16 popular essential oils and their health benefits

essential oil

Essential oils have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. They are extracted from various parts of plants and trees – the leaves, fruit, flowers, bark and wood. Each oil has unique active ingredients, a distinctive aroma and the ability to support natural healing processes. These essential oils have powerful medicinal benefits, much of which lies in selecting the right oil for the right purpose.

Essential oils can be used topically in numerous ways such as mixing them into a carrier oil and massaging into the skin or using them in a bath.  They can inhaled in various ways too such as adding them to an indoor aromatherapy oil diffuser. Ingesting them is more complex and for many of them, this should be done under the guidance of a licensed health care provider. The list of essential oils is extensive, so to help you decide which ones to have in your home for diffusion and topical use, here is a list of 16 of the most popular essential oils and their main health benefits. This list appears in alphabetical order.

1. Bergamot

Bergamot is a delicate citrus plant that needs a special climate and soil for it to thrive. The rind from the Bergamot orange tree is pressed to release the oil.  It has a citrusy, floral aroma. It’s well known for its stimulant and relaxant properties and is also an antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral. It can:

  • calm anxiety and reduce stress. It contains relaxants that soothe the nerves.
  • uplift mood and stimulate systems such as the circulatory system and the digestive system.
  • help with infections of the skin and other parts of the body.
  • regulate peristaltic movement, reducing constipation and preventing gastrointestinal problems.

Precautions

This is one of the oils that must be diluted with a carrier oil – if used in its pure form, it can cause the skin to burn. Note that it makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight – stay out of the sun. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements,  speak with a qualified healthcare provider before use.  Avoid contact with sensitive areas like eyes.

Did you know? Earl Grey Tea contains Bergamot. Change your brand to Earl Grey and your digestive system will benefit.

2. Chamomile

Chamomile oil is extracted from the flowers of the Chamomile plant. There are two types:  Roman or German Chamomile and the oils from each have slightly different uses. They both have analgesic,  antibiotic, and an antidepressant properties.  Chamomile has a light fragrance that is sweet and herbaceous.  It can:

  • be used for bruises, cuts, bee stings, boils, dry skin, acne and eczema.
  • help to alleviate stress, anxiety, depression, and irritability.

Precautions

Do not use when pregnant or breastfeeding as it can cause uterine contractions.

Did you know? A drop of Roman chamomile can be used in a bath to sooth a child at bedtime.

3. Clove

The flower buds are picked by hand and dried until they turn brown. After grinding, they are converted to an essential oil. Clove has a spicy, woody, warm aroma and makes a great compliment to citrusy essential oil blends. It is known as the “protective” herb due to its antioxidant, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal and antiseptic properties.  It can:

  • help to keep disease at bay and supports the health of your liver, skin, hair as well as your mouth due to its a high antioxidant count.
  • offer pain relief making it useful for insect bites, cuts and wounds and even ear ache.
  • relieve toothache and act as an antiseptic for all oral infections. It cleans the teeth and gums and freshens the breath.
  • help with fungal infections such as athlete’s foot.

Precautions

Do not use when pregnant or breastfeeding as it can cause uterine contractions. Frequent and repeated application of clove oil in the mouth or on the gums can sometimes cause damage to the mucous membranes. Stop using clove at least two weeks before surgery as it slows blood clotting.

Did you know? It is a natural remedy to help get rid of acne.  Use 3 drops clove oil and mix with 2 tsp raw honey.

4. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus essential oil comes from the leaves of the evergreen eucalyptus tree.  It has a fresh, minty aroma.  It has antispasmodic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, stimulant, and diuretic properties. It can:

  • treat fever and reduce body temperature which is why it is also known as ‘fever oil’.
  • help with a runny nose, sore throat, cold, cough, nasal congestion, asthma, sinusitis and bronchitis.
  • heal cuts, scrapes and sores.
  • relieve muscular aches and pains.  Rheumatism, sprained ligaments and tendons, fibrosis and even nerve pain can benefit from massaging with this oil.

