Not in Love with Lavender? Here Are Five Alternative Essential Oils for Relaxation

We understand that not everyone is a fan of lavender.

lavender sprig
For our founder, Linda, there was always something about the base note of lavender that seemed a little ‘powdery’ and almost resinous, so, for years she ignored lavender based blends and always kept an eye out for alternatives.

But first, a quick once over to explain why lavender has become a go to oil for relaxation and stress reduction. Lavender contains both linalool and linalyl acetate. Linalool is known to be calming to the mind, while linalyl acetate can release muscle tension. In some cases, substitutes for Lavender contain these components too, but that’s not always necessary, as there are plenty of other chemical constituents that promote relaxation.

Here are a few oils that can have relaxing effects:

Roman Chamomile: fruity and almost sweet, Roman Chamomile is both calming and sedating and can help counter anxiety.  (Moss et al. 2006). Depending on which oils it’s mixed with, it can help you fall asleep, or help calm jitters without making you feel tired.

Patchouli: distinctive and deep, Patchouli can counter an overactive mind and has a calming effect. (Ito, 2011). It can also relieve muscle tension when applied topically in a carrier oil – always use a carrier oil with any essential oil.

Bergamot: zingy and citrusy, Bergamot also contains linalool and linalyl acetate, in addition to limonene, which can also boost your mood. Bergamot is one of the most phototoxic oils, so make sure it’s used with a carrier and properly diluted for sun safety*. You can also diffuse or use an inhaler for on the go.

Ylang Ylang: deep and resonant, with an almost tropical floral vibe, research has shown that Ylang Ylang can reduce the body’s physiological responses to stress – it’s the only essential oil that has been shown in clinical studies to reduce blood pressure. (Hongratanaworakit and Buchbauer, 2004) But it can also makes you less alert, so this is a great oil to use at bedtime or after work, but maybe not before a big presentation or meeting. And take care – over use can cause headaches.

Sweet Marjoram: warm, slightly resinous and herbal, Sweet Marjoram is both calming and comforting, making it a great option for anxiety, stress, everyday tension and sleeplessness.

Another oil that is super calming and grounding is Vetiver. It’s thick and syrup-like so it’s not great in a diffuser, but we use Vetiver and Ylang Ylang in Dreamy, our blend that helps “shut things down”. It’s green and distinctive - so people tend to either love it or hate it – but it’s a great alternative to blends that contain lavender.

And back to Linda, who now counts lavender as one of her favorite oils? As it turns out, all those ‘powdery’ lavenders she remembered from her childhood were ‘fake’ fragrances! Now that she’s using ‘real’ lavender, she’s instantly comforted by the complex and deep aroma.


*a further note on Bergamot and phototoxicity. Mood Food uses bergapten free bergamot oil, which has had the phototoxic component removed.


Ito K, Ito M. (2011) Sedative effects of vapor inhalation of the essential oil of Microtoena patchouli and its related compounds. Journal of Natural Medicine 65, 2, 336-43. 

Moss, M., Howarth, R., Wilkinson, L. and Wesnes, K. (2006) Expectancy and the aroma of Roman chamomile influence mood and cognition in healthy volunteers. International Journal of Aromatherapy 16, 2, 63-73.

Hongratanaworakit, T. and Buchbauer, G. (2004) Evaluation of the harmonizing effect of ylang ylang on humans after inhalation. Planta Medica 70, 7, 632-636


*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Mood Food products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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