Even if you’re just not that into them, it’s tough to argue against the benefits of essential oils. For example, some essential oils can literally dissolve warts. On the flip side, that same oil can also stir up a case of weeping eczema.
So, what’s right for you? The trick to making essential oils work for you is to use them correctly and make adjustments along the way, based on how you personally respond to the extremely potent compounds in essential oils. In this post, Rheagan talks about a handful of essentials oils that you may want to keep nearby.
What are essential oils?
Many of us are familiar with the benefits of essential oils. They have become incredibly popular over the last few years because, quite simply, they work.
Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts that have been used for health and wellness purposes for thousands of years. Typically obtained through a distillation process to produce the concentrated oils, manufacturers use a variety of plant parts to make specific essential oils. This includes roots, leaves, stems, bark, and flowers.
How do essential oils work?
Essential oils typically work topically (through the skin) or through inhalation.
To apply topically, an essential oil is safely diluted in a carrier oil and rubbed on the skin. Since the skin is permeable, your body absorbs the active components of the essential oil, similar to the idea of pharmaceutical transdermal medication.
Heat and massage to the area improve absorption because they improve circulation to the area. Topical application can be paired with reflexology or acupressure points on the body to help enhance its effects as well.
Inhalation is just like it sounds – inhaling an essential oil through the nose or mouth, often from an essential oil diffuser.
When inhaling an essential oil, molecules of the oil stimulate the olfactory system and, as a result, the brain and the limbic system.
The limbic system, also known as our “emotional brain,” is connected to many physiological functions in the body such as heart rate, blood pressure, hormone levels and balance, breathing, and memory.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see how essential oils can be used to help promote physical and psychological wellness.
Benefits of essential oils and what they can do for you
The health and wellness benefits of essential oils vary, depending on the oil. But folks have found many practical benefits too. For example, essential oils are:
- Readily accessible and relatively affordable.
- Effective and can often be used ahead of pharmaceutical medications for common ailments.
- When used properly and safely, virtually free of side effects and complications compared to many pharmaceutical options.
Most oils are multi-functional, meaning you can use them for more than one purpose.
Because essential oils are often antimicrobial in nature and keep the bad bugs at bay, you can use specific ones to replace conventional cleaning products.
Essential oils also tend to be naturally high in antioxidants, making them useful for homemade beauty products, which leave out the toxic chemicals normally found in store-bought products.
12 essential oils to keep at home
There are hundreds of different essential oils out there, but here are 12 of the most commonly used ones to consider starting out with, along with the benefits of essential oils:
1. Lemon. There are many citrus essential oils, but lemon is one of the most popular due to its versatility and anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is one of the top essential oils to have on hand and can be used for so many things!
Lemon essential oils benefits can include relief of nausea, improved digestion, and reduced skin damage.
Lemon essential oil may support metabolism, promote lymph flow and drainage, protect against pathogens, reduce oxidative stress, prevent tooth decay, whiten teeth, boost the immune system, provide antimicrobial properties to cleaning products, and may even have cancer-fighting effects.
Get our favorite organic lemon essential oil here.
2. Lavender. One of the best-known and most commonly used essential oils in the world today, lavender essential oil has been used for thousands of years. High in antioxidants and with strong antimicrobial and mood-moderating properties, lavender essential oil is another top pick for the home.
Lavender essential oil benefits can include blood sugar regulation, improved mood and reduced stress, and improved cognitive function.
Lavender essential oil can help heal wounds and cuts, improve skin appearance, relieve of headaches, improve sleep, and provide topical pain relief.
Get our favorite organic lavender essential oil here.
3. Lemongrass. Lemongrass essential oil is an important one for its medicinal properties.
Known for its analgesic, antimicrobial, antipyretic, antiseptic, astringent, deodorant, diuretic, galactagogue, sedative, and insecticidal properties, lemongrass essential oil has earned its place in the home medicine/first-aid cabinet.
Lemongrass essential oil benefits can include pain relief, mood boosting, protecting against pathogens, lowering a fever, speeding wound healing, decreasing bleeding, improving digestion and elimination, repellin some insects, and enhancing milk production in lactating women.
Get our favorite organic lemongrass essential oil here.
4. Grapefruit. The benefits of essential oils from grapefruit are similar to those from lemon essential oil. But grapefruit has a particular affinity for digestive issues and weight loss. High in antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory properties, this is a great oil to have on hand.
Grapefruit essential oil benefits can include disinfecting surfaces, improving mood, boosting the immune system, easing muscle and joint aches and pains, boosting metabolism, and reducing sugar cravings.
Get our favorite organic pink grapefruit essential oil here.
5. Peppermint. Peppermint is one of the oldest medicinal herbs to date. It is also one of the most widely-used and versatile essential oils with antimicrobial properties and an affinity for digestive and pain relief.
Peppermint essential oil benefits can include easing muscle and joint pain and acting as a muscle relaxant, which can have implications for a variety of health conditions, from fibromyalgia to arthritis.
Benefits of essential oils from peppermint can also include relief of sinus and respiratory complaints, including seasonal allergies, improved energy levels, relief of headaches, relief of digestive complaints, oral health benefits, easing nausea, repelling insects, and protecting and improving skin health.
Get our favorite organic peppermint essential oil here.
6. Tea Tree. Known in Australia for centuries for its medicinal properties, tea tree essential oil, also known as melaleuca, has strong antimicrobial and immune-supporting properties.
Tea tree oil benefits can include use in antibacterial products, such as hand sanitizer.
