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Essential oil plants

Mint: Peppermint oil may help improve memory and alertness, as well as boost exercise performance. It’s also been shown to assist in relieving tension headaches, and many people report that it can ease travel sickness.

For a touchy stomach, you might also try spearmint. “Inhaling the aroma of spearmint essential oil is cooling and great for nausea,” says Julie Streeter, BSN, RN, director of the Allina Health aromatherapy program. “It’s also a very uplifting scent.”

Eucalyptus: By helping thin mucus and quiet inflammation, eucalyptus can battle colds and flu, says naturopath Rebecca Tanyar-Mead. Animal studies suggest it may also improve exercise performance.

Lavender: Studies show the smell of lavender eases anxiety and promotes sleep. It may also alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies. Allina Health’s Tobacco Cessation program is testing a blend of black-pepper and lavender essential oils to help cut tobacco cravings for people who smoke for stress relief. (The program is also examining a blend of black pepper and lime for those who say that smoking energizes them.)

Sweet Marjoram: Part of the mint family, marjoram is purported to protect the heart, liver, and digestive tract. “Marjoram is very versatile and very safe,” says perioperative nursing specialist Juli Reynolds, BSN. “It’s great for pain, nausea, stress reduction, and any kind of joint discomfort.”

Vetiver: This oil, with its woodsy aroma, is a potent antioxidant and can boost concentration and alertness. “I use it for children who have trouble staying calm and concentrating in school,” says Tanyar-Mead.

Bergamot: This essential oil, which gives Earl Grey tea its characteristic aroma, may promote a positive mood.

Orange: Essential oil from oranges has been shown to help ease anxiety in women in labor and may have pain-relieving properties. “Mandarin has worked really well in our aromatherapy program, especially in the Mother Baby Center,” says Streeter. It can relieve nausea and may improve a mother’s sleep postpartum.

This originally appeared as “Good Scents” in the November 2019 issue of Experience Life.

Photography by: Andrea D’Agosto; Prop Styling and Illustration: Alicia Buszczak

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