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The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Have you ever tried vetiver oil? Photo Credit: Wasanajai/Shutterstock

Vetiver Oil Can Help With Trauma Recovery

People who have experienced trauma most often will need emotional support to help guide them into recovery. They also need help with calming down anxious brains that are wired to respond to ordinary stimuli as if they are dangerous. This “fight or flight” reaction is not always a rational response – it is reacting to something our brain perceives as a danger, even if that is as simple as social interaction or an unpleasant task. There are many coping mechanisms available; we just have to find the ones that work for us. That may involve some trial and error, but it is worth it.

Vetiver oil, also known as khus oil, can help reduce these symptoms associated with trauma. It is extracted from the similarly named plant – a green clump of grass that can grow up to five feet or more. It is quite fragrant, and its scent is often used in men’s cologne. Holistically, it is used for its soothing and grounding characteristics. It can help people feel calmer, more tranquil, and more in control of their emotions. It can also help stabilize the mood while increasing self-awareness. Someone dealing with trauma who already has a meditation routine may want to consider including candles infused with vetiver oil or drop a bit of vetiver oil into their candles or diffuser while meditating.

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Breathe easier thanks to a candle infused with eucalyptus oil. Photo Credit: Crystalfoto/Shutterstock

Eucalyptus Oil Aids With Respiratory Health

During the spring, you may struggle with seasonal allergies that keep you from enjoying the great outdoors. Furthermore, during the cold winter months, you may be worn down by respiratory issues, ranging from colds to respiratory infections (including sinus infections and bronchitis) to the dreaded flu. Eucalyptus oil can help treat respiratory ailments while also purifying the body of toxins that can make symptoms worse. If you are looking for relief from short-term or even chronic respiratory issues, consider burning some candles that are made with eucalyptus essential oil. It may not cure everything, but it can help relieve the symptoms you are experiencing.

Eucalyptus trees were originally native to Australia, though they are now grown worldwide and loved for their strong scent, their beautiful oval leaves, and their healing properties. Their medicinal power comes from the oil in them, housed in the leaves. Once the leaves are dried and crushed, the oil is distilled and extracted. It must be diluted before it can be used, as it is powerful. You may think you are not familiar with this ingredient, but you would be mistaken. For example, Vicks VapoRub contains about 1.2% eucalyptus oil!

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
It has a strong smell, but frankincense reduces inflammation. Photo Credit: Madeleine Steinbach/Shutterstock

Frankincense Supports Brain Health

There is more to frankincense than hippies burning sticks dipped in frankincense to get high, though it is known for having a lovely woody, spicy scent. This essential oil, also known as olibanum, can help protect the brain from age-related damage while helping fight off cancer cells before they multiply and get out of control. Frankincense also helps build up your immune system and reduces inflammation. Chronic inflammation is one of the most prevalent causes of disease today due mainly to unhealthy diets, lack of exercise, and poor sleep habits. Frankincense can help reverse some of the chronic inflammation in your body so that you are healthier, happier, and more energetic.

Unfortunately, some myths surround this otherworldly essential oil, so let’s try to clear some of them up. Though some small studies reported that frankincense might help lower blood sugar levels, higher-quality students found no real effect, so do not use this instead of actual medicine. Frankincense also does not affect stress or anxiety, so turn to oils (or medicine) with a better track record. The oil also has no proven improvement in heart disease, wrinkles, memory, hormone imbalances, or infertility. Though frankincense can be used as a holistic remedy for some conditions, it certainly isn’t a magic potion, so make sure you use it wisely!

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
This purplish plant enhances relaxation immediately. Photo Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Lavender Oil Boosts Your Mood

If you ask anyone about essential oils, you are bound to hear about lavender oil. Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils, and for a good reason. It helps to decrease anxiety and increase relaxation, so you will find that many moms use it on children with anxiety disorders. Lavender has even been recommended for use on babies experiencing withdrawal because their mothers used drugs in utero. This oil has also been recommended for anxious pets, though you should always be careful when using oils with pets as it can be toxic if consumed.

In addition to enhancing relaxation and reducing anxiety, lavender oil helps to boost your mood. Because it can help people fall asleep, many people use lavender essential oil around bedtime. You can do so by lighting candles infused with lavender, taking a bath with lavender, or diffusing the oil throughout the room. A study published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine found that inhaling lavender at bedtime resulted in an overall improvement in energy during the day. Doesn’t that sound fabulous? Now, if only we could remember what the next section was going to be about.

