Blood is the essence of life. It’s the deliverer of nutrients and oxygen, two things that keep our cells alive and thriving. It needs to get to all our body parts, but unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t. Yet, natural remedies like essential oils for circulation can give it a good boost.
In this new post, you’ll be reading about:
- A short intro on the human circulatory system.
- The way essential oils can help with bad blood circulation. How they work and what they can do to boost blood flow and improve your overall health.
- The pros and cons of some of the best vasodilator essential oils.
- How to use your aromatic remedies to improve circulation problems. A couple of these problems are cold hands and feet, for example.
- Some facts and more details about the circulatory system (causes, symptoms, etc.). Plus a few essential oil recipes to try to improve your blood flow to certain areas.
Best Essential Oils for Circulation, with Pros & Cons, and How to Use Them
The arteries transport the blood away from the heart, while the veins collect and carry it back to the heart. This entire complex process happens every second, between heartbeats.
When the blood leaves the heart, it is poor in oxygen and nutrients. When it passes through the lungs, back to the heart, it’s rich in oxygen and nutrients.
Veins must work against gravity. They need to deliver and push blood through all other veins and capillaries. The legs are the first to suffer from this. For some people, poor or bad blood circulation in the legs can also be hereditary.
Cold weather has a great impact on the circulatory system. Long-term cold makes the veins and capillaries shrink. This limits greatly the amount of blood reaching those organs. The purpose here is to protect the vital organs (brain, heart, lungs, intestines, etc.). All the collected blood goes to those organs.
In the meantime, the extremities (hands and feet) gradually become colder. Thus, you get cold hands and feet. But many people experience this situation without being in a life-threatening situation. Extreme cold triggers the body’s survival instinct and conservation.
The liver plays a big role in the activity of the circulatory system too. The blood collects waste and carbon dioxide from the body just before reaching the liver. Then, the liver filters it and gives it its liquid nature (through plasma).
Poor blood circulation can be caused by many factors. I will tell you more about them in the last part of the article. Until then, let’s see how essential oils for blood circulation can help. Remember to always check the safety of each aromatic essence first.
How Can Essential Oils Help with Poor Circulation
Aromatherapy is a form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). It is used to improve and soothe many ailments of the body and mind. Essential oils are good for circulation because they’re very complex substances.
Essential oils are:
- Concentrated plant extracts.
- Steam distilled from roots, seeds, leaves, blossoms, bark, and resin.
- Volatile (they evaporate and disperse rapidly in the atmosphere).
- Sensitive to sunlight, heat, and oxygen.
- Non-fatty, meaning they don’t feel greasy on the skin.
There are a few important properties of essential oils for the circulatory system. They are:
- Anti-inflammatory – This property refers to the ability to reduce inflammation in the tissue and muscles. The walls of blood vessels, veins and arteries have muscles. That’s how they push the blood into the rest of the body.
- Vasodilator – Oils with this effect can widen or expand the blood vessels. A vasodilator is also a vasorelaxant. Vasodilators allow for more blood to flow into certain areas that need it.
- Vasorelaxant – An oil with this effect can reduce the blood pressure and tension in the walls of the blood vessels. This leads to the above-mentioned effect of vasodilation.
- Diuretic – It increases the production of urine. This leads to excess water and toxins elimination. The blood needs to get rid of waste and toxins in a fast manner. More urine ensures this happens just as needed. Besides toxins and waste, fat is also eliminated this way.
- Phlebotonic (venoactive) – Substances with this effect are used to improve blood circulation. This property helps with cramps, restless legs, edema (swelling) and even numbing/tingling.
- Hypotensive – Lowers blood pressure.
- Lymph tonic – This effect improves the function of the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system collects toxins and fluid and helps drain them out of the body.
Some essential oils for circulation can also strengthen the blood vessel walls. That keeps them elastic and resistant, to face the daily wear and tear better.
The circulatory system is very wide and complex, so there’s no surprise when something goes wrong. If some blood vessels get damaged, they can hinder the process of blood distribution to that area. The tissue, muscles and everything else then suffers.
Luckily, we can remedy most of these symptoms with a few great vasodilator essential oils. Whether they are for poor circulation in feet or somewhere else, Wintergreen, Cinnamon and Patchouli can help. These oils are backed up by scientific research, though there are others good at it too.
Let’s see more about these aromatic oils, and then learn how to use them.
1) Wintergreen Essential Oil
Botanical name: Gaultheria fragrantissima/procumbens.
