The use of essential oils is gaining worldwide attention as a popular alternative lifestyle resource. The global organic essential oils market is expected to grow 11% through 2021 due to increased demand for organic beauty and personal care products, especially among millennials. They are becoming more aware of the health benefits associated with these oils. Read to the end of this article for an extensive list of uses!
Essential or volatile oils is a liquid derived through distillation by steam or water from parts of plants such as leaves, stems, flowers or roots, bark, resin or peels. These oils don’t look like your typical oils or in texture, but they contain the essence of the plants. You can consider essential oils as the “life blood” of a plant. They circulate through all the plant tissue and carry nutrition into the cells and waste products out.
Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in various cultures for medicinal and health purposes. In many ancient texts the oils were often referred to as “nectar of the Gods”. Their benefits come from their antioxidant, antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties which have led to their rapidly growing popularity as society looks to more holistic ways to handle illness and stay healthy.
These oils contain tiny molecules that are much more easily absorbed into the body than other types of oils, so when used on the skin, the body rapidly absorbs the oil. This is why it is also important to follow safe usage guidelines. It is recommended to dilute oils used on the skin with a safe carrier oil, like pure vegetable oil or coconut oil that helps “carry” the essential oil onto the skin. There are many benefits to dilution including increasing the surface area of absorption, enhancing absorption through dry skin and preventing sensitivity responses. Oils can be used on every part of the body as a beauty regimen, to minimize tension, help with digestion, reduce muscle aches or promote improved breathing. The Healing Woman website notes that when high quality essential oils are applied to your skin, they do many of the same tasks as they do while inside the plant. As they do this, they help to clean the receptor sites of your cells. This cleansing effect helps to restore balance to your body, which ultimately helps you to feel better.
Interestingly enough, although they have an incredible impact when applied as skin care therapy, 95% of all essential oils are made for the food and fragrance industry. In pure, high quality oils, all of the compounds are left intact so that you can experience the full health benefits, including promoting restoration and balance to your body’s systems.
Note that quality oils are extremely potent, so using less is better, from one to three drops. Some oils may be considered unsafe for pregnant women, because they may cause spontaneous contractions or other risks. These include, but are not limited to sage, parsley seed and sassafras. Lastly it’s important to test new oils on skin to make sure there are no allergic reactions.
There are four ways to utilize essential oils:
1. Use them for household items
2. Apply them on skin
3. Smell them (aromatherapy)
4. Eat them
All the literature reiterates that not all essential oils are created equal. In fact, most of them are synthetic and consequently provide little to no benefit. Therefore, when buying essential oils, make sure they are certified pure therapeutic grade. Below are tips for avoiding purchasing synthetic oils.
- Real essential oils are stored in dark bottles with a label that shows all the ingredients, including the botanical name. Synthetic oils come in clear bottles, do not show the ingredients or if they do, don’t list the botanical.
- Price – real essential oils cost more.
- Look for organic origin as pesticides can be concentrated in essential oils.
- Sourced from the native region for each plant
- Not altered or adulterated in any way
- Containers list any precautions and contraindications (pregnancy, medications, etc.) for each of their oils
- Test for adulteration with another fixed oil. (e.g., a vegetable oil) Put a drop of the essential oil on cloth or blotting paper. If a fixed oil is present a ring of grease will be left after the essential oil has fully evaporated; pure oils will usually evaporate completely after a few hours.
Below is a list of almost 100 ways to use essential oils ranging from eliminating shower scum, to improving mood to making toothpaste to beauty treatments. The jury is out as to whether all these claims are true but if you want to live more holistically, trying essential oils for everyday living is certainly worth a try.
List of essential oils – This list is by no means exhaustive, but it covers many oils discussed below.
Essential Oil Uses
Cleaning and Home
- All-purpose cleaner: Add three drops each of lemon oil and tea tree oil or melaleuca to a few ounces of warm water, then spray countertops to naturally disinfect.
