Essential oils for POTS: Worth a try?

In searching for more ways to feel better, we wanted to know how POTS patients felt about essential oils. These are natural plant-derived liquids that can be inhaled or applied to skin for purposes of aromatherapy [1]. There are many different types of essential oils, purportedly with different benefits, but we were curious whether any trends would emerge about them in general. They are frequently praised as effective by patients in online support groups, however proponents may sometimes be vendors, plus POTSies sure seem to have unique or hypersensitive reactions to all sorts of things. So, we used the POTS Patient-Powered Survey to learn more about patients' experiences.

In the survey, we listed essential oils among other non-drug therapies, and asked participants:

A) whether they had tried them, and B) whether they had "helped lots!" "helped a little," "didn't help," or "made my POTS worse."

Below are the responses from 429 POTS patients.

Yes, 89 No, 340

Next, for those 89 who had tried essential oils, below are percentages of patients who gave each rating:

Helped a lot!, 8% Helped a little, 46% Didn't help, 42% Made my POTS worse, 4%

It is encouraging that essential oils were rated as helpful (a little or a lot) by 54% of those who had tried them. On the down side, however, 4% said that essential oils made their POTS worse, reminding us that there are risks.

To put essential oils in perspective with other non-drug therapies, we compared them to acupuncture, physical therapy, counseling, massage, and elevating the head of the bed. For each, we identified POTS patients who had tried the therapy and then looked at their ratings of whether it helped their POTS:

"Essential oils (n=89)", 54% "Massage (n=132)", 63% "Acupuncture (n=100)", 44% "Physical therapy (n=183)", 54% "Counseling (n=177)", 43% "Elevating head of bed (n=231)", 52%

What is perhaps most encouraging is that each therapy helped a number of patients, and that multiple therapies might be combined for additive benefits.

To read more details about effectiveness of these other treatments, see our findings about massage, acupuncture, counseling, physical therapy, or elevating the head of the bed.

If you decide you want to try essential oils, first make sure to ask your doctor if it would be safe. Keep in mind that essential oils are not regulated by the FDA. If you get the green light, we wish you good luck in finding ones that help.

We have lots more findings here, or to receive occasional email updates on new findings, you can sign up on our homepage. Be well!


  1. Aromatherapy and essential oils, health professional version, PDQ Cancer Information Series, last updated December 2014, at, accessed June 26, 2015.


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