Precautions

Do not use when pregnant or breastfeeding.  Do not ingest in large doses.

Did you know? A few drops added to a compress and placed on skin affected by shingles can ease the pain associated with that condition, and may speed the healing process.

5. Frankincense

Frankincense has long been a prized and valuable oil, used for everything from perfume to salves for soothing skin. It comes from the resin of the Boswellia sacra tree and has a mellow aroma that combines earth, wood, citrus and balsam. It has many great health benefits due to its antiseptic, disinfectant, astringent, digestive, diuretic,  expectorant, and sedative properties. It can:

  • calm and soothe the emotions, slow and deepen breathing, helping to alleviate stress and anxiety.
  • reduce the appearance of skin imperfections. Topically, you can use it to improve scar tissue, cysts, insect bites, warts, boils, acne, cuts and scrapes.

Precautions

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements,  speak with a qualified healthcare provider before use.  Avoid contact with sensitive areas like eyes. Possible skin sensitivity.

Did you know? Diffuse this oil during meditation or a yoga ritual for an extra sense of wellbeing.

6. Geranium

Geranium essential oil is produced from the flowers and leaves of the Geranium. It shares many of the same traits as Rose essential oil and is often used as a substitute because it is not as expensive. It has an aroma that encourages peaceful feelings. It has been used for centuries for symptoms of menstruation and menopause and it has antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic and astringent properties. It can:

  • relieve sore throats and colds.
  • be used on cuts and bruises like any other antiseptic and cover with gauze for quick healing.
  • treat a variety of skin problems and  heal scars and dark spots.
  • soothe the stomach, bowels and intestines, helping to stop cramping.
  • increase the rate of urination, thus removing toxins. 

Precautions

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements,  speak with a qualified healthcare provider before use.  Some people can develop a burning sensation when it is applied to the skin. Keep away from sensitive areas of the face – it can cause eye irritation.

Did you know? Geranium provides an excellent cure for laryngitis. Put a drop on a sugar cube and let it melt in your mouth or gargle with a drop of the oil mixed in honey in a cup of cool water.

7. Ginger

The essential oil comes from the rhizome of the ginger plant.  The oil is the most potent form of ginger and has many health benefits. It is best known as a digestive aid and for reducing nausea. It can:

  • help with morning and motion sickness.
  • reduce bloating, gas, and occasional indigestion.
  • help with poor circulation, colds, achy muscles and migraines

Precautions

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements,  speak with a qualified healthcare provider before use. Dilute with a carrier oil to avoid skin sensitivity.

Did you know? If you experience car sickness during a long trip, you can place a drop of ginger essential oil in the palm of your hand and inhale. Place a drop of the oil on a tissue and inhale to sooth a cough.

8. Jasmine

Jasmine is an expensive oil extracted from the flowers of Jasmine and it has potent healing properties. Its fragrance is strong and sweet. It has antidepressent, antiseptic, antispasmodic and expectorant properties. It can:

  • stimulate the release of certain hormones in the body, including serotonin, which helps to uplift mood and increase energy.
  • prevent wounds from becoming septic.
  • help to clear congestion from the nasal and respiratory tracts
  • help you to fall asleep and stay asleep.
  • relieve any type of spasm, from intestinal cramps to spasmodic coughs.

Precautions

Jasmine is not toxic but it can cause an allergic reaction to those sensitive to its properties. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

Did you know? Jasmine enhances the libido and can help cure problems such as impotency and frigidity.

9. Lavendar

Lavender oil is extracted mostly from the flowers of the lavender plant. It has a sweet, floral scent. It is useful for its antidepressant, decongestant, anti-inflammatory, diuretic and sedative properties. It can:

  • soothe skin conditions like acne and eczema.
  • help with insect bites, minor burns and skin rashes.
  • help with headaches and nervous tension.
  • soothe, calm, relax and de-stress.
  • help with insomnia.
  • help with urinary and respiratory disorders.

