“This is because of the unique connection in the brain where scent, emotion, memories and associations are processed.” 1 (Vogue)
The mood-boosting key to happiness might be right under your nose in a form of essential oil. You can use your favourite scents to create unique essential oil blends that will smell great and boost your happy hormones.
Happy Hormones: What are they and how to boost them naturally?
Hormones and neurotransmitters moderate our feelings of well-being, and lifestyle factors affect them.
Here are four of the main happy hormones and neurotransmitters, plus ways to boost them. However, if you feel consistently unhappy, see your doctor.
Dopamine: widely known as a “feel-good” hormone. It gives you a sense of pleasure and reward. Dopamine also plays a role in many important body functions, including movement, memory and pleasurable reward and motivation.
Because dopamine is made from tyrosine, getting more of this amino acid from food could potentially boost dopamine levels in your brain. There is evidence that a diet rich in tyrosine also may improve memory and mental performance. [source] In other words, to boost dopamine levels naturally, eat a diet high in protein and low in saturated fats [source]. Exercising often, listening to music that you love, getting a good night's sleep and even meditation can help boost dopamine levels naturally.
Serotonin: is a neurotransmitter that mediated satisfaction, happiness and optimism. Researchers indicated that an increase in serotonin levels was related to a positive mood [source] and reduce depression. When serotonin is at normal levels, you feel more focused, emotionally stable, happier and calmer.
There are several ways to boost serotonin levels without medication including spending time outdoors, adjusting your diet, exercising, socialising and laughing more.
Oxytocin is often referred to as the "love hormone” or a "cuddle chemical” because our bodies produce oxytocin when we're excited by our sexual partner, and when we fall in love. One of the hormone’s main functions is to facilitate childbirth and support the lactation process.
A natural way to increase oxytocin levels is through rigorous exercise, and singing especially in groups because it encourages the feeling of belonging and dancing. Just the simple act of touch seems to boost oxytocin release. Giving someone a massage, cuddling, making love, or giving someone a hug leads to higher levels of this hormone and a greater sense of well-being. [source]
Endorphins are also studied as neurotransmitters in happiness. They are released during continuous exercise, fear, love, music, chocolate eating, laughter, sex, orgasm etc. The body's natural pain reliever, which functions in the brain similarly to morphine and is released during times of stress and discomfort. Endorphins trigger a positive feeling during a rigorous workout and put a person in a good mood.
Exercises such as walking, running, workouts, laughing, exercise, meditation, and listening to music and all these exercises are responsible for the release of the endorphin hormone [source].
Can essential oils help to boost your mood and balance your hormones?
Have you ever noticed the impact a scent can have on your mood? We’ve experienced this so often – with a deep breath of ocean air, the earthy smell of a forest when hiking, or the familiar scent of freshly cut grass … We can instantly feel our body calming and our mood lifting.
Essential oils can help with restoring hormonal balances and good health. As part of a healthy lifestyle, which includes stress reduction, good quality sleep, regular exercise, and a nutritious diet, essential oils can really make a difference.
Whilst research on the impact of essential oils is limited, some studies show some positive benefits, particularly on hormonal activity. If there aren’t a lot of solid studies that prove the benefits, why are so many people touting essential oils for healing? Quite simply, it’s because they work for them!
One of the most important things you can do for your health is reducing stress – and pleasant scents can help that happen.
11 Essential Oils that will help you reduce stress and lift your mood.
A study conducted at Japan’s Kyoto University took a deeper look at a Japanese custom of taking a soothing forest stroll known as shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” and found that depression and anxiety were significantly reduced in participants on days when they walked through the country’s pine-filled woods.
The strong, fresh, woody scent of Pine essential oil has a refreshing, invigorating, and empowering aroma. This oil has a calming scent when diffused, and is highly effective when used in massage.
Citrus oils such as Lemon, Orange, Grapefruit, Sweet Orange, Mandarin and Lemongrass are popular for lifting one's mood. If you require a pick-me-up, try sniffing one of those. The smell of vitamin C-packed fruits has been shown to boost energy and alertness, and studies have revealed that lemon scens, in particular, can reduce stress and leave a positive impression on others. [source]
Vanilla is useful not just for baking! One of the studies has revealed that Vanilla’s calming properties uplift one's mood, and may reduce anger, stress, tension, and irritability. Vanilla oil has been used as a home remedy since the 17th century for added nutrition and has proven very effective in relieving anxiety and depression.
Vanilla oil lowers blood pressure, alleviates muscle tension and has a calming effect on the brain, which helps with stress, insomnia and irritability. All the symptoms we want to kick to the curb when trying to feel happier.
