Essential oils have a long history of being used for physical and mental well-being. In fact, people with a substantial stock of essential oils — and a working knowledge to make the best out of them — were always revered as the medicine men of the community. But every household would keep an oil handy to use for common ailments.
Essential oils, of course, are rather expensive. That’s because large quantities of raw materials are needed to extract a small amount. Yet they are so concentrated and powerful that a little goes a long way.
Once you start using them, you will want to build up your supply. If you’re just starting out, what you need is a small collection of the most versatile among them. That will take care of most of your usual medical needs. Their versatility stems from the many different volatile compounds each of them contain.
Here are eight of the most versatile essential oils:
Lavender essential oil has always been considered an all-purpose medicine and mood-enhancer. It is a mild and soothing antiseptic that can be used on minor cuts, nicks and burns to reduce pain, prevent infection, and promote healing without scarring. It can act as an anti-inflammatory agent and decongestant to relieve respiratory allergies by opening up the nostrils and easing chest and sinus congestion.
This essential oil has a number of beneficial effects on the mind, too. It acts as an antidepressant and relieves anxiety and stress. But the most significant use of lavender oil is its ability to bring on restful sleep. As Shakespeare rightly observed, sleep is “nature’s soft nurse” that helps us recover from everything that ails our body and mind.
Clove oil is extracted from the flower buds of a tropical tree that have long been used as a spice to prolong the shelf life of food. Clove oil has a strong, sharp aroma that’s known to stimulate the flow of digestive juices, restore appetite and aid in digestion. A cup of tea with a single drop of clove oil added to it can relieve the discomfort you feel after a heavy meal (and reduce flatulence).
It can treat diarrhea, dysentery, cholera and other stomach infections, and provide pain relief through its anti-spasmodic action. When applied directly on the skin, it has a numbing effect that can give immediate relief from a toothache, painful swellings and arthritic pain.
Peppermint is a well-known digestive aid. This essential oil can be safely taken in both warm and cold drinks to improve digestion and reduce heartburn due to gas buildup. It is safe for internal use even by children. It promotes bile flow to help with digestion, and its antispasmodic property has been confirmed in clinical trials.
This versatile essential oil is an effective remedy for allergies, too. In fact, it makes a powerful shield against respiratory allergies when combined with lavender and lemon oils. Its cooling effect on the forehead can relieve headaches, be it due to sinus congestion, flu or just plain stress.
The antimicrobial property of thyme is legendary. A tea with a few drops of thyme can prevent stomach infections and food poisoning even after you have consumed contaminated food. This oil is the best travel companion when you are doubtful about the quality of the food and water in an unfamiliar place.
Thyme oil has been traditionally used as a chest rub to relieve asthma, bronchitis and whooping cough. Dab a few drops on the throat to reduce congestion and pain due to tonsillitis and laryngitis. It can be used along with lukewarm salted water as a mouth gargle because of its antiviral, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
Chamomile tea is an age-old remedy for anxiety and stress because of its soothing action on the nerves. What is most special about this essential oil is its mildness that makes it ideal for use in even very young children. Use it diluted with coconut oil for any type of skin allergies or rashes that come up for unknown reasons. It soothes diaper rash as well as general irritability in young babies and helps them sleep better.
Most kinds of skin problems, including dry and damaged skin due to psoriasis and eczema, get relief from regular topical application of chamomile oil mixed with carrier oils. Its analgesic effect can help with sprains, earaches, headaches and rheumatic pains.
6. Tea tree
Tea tree oil has been used as an all-purpose oil by the Australian aboriginals from time immemorial, much like lavender oil is used in the western world. One main difference, though, is that this oil is not for internal use.
Tea tree oil is a strong antiseptic with both antibacterial and antifungal properties that work against a large number of skin infections. People with longstanding problems like severe dandruff and massive acne outbreaks swear by tea tree oil once they start using it. This oil has a skin conditioning property that helps regenerate and restore damaged skin.
Lemon oil is a wide-spectrum antimicrobial agent that helps disinfect our living spaces, especially during the flu season. When infectious diseases run the roost, lemon oil can be used to control their spread. Apply it to the hands, the tissues used to wipe the nose and face, and doorknobs and other frequently used surfaces that tend to harbor the microbes. It also stimulates the circulatory system to increase our natural immunity.
The sharp and refreshing aroma of this oil acts on the nerves to enhance sharpness and increase work efficiency. This is the oil to be used as an instant lift-me-up when you feel dull and lethargic. Use a few drops in water for a refreshing face wash that not only rejuvenates but also improves the skin tone, too.
Geranium essential oil is a mood balancer that can uplift you from a depressive mood and calm frayed nerves. It stimulates the adrenal cortex to regulate hormonal imbalances. This oil is of great benefit to women, especially those suffering from menstrual problems such as premenstrual syndrome and cramping. It also reduces the difficulties associated with menopause.
When used topically, geranium oil is a good skin conditioner, balancing the secretion of the sebaceous glands to clear up oily skin. It also has a detoxifying effect on the liver, increasing bile secretion and opening up the bile ducts.
Ensure that all essential oils you buy and stock are the purest available, preferably extracted from organically grown plants. Building up a good stock of essential oil is a long-term investment toward good health and happiness.