essential oils for ocd

Essential Oils for OCD: Read This Before You Purchase One!

Essential oils have recently drawn a lot of attention for their ability to assist with everything from migraines to sleeplessness, and even sore throats. They provide tolerance, relaxation, and peace of mind – regardless of whether your anxiety and tension are chronic or recurring disorders.

Essential oils can do a world of good to your health and well-being if you use them correctly. While they certainly aren’t bunnies out of a magician’s hat, they’re quite effective in managing symptoms of various disorders, including OCD. This ultimate guide will tell you all about essential oils for OCD, a natural way to treat this disorder.

What Is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder?

woman with OCD

Obsessive-Compulsive Condition (OCD) is an anxiety disorder marked by obsessions, excessive fears, and beliefs that lead to compulsive activities. 

It’s a psychological illness that causes a person to repeat specific tasks like cleaning, counting, and re-checking, or thinking about something over and over again. Such compulsive conduct can cause chaos in everyday life and mental health.

Did you know that around 2.3 percent of the population is affected by OCD at some point in their lives? It is the fourth most frequent psychiatric condition. Doctors classify this disorder depending on the severity. It ranges from minor, all the way up to severe. For minor cases of OCD, psychiatrists propose cognitive-behavioral treatment, which includes essential oils. That’s what we’re going to look at now.

Natural Remedies for OCD

Prescription antidepressants are often the first line of treatment for OCD. However, these drugs aren’t optimal. 

Not every OCD patient who tries medicines or counseling receives long-term symptom relief. Only about one-half of total OCD patients benefit from prescription medicines, not to mention that they tag along with a higher risk of relapse and adverse effects. The American Psychiatric Association recommends giving OCD patients any pharmacological treatment for around 6 to 12 weeks.

If prescription drugs and counseling haven’t worked for you, maybe switch to invasive therapies, such as brain surgery or treatments like TMS, Gamma Knife radiosurgery, or deep brain stimulation (DBS). That said, most of these therapies have serious adverse effects, so beware!

If obsessions and compulsions are controlling your life, and if you aren’t an allopathy fan, you’ll be happy to learn that there are a variety of non-drug treatments for OCD. These include vitamins, therapies, lifestyle changes, and mind-body approaches.

Natural OCD solutions can help you recover faster than prescription drugs and treatment. Aromatherapy is one of the most common natural treatments for OCD. Using suitable essential oils in conjunction with proper treatment can help you effectively control your OCD symptoms[1].

The Best Essential Oils for OCD 

One might say that there are too many essential oils out there, and they wouldn’t be wrong! Each oil has its unique scent and chemical composition. 

Which essential oils are ideal for you depends on the symptoms you want to alleviate and the scents you prefer. 

Here are some of the best essential oils for OCD:

Rosemary Essential Oil 

Rosemary essential oil is a popular choice in aromatherapy, thanks to its pleasant aroma and ability to relax the body and mind. While rosemary essential oil has culinary value, it also comes equipped with various therapeutic and health properties. 

It improves your immune system and promotes healthy hair growth, in addition to several advantages for human neural connections. Because of how it works in the body, rosemary oil can help with OCD symptoms. 

Regular usage of rosemary oil has helped OCD patients find relief from their symptoms[2]. You can rapidly relieve stress by inhaling an open bottle or utilizing an essential oil diffuser. Rosemary oil is healthy to use in aromatherapy and topically on the skin when combined with a carrier oil. 

It’s best to avoid rosemary oil if you’re pregnant, have epilepsy or have high blood pressure.

Key Ingredients 

  • Rosmarinic acid
  • Caffeic acid
  • Camphor
  • Betulinic acid
  • Ursolic acid
  • Carnosol
  • 10-20% camphor
  • Carnosic acid


Lavender Essential Oil 

Lavender is versatile for its lovely purple hue and flowery fragrance. Lavender essential oil’s strong aroma helps relieve headaches and anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts. The scent of lavender triggers the release of chemicals in your brain that promote relaxation and comfort[3].

Female patients suffering from compulsive and obsessive thinking are more suited to use lavender essential oils for OCD. It’s easy to see how lavender essential oil can aid with OCD reduction. This oil’s relaxing characteristics help relieve anxiety, stress, and nervousness[4]. It also increases relaxation and mental well-being, which aids in treating OCD.