- Washing machine: Add 10-20 drops of your favorite scent per load.
- Vacuum cleaner: Add 5-10 drops of your favorite oil in your vacuum bag or dust container.
- Eliminate shower curtain scum: Using a 16-ounce spray bottle, use four drops of eucalyptus essential oil and four drops of tea tree oil (melaleuca) with warm water; spray onto your shower for natural mold killing action.
- Clean burnt pans: Use a few drops of lemon oil and some boiling water to help remove burnt food from pots and pans.
- Carpet cleaner: Mix 20 drops of tea tree oil with Borax for homemade carpet powder.
- Kill pests: Spray orange essential oil and clove oil to kill pests on contact.
- Eliminate mold: Add tea tree oil to your diffuser to kill mold and other pathogens in the air.
- Bathtub scrub: Mix one-half cup of baking soda, one-half cup of vinegar and five drops of bergamot or lime oil; use as a scrub for a sink or bathtub.
- Freshen trash can: Put a cotton ball with two drops each of lemon oil and tea tree oil at the bottom of the trashcan to help decrease the odor and detoxify.
- Wash produce: To clean fruit and vegetables, add two drops of lemon oil to a large bowl of water then wash.
- Purify fridge: To freshen up the fridge or freezer when cleaning, add a few drops of lime, grapefruit or bergamot oil to the rinsing water.
- Cleaner dishes: Add a few drops of lemon oil to the dishwasher before washing for a spot-free rinse.
- Homemade sunscreen: Mix coconut oil, zinc oxide, shea butter, helichrysum oil and lavender essential oil, then store in a squeeze bottle.
- Relaxation: Rub across the forehead and on temples (Frankincense, Stress Away or Lavender).
- Aching muscle rub: Mix eucalyptus, wintergreen and cypress with an unscented lotion or coconut oil and apply to muscles.
- Arthritis relief: Mix two drops of wintergreen, cypress and lemongrass into an unscented lotion. Massage into affected areas.
- Reduce back and neck pain: Combine peppermint, cypress and ginger oils with cayenne pepper and coconut oil for a homemade pain relieving muscle rub.
- Seasonal Sniffles: Place on the bridge of the nose and back of neck (lavender, lemon, and peppermint).
- Tension: Place on temples, base of the back of the neck, top of the shoulders (peppermint or panaway).
- Mood Booster: Rub across the forehead, behind the ears, on the wrists (Frankincense, Citrus Fresh or Joy – applying oils like Joy also provides aromatherapy).
- Night time Oils: Center of the head between the eyebrows, crown of the head, behind the earlobes (lavender, stress away, or cedar wood).
- Natural mosquito repellent: Combine one drop each of lemongrass oil, citronella oil and eucalyptus oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil to make natural bug spray and rub on exposed skin. Reapply as needed.
- Treat poison oak or poison ivy: Mix three drops of peppermint oil with unscented oil and apply to affected area.
- Massage therapy: Use a few drops of cedar wood or lavender oil, mixed with an unscented lotion during a relaxation massage.
- Treat ringworm: Combine three drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil and massage over the affected area twice a day.
- Head lice cure: Mix three drops of thyme, lavender and eucalyptus oil with unscented oil and apply to scalp. Cover head with a shower cap and leave on for 30 minutes. Shampoo out.
- Heal blistered skin: Mix two drops of tea tree oil with two drops of unscented oil and apply to the blistered area up to five times per day.
- Immediate relaxation: Apply 2-4 drops of chamomile, lavender and peppermint essential oil to your temples for a cooling effect and immediate relaxation.
- Detox bath: Mix lavender oil, epsom salts and sea salt to a warm bath to cleanse and rejuvenate the body.
- Foot bath: Add a few drops of lemon or eucalyptus oil to a large bowl of warm water to help soothe the feet
- Homemade deodorant: Combine coconut oil, beeswax and your favorite essential oils like cedar wood and clove oil for men and lavender and tea tree oil for women.
