The healing power of plants can be harnessed in so many ways. One of the most valuable ways to use the active compounds of plants for their incredible benefits to our physical and mental well-being is through their essential oils.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years by many ancient cultures as medicine to treat a vast array of conditions. These concentrated botanical oils are typically produced by distilling or extracting the potent chemicals from parts of the plant, like the roots, leaves, seeds and flowers. While some oils are still used pharmaceutically today, they’re primarily associated with aromatherapy.
Aromatherapy is a holistic health modality used to treat different wellness issues using essential oils. Even though aromatherapy implies only the scent of the oil is used for healing, essential oils can be used in various ways for your health. Besides inhaling their aromas, they can also be applied topically and sometimes ingested as supplements.
In this article, you’ll learn about seven commonly used essential oils for health and how to incorporate them into your healthy lifestyle for the most benefits. You should always be aware that some essential oils can be irritating if you have an allergy to a specific plant. Doing a patch test first is always good if you’re using essential oils on your skin.
Here are seven health-boosting essential oils and how best to harvest their goodness at home.
Lavender is well-known for its beautiful violet flowers and its calming nature. The plant is native to the Mediterranean but is grown just about everywhere today because of its impressive versatility. Some of lavender's most notable aromatherapy benefits include decreasing anxiety and depression, alleviating headache pain, promoting sleep, and relieving muscle pain.
Here are the best home uses for lavender essential oil:
1. Add to a diffuser.
2. Add to a laundry ball for your dryer.
3. Add a few drops to your shampoo.
4. Add to your bath or foot soak (works great with Epsom salts).
5. Make this nifty spray for your pillow to help you sleep.
Tea tree oil comes from the leaves of the Melaleuca alterniflora tree found in Australia. Tea tree oil is identified by its bold, earthy, camphor-like smell that some may call pungent. It’s often used as a topical treatment, not for its aroma. Tea tree's superpower is that it contains terpenes, which have strong antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
Best uses for tea tree oil:
1. Apply directly on toenail fungus.
2. Add a couple of drops to shampoo for dandruff relief.
3. Make mouthwash using one or two drops of tea tree oil in a glass of water (do not swallow it).
4. Add a few drops to lotion or moisturizer and use on eczema or dry skin.
5. Dilute in a carrier oil or apply to a damp q-tip for a spot treatment for acne.
6. Make a deodorant using coconut oil and a few drops of tea tree. (or follow this recipe)
The eucalyptus tree is also native to Australia, though it’s grown just about everywhere now because of its numerous uses. It has a strong woodsy scent, and it’s widely hailed for its benefits in breathing and respiratory health. But Eucalyptus also shines as an antimicrobial agent, pain reliever, and insect repellent.
Bring the scent of nature indoors with these best uses for eucalyptus essential oil:
1. Add a few drops to a pot of hot water and breathe in for a sinus steam bath.
2. Add to a diffuser for an outdoorsy aroma and easier breathing.
3. Mix a few drops with a carrier oil (coconut, argan or jojoba) and rub on sore muscles or joints.
4. Add to a warm Epsom salt bath to soothe muscles.
5. Make an antiseptic spray for cuts and wounds using 10 drops of Eucalyptus to 2 cups of water.
Most people probably associate rosemary with its culinary prowess, but did you know it’s also a healing superstar? Rosemary is a hardy plant that smells fresh and foresty, and you can easily grow it at home. Those with thinning hair or alopecia will be happy to know rosemary oil is regarded as being effective for stimulating hair growth. The plant's smell also works well for keeping you alert and focused and reducing pain and inflammation.
Best uses for rosemary essential oil:
1. Diffuse in your home or office for stress and for better focus while working.
2. Add a few drops to your favorite massage or carrier oil (coconut) and rub into painful areas.
3. Add about 5 drops to a teaspoon of carrier oil (jojoba or argan) and massage into scalp after washing your hair to stimulate hair growth.
There’s nothing like the sensation of cool, tingly, refreshing peppermint to perk up your senses. But peppermint does so much more than just taste and smell good. It’s also a powerful antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and pain reliever. Peppermint also shows promise for increasing blood flow and soothing itchy skin. Plus, bugs generally don’t like the smell of mint, so it can be used to deter them.
* While peppermint oil is also used to calm stomach discomfort, the essential oil is not meant to be ingested. You can find peppermint oil sold as a supplement, however.
Here are the top uses for peppermint essential oil:
1. Diffuse for a stimulating scent in your home or office.
2. Place a few drops on your temples to reduce headache pain.
3. Soak a cotton ball with peppermint essential oil and rub along areas where bugs get into your house.
4. Make a garden spray with a few drops of peppermint oil in water to kill aphids on plants.
5. Make a peppermint foot cream to eliminate foot odor.
The smell of citrus is full of happiness, and lemon is one of the most uplifting. You can use it for this purpose, but you should also consider it for a few other practical purposes. For example, lemon is a powerful astringent, anti-inflammatory and disinfectant. This makes it great for your skin and for cleaning your house!
Best uses for lemon essential oil:
1. Diffuse for an uplifting aroma.
2. Make any one of these household cleaners to disinfect, degrease and polish your home.
3. Mix 1 drop of lemon essential oil with a small amount of carrier oil and apply it to acne and acne scars. Leave on for a few minutes, then wash your face (do this before bed).
Frankincense, also called olibanum, is the resin from the trunk of the Boswellia tree. Historically, it has been used in many cultures for spiritual purposes, incense, medicine, and cosmetics. The essential oil has numerous uses in healing, including reducing inflammation, helping with asthma, calming nerves, and soothing skin. Studies have also shown it has promise medicinally to reduce cancerous tumors.
Best home uses for frankincense essential oil:
1. Diffuse it for calming anxiety and for relaxation.
2. Apply to the skin by diluting a few drops in a favorite unscented lotion to help reduce scars, stretch marks, acne or wrinkled skin.
3. Use in a diffuser or on a cloth to help eliminate phlegm from the lungs.
If you don’t already use them, essential oils can be a wonderful addition to a healthy lifestyle. As with every chemical, you should be cautious with how much you use, especially when used topically. A little usually goes a long way. Aromatherapy has been practiced for many years for a wide range of ailments. Follow these ideas and start using essential oils to ramp up your self-care routine.