Aromatherapy requires a minimum of 3 minutes of inhalation of lavender essential oil, but you could go as high as 10 minutes. Ten minutes of this essential oil inhalation influences anxiety-related body functions like heart rate and blood pressure. If you’re using a diffuser, keep it on for at least 10 minutes to get the most out of it.

Key Ingredients 

  • Linalool
  • Lavandulol
  • Linalyl acetate 
  • Bornyl acetate 
  • Geraniol 
  • Terpineol
  • Borneol
  • Lavandulyl acetate
  • 1,8-cineole 
  • Eucalyptol  
  • Camphor 


Frankincense Essential Oil 

Frankincense essential oil is pure oil from the sap of Boswellia trees found in the Arabian Peninsula and Northern Africa. This sticky sap possesses anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antifungal, and anti-anxiety properties. 

Frankincense is known to improve hormone balance and mood, especially in women. The oil activates the limbic system, which helps you control your emotions. It also works as a sedative, relaxing your body and mind.

One of the most prevalent OCD symptoms is general anxiety, which can bring a great deal of distress to those who suffer from the disorder. Frankincense essential oil is an excellent OCD treatment thanks to its capacity to alleviate stress. This oil’s anxiolytic properties can help relax nerves and promote restful sleep, lowering the intensity of OCD symptoms[5].

Key Ingredients 

  • Acid resin (6%)
  • 3-acetyl-beta-boswellic acid (Boswellia sacra)
  • Gum (similar to gum arabic) 30–36%
  • Incensole acetate, C21H34O3
  • Alpha-boswellic acid (Boswellia sacra)
  • Phellandrene


Ylang Ylang Essential Oil 

This is perhaps the most effective essential oil for combating aggression. It stimulates blood circulation when rubbed behind the ears, alleviating OCD symptoms. The dried blossoms of the Ylang-ylang plant make the Ylang-ylang essential oil. This brilliant yellow plant is well-known for its mood boosting properties, as well as its ability to reduce anxiety. 

Anti-inflammatory, antifungal, analgesic, antioxidant, and mood-enhancing effects of ylang-ylang will help you feel whole again. Anxiety throws your body into a state of high alert, and Ylang-ylang helps you return to a more balanced state. It also functions as a moderate sedative, lowering heart rate and blood pressure and enhancing your mood[6].

Key Ingredients 

  • Linalool
  • Germacrene-D
  • Geranyl acetate
  • Benzyl acetate
  • beta-Caryophyllene
  • Methyl p-Cresol
  • Geraniol
  • Geranyl acetate
  • Methyl benzoate
  • Benzyl benzoate
  • Farnesene


Geranium Essential Oil 

The geranium essential oil is extracted from the geranium plant’s stems, leaves, and even flowers. Geranium flowers have a deep aroma that instantly relaxes the mind and body. Geranium essential oil relieves anxiety and distress caused by recurrent thinking. 

Apply it to your feet or wrists and inhale it for better results. You can also consider getting a decent massage with this oil as it’ll only add to the experience.

Studies link OCD sensations of fear and terror to repeating thought patterns that ultimately lead to compulsive behavior[7]. The geranium essential oil is on this list since it helps reduce anxiety and fear.

Key Ingredients 

  • Linalool
  • Citronellol
  • Geranyl formate
  • Geraniol


Chamomile Essential Oil 

Over the decades, the soothing aroma of chamomile has lulled many to sleep. Chamomile looks similar to a daisy. Chamomile essential oil has a variety of health advantages, including anxiety relief. 

However, it’s not just a beneficial tea. Chamomile essential oil also has a similar effect. Manufacturers extract a fruity, sweet-smelling essential oil from the flowers of this plant using steam distillation.

A 2-week research trial conducted by the National Cancer looked into the benefits of Roman chamomile oil massage on cancer patients. The study discovered that massaging with this diluted oil reduced anxiety and other OCD symptoms more effectively than other oils. 

