12 Top Essential Oils & 60+ UsesReading Time: 16 minutes
- Frankincense Oil
- Lavender Essential Oil
- Clove Oil
- Grapefruit Essential Oil
- Orange Essential Oil
- Lemon Essential Oil
- Geranium Rose Essential Oil
- Peppermint Essential Oil
- Oregano Oil
- Rosemary Oil
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- Tea Tree Oil (aka Melaleuca)
There must be thousands of ways to use essential oils! These little bottles are packed with a myriad of potent phytochemicals (natural, plant-based compounds) that are powerful helpers − both for health improvement and also in and around the home. If you are an essential oil newbie, you won’t want to miss this article because we’re sharing 60+ great ways to use 12 basic essential oils. Even if you’re an experienced essential oil user, get ready to learn something new. It’s all about natural healing and improving the world we inhabit. Let’s dive in!
- As a meditation aid. Use frankincense oil to help calm and center the mind, to promote spiritual awareness, and to cultivate a sense of inner peace while meditating. Frankincense contains compounds known as sesquiterpenes which work directly on the limbic system of the brain, the center of memory and emotions. Frankincense is calming, grounding, and centering to the nervous system. Diffuse it into your room, or just inhale directly from the bottle at the start of your meditation.
- For respiratory support. Frankincense is a powerful health support for respiratory problems such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, pneumonia, and bronchitis. It even helps when suffering from laryngitis. Diffuse it into the room where you intend to spend some time. For best results, use an ultrasonic cool mist diffuser. Never heat essential oils, because heating them diminishes their therapeutic effects.
- To calm nightmares. Dilute frankincense oil as described below and rub over the large arteries along the sides of the neck before bed, to help relieve nightmares (yes, really!).
- Skin complaints. Whether your skin is dry and mature or oily and blotched with blemishes, frankincense oil has wonderful balancing qualities. It helps to reduce lines and wrinkles by tightening and toning skin, accelerates the healing of blemishes, skin ulcers and wounds, and stimulates cell regeneration. For anti-aging benefits, put several drops into your favorite night time moisturizer. For acne and blemishes, apply it neat directly on the problem area, unless you have very sensitive skin, then dilute as described below.
- For immune support. Breathe the vapor right out of the bottle, or diffuse frankincense oil to help boost immunity. Research shows that the natural plant chemical constituents in frankincense oil stimulate the immune system.1
Lavender Essential Oil
- Calming, stress relieving, sleep promoter. Feeling stressed out or having a night of insomnia? Dilute as described below, and rub lavender oil along the sides of the neck and/or breathe it in deeply to help you relax and sleep. You can also place a drop or two into a warm bath before you relax into it. Lavender has wonderful calming and soothing effects, and promotes deeper sleep.
- Stop the itch and burn of insect bites. Put a drop of lavender oil on a bee sting, mosquito, or other bug bite to stop pain, itching, and reduce swelling. Reapply as necessary. Lavender essential oil works really well for this, especially if applied immediately.
- Soothe burns and sunburns. Put two to three drops of lavender oil on a minor burn to help relieve the pain. Applied quickly enough, it should stop the burn from blistering as well. Keep a bottle of lavender oil in the kitchen for those burned fingers. Dilute it as described below and apply to sunburns to relieve pain and hasten healing time. Lavender oil is also wonderful mixed with a little organic Aloe vera gel and applied to the skin after sun exposure.
- Promising research for breast health. 2014 Iranian research published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer found that lavender oil kills breast cancer cells but leaves healthy cells unharmed. It’s important to note that this study was on cells in a petri dish, not on humans. The researchers concluded that: “L. angustifolia has cytotoxic and apoptotic effects in HeLa and MCF-7 cell lines, and apoptosis is proposed as the possible mechanism of action.”2
- As a flavor boost. Add a drop of high quality lavender oil suitable for consumption to brownie batter, chocolate icing, cookie dough, dessert recipes, raw chocolate, or even salad dressings. It’s absolutely delicious!