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Support your cognitive functions with a little bit of rosemary oil. Photo Credit: BTStockPhoto/Shutterstock

Rosemary Oil Improves Your Memory

The rosemary plant is an evergreen shrub with leaves that resemble needles. Its scent is very woodsy and spicy, and it is often used in cooking. The essential oil extracted from its leaves can be used for several beneficial purposes. Going back as far as ancient Greece and Rome, rosemary was believed to strengthen the memory. Rosemary oil is also believed to relieve mild pain, ease stress, increase circulation, and reduce joint inflammation.

If you struggle with forgetfulness or maybe just want an all-around way to improve your memory and cognitive function, consider ways to add rosemary into your health habits. These habits may range from the foods you eat to the essential oils that you use. Candles that have rosemary can reap the benefits of this oil derived from a common herb. Burning a rosemary-infused candle while reading, studying, or engaging in other cognitive tasks can improve your memory retention while also boosting your mood while reducing stress and anxiety.

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Get rid of an upset stomach after lighting a ginger-infused candle. Photo Credit: Nikolay Litov/Shutterstock

Ginger Improves Digestion And Reduces Nausea

Many people are aware that ginger can reduce nausea and improve digestion, but chewing on a hunk of raw ginger can be a bit too overwhelming for some. It has a robust taste that can overpower the senses, and for some people, it can even sting parts of the mouth. Using ginger essential oil can help you get the same ginger benefits without chewing on a chunk of it. However, undiluted ginger oil is very concentrated. Instead, you should use it as an aromatherapy source.

In addition to aiding with digestion and nausea, ginger helps reduce inflammation in the body and even improves joint health. After all, many of the joint problems people face result from chronic inflammation over a long time. Ginger oil is sometimes also used in hair products like shampoo as it is believed to promote hair health and growth. It is even thought to help with migraines when applied in a diluted form to the temples. That’s a double win, as it could also help with nausea that frequently accompanies migraines.

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Headaches are a pain, but peppermint oil can help. Photo Credit: iuliia_n/Shutterstock

Peppermint Oil Can Stop A Headache

If you deal with chronic headaches and are looking for relief, one easy answer may be to light some candles infused with peppermint oil. The peppermint oil itself can help relieve the headache, and the relaxation of the candle’s flame can help reduce the anxiety that may be triggering the problem. If the headache is bad enough to cause nausea, peppermint can also help with soothing the strain. Make sure you dilute your peppermint oil, as it is one of the oils that are considered very strong.

Peppermint oil has plenty of other benefits, including increasing your energy levels, reducing your fevers, and providing relief for pain in your muscles. Many of these benefits can be gleaned by burning a candle that is made with peppermint oil. This oil is often used in cosmetic products like hair products and lotions. It also has moderate antimicrobial properties, though results do depend on the bacterial species. If you want to double up on your peppermint dosage, light up a peppermint candle while sipping on some peppermint tea – you’ll thank us later!

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Candles infused with tea tree oils have multiple health benefits. Photo Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Tea Tree Oil Has Many Uses

Tea tree oil is a superstar of the essential oils, and it is one of the most well-known and commonly used. It is easily accessible, inexpensive, and versatile. Its antibacterial and antifungal properties make it suitable for skin ailments, including mosquito bites and nail fungus. The oil comes from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, a tree native to Queensland and Australia. Though it is called the tea tree, it is not a tree that makes the tea we drink.

In addition to applying tea tree oil directly to the skin, it has health benefits that can be reaped when it is diffused, as when burning a candle that contains tea tree oil. Those benefits include improved immune function, respiration, and circulation. Also, tea tree oil helps eliminate foul odors, replacing them with a soothing, natural fragrance. Since tea tree oil is such a potent antimicrobial and antibacterial agent, it is a powerful tool against acne. Applying a tea tree oil solution to acne spots and scars has proven to be incredibly useful in several studies.

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Say goodbye to annoying mosquitoes and other pests thanks to citronella candles. Photo Credit: Ezume Images/Shutterstock

Don’t Forget The All-Important Citronella Candles

If you have ever lived in or visited the South, you should be familiar with citronella. Citronella oil is distilled from the Asian grass plant, the Cymbopogon genus – from the French word meaning “lemon balm.” That is an apt name, considering the citrus-y scent that emanates from it! If you enjoy spending time outside, especially during the summer months, but mosquitoes cause you grief and make you want to stay indoors, you may want to consider citronella candles. Citronella is a plant that naturally repels mosquitoes, and citronella candles are made from the plant’s oil.

