Essential Oils and Veterans: Uses, Benefits and How Oils Can Help

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An Essential Oils Guide for Veterans

Veterans often live with a challenging set of circumstances that can affect their lives in many ways. The traumatic events that happen to soldiers during a war can go beyond just the physical issues we can see. From mental health problems to pain associated with injuries or chronic illness, veterans face a variety of troubles that aren’t always experienced by the general population.

Often, soldiers who return from the battlefield deal with nonspecific symptoms that are tough to pin down. Symptoms such as soreness, fatigue or cognitive disturbances like memory and concentration problems are common and the cause can sometimes seem mysterious.

Because many issues they face can be tough to diagnose and therefore treat, some veterans live their lives without relief, feeling worn out and hopeless.

Plant Therapy Essential Oils for Veterans

How essential oils can help support Veterans

Essential oils and aromatherapy are popular words in the body care and cosmetic industries. But many people aren’t aware that essential oils offer a lot more than just a pleasing fragrance and have the potential to provide relief to people who have experienced trauma. Veterans are faced with a unique set of challenges on both a physical and emotional level.

For these reasons, veterans can benefit from the powerful psychological and physiological effects that essential oil aromatherapy can offer.

The sense of smell is the most primal sense we have. It exerts a powerful influence over our bodies as well as through our moods, emotions, behaviors, and memories–the very things that can cause veterans problems. Essential oils allow you to harness the olfactory power of botanicals to positively affect the health of your body and your mind while promoting a state of well-being.

If you’re a veteran or you know someone who is, take a look at the essential oils guide below. This guide explores some of the most common issues veterans face and how they can benefit from the use of essential oils.

Essential oils to help ease stress in Veterans:

An Essential Oils Guide for Veterans Plant TherapyMany veterans experience high levels of stress in their lives, especially the kind that is triggered after suffering a traumatic event. Essential oils can encourage feelings of calmness and ease while playing a part in an overall healthy lifestyle.

1. Lavender

Lavender is a well-known herb for its relaxing and calming properties. It’s one of the most popular and effective essential oils for easing feelings of stress and irritability while supporting a healthy nervous system.

2. Ylang Ylang 

This popular essential oil is both calming and uplifting. It has a sweet, tropical aroma that has the power to relax the nervous system and ease the senses. It promotes feelings of courage in the face of fear and negativity while encouraging feelings of optimism.

Essential oils to support mental health:

Happy Veteran's Day from Plant TherapyDepression is a common issue that many veterans experience after coming home from combat. It can be caused by things like traumatic events or injuries and, unfortunately, often left untreated due to stigmatization or lack of access to mental health services. While essential oils aren’t a cure, they can help to promote positive feelings and well-being.

1. Rose

A slightly sweet floral fragrance that works to enhance circulation and boost your overall mood.

2. Geranium

A great essential oil for enhancing positive feelings and keeping mood swings at bay. It can also promote restful sleep and calm both the body and the mind.

How essential oils can help establish healthy sleep habits:

An Essential Oils Guide for Veterans Plant TherapySoldiers face obstacles during their service like stress over peers, sleep deprivation, worries about family and many other challenges that can make it hard to sleep at night. When they come home, these challenges follow them and cause their sleep issue to continue. If you or a loved one has problems getting a good night’s rest, try incorporating these essential oils into your bedtime routine.

1. Roman Chamomile

Known for its relaxing, soothing and calming properties. It has a scent that is light and floral and makes a wonderful essential oil for creating the right mood for sleep when used in your bedroom.

2. Cedarwood

A woody, earthy smell that is good for promoting a restful night’s sleep. It’s an excellent choice after a busy day when you want to quiet your mind and set a peaceful tone for rest.

Essential oils can help promote physical health:

Military service can take a toll on the bodies of veterans. Whether they faced injury, physical exhaustion or an illness, physical issues that cause pain can linger with a vet for a lifetime. Here are two essential oils that work well for easing tense, sore muscles.

1. Eucalyptus

This oil is a great essential oil to use topically because of its ability to ease soreness and promote a healthy inflammatory response. Many over-the-counter medications for joint and muscle health include this potent essential oil.

2. Peppermint

Has many of the same beneficial properties as eucalyptus, but can also ease muscle cramps and spasms, as well as promote a healthy digestive system.

Essential oils for helping increase energy:

An Essential Oils Guide for Veterans Plant TherapyThe prolonged mental and physical fatigue associated with military service can cause many veterans to suffer from low energy when they get home. Low energy can also be a symptom of the many common physical and mental health issues that veterans face. Try incorporating these essential oils into your day when you need a boost.

1. Grapefruit

Like many citrus essential oils, grapefruit is known for its ability to boost energy levels and mental alertness. It can also help relieve adrenal fatigue, which is a common issue with people who feel constantly lethargic.

2. Orange

Known to promote energy and uplift a person’s mood. It can also have a positive impact on creativity, so try it when you are feeling stuck, heavy-hearted or overwhelmed.

Oils for aiding with mental concentration:

An Essential Oils Guide for Veterans Plant TherapyMany of the things veterans experience during their service can impact their memory and ability to concentrate down the road. If you or a loved one has difficulty with concentration, try these essential oils for a mental power boost and to help stay focused.