- Wintergreen oil is one of the best essential oils for bad blood circulation. It is 95 – 99.9% methyl salicylate. This substance acts just like aspirin because they’re closely related. The oil is absorbed into the blood and transported throughout the body. Methyl salicylate has been found to inhibit platelet aggregation. Platelets stop bleeding by clotting and sealing an injured blood vessel. This ability can prevent blood clots that can put a life at risk. Thus, Wintergreen essential oil is great for the circulatory system. It protects the heart and brain and maintains the blood fluid.
- The oil is a great anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. It can be used for varicose veins too.
- It is also an excellent vasodilator and vasorelaxant.
- The oil of Wintergreen should not be used in more than 2,4% – 5% concentration.
- Also, it should not be used on young people under 20 years old. The Reye syndrome is very rare but life-threatening. It’s been associated with children taking aspirin.
- If you have asthma or epilepsy, you must seek medical advice before using Wintergreen.
- Avoid using this oil if you’re also on anticoagulant medication. This means you cannot use it while taking Aspirin as well.
Why I like it:
The medicinal yet sweet scent of Wintergreen makes it pleasant to use in recipes. It is not only a great essential oil for bad blood circulation, but it can also soothe the pain. This makes Wintergreen a good remedy for painful joints and muscles, among others.
2) Cinnamon Essential Oil
Botanical name: Cinnamomum cassia & zeylanicum
- Cinnamon is one of the best essential oils for circulation. It is also one of the most studied oils/plant extracts. Cinnamaldehyde and its other compounds make it great at dissolving fat in the arteries and veins. The same study also shows that Cinnamon can protect from brain damage too.
- It is also a great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory oil. Cinnamon oil can strengthen the blood vessel walls and prevent many cardiovascular accidents.
- Cinnamon oil can also prevent platelet aggregation and inhibit blood clots from forming.
- The oil of Cinnamon is hypotensive and vasodilator. When applied topically, it stimulates the blood circulation. The area will look red and feel very warm. The effect lasts for quite a while.
- Cinnamon essence is very strong and can really burn the skin. Make sure you dilute it properly first!
- If you have asthma, you should seek medical advice before using Cinnamon oil.
- A long-term use and large amounts of this oil can be toxic to the liver.
- Cinnamon is also phototoxic. This means no sun exposure for at least 48 hours after topical use.
Why I like it:
Cinnamon, whichever type it is, smells beautiful. It is considered an aphrodisiac as well as a digestive oil. Cinnamon essential oil for circulation can also be used for swelling (edema). It is one of the best ingredients for skin care and anti-aging treatments too.
3) Patchouli Essential Oil
Botanical name: Pogostemon cablin.
- Patchouli essential oil is an excellent vasodilator and vasorelaxant. It is also a good phlebotonic and diuretic. In other words, it’s ideal for blood vessels and cardiovascular system. Patchouli can strengthen the blood vessel walls and improve blood circulation.
- Patchouli oil can also stimulate the activity of the lymphatic system.
- There’s a study on a plant from the same family as Patchouli (Pogostemon elsholtziodes). The oil was found to be an excellent vasorelaxant, with cardiovascular properties.
- Patchouli can also strengthen the immune system and decrease inflammation.
- Patchouli is a very thick, viscous oil that gets better with age. It needs to be handled carefully, with a pipette. It also changes its color with age.
- The oil has estrogen-like effects. This means it should not be used with other hormone treatments or in case of hormone-dependent cancer forms.
- If you inhale too much, it can cause headaches and nausea.
Why I like it:
Patchouli is not only a great essential oil for circulation but for skin care as well. It can help the skin heal faster and prevents early wrinkle formation. Reducing inflammation can also minimize the appearance of scars. Patchouli oil can also repel insects.
Besides Patchouli, other vasodilator essential oils are Vetiver and Jatamansi. The latter is also known as Spikenard essential oil.
Other good essential oils for circulation:
- Tea Tree – great phlebotonic (improves poor circulation) and immune booster. It increases the skin temperature when rubbed in.
- Lemon Eucalyptus – vasodilator and vasorelaxant. It dilates the blood vessels that allow for more blood to pass through. It also helps with lowering the blood pressure.
- Eucalyptus – another great vasodilator, eucalyptol increases the blood flow.
- Lemon – strengthens the capillaries and makes them more elastic. It decreases blood pressure and fluidifies the blood. If you want to use Lemon essential oil for circulation, it can also help break down lipids. Because of this fact, Lemon oil is great for high cholesterol.