- For toothache and dental abscesses. Apply clove oil to a cotton swab and press it against the sore tooth and surrounding gums. Clove oil has great pain-relieving properties and has been used by the dental industry for years. Clove is often included in dental rinses and mouthwashes.
- Potent antifungal. Multiple studies have shown that clove oil is a powerful antifungal, especially against Candida albicans.
- For cold sores. Clove oil has antiviral properties, especially against herpes simplex. Put a drop of clove oil on a cold sore to significantly decrease the pain and promote healing time. In fact, all of the essential oils in this article are good for this.
- For arthritic pain. Clove oil’s pain-numbing properties make it beneficial for rheumatism and arthritis. Dilute as described below and massage it into the affected area.
- Help kill bacteria in the kitchen & around the home. Clove is a natural antibacterial, powerful against many bacteria strains. It kills E. coli, Salmonella, Helicobacter pylori (implicated with stomach ulcers), Staphylococcus aureus (also known as golden staph), Streptococcus pneumoniae, and many others, with no observed side effects. Put a drop on your kitchen sponge, in dishwashing liquid, and on cutting boards to reduce bacteria naturally. Don’t forget telephones, toilet seats, doorknobs, and computer keyboards!
Grapefruit Essential Oil
- In your drinking water. A drop or two of grapefruit oil added to drinking water helps to boost metabolism, supports weight loss, and adds an immune boost with its high level of the phytochemical d-limonene. Grapefruit oil is also a potent antibacterial, and gives you a hit of vitamin C too!
- Ease a hangover. Grapefruit oil’s natural ability to stimulate the gall bladder and liver helps with detox after drinking alcohol. Diffuse it (see #2 above) or put a drop or two in your drinking water and keep sipping at it all day when in the throes of a hangover.
- In your vacuum cleaner. Put a few drops of grapefruit oil on a cotton pad and vacuum it up. The aroma will diffuse out into the room where you are cleaning and add a clean, fresh scent to the room. It also helps to kill airborne bacteria.
- Banish anxiety. Breathing in the invigorating vapor of grapefruit oil helps to ease feelings of anxiety, depression, and stress. It also helps to increase focus, so use it while studying or working on important projects. Diffuse it (see #2 above) or apply to a small area and wear it like a perfume.
- Help overcome sugar cravings. Breathe in grapefruit oil from the bottle just prior to eating, going to the coffee shop, doing the grocery shopping, or whenever you feel tempted to have sugar. It will help curb cravings for those not-so-good-for-you sweets.
Orange Essential Oil
- Cold and flu prevention. Put a drop or two of orange oil into your drinking water every day. Not only does it contain vitamin C, it also helps to boost the immune system. If you take extra vitamin C along with orange-infused water, it helps to increase absorption of the vitamin C.
- Help heal mouth ulcers. Rub a drop of orange oil into the affected spot as frequently as you can remember to do it. It might sting a tiny bit, but mouth ulcers will heal much more quickly.
- Wound disinfectant. Drip orange oil directly into a wound after it has stopped bleeding, then cover with a bandage. Orange essential oil is an excellent antibacterial. It will also help speed the healing process due to its tissue regeneration properties.3
- Foot callus softener/remover. Rub several drops of orange oil into the affected area prior to putting on your socks and shoes.
- Skin anti-aging. Orange oil helps promote the production of collagen in the skin. It also helps the body detoxify, increases circulation, and improves skin tone and texture. Add a drop to skin care products such as toner and/or moisturizer to improve skin appearance and decrease the signs of aging.
Lemon Essential Oil
- In your cooking. Lemon oil is one of the most popular essential oils to cook with. Add a drop or two of lemon oil (or any citrus oil) to cake batter, muffin batter, seafood dishes, salad dressings, or any dish where lemon zest is required.
- For spot-free dishes. Add a drop of lemon oil to your automatic dishwasher soap. Run the cycle and enjoy spot-free dishes and a cleaner dishwasher.