4. Fresh Cut Grass
We cannot bottle fresh cut grass smell in essential oil, but you can get fragrance oils and use them in an electric diffuser, or oil burner or dilute it in water to make a room spray. The scent of freshly cut grass is usually associated with summertime, sunshine and being in nature. It also helps make your home smell fresh and clean. Researchers in Australia have found that a chemical released by freshly cut grass can cause people to become more relaxed and even feel joy. [source]
Ginger smells peppery, sharp, pungent, aromatic, and warm, sometimes with a lemon note.
In aromatherapy, Ginger is used as a digestive tonic to calm nausea, fight sickness, improve digestion, and warm and relieve tired muscles. In a diffuser, it brings a warm, rounded note to a blend and adds an invigorating spicy note to help fight fatigue and to restore emotional balance as well as an aphrodisiac quality. Ginger essential oil gets a big thumbs up from us, especially during the cooler months!
Several studies have been conducted and proved that there is an increase in memory retention when the scent of rosemary is included in the equation. However, not much is known about just how rosemary seems to give incredible results. [source]
The main effects that the scent of rosemary can have include reducing stress and tension, fighting mental fatigue, boosting mental activity, encouraging clarity, improving alertness and improving your general mood. In addition, it can eliminate headaches, which will surely improve your mood significantly. Also, if you’re suffering from throat and nasal congestion, rosemary’s your go-to.
Peppermint oil has been shown to have an impact on hormones that impact mood, so its use can help your emotional healing, which in turn can help keep those hormones stable. Headaches often accompany hormonal shifts, and inhaling peppermint oil can help reduce this pain.
In fact, one study showed that the use of peppermint oil had the same impact as taking 1000 mg of Acetaminophen, without the potentially dangerous side effects that come with the use of too much of the drug. Peppermint oil can also help you keep a clear head instead of succumbing to the “foggy brain” that so often accompanies hormonal imbalances. [Source]
Its aroma is refreshing and rounded; sweet, but complex and deep at the same time; similar to lime, but with floral, herbal, and resinous undertones. Research has also shown that bergamot essential oil can also be effective in relieving pain and has positive benefits for mental health. According to experts, this sunny and uplifting citrus scent “lightens a heavy heart, lifts stagnation, and encourages confidence.”
The aroma of Bergamot soothes the nerves and reduces tension, and anxiety and perhaps even has a positive influence on the effects of depression. Many aromatherapists have noticed that Bergamot has an enlivening effect on the mood. Try this essential oil alone or in a blend when your energy needs a little boost.
Sandalwood is known to calm your mind and body and put you in a meditative state where you can find inner peace. Because of these properties, it is known to be a natural healing option for those who may have anxiety, nervousness, and depression.
It is, however, also used by those who simply want to have mental clarity and feel relaxed and at peace after the hustle and bustle of their busy lives. It can even help you get a good night's sleep, just pop some sandalwood essential oil in your bedtime bath and let the calming scent do the work! [Source]
Jasmine is a beautifully aromatic scent with a delicate, sweet smell. It is known for being a calming as well as optimistic scent, perfect for making you feel a little more positive. Jasmine oil is often used as a natural anti-depressant.
“The jasmine scent could be a fragrance on its own; it's fresh, green, creamy and opulent. It's perfect to bring your confidence levels up, and give you a power posture. I always use jasmine before my important meetings.” says Garcia-Janin, founder of Sillages Paris, one of a new wave of fragrance companies that tailor your fragrance to you. [Source] Definitely a mood booster in our eyes!
Have you ever wondered why you feel happier simply by smelling delicious baked goods full of cinnamon? Yes, us too!
Whilst we would love to (but really shouldn’t) be eating a bunch of splendid cinnamon buns first thing in the morning to get our happiness fix, sniffing it could be just the right alternative. When sniffed, cinnamon can reduce drowsiness and irritability. So it may be your perfect choice when you need that extra pick-me-up during the day.
Especially, and we all know this very well if your head feels like it’s made of lead and it’s dragging you down for a nap. Not ideal if you are at work, where, napping is somewhat frowned upon… Cinnamon can also help you concentrate and perform better, which, in turn, can significantly help you with your job. You are welcome!
Whilst this energy-boosting essential oil list is not exhaustive, and individual preferences will play a big part in their effectiveness, we think it is a good starting point for you to start exploring the options. Whether you use individual oils or create some exciting blends and recipes, we hope that you will enjoy your home filled with uplifting scents for days when you need a little pick me up and a hug.
DISCLAIMER: whenever choosing a scent/essential oil, always remember to take precautions (such as making sure that you only use appropriately diluted essential oil and never apply undiluted essential oil directly on your skin). If your low mood or lack of energy persists for a prolonged period, we always recommend contacting your general practitioner to investigate the cause of your symptoms.
This article has not been written for medical purposes and is not to be interpreted as medical advice. Always consult your doctor if you are unsure.