- Soothe bug bites: Use lavender oil for bug bites and stings.
- Heal dry, cracked feet: Add three drops of lavender oil to two tablespoons of coconut oil. Apply to the feet at night and put on some socks.
- Migraine headache relief: Try combining a few drops of lavender oil and peppermint oil and apply to temples to help with headaches and migraines.
- Heal burns: Mix lavender or chamomile oil with aloe vera or chamomile one tablespoon of coconut oil and apply to the skin with a cotton ball to reduce swelling and pain.
- Relieve PMS: Mix two drops of sage, basil and rosemary, then apply to a warm, moist hand towel and apply to abdomen.
- Eczema and psoriasis cream: To treat eczema, psoriasis or red dry skin, apply a mixture of lavender essential oil with shea butter.
Aromatherapy is thought to be a potent procedure which can lead to a holistic wellness. When the limbic system of the brain is stimulated by the stimulus of smell, it can lead to effects on the mood and emotions of the individual. There is evidence that the oils are absorbed into the blood stream when inhaled.
- Clean air: We use essential oils in place of candles and air fresheners. Diffuse cinnamon essential oil in the air and enjoy its anti-microbial properties.
- Wonderful smelling home: Diffuse clove, rosemary and orange essential oils when guests come over, and they will talk about how amazing your house smells.
- Reduce anxiety: Diffuse lavender essential oil around your home to reduce feelings of stress and tension.
- Spiritual enlightenment: Diffuse Frankincense essential oil while praying, meditating or reading to increase spiritual awareness.
- Detoxify the air: Add peppermint and eucalyptus oil to a gallon of paint to dispel fumes.
- Get rid of shoe odor: To remove the smell from shoes, add a few drops of tea tree oil and lemon oil to freshen them up.
- Improve sleep: Lavender oil can alleviate insomnia. Sprinkle a few drops on your pillow to help you fall asleep.
- Relieve tension: Help to relieve anxiety by using a single drop of lavender oil on your hands, rub together, and cup your hands to your nose and let the smell flood your senses.
- Improve allergies: Rub Frankincense and lavender on your palms and inhale deeply to relieve itchy eyes and throat.
- Calm upset child: Help sooth and calm children by adding lavender or chamomile to their stuffed animals.
- Improve concentration: Inhale bergamot, grapefruit or peppermint oil to increase concentration during the day.
- Improve depression: To boost mood and relieve depression, add rose oil to baths, inhalations and diffusers to improve mood.
- Relieve nausea: Breathe in peppermint oil through your nose to alleviate nausea, and also apply to your neck and upper chest. Ginger and lavender may also help.
- Reduce cough or sinusitis: Eucalyptus oil is known for its powerful ability to fight coughs and open airways. Add a few drops into steaming hot water or diffuser. Inhale to help clear nasal passage.
- Reduce morning sickness caused by pregnancy: Add a few drops of wild orange, lemon or ginger oil to a handkerchief and inhale.
- Curb food cravings: Inhale peppermint and cinnamon oil to reduce your appetite and balance blood sugar.
- Energize your workout: Inhale peppermint oil before a workout to reduce fatigue.
- Yoga and Pilates: To relax during yoga or meditation, inhale lavender or sandalwood before class. Also, mix clove and citrus essential oil to clean yoga mats.
- Acne face wash: To get rid of acne, make a homemade face wash by mixing tea tree oil (melaleuca) with raw honey and rub on your face. Then rinse off with water.
- Skin: Premix oils like lavender, Frankincense, and melrose with a carrier oil in a bottle that has a glass dropper top for easy application.
- For scars: apply lavender and Frankincense with no dilution.
- Body butter lotion: Mix coconut oil, shea butter, magnesium oil and essential oils for moisturizing body lotion.
- Homemade lip balm: Combine coconut oil, beeswax and lavender oil for an amazing healing balm for chapped lips.