Tea tree essential oil can help repel insects, is effective against body odor, improves wound healing and prevents infection, reduces acne and soothes skin inflammation, improves oral health, is good for use in home cleaning products, reduces dandruff, and can be used to help treat fungal infections.
Get our favorite organic tea tree essential oil here.
7. Frankincense. Frankincense essential oil is one of the most prized oils the world over, having religious and medicinal significance in various cultures from ancient times to the present day. This is said to be one of the most powerful essential oils one can have for their health!
Frankincense essential oil benefits can include speeding healing of cuts and other skin afflictions, improving gum and hair health, helping in tissue health and regeneration (making it a great choice for skin care), reducing inflammation and easing pain in muscles and joints, helping relieve respiratory tract and lung complaints, improving oral health, improving digestion, and balancing hormones and helping to regulate a woman’s cycle.
Get our favorite organic frankincense essential oil here.
8. Clove. There are three different types of clove essential oil – bud, leaf, and stem. The most popular is clove bud essential oil, so we will focus on this one.
While having an ancient association with toothaches and dental issues, clove essential oil benefits go far beyond this. Clove essential oil has been approved as a dental analgesic and is often added to pharmaceutical oral health products.
Other benefits of essential oils from clove can include improving digestion and easing GI tract complaints, including easing nausea.
Clove essential oil can aid in healing skin issues like warts, acne, and signs of aging, repel insects, ease respiratory complaints, topical relief of pain, and speed healing of wounds and infections.
Get our favorite organic clove essential oil here.
9. Rosemary. One of the essential oils used in various thieves’ oil-type blends, rosemary has long been known for health and wellness purposes. Rosemary essential oil has analgesic, antibacterial, anticancer, anticatarrhal, antifungal, anti-infection, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and expectorant properties.
Rosemary essential oil benefits can include improving mental clarity, relieving coughs and headaches, improving memory, treating infections, improving oral health, and stimulating hair growth and health.
Get our favorite organic rosemary essential oil here.
10. Eucalyptus. The scent of eucalyptus will be familiar to many from a popular brand of vaporub. With its strong antimicrobial action, anti-inflammatory properties and affinity for breathing and lung complaints, eucalyptus essential oil has long been featured in both conventional and holistic medicine cabinets.
Eucalyptus essential oil benefits can include improving respiratory issues, relieving sore throats, clearing congestion, improving seasonal allergies, protecting against pathogens and boosting the immune system, easing headaches, improving wound healing, improving mental clarity, and repelling some rodents.
Get our favorite organic eucalyptus essential oil here.
11. Rose. One of the most beautiful flowers in the world, rose is equally enchanting for its essential oil benefits. Rose essential oil is known for its mood-enhancing, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antimicrobial, and aphrodisiac properties, among others.
Rose essential oil benefits can include improved mood, reduced inflammation, improved wound healing and reduced infection, as well as easing muscle spasms and cramps, protecting against pathogens, improving libido and sexual function, improving skin tone, stabilizing and regulating hormones to improve symptoms and regularity of the menstrual cycle, improving digestion, and reducing excessive bleeding.
Get our favorite rose absolute essential oil here.
12. Cedarwood. Extracted from the wood of the cedar tree, cedarwood essential oil has anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, astringent, antispasmodic, sedative, and insecticidal properties.
Cedarwood essential oil benefits can include improved hair growth, improved skin conditions such as eczema, and improved scalp dryness & dandruff.
Cedarwood essential oil can also prevent infections, reduce joint and muscle pain resulting from inflammation, improve mood and sleep, improve mental focus, relieve coughs, and repel insects (think mothballs).
Get our favorite organic cedarwood essential oil here.
Essential oils aren’t for everyone
As with anything, essential oils are not for everyone.
Care should be exercised when using essential oils around young children as some may have adverse effects and there are separate guidelines for diluting essential oils safely for young children versus adults.
Hydrosols are often a safer option for babies and very young children. You can see a nice collection of organic hydrosols here.
Pregnant and nursing mothers should also exercise caution when it comes to essential oil use. Some oils are contraindicated for pregnancy, or nursing, or both. The National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy lists essential oil pregnancy safety guidelines on their website.
Anyone with allergies to the plants or plant families of certain essential oils should exercise caution when using those oils. Those with sensitive or broken skin should exercise caution when using essential oils topically as they may induce a reaction.
If you’re unsure, test a properly diluted essential oil on a small area of skin before applying more liberally. Never use an essential oil neat (undiluted) on the skin.
Certain oils, particularly the citrus oils, can increase photosensitivity, so caution should be taken when choosing these oils to apply topically.
Those with pets in the home, especially cats, should use caution with essential oils and research which ones (if any) are safe for use around furry, feathered, or scaled friends.
Some essential oils may interact with prescription medication, so those taking prescription medications or with liver or renal issues or a compromised immune system should consult with an aromatherapist before using essential oils.
We also strongly suggest you research and choose a quality essentials oils company who tests for safety and suggests proper usage. We especially love this company because they offer an extensive collection of organic and “kidsafe” essential oils, as well as lots of blends and roll ons! We don’t necessarily think you need to use (sometimes) overpriced MLM brands of essential oils to get quality oils. (Read our “rant” about that here. 😉 )
Knowing more about essential oils and how to use them can help you to dive into the wonderful world of self-care and home remedies. Essential oils offer an effective, safe (following proper guidelines), natural alternative that can help improve and support the health and well being of you and your family.