I discovered essential oils about 10 years ago when I had a headache. A friend from homeopathic college recommended I add essential oils to my repertoire. Always willing to try something new, I quickly incorporated it into my daily routine. I added some lavender and peppermint oil to the base of my skull and added a drop of each to cupped hands and inhaled. Almost instantly, I felt relief and was instantly hooked.
Used in cultures for over a thousand years, essential oils are defined in The Life Essential book as the “extracted volatile, aromatic compounds found in the leaves, flowers, bark, stems, roots, resin, seeds of plants or pith of citrus fruits” (9). Due to the molecular size of an essential oil’s active compounds, they can more readily pass through the skin, into the bloodstream or even crossing the blood-brain barrier, and penetrate the cell membrane (9). With a wide variety of functional chemical constituents in each essential oil and in a medium that is easily accessible and transferable to the body (9), the potential for effecting change at the physical, mental or emotional level is tremendous.
There are a variety of collection methods for essential oils such as steam distillation, cold pressing, solvent extractions, etc. and not all oils are created the same. I have included a link at the bottom of this article from consumersadvocate.org which includes a review of some of the top essential oil companies. Since there are hundreds of essential oils, I’ve decided to create a list of the top 5 oils you will be able to use on a regular basis. If you are new to essential oils, this will be especially helpful since it is sometimes difficult to know where to begin.
- Peppermint: Provides alertness and energy and can also be used to alleviate hot flashes and fevers, headaches/migraines and can even help with cravings due to its ability to suppress appetite when inhaled.
Emotional properties: Buoyant, optimistic, relieved, strength to face emotional pain.
Suggested uses: Aromatic: Inhale from bottle, diffuse or place 1 drop in hand, rub and inhale. Topical: Dilute 1-2 drops with carrier oil and apply over chest, on shoulders or neck.
- Lavender: Perhaps the most popular of the essential oils, lavender is used for sleep issues, emotional balance, stress, anxiety, teeth grinding, sunburns, burns, scars, allergies, headaches and migraines to name a few.
Emotional properties: Open communication, calm, expressive, emotional honesty, self-aware, peace of mind.
Suggested uses: Aromatic: Inhale from bottle, diffuse, or place drops in hand, rub and inhale. Topical: Apply 1-3 drops over throat, temples or on nape of neck.
- Lemon: It takes approximately 45 lemons to produce a 15 ml bottle of lemon essential oil. This is my favourite essential oil for pH issues. Adding 1 drop of food grade lemon essential oil to water first thing in the morning can help balance pH and provide hydration. This oil is also indicated for edema and water retention, heartburn and reflux, congestion and mucus, gout, rheumatoid, arthritis and varicose veins. It is also a fantastic degreaser and furniture polish.
Emotional properties: Focused, energized, mental clarity, alert, rational, joyful.
Suggested uses: Aromatic: Inhale from bottle or diffuse before mental exertion or during work or study. Topical: Dilute 1-3 drops with carrier oil and apply on wrists and temples. Warning: This essential can cause photosensitivity when exposed to sunlight.
- Tea Tree (Melaleuca): Used for cuts and wounds, bacteria, viruses and diarrhea, cankers and cold sores, athlete’s foot and candida issues, sore throat and tonsillitis, dandruff, scabies and lice, ear infections, shock, acne, pinkeye, staph infection and MRSA, bronchitis, cold and flu, hives, rashes and itching, cavities and gum disease.
Emotional properties: Energetic boundaries, healthy and respectful connections, empowered, resilient, safe.
Suggested uses: Aromatic: Inhale from bottle, diffuse, or place drops in hand, rub and inhale. Topical: Apply 1-3 drops on bottom of feet or the crown of the head. Environmental: Add several drops into spray bottle and mist around home.
- Frankincense: This essential oil has been used in many spiritual practices since ancient times. It has been used for cancers, tumours, seizures and trauma, alzheimer’s disease, dementia and brain injury, depression, wound healing and wrinkles, scars and stretch marks, immune system and cellular health, autoimmune disorders, sciatica, back pain and headaches, etc. It has also been shown to enhance the effect of individual essential oils or essential oils combinations.
Emotional properties: Enlightened, loved, protected, wisdom, discerning, spirituality, open.
Suggested uses: Aromatic: Inhale from bottle, diffuse, or place drops in hand, rub and inhale. Topical: Apply 1-3 drops on crown of head, forehead or behind ears. Environmental: Add several drops into spray bottle and mist around home.
The Essential Life: A Simple Guide to Living the Wellness Lifestyle, 5th Ed., Total Wellness Publishing, 2018.
Emotions and Essential Oils: A Reference Guide for Emotional Healing, 7th Ed., Essential Emotions, 2019.