- Coriander – hypotensive, vasodilator & vasorelaxant. It can also break down fats from the blood, making its passage through the veins smoother. Coriander essential oil is also diuretic and digestive.
- Helichrysum – anti-inflammatory and anti-hematoma. It’s also phlebotonic (improves blood circulation).
- Peppermint – cooling & refreshing, anti-inflammatory and phlebotonic. If you want to use Peppermint essential oil for circulation, it will also improve the activity of your lymphatic system.
- Cistus – anti-hemorrhage and immune system booster. Cistus is the more affordable alternative for Helichrysum.
- Cypress – anti-inflammatory and vein decongestant. Cypress essence can relieve edema (swelling) in the legs. It can also stimulate the activity of the lymphatic system. It promotes toxin elimination.
- Lentisque – excellent decongestant for the lymphatic system and the veins. Anti-inflammatory and anti-edema (swelling). It fluidifies the blood and helps it return to the heart easier. Unlike all the others though, Lentisque is vasoconstrictor. This means it shrinks the blood vessels. It may prove useful when alternating blends. Lentisque is especially good for varicose veins.
- Juniper berry – anti-inflammatory, phlebotonic, vasorelaxant and lymph stimulant. It prevents hematomas and decongests the veins.
- Niaouli – phlebotonic and lymph tonic. It strengthens blood vessels and stimulates the lymphatic system.
Some sources also suggest these essential oils for poor blood circulation:
- Black Pepper
How to Use Essential Oils for Blood Circulation
Like I said in the beginning, aromatic oils are very concentrated. This means you can’t use them undiluted on your skin.
They must first be mixed with some carrier oil but try not to add too much at first. If you want a more potent blend, you can make it so. Just start small and increase the concentration of essential oil gradually.
You can mix about 6 drops of EO per Oz (30 ml) carrier oil. The carrier can be anything you have at hand. But some of them are also anti-inflammatory and circulatory. Some of the best carrier oils for circulation are Macadamia, Tamanu, and Nigella.
Massage the areas where the blood circulation is poor. The best massage should last a few good minutes until the skin warms up.
Make sure you stay in a warm place or well covered to preserve the warmth inside. If you’re using essential oils to improve circulation in legs and feet, wear some socks after a massage.
Bad circulation can also be improved with an aromatic bath. Mix 10 – 20 drops of essential oils for circulation with a cup of salt. Throw the mixture into the bathwater and stir it in with your hand.
The salt can be anything (from the Mediterranean, Himalayas, sea, Epsom, etc.). It will help the oils disperse into the water, without pooling on top of it.
Another way of stimulating blood circulation is by diffusion. This method can also strengthen the immune system. Essential oils are highly volatile, which means they will evaporate quite fast. An Aromatherapy diffuser can diffuse the oils in a greater concentration.
Through inhalation, you can enjoy 50 – 70% of active oil molecules. They can enter the blood and liver through the nose. This is also how Aromatherapy works on the nervous system and influences the mood.
Symptoms & Potential Causes of Poor Circulation, with Aroma Recipes and Safety Tips
A poor circulation is when there’s not enough blood reaching certain areas. Usually, the extremities are the most affected by this condition. By extremities, I mean hand, feet, and legs.
The heart and the blood vessels make our blood circulatory system. This system is also known as the cardiovascular system. The blood circulatory system is divided in two:
- The systemic circulation – all the veins and blood vessels that supply the organs, cells, and tissue with blood. This means oxygen and nutrients to all the body.
- The lung (pulmonary) circulation – the gateway to fresh oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide.
Some of the circulatory problems people often suffer from are:
- Heavy and painful legs,
- Varicose veins,
- Spider veins,
- Swelling of the legs (edema),
- Cold feet and hands,
- Numbness in the feet and hands,
- Cardiac (heart) fatigue,
- Reynaud’s syndrome,
The causes for a poor blood circulation can be very diverse. They can be obesity and/or overweight, diabetes, and sedentarism (stationary lifestyle). The diet is also among the most common causes.
All these causes put pressure on all the veins, arteries, and other blood vessels. Fat is deposited on the arteries (cholesterol). This makes it harder for the blood to travel all the way down, against gravity.
Regular intake of fast food and processed foods can cause a lot of inflammation in the body and tissue. All these things make it harder for the heart to pump out blood and for the blood to travel to its destination.
Insufficient blood in the leg veins is thought to be inherited or caused by clots and trauma. People whose jobs involve hours of standing are the most prone to poor blood circulation.
