Aromatherapy is a vast topic. So vast in fact that people get overwhelmed with information before they even get started. So here’s my list for the 5 most useful essential oils and tips for using them in your home. These are the ‘go to’ oils that I am constantly using and replenishing. I choose these five because they meet the following criteria:
- Easy to find good quality oil.
- Relatively inexpensive.
- Each is useful on it’s own as well as when combined with other oils in the group.
- They are common fragrances enjoyed by most people, nothing exotic or esoteric.
- Each is relatively safe with mild contraindications and precautions.
My top 5 are: Lavender, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Tea Tree and Lemon. If you only have a casual interest in Aromatherapy you can still benefit from incorporating these 5 essential oils into your lifestyle.
LAVENDER – Lavandula angustifolia
Lavender is an ‘all purpose’ aromatherapy oil. It has a pleasing floral camphor-like scent that is familiar to most people. Lavender is very gentle and is one of the few essential oils recommended for children. Lavender is commonly known for being soothing and relaxing but it is actually an adaptogen. Adaptogenic oils have the effect of bringing about balance so the action of it will depend on what your body needs. If you are feeling depressed or have low energy then Lavender can also be helpful. Lavender is wonderful for anything having to do with the skin. It balances dry or oily skin and hair. It can sooth rashes, itching, excema, psoriasis, and speeds the healing process when used on burns, cuts, and wounds. Lavender soothes sore muslces and has some anti-inflammatory properties as well. Rub a drop on the temples for headaches. Use it in a diffuser or spray to deodorize a room. Like many other essential oils Lavender is a natural antibacterial.
Precautions: Lavender is the only essential oil with no contraindications. It is very safe and hard to misuse which makes it a great oil for those with only a casual interest in Aromatherapy. Lavender is safe to apply directly to skin (1-2 drops) for a healthy adult. Always dilute for children and pets.
PEPPERMINT – Mentha piperita
Peppermint is fresh, clean, and opening. It can be added to massage oil and rubbed on the abdomen to ease indigestion and inhaled to alleviate nausea. Peppermint is a refrigerant and vasodilator. The application of peppermint rapidly expands the blood vessels (vasodilation), causing a cooling sensation while simultaneously increasing circulation. This action makes Peppermint an effective analgesic, alleviating the pain of tight muscles and tension headaches. When diffused in a room peppermint can literally clear the air and is ideal for eliminating strong odors. The menthol in Peppermint acts as a repellent to mice and ants. Like Lavender, Peppermint is also adaptogenic and can be soothing or uplifting based on what your body needs.
Precautions: While Peppermint is good for tension headaches, it should NOT be used for migraines. Peppermint can irritate the skin so always use diluted. Limit use in the bath, avoid in cases of pregnancy and high blood pressure.
EUCALYPTUS- Eucalyptus globulous, Euc. radiata, Euc. smithii
Eucalyptus is best known for it’s actions of opening the lungs and sinuses. It is an expectorant which means it helps move mucus out of the respiratory passages. Eucalyptus is also known for being very awakening and is a strong anti-viral and anti-bacterial. For congestion add 2-3 drops to a bowl of boiled water and inhale the steam or add to massage oil and rub on the chest, the neck and the lung area of the back. There are hundreds of different varieties of Eucalyptus but the most common are Eucalyptus globulous and Eucalyptus radiata.
Precautions: Different vareties of the essential oil can have varying contraindications so be aware of this when buying your oil. Eucalyptus should not be used undiluted on the skin. Do not use for asthma without first consulting your doctor.
TEA TREE- Melaleuca alternifolia
Tea tree is gentle enough to use directly on the skin in small quantities (adults only) yet is a very strong antiseptic. Tea tree has a sharp green medicinal scent and is anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. Tea tree can alleviate oily skin and scalp, athletes foot, warts, and is also effective on cuts and insect bites. Add Tea Tree to massage oil or the bath for skin and internal infections.
Precautions: If using undiluted keep dosage very light. No more than 1 or two drops for a healthy adult. Always dilute for children.
LEMON- Citrus limonum
Lemon is uplifting and comforting. Used in massage oil lemon is cleansing for the body tissues and helps to boost the immune system. In skin care lemon helps to break up excess oil. Lemon can be inhaled to soothe headaches and can be used on bruises, warts, and skin infections. In the home lemon helps to freshen and deodorize.
Precautions: Lemon, like all citrus, is phototoxic. It can be an irritant for people with sensitive skin and people with sensitivity to the sun should avoid using this oil during the day or when sun exposure is imminent.
These 5 essential oils are a great beginning for people with the desire to switch to a simpler and natural way of living.