- Add shelf life to fruit and vegetables. Fill a bowl or small bucket with cold water, add two drops of lemon oil and drench your fruit and/or vegetables in the water to preserve their shelf life. Best to do this before refrigerating.
- Diffuse lemon for health. Diffuse lemon oil (see #2 above) to help kill airborne bacteria. Research carried out by Dr. Jean Valnet (co-author of the book The Practice of Aromatherapy: A Classic Compendium of Plant Medicines and Their Healing Properties) shows that diffused lemon oil can rapidly kill off the bacteria that causes meningococcal infections, typhoid fever, staph infections, pneumonia, diphtheria, and tuberculosis.
- For oily hair. Lemon oil has a balancing effect on the oil glands of the scalp. Massage a drop or two of lemon oil into your scalp before you go to bed at night. Wash it out in the morning. Done over a period of weeks, you will notice much less oily hair. It will make your pillow smell nice and fresh too!
Geranium Rose Essential Oil
- For premenstrual tension and cramps. Massage geranium rose oil across the abdomen and lower back to help relieve cramps, muscle tension, and promote relaxation.
- For hemorrhoids. When painful hemorrhoids strike, add a drop of geranium rose oil to one teaspoon of organic coconut oil. Apply with a piece of gauze, leaving this in place if possible, and repeat several times a day or whenever particularly painful. Being a natural styptic, geranium rose acts by gently contracting blood vessels in the area.
- Repel ticks and dust mites. Before going outdoors, apply geranium rose oil on exposed areas of skin, around collars, cuffs, and pant legs. It also works well on pets, but make sure to heavily dilute for them. For dust mites, spray onto linens and put a drop on the dust cloth when dusting.
- For liver detoxing. Geranium rose oil helps to improve the flow of bile by dilating bile ducts, thus assisting liver detoxification processes. Dilute as described below and rub across the right side of the rib cage (over the liver).
- Skin healing and regeneration. Geranium rose oil is considered a natural antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant. Use it in skin tonics, lotions, moisturizers, and balms to aid with conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, oily skin, and acne. It also helps fade scars.
Peppermint Essential Oil
- Cool a hot flash. The high menthol content of peppermint makes it great for cooling off during hot flashes. At the first sign of a hot flash developing, place a drop at the back of the neck, at the base of the skull, or on the collarbones. Breathe it in. This has an instant cooling and calming effect.
- As a driving aid. Taking a long driving trip? Be sure to pack the peppermint essential oil. Its ability to wake up the nervous system and keep your brain alert is unmatched. It’s better than coffee and no caffeine jitters! Peppermint oil is also good for kids with ADHD. Add several drops of peppermint oil to a spray bottle containing distilled water, shake it, and spray it lightly on their clothes before studying to help increase concentration and clarity of thought.
- For aching muscles and joints. Peppermint oil can relax muscles which in turn helps relieve pain. Dilute as described below and rub into sore muscles and arthritic joints for some quick relief.
- For allergy relief. Peppermint oil not only relaxes skeletal muscles, it also helps to relax the muscles of the respiratory system. Inhaling the scent of peppermint helps to relieve congestion due to allergies and counteract the effects of pollen. Diffuse as described in #2 above.
- As a digestive aid. Peppermint oil is superb for helping to relieve indigestion and heartburn. Put just one drop of peppermint oil into a glass of water and drink. It works much more quickly than peppermint tea due to the concentrated nature of peppermint oil. If it’s too strong for you, just dilute it (see dilution instructions below) and rub it across the tummy.
- As an infection fighter. A 2016 research study found oregano oil to be effective against 59 different strains of bacteria, including multi-drug-resistant bacteria. It was even found to be effective against bacteria known to cause respiratory infections in cystic fibrosis patients.4 Oregano is also helpful when suffering from urinary tract infections. If taking oregano oil internally, please do so only under the guidance of a qualified aromatherapist and/or healthcare provider.
- As an anti-aging antioxidant. Oregano oil’s high antioxidant content makes it perfect for fighting the effects of aging, which is all about free radicals creating havoc throughout the body. If using it topically, be sure to dilute as described below because oregano can be a “hot” oil when applied to the skin. Always avoid the skin around the eyes and other sensitive areas.