Precautions

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements,  speak with a qualified healthcare provider before use. Possible skin sensitivity.

Did you know?

You can add this oil to bath water to soak away stress or rub it into temples and the back of the neck to relieve tension headaches. Add a few drops  to pillows or to the bottom of feet at bedtime for a good night’s sleep.

10. Lemon

Lemon essential oil comes from the rind of lemons. It’s powerful citrusy aroma has made it one of the most widely used essential oils. Its anti-microbial properties and fresh aroma make it popular for usage in household cleansers and air fresheners. Its health benefits come from its astringent, detoxifying, antiseptic, disinfectant, and antifungal properties. It can:

  • support weight loss.
  • decrease acid in the body and help with digestion.
  • improve moodwhen diffused, lemon is very uplifting and energizing.
  • dispel anxiety and nervous tension.
  • boost the immune system.
  • help with circulation and skin problems.

Precautions

It is not toxic but can cause a skin rash in those who are sensitive to its properties.  It should be diluted with a carrier oil as it can burn the skin.  It is photosensitive so avoid going out in the sun after using it.

Did you know? Lemon oil helps to increase concentration and alertness. Rub the lemon oil on your hands and inhale it for a quick pick-me-up or use it in a diffuser in your office space.

11. Lemongrass

It is extracted from dried Lemongrass and has an aroma like lemon but milder and sweeter. It is useful for its analgesic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antipyretic, antiseptic, astringent, antibacterial, diuretic, fungicidal, antidepressive and sedative properties.  It can:

  • uplift mood and relieve anxiety and depression.
  • reduce fevers and pain. It helps your body cope with cold and flu symptoms and is often used in in tea for this purpose.
  • knock out bacteria.
  • treat joint inflammation in conditions like arthritis and rheumatism.
  • increase urination and clean out the kidneys.
  • improve digestion and help with constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, bloating, stomach cramps and vomiting.

Precautions

Some individuals may experience irritation when applying lemongrass essential oil to the skin. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements,  speak with a qualified healthcare provider before use.

Did you know? Lemongrass is good in a foot bath for aching restless legs.

12. Marjoram

The herb’s flowers and leaves are used for the oil and it has a warm, herbaceous, woody aroma. It is useful for its many soothing and curative properties – analgesic, antiseptic, hypotensive, diuretic and sedative.  It can:

  • relieve anxiety, depression, and nervous tension.
  • reduce the pain associated with colds, fevers and inflammation.
  • help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of strokes and heart attacks.
  • help with convulsions, pulled muscles, cramps, and muscular spasms.
  • increase urination thus lowering blood pressure and cleansing the kidneys.
  • promote digestion by stimulating the secretion of digestive juices in the stomach.

Precautions

Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, speak with a qualified healthcare provider before use. For example, medicinal use can slow down the heart rate which is not good for people who already have a slow heart rate.

Did you know? Taking a sniff of Marjoram essential oil right before sleeping is thought to greatly reduce snoring.

13. Neroli

Each year the blossoms of the Seville orange tree are gathered to make essential oils.  Neroli is extracted from the flowers which are handpicked due to their fragility and the oil has a citrusy, floral scent. It is costly because it takes so many flowers to produce a small amount of oil – but a little does go a long way.   One of the essential oil’s most popular uses is for skin care as it maintains moisture and balance as well as fading scars and spots. It also functions as an antidepressant, antiseptic, disinfectant, sedative and antispasmodic. It can:

  • calm frayed nerves and give relief from anxiety, anger, distress and depression.
  • reduce blood pressure and improve mood.
  • improve skin elasticity.
  • protect wounds from infection.
  • give relief from spasmodic coughs, cramps, and relax muscles.