Citronella candles help to repel mosquitoes while also providing a perfect ambiance to your outdoor summer experience. If you want to enjoy a relaxing summer evening outside, maybe just reading a book or enjoying quality time with others, light a few citronella candles to keep pesky visitors away. That’s not all citronella is suitable for, however. It also has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties that speed up healing, in addition to its ability to lift moods and fight fatigue!

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Ease anxiety thanks to rose oil candles. Photo Credit: bloom/Shutterstock

Rose Oil Reduces Anxiety And Depression

Rose oil is one of the priciest of the essential oils, but if you are desperate for relief from chronic anxiety or depression, it may be worth the investment. It has been shown to help people suffering from long-term grief, and it also helps to reduce panic attacks. Studies have shown that rose oil is beneficial for pregnant women. Some small studies have indicated that rose essential oil can positively affect sleep quality, so pregnant or not. It is certainly worth a try.

While it is well-absorbed in a bath, it can also be absorbed through a diffuser or a burning candle. Many perfumes also incorporate rose essential oil, so that could be another way of introducing it into your routine. Burning a candle that has rose essential oil can be part of a meditation or other relaxation practice. The overall benefit will include decreased anxiety and depression, improved mood, and overall better mental functioning. When combined with other essential oils like lavender, cinnamon, and clove oil, then added to a carrier oil like sweet almond oil, rose essential oil could be used to minimize the pain of menstrual cramps as well.

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
If you have trouble sleeping, light a candle infused with bergamot oil. Photo Credit: kongsky/Shutterstock

Bergamot Oil Helps With Insomnia

People who are overly anxious, fearful, and irritable usually find that they have trouble sleeping and that their sleep quality is not very good. They often wake up feeling tired and run down, even before they start the day. Bergamot oil can help reduce these effects of chronic anxiety while also reducing depression. It helps stimulate the metabolism to provide extra energy while also promoting the necessary relaxation for restful sleep. If you drink Earl Grey tea, you already get bergamot oil through your diet. Looking for Earl Grey candles or candles made specifically with bergamot can also help you reap this oil’s benefits.

People extract bergamot oil is extracted from the rinds of bergamot orange fruits. They are native to Bergamo, Italy. You can see these in in perfumes and colognes because of its soothing, spicy scent. Its analgesic qualities make it effective in spot-treating acne, though you should mix it with a carrier oil and apply it overnight. It can also soothe irritated scalps if added with your shampoo or used as an overnight treatment if combined with a carrier oil and massaged into the scalp.

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
This essential oil is ideal if you have heart issues. Photo Credit: Wasanajai/Shutterstock

Ylang Ylang Boosts Optimism While Improving Heart Health

Ylang-ylang is a yellow, star-shaped tropical flower. It is native to countries around the Indian Ocean. The essential oil is extracted through steam distillation, with its most potent oil being derived from the flower itself. Its scent is fruity and flowery – you may even recognize it in Chanel No. 5! The oil has many uses like mood balancing and opening the airways. Ylang ylang is also believed to have antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties and has even been used as an old wives’ aphrodisiac!

Ylang-ylang essential oil can soothe fearfulness and reduce intense agitation, both of which reduce a person’s quality of life. Also, this essential oil can reduce heart palpitations associated with anxiety while also providing a sedative effect. Ylang-ylang essential oil can improve self-esteem and optimism and help produce a good night’s sleep. If you need these outcomes in your life, consider using a ylang-ylang candle shortly before going to bed, such as while you are taking an evening bath. Make sure that you do not burn candles while asleep, as doing so can cause a fire. Do not use ylang-ylang if you have low blood pressure, reducing blood pressure further.

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
A candle with chamomile can help you relax almost instantly. Photo Credit: Tainar/Shutterstock

Chamomile Is The Quintessential Relaxant

You have probably heard that chamomile helps people relax, especially before bedtime, and you may have tried chamomile tea to help you fall asleep. However, are you are opposed to having a drink right before bed? We know getting up to use the bathroom in the middle of the night is no fun. Then, consider using a chamomile candle instead. The chamomile plant is related to daisies, believe it or not, though there are two types of chamomile: Roman Chamomile and German Chamomile. German chamomile has a higher concentration of chamazulene, the active ingredient most highly researched for its benefits.