Key Ingredients

  • Apigenin
  • Quercetin
  • Luteolin
  • Chamazulene
  • Azulene
  • Alpha-pinene
  • Coumarins
  • Myrcene
  • Beta-pinene


Valerian Essential Oil

Valerian essential oil is derived from the Valeriana Officinalis root. The manufacturers collect the essential oil by steam distillation. Many cultures in the past employed valerian extract to treat nerve disorders and hysteria.

Native Americans widely used it for its antibacterial qualities. Many people believe valerian has a significant effect on the brain’s neurotransmitter GABA[8]. It’s said to enhance sleep quality and reduce anxiety. It also affects the brain and produces a sensation of well-being when taken as a supplement.

All in all, it’s an excellent oil to help OCD patients struggling to keep their thoughts under control. While a few studies and reports have discovered a relationship between using this oil and improved sleep patterns, there isn’t enough credible data to indicate that it can help with OCD symptoms. However, many people have found it to lower stress and anxiety.

Key Ingredients 

  • Valerianol
  • Valeranone
  • Bornyl acetate
  • Camphene
  • Valeranal
  • Elemol
  • a-Kessyl acetate


Bergamot Essential Oil 

Bergamot oil is made from bergamot oranges, a cross between a bitter orange and lemon. The essential oil is extracted from the zest or fruit’s peel and has a refreshing citrus fragrance. 

Bergamot is a popular fragrance ingredient, and it’s also the herb used in Earl Grey tea. Bergamot oil is relaxing and is frequently used to cure depression by providing energy. It can also aid in the treatment of insomnia, induce relaxation, and reduce agitation.

According to a report published in 2015, bergamot helped reduce anxiety and boost mood in both human and animal testing. Bergamot essential oil may also help with anxiety and weariness and lower saliva cortisol levels.

Key Ingredients 

  • Limonene
  • Linalyl Acetate
  • Linalool
  • Alpha Bergapten
  • Alpha Pinene
  • Nerol
  • Alpha Terpineol
  • Beta Bisabolene
  • Neryl Acetate
  • Geraniol
  • Geraniol Acetate
  • Myrcene


Patchouli Essential Oil

The patchouli essential oil helps treat various disorders, including tension and anxiety. It’s made using the different parts of the patchouli plant, an herb species.

People often mix patchouli with other essential oils like lavender. Most evidence suggests that it helps lower stress and induce relaxation. This OCD essential oil significantly improves your concentration and is best utilized in study settings where children with OCD may inhale it.

While much of the evidence for patchouli oil’s advantages are anecdotal, studies are beginning to indicate that it has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and pain-relieving effects.

Key Ingredients 

  • Patchoulol
  • β-Patchoulene
  • α-Patchoulene
  • α-Guaiene
  • α-Bulnesene
  • Norpatchoulenol
  • Caryophyllene
  • Pogostol
  • Seychellene


Sweet Marjoram Essential Oil 

The sweet marjoram essential oil is derived from the dried leaves of the Mediterranean Marjoram plant. Sweet marjoram is a potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-anxiety and gut-healing herb.

Marjoram is a vasodilator, which means it lowers tensions and blood pressure – some common OCD symptoms[9]. Sweet marjoram also helps treat headaches and mental sprains and strains. Add a few drops of this massage oil to relieve the tension in the neck and back, or give yourself an anxiety-relieving foot massage. Despite the lack of scientific evidence, many therapists consider it a go-to folk cure.

Key Ingredients 

  • Rosmarinic acid
  • Vanillic acid
  • Sinapic acid
  • Caffeic acid
  • Ferulic acid
  • P- and m-hydroxybenzoic acid
  • Syringic acid
  • Coumarinic acid 


How to Use Essential Oils?

Essential oils are highly concentrated pure oils and, given their concentration levels, most essential oils are not up for consumption.

The best way to use essential oils for OCD or any other reason is to dilute them with a carrier oil, sweet almond, or olive oil. Before using them, always read the instructions for diluting the oil[10].

You can utilize diluted essential oils in a variety of ways, including:


Diffusion is an excellent technique to bring the aroma of essential oil to a room. Essential oils are poured into the diffuser, often with water or heat, and then allowed to evaporate. For example, you can bring lavender to a yoga session to help you relax. 