1. Rosemary

Has the power to boost the brain in many ways. It is known to improve concentration and promote healthy neurological functions. It helps your body deliver blood to your brain, stimulating your ability to focus and helping your mind become sharper.

2. Lemon

The fresh, pungent scent of lemon essential oil can wake up your mind and improve cognitive function. Its uplifting aroma promotes mental clarity and improves focus.

Ways Veterans Can Use Essential Oils:

Choosing which essential oils to use is personal and depends on the effect you are trying to achieve as well as aromas that you find enjoyable. Certain essential oils can have a calming effect on one person while having a stimulating effect on another person. So, it’s a good idea to experiment with oils and fragrances you find pleasing to find out which work best for your specific goals. Essential oils enter the body through two primary ways–topical application and inhaling. Within each of these, there are different application methods. Here are some of the most popular ways to utilize essential oils in your life to promote health and happiness.  

1. Topical application

Essential oils can be applied topically to the skin using a few different techniques. It’s important to note that essential oils are highly concentrated and need to be diluted before direct skin application. You can add them to unscented lotions, but one of the most popular methods of diluting them is the use of a carrier oil. While most high-quality oils work just fine, cold-pressed carrier oils tend to be preferred. Examples include grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, apricot oil, and avocado oil. Try using essential oils on the temples, behind the ears, on the chest, wrists or anywhere you prefer. Use as a massage oil on your back, legs, shoulders or wherever you experience tension or soreness.

2. Diffuse

One of the most popular ways to enjoy the benefits of aromatherapy is with an essential oil diffuser. It’s a great way to add the scent of essential oils to a whole room. There are a few different types to choose from, in a variety of shapes and sizes, so get one that fits with the area you will use it as well as your budget. The most utilized type is the ultrasonic diffusers, which use ultrasonic waves to disperse essential oils into the air from water.

Choose an open area in a room with a solid surface near an electrical outlet to place your diffuser. Follow the instructions that come with your diffuser and fill it with water to the appropriate level. Add the essential oils of your choice to the water. Turn it on and enjoy the aromatherapy it provides in that room.

If you want to enjoy diffused essential oils in another room, move the diffuser carefully so you don’t spill any water. You can always buy multiple diffusers for different places, or portable diffusers for when you are on-the-go or in your car.

3. Dry Evaporation

If you don’t have a diffuser on hand, there are alternative ways to disperse essential oils into the air. Dry evaporation is a simple yet effective method for enjoying the beneficial aroma of an essential oil anywhere you want. Place several drops of essential oil onto a cotton ball or bathroom tissue and allow it to evaporate into the air. If you want a more intense experience that delivers the benefits more quickly, sniff the cotton ball directly. If you’d like a milder experience, keep the cotton ball near you (on your desk or nightstand).

4. Spray

A homemade essential oil spray is a great way to use essential oils on surfaces around the home and to freshen the air. All you need is a spray bottle filled with water and a few drops of your favorite essential oils. Shake the bottle and spray it to deodorize a room or to set a mood. You can also use certain oils to clean and disinfect surfaces, like citrus oils, peppermint, tea tree or pine. Remember to shake the bottle before spraying because the oils can collect at the surface.

5. Steam

Steam inhalation is an excellent method of using essential oils that can promote a healthy respiratory system and encourage feelings of clear airways. Some oils that promote easy breathing are eucalyptus, tea tree, peppermint, and lavender. Just add hot water to a sink or a bowl along with two drops of essential oils. Cover your head with a towel and allow your face to hover over the bowl for 10 minutes. Take a few deep breaths and inhale the steam and relax. Make sure your face is far enough away from the hot water so you don’t burn your face.

6. Bath

There’s nothing as relaxing as a hot bath with a few drops of your favorite essential oils mixed in a tablespoon of bubble bath or body wash.  This method works both as a way to inhale the aromas as well as absorb the benefits through your skin.

Final Thoughts

As a veteran, essential oils can be a great addition to your overall health plan. It’s important to note that they are not a replacement for medical treatment and healthy lifestyle choices–like exercise and a nutritious diet. While they aren’t a cure for illnesses, they are an excellent way to boost your emotional and physical health and well-being. Aromatherapy can be added to your tool bag to help balance mood swings, manage stress, promote restful sleep and maintain a body that feels healthy and strong after strain or injury.


43 thoughts on “An Essential Oils Guide for Veterans”

    1. Many of the above-recommended oils will help reduce stress and encourage an uninterrupted night of sleep. I would recommend trying oils that you or your loved one find to be comforting and uplifting. While it may not immediately bring your loved one out of their flashback or night terror, it may help them have an easier time returning to their day, or sleep.

  • What a wonderful article! The information is great for veterans as well as first responders or anyone who suffers from these conditions. Although I no longer work as a paramedic, I suffer from the lasting effects caused by what we see on a daily basis. My husband and son are also first responders so I will be putting this information to good use in our house. Thank you again!

    1. Of course! We have several veterans on staff (including myself!) and love taking time to reach out. Essential oils can provide so much emotional support 🙂 Thank you for your comment, Angeline!

