Essential oils are concentrated compounds extracted from plants through steam or water distillation, or mechanical methods, such as cold pressing. Essential oils are most commonly used in the practice of aromatherapy. They’re typically either inhaled or diluted and applied to the skin.
There are close to 100 commonly used essential oils, each associated with certain health claims, including focus, motivation, and energy enhancement.
Keep reading to learn which oils you can use to help decrease fatigue and boost your energy levels, motivation, and focus.
5 essential oils backed by research
Some essential oils have clinical research supporting claims that they may increase energy and relieve fatigue.
Oils that decrease fatigue and increase focus include:
- peppermint essential oil
- sweet orange essential oil
- spearmint essential oil
- rosemary essential oil
- lemon essential oil
Peppermint essential oil
A small 2013 study concluded that peppermint essential oil is effective for preventing fatigue and improving exercise performance.
Sweet orange and spearmint essential oils
A 2016 study concluded that the inhalation of sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) and spearmint (Mentha spicata) essential oils could improve athletic performance.
Spearmint and rosemary essential oils
Another 2016 study (this one done on mice) found that spearmint essential oil mixed with rosemary essential oil had beneficial effects on learning and memory, as well as brain tissue markers of oxidation that occur with age.
Rosemary essential oil
A 2012 study first showed the stimulatory effects of rosemary oil and how it impacts mood states as well as brain wave activity and the autonomic nervous system.
Later, a 2018 study on school children confirmed that rosemary could help focus and memory, potentially boosting memorization in school.
Lemon essential oil
An older study in 2008 concluded that lemon oil reliably enhances positive mood.
More research is needed on lemon essential oil, but traditionally the scents of citrus fruits have been thought to be uplifting.
Other essential oils that claim to boost energy levels, mood, and focus
Advocates of aromatherapy suggest that there are many essential oils that offer energy-enhancing benefits while helping to improve focus and motivation.
The following table shows which essential oils claim to boost energy, mood, or creativity. Future research will need to specify and study these claims.
How do you use essential oils?
Although some advocates of essential oils mix the oils with lotions or apply them to bandages, the most common ways to use essential oils for aromatherapy is:
- Direct inhalation. You can breathe in the scent of the essential oil using an individual inhaler which often includes floating drops of essential oil on hot water.
- Indirect inhalation. You can also breathe in the scent by using a room diffuser to spread the scent through the air. Placing drops on a tissue or cotton ball is another way of indirect inhalation.
- Massage. You can massage the diluted essential oil into your skin. Make sure to dilute the essential oil in a carrier oil — such as coconut oil, almond oil, or avocado oil — before applying to your skin.
Health claims regarding essential oils are sometimes exaggerated, and evidence to support those claims can be lacking.
If you’re taking medications or have a serious health condition, talk to your doctor before using essential oils.
If you’re planning on using an essential oil topically, test for a possible allergic reaction by putting a drop or two on your elbow or wrist and covering the test area with a bandage. In 24 hours, if you feel itching or see redness or a rash, then the oil shouldn’t be used on your skin.
If you’re planning on using essential oils with your child, talk with your pediatrician before starting.
Lemon (and any citrus) essential oil makes your skin very sun sensitive. Don’t expose your skin to the sun if you’ve put on a citrus oil.
When diffusing essential oils into the air, consider who else might be exposed including pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with asthma, children, or pets. Some essential oils can be dangerous to certain individuals.
If you find yourself reaching for a cup of coffee, sugary soda, or energy drink to beat your fatigue, you might try boosting your energy with an essential oil instead. Choose from rosemary, peppermint, or lemon oil.
Discuss this with a doctor, along with other ways to address your low-energy moments. They can recommend other lifestyle choices — such as diet, sleep, and exercise — to keep your energy levels high. They can also make sure your fatigue isn’t a sign of something more serious.