When you inhale essential oils, aromas travel through the olfactory system into your brain. This can result in multiple effects on the body, including fostering calmness and controlling nervous system reactions.

Dry Evaporation 

Add a few drops of essential oil to a tissue or cotton ball and let them dissipate into the air. Inhale from the cotton ball if you want a strong dose.


Drops of essential oil are poured into a bowl of heating water, causing the oil to evaporate instantly. Inhale the aroma while wearing a towel over your head. Anything more than 1-2 drops may be excessive. Remember to keep your eyes closed when employing this method.


Essential oils applied topically with massage can be beneficial on several levels:

  • You’ll breathe them in
  • Your skin will absorb the oil
  • The massaging itself may amplify the oils’ effects

Since high quantities of essential oils might irritate the skin, blend them with a carrier oil first –  such as coconut, sweet almond, or jojoba oil.

Risks and Considerations

Certain essential oils may cause irritation or allergic responses. If you have atopic dermatitis or adverse reactions to topical treatments, you’re more likely to get an allergic reaction.

Essential oils are heavily concentrated, and most of them can be toxic. As a result, it’s critical to dissolve them in a carrier oil before using them. The manufacturer almost always recommends the optimum way to dilute an essential oil, so make sure you follow them.

Diluting the oil minimizes any chances of irritating a person’s skin, eyes, or lungs. Avoid applying pure essential oil to the skin or eyes. 

The following are signs of skin inflammation or an adverse reaction to an essential oil:

  • Pain
  • Blotchy complexion
  • Itching
  • Redness

We recommend testing the diluted essential oil on a tiny patch of skin before actually using it on your body. If there’s a reaction, wash your hands with soap and warm water and avoid using the oil.

Tips for Choosing the Right Essential Oil

If it’s your first time with essential oils, you may need assistance selecting the appropriate oil. Here are a few things to consider when choosing essential oils for OCD:

Purity Is Key

An essential oil’s quality is paramount. Essential oils aren’t all created equal – some are adequately concentrated, some are not. Before purchasing an essential oil, look carefully at its label and go through some of its customer reviews.


If feasible, we suggest you always pick organic essential oils. They’re pure and have the most potent healing abilities. Organic essential oils are comparatively less affordable, but their high quality justifies their price.

Only Purchase Oil in Glass Bottles

The most excellent oils come in amber brown and cobalt blue glass bottles. Plastic bottles allow unfiltered light to pass through quickly and degrade the oil.

Remember the Latin Name

The standard and Latin names of essential oils are always listed on the label. Since common names can be confusing, it’s always best to check for the oil’s Latin name. The appearance of the plant’s Latin phrase on the bottle confirms that you’re purchasing the correct essential oil.


Not all essential oils undergo the same processing, and it’s no secret that an essential oil’s purity highly depends on its processing. 

Perhaps the most popular method for obtaining essential oils is steam distillation. Different plant species employ different processes. Citrus fruits are cold-pressed for oil extraction. 

Know Your Needs

Essential oils treat a variety of health problems. Before you go to the store, assess your symptoms and select the appropriate essential oil. If you’re new to essential oil shopping, get advice from a healthcare expert.

Endnote on Essential Oils

We hope this essential oils for OCD guide has given you all the know-how regarding these fragrant liquids extracted from the most virtuous plants. A single sniff can elevate your mood and give you the mental well-being you so desperately need as an OCD patient. Remember to take deep breaths, exhale slowly, and look after yourself.


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You Kyoung Shin, So-Young Lee, Jeong-Min Lee, Purum Kang, and Geun Hee Seol

Effects of Short-Term Inhalation of Patchouli Oil on Professional Quality of Life and Stress Levels in Emergency Nurses: A Randomized Controlled Trial The Journal of Alternative and Complementary MedicineVol. 26, No. 11 16 Nov 2020

Fatemeh Bina, PharmD, PhD Candidate1 and Roja Rahimi, PharmD, PhD Sweet Marjoram: A Review of Ethnopharmacology, Phytochemistry, and Biological Activities J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2017 Jan; 22(1): 175–185.

Mara Lambert APA Releases Guidelines on Treating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Jul 1, 2008 Issue

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