  • This is such an informative blog that will definitely help our veterans. I will be sharing this information with my Veteran husband in hopes that something will help. Many thanks PT!

  • Wonderful article! My Papap taught me about medicinal plants when I was younger. I wish I would’ve been educated about oils through his and my Nana’s very rough older years. They would’ve benifited so much! I really appreciate all of the info you provide so I can help others.

  • Thank you for this article. I passed it along to my friend who’s husband has PTSD. A lot of good information that can help so many people besides veterans with PTSD.

  • What a great post!! Not only for veterans, but also for anyone suffering from mental and physical exhaustion, stress, depression, apathy, or mood swings.

  • So much good information in this unique blog. My Vietnam veteran husband has begun to experience some cognitive decline. I’m definitely going to try adding rosemary and lemon EO to his day. Thank you for this!

  • Wonderful post. I have seen so many veterans who still carry the mental burdens of combat. Thanks PT for thinking of our Veterans.

  • This Blog is a Godsend! Two oil combos are easy to implement and experiment with. Even tho’ I’m not a veteran I suffer from PTSD, sleep deprivation and exhaustion. Most “recipes” remind me of the “tower of flour” method of going gluten-free. Trying to get started when every recommendation includes half a dozen different oils is hard. This is SO EASY and looks delicious to my tummy AND my nose. Lemon and rosemary? GLORIOUS!! I expect my brain will love them just as much!

  • Thank you so much for this post! My husband is a Viet Nam Vet and suffers from PTSD. I have diffused many oils with some success. This tells me what ones are best for his stress. Thanks so much for all you do for all of us to help us in our daily life!!

  • My essential oils are the only thing that helps this veteran deal with the stress, depression and anxiety of my days. I have had days that I am SO down…not wanting to go on and pulling out my oils gives me a little touch of reprieve from the thoughts and hate that can be my mind. I just wish the ones that helped me so much weren’t so expensive so I could use them less sparingly LOL C’est la vie though. Thank you Plant Therapy for giving reprieve on some of my rough days.

  • Great blog post! Many people do not understand the things that veteran’s, especially those that are deployed overseas go through when they come back to the world that is normal to us. The things they see, the things they have to see and do are not realized by civilians. Thank a veteran every day and not just on the special days because their sacrifice is what keeps us free.

  • Thank you PlantTherapy for the most original blog post yet! I’ve not seen this topic covered in terms of aromatherapy before, and as you can see by the comments thus far, there are SO many veterans who could use more tools for self care. 2 of my younger brothers are vets and 1 more brother is currently in the Marines, they’re some of my biggest heros. I am definitely saving this as a reference and passing on to them, too. Thanks for the great ideas and for shedding light on a very real topic- our veterans need our support:)

  • My husband and I are both disabled veterans, and we use our essential oils for most of our service-connected issues.

    Thank you so much for this Veterans Day blog post.

  • I was recently turned onto essential oils through a friend. I myself being a disabled veteran, I have found many oils very pleasing. My husband is also a wounded/disabled veteran… I’ve been able to turn him onto the oils. We definitely find it very therapeutic using at night.

  • Wanda – Just a note to please remember us women vets. The info here in applicable to both men and women, so when thinking of giving gifts, this info will help. Thanks to the developer for putting this site together. We can definitely use it.

  • I’m a Veteran and my husband did 2 ‘tours’ in Viet Nam. I use oils frequently in the diffusers. Most of the time I diffuse uplifting blends….and he doesn’t realize that I do it more for him than any other reason. I’ll do blends at night to help him relax and not grind his teeth which he’s been known to do after chatting with one of his Nam buddies or watching something about Nam. He’s my hero and I want to keep him around and calm for many more years! 🙂

  • I’m a veteran and user of Plant Therapy oils and my husband just retired and is having a difficult time transitioning. Thank you so much for this! I’ll be using this to help him.

    1. Wow, what a resource. Thank you for putting this together for veterans. It is so helpful for many of us. Yay! Plant Therapy!

  • Thank you very much for sharing this great information with all of us. I look forward to sharing this with my husband who is my favorite veteran. We do use essential oils at home and I think this will help him, us, get even more out of them.

  • I never thought of essential oils as a way to help with sleep and stress for my husband (military). Thank you for sharing these resources!

  • Thank you bunches for some wonderful ideas, especially with the stress and anxiety we go through. The smallest things can trigger unexplainable emotions and any little thing that can help bring our minds back to “real life” and be present is a life saver.

  • Thank you for this post! My husband and son are both veterans of the armed forces. They both have been in very stressful situations to say the least. I have found diffusing Cedarwood, as mentioned in the post, is great for stressful days. My husband seems to benefit greatly from all of my oily concoctions! Thank you Plant Therapy for this information and for recognizing the service of our amazing veterans!

  • This is a fantastic post! I have a few Veterans in my family so thank you for the tips and ideas for Christmas presents!

  • I love PT, and this is just another reason on the list. Thank you for this! I’ve a family member who is a Vietnam vet. Decades later, he still suffers. I’m going to gift him some of these oils!

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