Precautions

Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, speak with a qualified healthcare provider before use. For example, medicinal use can slow down the heart rate which is not good for people who already have a slow heart rate.

Did you know? If you’re going through menopause, Neroli can be very helpful to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, uplift mood and improve libido.

14. Peppermint

The peppermint plant is a hybrid of watermint and spearmint. It has a minty, fresh, herbaceous aroma. Historically, the oil is known for its health benefits, many of which have been proved because it has been used for so long.   Peppermint oil is also known to have powerful antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal effects. It can:

  • provide relief for numerous respiratory problems such as coughs, colds, sinusitis and asthma.
  • treat indigestion and promote digestive health.
  • boost energy and increase mental alertness.
  • increase blood circulation that helps to oxygenate the body’s organs and oxygenates the brain as well as boosting metabolism.
  • deal with bad breathe and help teeth and gums fight off germs.  It’s often used in toothpaste and mouthwashes.
  • reduce chances of fungal nail infections.
  • reduce the effects and frequency of urinary tract infections.

Precautions

It can be irritating to the skin so it should be diluted with a carrier oil. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, speak with a qualified healthcare provider before use.  Avoid contact with sensitive areas like the eyes.

Did you know? Massage your abdomen with a carrier oil that has a few drops of peppermint essential oil added to it to relieve stomach cramps and nausea. It relaxes the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract.

15. Rosemary

Earthy, refreshing, invigorating aroma.

  • treat dandruff, dry scalp, promotes hair growth and prevents hair loss.
  • boost memory, mental alertness
  • improve oily and dry skin, acne, eczema and skin tone.
  • reduce congestion and respiratory problems.
  • fight germs and ward off a cold
  • soothe aches, cramps and muscle tightness, headaches and migraines.
  • help with liver and digestive conditions.

Precautions

Avoid use if pregnant because it can stimulate uterine contractions.   If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, speak with a qualified healthcare provider before use.  It can raise blood pressure so if you have high blood pressure you should avoid using it. Epileptics should also avoid using it.

Did you know? Rub Rosemary essential oil on your scalp for stimulation and circulation for better hair growth.

16. Tea Tree

Tea Tree essential oil comes from the leaves of a tree. It has a fresh, sharp odour  and is quite toxic if ingested. However, it has a whole host of external use benefits that have earned it the title of “medicine cabinet in a bottle”.  It is well known to boost the immune system and fight infection with its antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial qualities. It can:

  • soothe aching, tired muscles.
  • treat dandruff, lice, acne and other skin infections.
  • treat athlete’s foot and nail fungus.
  • soothe insect bites.

Precautions

It should not be taken internally. Use it topically and in low concentrations.  Do not use it on serious cuts. Keep it away from eyes and the mucous membranes of the nose.

Did you know? Add a few drops to unscented shampoo to alleviate dandruff and psoriasis.

A last word

Remember that essential oils are powerful. They can interact with other drugs or aggravate rather than heal an existing health condition.  It is vital to learn about how they should be used and how much to use.  Consulting your health care provider before use is advisable if you are unsure. The above list should only be considered as a guideline, giving some indication of which oils are useful to have in the home.  Please remember, too, that if you have these oils in your home, keep them out of reach of children.

essential oil kit

If you are just finding out about the health benefits of essential oil and don’t know where to start, doTerra offers an introductory kit with a CD and a 5 ml bottle of Pure Therapeutic Grade Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint essential oils for purchase on Amazon. essential oil beginner's kitThis also makes a great gift for someone you know who might want to start using essential oils.

Eden’s Garden offers a more expensive beginner’s set that includes 12 oils (Cinnamon Leaf, Eucalyptus  Grapefruit, Lavender, Lemon, Lime, Patchouli, Peppermint, Rosemary (spanish), Spearmint, Sweet Orange, Tea Tree). You save 25% by buying the set rather than selecting each oil individually. It comes with a handy brochure to help you make the most of your oil.

 

 

 

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