Scents to de-stress and why they work

There are many different scents, while we are stressing day to day, here are some scents to de-stress and why they work! 


Lavender is the most well-known and widely studied scent when it comes to its de-stressing effects. It has been shown to reduce anxiety, ease depression, and assist those with insomnia. 


The scent calms the nervous system by stimulating the brain’s limbic system, which is connected to our emotions and memories. Studies using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) have shown significant changes in brain function when exposed to lavender scents, consistent with its relaxing effect.


Jasmine is a common scent used in well-known perfumes and dessert recipes. Originally from Iran, it can now be found all over the world, including in tropical climates. The calming effects of jasmine are not as widely studied as other fragrances. However, the studies conducted support its ability to lower heart rate, elevate mood, and decrease stress.


These relaxing effects are attributed to the scent’s impact on the central nervous system chemical known as GABA, resulting in calming of the nerves and the soothing of anxiety.


A study conducted on people with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) found that inhaling the scent of jasmine for just five minutes per day significantly decreased feelings of anxiety and reduced physical symptoms including heart palpitations and insomnia. 


Ylang Ylang

Ylang Ylang essential oil is extracted from the flowers of the tropical tree found in Southeast Asia. Multiple small-scale studies have shown that it is helpful in decreasing blood pressure, calming the nervous system, and lowering heart rate. 


The inhalation of Ylang Ylang increases the frequency of alpha brain waves, which are present when in a state of decreased stress and heightened relaxation. 


Two types of basil, ‘sweet basil’ and ‘holy basil’ have been shown to decrease stress. 


Sweet basil comes from the common garden herb and is thought to calm the mind and relieve stress. A 2015 study on mice showed that sweet basil had a similar effect as diazepam, more commonly known as Valium, a medication used to treat anxiety. 


Holy basil, also known as tulsi, is part of the same family. It contains eugenol, which produces a mint-like scent. A 2014 study called it “a herb for all reasons” due to its ability to treat a wide range of conditions, including both physical and mental stress. 

Clary Sage

A close relative of the common garden herb, Clary sage essential oil has been shown to have a similar effect as antidepressants. It is sometimes used in dental waiting rooms to calm nervous patients. 


Its effect differs from that of lavender, which is known for producing a calming, sleep-like effect. Clary sage, on the other hand, improves and balances nerve health, grounding the mind and evoking clarity and relaxation. 


The scent of oranges has the ability to reduce stress hormone levels and slow pulse rate. A 2015 study of women in labour found that those exposed to orange oil experienced less anxiety while giving birth. Another study concluded that people who were exposed to orange scents prior to an exam reported lower levels of stress and anxiety.



Yuzu is an East Asian citrus fruit, similar to a lemon. The use of yuzu for its calming effects dates back to eighteenth century japan, where people would take yuzu baths to relax the body and mind. 


A 2016 study found that inhaling yuzu scent for just ten minutes significantly decreased heart rate. This is because it increases parasympathetic nervous system activity, which controls bodily functions when a person is at rest.


Despite the extensive amount of evidence that shows it to have a calming effect, earlier studies found that yuzu scents can actually increase heart rate. It may depend on the person, so it’s a good idea to experiment and see if it works for you.