynamic examination, and the results suggested that clary sage is effective at reducing blood pressure.

It is important to note however, that sage oil – as opposed to clary sage oil – may increase blood pressure.

Frankincense

Frankincense is commonly used for its anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being used to combat anxiety. These effects may also help to reduce high blood pressure; however, people may still have high blood pressure even when feeling relaxed.

Lavender

Lavender is a popular oil for reducing stress and anxiety. In both a 2006 study and a 2012 study, scientists confirmed that a blend of oils, including lavender, could reduce high blood pressure when inhaled.

Neroli

Researchers discovered that neroli can reduce stress and blood pressure when blended with lavender, ylang-ylang, and marjoram oils.

Rose

One study discovered that when rose oil is applied to the skin, it can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, respiratory rate, blood oxygen saturation levels, and skin temperature.

 has reported that applying rose oil to the skin can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, blood oxygen saturation levels, and skin temperature.

Sweet marjoram

small 2017 study reported “remarkable changes” in the blood pressure and heart rates of participants who inhaled sweet marjoram oil. Similar results were reported in the 2012 study mentioned under “Lavender”.

Valerian

Valerian is used to enhance sleep and promote calmness. It has a long history of being used as a sleep aid, but the essential oil can also be used to treat mild mental stress and promote sleep. Due to these benefits, the essential oil may help to reduce hypertension in some people.

Ylang-ylang

Ylang-ylang essential oil has been used in combination with other oils to effectively lower blood pressure.

Another small study from 2013 found evidence that inhalation of ylang-ylang may have a sedative effect that can significantly decrease blood pressure.

 

How to use them

Essential oils can be used in several ways, including:

  • Mixing them into a fragrance-free body lotion
  • Adding a few drops to a carrier oil, such as coconut oil or sweet almond oil, and using the mixture in a massage
  • Use a diffuser or oil burner
  • Add a few drops to a warm bath
  • Inhale the scent directly from the bottle.

 

How effective are essential oils for high blood pressure?

The research into essential oils for high blood pressure is still very limited. Oils should not be used as a replacement for prescribed medication.

Results vary from person to person, and may also depend on the type of oil that each individual uses.

In a 2006 study, 52 participants with hypertension were assigned to three groups: an essential oil group, a placebo group, and a control group.

The participants placed in the essential oil group inhaled a blend of lavender, ylang-ylang, and bergamot once daily for 4 weeks. Their blood pressure and pulse was measured twice weekly.

Differences among each group were significant, and suggested that inhaling specific oils may reduce psychological stress responses, serum cortisol levels, and blood pressure.

A similar study was conducted in 2012 with the aim to observe the effects of essential oil inhalation on blood pressure and salivary cortisol levels. 83 participants with prehypertension or hypertension were involved.

The participants in the essential oil group inhaled a blend of lavender, ylang-ylang, marjoram, and neroli over 24 hours. It was discovered that after this period, the participants’ blood pressure and salivary cortisol levels had decreased significantly compared with those in the placebo and control groups.

However, in a 2014 study, researchers discovered that exposure to essential oil vapour for longer than 1 hour at a time may be harmful to cardiovascular health.  

It is important to speak to a doctor before implementing the use of essential oils in your treatment plan, and to only consider essential oils as complementary treatments.

 

Safety and risks

Essential oils do not pose any major risks as long as they are used as directed. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) consider the majority of oils “generally recognised as safe”.

The following precautions must be taken:

  • Do not ingest essential oils, and only use them externally.
  • Always dilute oils with carrier oils before applying them to the skin to avoid skin irritation.
  • Some oils should be avoided by people with asthma, headaches, or migraines.
  • Discuss the use of essential oils with a doctor or other healthcare professional before trying them.
  • Do not use essential oils close to the eyes. If oil does get into your eyes, rinse it thoroughly with water and contact a doctor.
  • Ensure oils used are from reputable brands, and ensure they have not expired.
  • Keep oils away from children and animals.
  • When spraying or diffusing oils, consider others in the area – some oils can be harmful to pregnant women, children, and animals.

If essential oils are ingested, adverse effects can be noticeable within 30 minutes, although they may take up to 4 hours to appear.

These effects can include:

  • skin irritation
  • eye pain, soreness, or irritation
  • a persistent cough
  • nausea and vomiting
  • drowsiness
  • shallow breathing
  • seizures
  • coma

If a person has ingested essential oils, contact poison control or otherwise seek medical advice. People in the United States should call 1-800-222-1222.

 

Essential oils during pregnancy or childhood

The use of essential oils by pregnant women or around children is highly controversial. This is due to the concern that topically applied oils may penetrate the placenta and affect the foetus, and inhaled molecules of the oils may pass to the foetus through the blood.

Some oils may be safe to use during pregnancy – pregnant women should consult with their doctor before using any essential oils.

In children, there is a greater risk of toxicity from essential oils than adults. As small an amount as 2 millilitres can cause significant poisoning in infants.

Small amounts of some oils may be safe in certain circumstances, but as always, a doctor should be consulted before using essential oils around children.

 

Summary

Some natural health professionals advocate using essential oils to treat high blood pressure. However, there is little research to support the use of these oils for this purpose.

Essential oils are not to be used as an alternative to medication, dietary alterations, and lifestyle changes for people with hypertension.

A doctor should be consulted before using essential oils as a complementary treatment.

 

 

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