- Ease a sore throat. Oregano oil will quickly relieve a sore throat. Add a drop to a glass of water and gargle with it. Sip it throughout the day. Oregano oil also helps to shorten the duration of colds and flu.
- For athlete’s foot and fungal infections. Dilute as described below and massage into feet, between toes, or into nails for an antifungal blast. Or get a basin of water and add a few drops of oregano and soak your feet in it. Oregano can also be used to help get rid of ringworm, another fungal skin infection.
- Eliminate intestinal worms. Oregano oil is a potent antiparasitic. Take it internally only under the care of a qualified aromatherapist or naturopath.
- Anti-cancer, anti-proliferative. Turkish researchers in 2010 found that extracts from rosemary had strong anti-cancer effects on several different human cancer cell lines. They concluded that “Rosemary extract is a potential candidate to be included in the anti-cancer diet with pre-determined doses avoiding toxicity.”5
- Improve circulation, varicose veins. Rosemary oil helps to increase circulation. Warming and stimulating, rosemary oil assists the blood to move. This makes it extremely helpful for varicose veins and spider veins.
- Improve brain health. Rosemary oil is stimulatory to the central nervous system, and helps to promote clearer thinking. Rosemary has long been valued for its ability to help overcome mental fatigue, and to improve mental clarity and focus. Japanese researchers have recently shown that carnosic acid (one of rosemary’s phytochemicals) has neuroprotective functions in brain cells and may be helpful in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease.6
- For healthy scalp and beautiful hair. Rosemary oil is beneficial for scalp problems like dandruff and seborrhea because it helps to regulate the secretion of oil in the scalp. It also aids hair regrowth. A 2015 study comparing rosemary with minoxidil, a commonly used drug for combating hair loss, found rosemary essential oil to be just as good as the minoxidil, but only after six months of use.7 So stick with it! Rosemary oil stimulates hair follicles, thus assisting hair to grow longer and stronger. It also promotes cell division and dilates blood vessels in the scalp, which stimulates hair follicles to produce new hair growth.
- Counteract the effects of stress. The uplifting aroma of rosemary essential oil helps to relax nerves and banish stress. A 2007 study on rosemary and lavender showed that this pair of oils decreases cortisol levels, the hormone released when one is under stress.8
Eucalyptus Essential Oil
- Strong insect repellent. Eucalyptus oil repels ticks, fleas, mosquitos, flies, and other annoying bugs. Eucalyptus trees have even been planted in many parts of the world to block the spread of mosquito-borne malaria. Eucalyptus can also be used to relieve the sting and itch of an insect bite.
- Fever reducer. Put a drop or two of eucalyptus oil on a damp, cool washcloth and rub it along the sides of the patient’s body, the chest, back of the neck, and bottoms of the feet to help reduce a fever.
- Improve blood flow to brain. Eucalyptus oil is known to be a vasodilator, meaning it dilates, or opens, blood vessels. In 1994, Austrian researchers discovered that eucalyptol, a phytochemical in eucalyptus oil (also known as 1,8-cineol), improved global blood flow to the brain after only 20 minutes of inhalation.9 A newer study released in 2016 by Korean researchers found that eucalyptol is also able to pass through the blood-brain barrier, a protective membrane that separates potentially harmful substances from harming delicate brain tissues. This research also found eucalyptol’s high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to be helpful in the management of chronic conditions such as respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease, and degenerative nerve and brain diseases.10
- Assist upper respiratory infections and ease asthma attacks. Eucalyptus oil’s anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, and anti-phlegm properties work very quickly to open congested airways. Make a steam inhalation by boiling two cups of water, pour it into a large bowl, then let it cool for five minutes. Add a drop or two of eucalyptus oil. Then create a tent from a small towel draped over your head. Place your face over the bowl and carefully breathe in the vapor until you get some relief. This should only take a couple of minutes. This is great for bronchitis, head colds, chest colds, and asthma.