People have used chamomile for centuries to help with indigestion, speed up wound healing, relieve anxiety, relieve rashes, and soothe us into an easier slumber. If you decide to try chamomile candles (or any essential oil candle) out, make sure that you never burn candles while you are asleep. Using a chamomile candle while preparing for bed, possibly as part of an end-of-day meditation routine, can help you feel relaxed – both from the candle’s flame and the calming effects of the chamomile.

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Candles can be for all ages, genders, and types of people — just practice fire safety. Photo Credit: StockLite/Shutterstock

You Don’t Have To Be A Hippy Or New-Ager To Use Candles

Hopefully, by now, you are convinced of the myriad benefits of using candles to help induce relaxation and improve your health, but you may think that candles are for hippies. Alternatively, maybe they are for New Agers, and you do not want to consider yourself in those categories. If you have made it this far, you can’t deny that candles are more than just pretty decor and esoteric, mystical mumbo jumbo. Studies have shown that there are benefits to having and utilizing candles, so having an open mind and shedding any preconceived notions about what lighting a simple candle means could be beneficial to us all!

The evidence around the positive impacts of candles is based on science, not New Age theories. You can use candles as part of a relaxation or meditation routine while also practicing a traditional religion or no religion; candles do not make you a hippie, a New Ager, or anything else. Candles are just candles – they are a vessel for whatever you need them to be. If you need light, relaxation, or a smell-good accessory, they can be any or all of those.

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Depending on your needs, pick an oil that will improve your health. Photo Credit: Ground Picture/Shutterstock

Replace Your Regular Candles With Those That Have Essential Oils

You may already have candles around your house and enjoy the fragrant aromas that they give off. The fragrances may remind you of pleasant childhood memories or other experiences that you hold close to your heart. Furthermore, you have learned (or may have already known) that just looking at the flame and listening to it burn can help reduce stress. Start to slowly incorporate candles into your weekly or daily routine as your time allows and see what a difference they can make. For an even better payoff, start thinking about which essential oils might be useful to you.

Do you want to reap the added health benefits of essential oils? Replace your burned-out candles with essential oil ones. To maximize the benefit from the essential oils and make sure they work for you instead of against you, consider where to place them around your home strategically. For example, you would not want to light an energizing essential oil candle, like an orange or a peppermint-scented candle, in your bedroom at night or while you soak in the tub. However, a lovely lavender or chamomile candle would be ideal!

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Lighting candles can help regulate your brainwaves. Photo Credit: topotishka/Shutterstock

Relaxation Leads To Better Mental Functioning

Did you know that relaxation is more than resting your muscles and easing your mind? It involves an entire symphony of neural processes in which the brain is working at its absolute best. Your brainwaves are better regulated, the different parts of your brain communicate better with each other, and you are more aware of yourself and your surroundings. Practicing relaxation is essentially us managing our stress and workload. Our heart rate slows, and our blood pressure lowers. Furthermore, you can improve digestion to better absorb nutrients. In turn, it aids our immune system. That is an excellent system that enables us to get back to work feeling refreshed and energized!

Relaxation is not just about the physical benefits; it helps to improve your overall mental functioning. With your brain working optimally, you experience better cognition, better moods, and many other benefits. You also have improved relationships with other people and with yourself. Though we have mentioned meditation quite a bit, its benefits cannot be stressed enough. It can help reduce general anxiety as well as social anxiety. Furthermore, it improves memory function and concentration abilities. Also, it can even help with the brain’s volume loss over time.

The Surprising Science Behind Why Candles are So Calming
Burn some candles with your favorite scents and oils, and watch your mood and day get better. Photo Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Using Candles Improves Overall Health And Well-Being

Poor mood leads to agitation, anxiety, depression, irritability, and physical symptoms. That includes high blood pressure, heart palpitations, headaches, low energy, and more. In turn, you create a vicious cycle is where your physical and mental health is badly affected by your mood. That puts you in a worse mood, affecting your health, and so forth. In comparison, improved mood generated by relaxation and mental clarity results in lower blood pressure. It also improves energy levels, provides better sleep, and much more. That similarly creates a healthy cycle where you feel motivated and empowered to continue caring for yourself. This cycle is fragile. Thus, it is essential to take whatever steps necessary to protect it and rebuild it if you lose your way.

In other words, every aspect of your health benefits from reducing stress and anxiety and increasing relaxation, and you have nothing to lose from it. A great way to start reaping these benefits is to develop a meditation routine that involves candles infused with an essential oil. Pick something that you think will work best for you. So the next time you find yourself feeling a little overwhelmed, light a candle (or a few)! Turn on some soft music, grab a book or just stare at the flames, and enjoy reaping the benefits.