What Is Ledum Essential Oil Used For

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Ledum essential oil has a long list of impressive benefits, possibly including regulating thyroid activity, preventing inflammation, detoxifying the body, lowering cancer risk, eliminating anxiety, optimizing respiratory function, healing the skin, aiding weight loss efforts, and soothing headaches, just to name a few.

There are also some side effects to ledum essential oil, however, such as skin inflammation, gastrointestinal distress, and potential complications if you are pregnant or on certain medications. However, if you use a moderate amount of this oil, and speak to your doctor before adding it to your natural health regimen, you should be able to avoid any negative side effects.

What is Ledum Essential Oil?

Ledum flowers in a park

Did you know that ledum grows in peaty soils? Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Ledum essential oil is derived from the leaves of the ledum plant, which is more commonly known as Greenland moss or Labrador tea. The ledum plant (Rhododendron subsect. Ledum) is native to various countries in the Northern hemisphere and has been widely recognized for its medicinal benefits for hundreds of years. Labrador tea is a very popular health beverage, but when the leaves undergo a steam distillation process, a much more concentrated oil can be produced, both for topical and aromatized uses. The many benefits of this unique oil come from its rich supply of vitamins, nutrients, tannins, cymene, myrtenal, alpha-pinene, and volatile acids, many of which function as antioxidants and have powerful effects on human health. [1]

Benefits of Ledum Essential Oil

Using ledum essential oil is possibly highly recommended for people who are struggling with hyperthyroidism, cold, cough, flu, congestion, high cancer risk, anxiety, stress, depression, inflammatory conditions, skin irritation, obesity, headaches, high toxicity and low metabolism, as well as those who are at high risk for oxidative stress and chronic disease.

Let us look at the most important health benefits of this oil.

May Aid in Skin Care

The potential antioxidant effects of this essential oil can keep your skin looking smooth and youthful, as it can seek out and neutralize free radicals that cause premature aging, wrinkles, and other blemishes. Furthermore, it can stimulate the growth of new cells, and protect the skin from infections. [2]

May Relieve Anxiety & Stress

One of the most popular uses of ledum essential oil is for possibly calming the nerves and lowering anxiety levels. As with so many essential oils, ledum essential oil’s aromatic compounds can directly affect the behavior of the limbic system (the brain’s emotional center), and promote peaceful feelings and general calm, even when you’re feeling overwhelmed. [3]

May Aid in Weight Loss

The stimulant nature of this essential oil is possibly able to boost the metabolism, which can promote passive fat-burning, meaning that you can increase calorie burning, even when you’re not exercising. Furthermore, this oil can suppress the appetite and give you the energy to be more active, further helping to burn those calories and prevent overeating. [4]

May Eliminate Headaches

The proven anti-inflammatory properties of ledum essential oil can help to reduce tension and blood pressure in the small capillaries in the head that so often cause headaches. By soothing the cardiovascular system and reducing inflammation in those tissues and blood vessels, you can quickly eliminate a headache simply by applying some of this oil (in a diluted form) to your temples. [5]

May Have Anticancer Potential

Early studies on the effect of ledum essential oil on cancer and tumor formation have shown exciting preliminary results. The antioxidant capacity of this oil can help to eliminate free radical activity, helping to reduce the risk of cancer. [6] [7]

May Balance Thyroid Functions

Ledum essential oil has been used for generations to balance thyroid function; whether you are struggling with hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, this oil can regulate your hormone levels and ensure that your body’s metabolic functions are normal and healthy. [8]

Might Improve Respiratory Health

When trying to cut through phlegm and mucus, or reduce congestion, many people turn to ledum essential oil, particularly in the form of a chest rub. The powerful aroma and active constituents in this oil’s micro-particles can support the immune system and attack the underlying infections causing respiratory distress. [9]

May Help Overcome Addiction

Some anecdotal reports suggest that regular use or inhalation of ledum essential oil can curb cravings and make it easier to overcome addiction, ranging from alcohol and nicotine to harder drugs. While research on this is limited, many people still use this oil as a supportive tool.

Might Soothe Nervous System

Soothing the nervous system without sedating you into sleep is a critical function of ledum essential oil, which is why it is commonly recommended for people suffering from ADD and other forms of hyperactivity. Some people don’t want to take medication every day, and instead, diffuse this oil into their home to establish a basic level of calmness in their mind. [10]

What is Ledum Essential Oil Used For?

There are quite a few uses for ledum essential oil, such as in chest rubs, room diffusers, aromatherapy, and massage oils, all of which can deliver certain benefits to the body.

Room Cleanser

When you diffuse ledum essential oil throughout an entire room or home, the antibacterial and detoxifying properties can effectively neutralize airborne pathogens and improve the cleanliness of your home, while also adding a subtle, yet pleasant aroma to the room.


As a popular aromatherapy oil, the ledum essential oil can promote relaxation and calmness by directly affecting the nervous system, clearing the mind, and promoting focus and concentration.


The potential anti-inflammatory properties make this a very popular addition to massage oils, as it also has warming and stimulant properties that can improve skin health and soothe muscle tension.

Chest Rub

For respiratory conditions, some people mix a few drops of ledum essential oil into a chest rub before they go to sleep. The aromatic compounds can help ease congestion and promote restful sleep that is undisturbed by coughing or breathing difficulties.

Side Effects of Ledum Essential Oil

The side effects of ledum essential oil are limited to potential skin inflammation and allergic reactions, as well as certain considerations if you are pregnant or have a pre-existing condition.

  • Skin Irritation: Given the high potency of many essential oils, you should always apply a small amount to a patch of skin to see whether your skin will react. Many people, especially those with sensitive skin, will experience redness, irritation, itchiness or swelling, particularly if they are allergic to the ledum plant.
  • Pregnancy: If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it is generally not recommended to use ledum essential oil, as it can affect uterine contractions, and can also be passed to the fetus with potentially harmful results. Similarly, young children should not use this oil, due to its extreme potency.
  • Consumption: Ledum essential oil should not be consumed internally. While Labrador tea is a popular beverage that includes essential oils, the concentration of chemicals in this oil can cause serious stomach upset and other negative side effects.
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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