- Beneficial for people with diabetes. Some studies have shown that several different species of eucalyptus help to reduce blood sugar levels in mice.11 Also because eucalyptus is such an excellent vasodilator, the entire body benefits from this increase in blood circulation. Diabetics commonly lack good circulation, especially to their extremities, which is a dangerous situation and can result in limb amputation. To help combat this, dilute eucalyptus oil (as described below) and massage it into the legs, hands, and feet as needed.
Tea Tree Oil (aka Melaleuca)
- For eczema and psoriasis. Due to its potent anti-inflammatory benefits, tea tree oil helps to relieve inflammatory skin conditions, especially eczema and psoriasis. Dilute as described below and apply to affected areas two to three times daily.
- Boost your deodorant. If it’s an extra-hot day and your deodorant has failed, apply again, but this time with a drop or two of tea tree oil to help kill bacteria. Tea tree oil’s potent antibacterial properties are well proven with dozens of research studies.
- For pet health. Heavily dilute tea tree with coconut oil and, using a cotton swab, gently clean accumulated gunk in your pet’s ears. Proceed with extreme caution though and never drop essential oils into the ear canal (whether pet or human). Tea tree oil also helps to repel insects. Use a drop of tea tree oil on pet bedding or inside their crates to repel fleas and ticks.
- Prevent razor burn. Combine tea tree with a little coconut oil and apply after shaving to prevent or ease razor burn. If there are any blemishes or nicks or cuts on the skin, tea tree is a natural antiseptic.
- Natural insecticide, bug repellent, and bite reliever. Tea tree oil has long been used as a natural bug repellent by native Australian aboriginal people. Chinese research in 2016 found tea tree to be effective against the cereal weevil, Sitophilus zeamais.12 The cereal weevil is considered to be an extremely destructive pest to stored cereals all over the world. Tea tree also helps to relieve the pain, itching, and inflammation of insect bites.
How to Dilute Essential Oils
Although essential oils can be used neat (undiluted) in many cases, it is best (and more economical) to dilute essential oils before applying them to the body for personal care. Diluting also helps to prevent allergic reactions. Add small amounts (e.g., a drop or two) of your chosen oil to one-half to one teaspoonful of organic carrier oil such as coconut, almond, hemp, or jojoba.
If using with or around children or pets, use even less essential oil because their smaller bodies cannot tolerate an adult dose. Consult with a qualified aromatherapist or healthcare provider before using essential oils with pets or children.
A Final Word About Quality
Only use high-quality, organic essential oils that have been properly distilled so that their phytochemical content is not compromised. Look for bottles labeled as 100% pure essential oils and beware of cheap oils that may be diluted with potentially toxic chemical ingredients.
Finally, all of the above ideas for medical-related uses are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with a qualified healthcare practitioner before using essential oils – especially if you are pregnant, nursing, or have an existing health condition.
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Top essential oils and uses:
- Frankincense – Meditation, respiratory support, reduced nightmares, immune support, skin health
- Lavender – Stress relief, itch relief, burn treatment, breast health
- Clove – Dental pain relief, antifungal properties, treating cold sores, arthritic pain, antibacterial properties
- Grapefruit – Weight loss, immune support, hangover relief, anxiety relief, sugar substitute
- Orange – Cold and flu prevention, wound disinfectant, callus remover, skin collagen promotion
- Lemon – Dish detergent, produce preservative, antibacterial, hair health
- Geranium Rose – Menstrual relief, hemorrhoid treatment, tick repellant, liver detoxification, skin care & regeneration
- Peppermint – Hot flash relief, increased alertness, muscle and joint pain, allergy relief, digestive aid
- Oregano – Antibacterial, antioxidant, fungal infections, anti-parasitic
- Rosemary – Anti-proliferative, healthy circulation, brain health, scalp health, stress reduction
- Eucalyptus – Insect repellent, fever reduction, healthy blood flow, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, blood sugar regulation
- Tea Tree – Anti-inflammatory, deodorant, insect repellent, insecticide