Some of the best essential oils for cold hands and feet are Cinnamon and Tea Tree. The others are great too, but the best ones need to warm up the skin for more comfort.
Now, let’s see some Aromatherapy blend recipes for improved blood circulation.
Essential Oil Recipes for Improved Circulation
It’s time to get practical and get blending. More than a single essence can make a more potent blend and deliver the results faster. However, you should not use more than 5 essential oils for circulation. That increases the risk of non-effective blends.
Pick whichever you like or can make and start practicing. A massage and some warmth for those cold feet/hands are always welcome.
Massage Oil for Blood Circulation Roll-On Recipe
- Macadamia oil: 1 Oz (30ml)
- Wintergreen essential oil: 1 drop
- Cinnamon essential oil: 5 drops
Give the blend a good shake before each use. The rollerball applicator is very easy to use and not messy at all. Apply on the affected areas and massage gently until the skin warms up.
If there are any varicose veins present, avoid massaging them directly. Use as needed, but make sure you switch to a different blend after a few weeks. The body may get used to the ingredients and stop responding so well.
Heavy Legs and Swelling Essential Oil Recipe
- Helichrysum essential oil: 5 drops
- Cypress essential oil: 5 drops
- Niaouli essential oil: 5 drops
- Cinnamon essential oil: 5 drops
- Tamanu oil: 1 ½ Oz (45 ml)
Apply the mixture on the legs and use upward massage movements (towards the heart). Keep them well covered to preserve the warmth inside and relax. You can also lift them up a bit, so the blood can circulate a bit easier.
Topical Essential Oil Recipe for Poor Circulation
- Cistus essential oil: 3 drops
- Patchouli essential oil: 3 drops
- Tea Tree essential oil: 5 drops
- Lemon essential oil: 5 drops
- Nigella (Black seed) oil: 1 Oz (30 ml)
Always use upward movements, like you would for cellulite. Add some pressure but not too much. The idea is to help relieve tension, not to make it painful.
Improved Blood Circulation Diffuser Recipe
- Lemon essential oil: 10 drops
- Patchouli essential oil: 5 drops
- Coriander essential oil: 10 drops
The amount of drops you use depends on the diffuser and space. It can be any amount, between 5 – 15 drops per session.
Actively diffusing the oils should not last more than 30 minutes (diffuser on). The oils will continue to diffuse even after you’ve stopped the device.
Studies show that long-time inhalations (60+ minutes) can have the opposite effect of relaxation. It can stress the body and get you anxious. Also, make sure you leave a window ajar because essential oils can saturate the air. This may lead to headaches and nausea, dizziness, etc.
Safety Tips for Safe Use of Vasodilator Essential Oils
Each essence is unique in its chemical composition and beneficial effects. They all act in a different manner and can help with a wide range of ailments. However, even though they’re natural, they can also be dangerous. Especially if they’re used on a long term and in large amounts.
You’ve already seen how each essence has its own set of cons. Here are a few general safety tips that apply to all essential oils for circulation:
- First, regardless of how often you’ve used a certain oil, every new bottle must be tested for allergies. Factors like the soil and the climate can change the chemical profile of the essence. Mix a drop with a carrier oil and massage it into your inner forearm. If no redness or irritation occurs within a few hours – a day, the oil should be safe to use.
- Keep your oils in cool and dark places, away from direct light or heat. Don’t leave them uncapped for long either, as they can evaporate fast. This’ll lengthen the oil’s shelf life.
- Medical advice is necessary when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding. It is believed that the oil molecules can penetrate the placenta. Being so tiny, the oils could also be eliminated from the mother’s body through her milk.
- Avoid using vasodilator essential oils on children, without medical approval.
- People with cancer, diabetes and other pathologies should also ask for medical advice prior to using aroma oils.
- Many essences can interact with certain medicines. Be sure to tell your pharmacist or doctor about your intention and what else you’re taking.
Long-term poor circulation can be the symptom of an underlying condition. Whatever that cause may be, the symptom is manageable. There are a few good remedies out there that can improve circulation and the quality of life.
If you want to use essential oils for circulation, you have many options. The important thing here is to choose vasodilators as main ingredients. Vasoconstrictors can also be used. I would use them in a blend containing both substances.
Make sure you also seek medical guidance if you have even the slightest doubt about how to do it. Have you ever tried Aromatherapy oils for poor circulation so far? Were you happy with the results?