- Love Potion Lotion: Use 20 drops of sandalwood, and four drops of cocoa, vanilla and rose oil to unscented lotion.
- Freshen breath: Use a drop of peppermint essential oil for a natural way to freshen breath.
- Homemade shampoo: Mix lavender oil, rosemary oil, aloe vera gel and coconut milk. Use as you would regular shampoo. It lasts 2-4 weeks.
- Sugar scrub: Mix a few drops of an essential oil with almond oil and rock salt or sugar to make your own salt or sugar scrub.
- Thicken hair: Add rosemary to shampoo to naturally thicken hair and increase volume.
- Strengthen nails: Mix 10 drops of Frankincense, myrrh and lemon essential oils into two tablespoons of vitamin E oil, then rub on cuticles.
- Teeth whitener: Combine lemon essential oil, coconut oil and fresh strawberries, then rub on your teeth. Rinse after two minutes.
- Cure dandruff: Mix five drops of rosemary and lavender essential oils with three tablespoons of unscented oil. Massage into your scalp and leave on for 10 minutes. Shampoo mixture out.
- Reduce stretch marks: Mix five drops of Frankincense, myrrh and grapefruit essential oils with coconut oil and apply to stretch marks.
- Facial scrub: Mix one-fourth cup yogurt, one-fourth cup cornmeal, and five drops of patchouli, grapefruit and lavender oil. Apply to face and wash off.
- Natural skin toner: Mix eight ounces of water with two drops of lavender, geranium and Frankincense.
- Deep hair conditioner: Mix 15 drops of rosewood with five drops of sandalwood and lavender into unscented oil. Place mixture in a small plastic bag and dunk into warm water to heat up. Apply to hair and wrap for 20 minutes. Shampoo as usual.
- For oily hair: Mix 10 drops of ylang ylang, lime and rosemary oil with two ounces of unscented oil. Massage it into scalp 2-3 times per week. Wash out as usual.
- Reduce age spots: Put on Frankincense essential oil three times daily directly on skin to improve sun spots and age spots.
- Reduce wrinkles: Mix 3-5 drops of sandalwood, geranium, lavender and Frankincense essential oils with an unscented lotion and apply to face. Avoid applying to eyes.
Other Essential Oil Uses
- Mint chocolate cocoa: Add 2-3 drops of peppermint oil to hot cocoa for instant minty chocolate!
- Reduce cellulite: Mix five drops of grapefruit essential oil with two teaspoons of coconut oil and massage into dimpled areas.
- Repair broken bones: To support healing of broken bones, apply helichrysum, fir and cypress essential oils.
- Improve digestion: Take ginger oil, peppermint oil and fennel essential oil to support digestion and healing leaky gut.
- Treat bruises; Use essential oils as a hot compress to treat bruises or other wounds. Add five drops of lavender and five drops of Frankincense to four ounces of hot water and soak. Apply to affected area.
- Sore feet soak: Add 10 drops of peppermint oil with a tablespoon of Epson salt and add to a warm-water foot bath.
- Homemade toothpaste: Combine sea salt, baking soda, coconut oil and xylitol with peppermint essential oil to make homemade toothpaste. Then brush.
- Itchy scalp: Add lavender, cedar wood or basil essential oil to shampoo to reduce itching.
- Reduce teeth grinding: Massage 1-3 drops of lavender on the bottom of the feet and behind ears before bed.
- Improve circulation: Add 8-10 drops of grapefruit essential oil to warm bath water.
- Relieve hangover symptoms: Add six drops each of juniper berry, cedar wood, grapefruit, lavender, rosemary and lemon oil into a warm bath.
- Reduce fever: Add 1-3 drops of eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender to a cool cloth and sponge the body.
- Relieve motion sickness: Use peppermint, lavender and ginger oil to reduce motion sickness.
- Lose weight: Combine grapefruit, ginger and cinnamon oil and take as a supplement three times daily to support metabolism.
- Boost immune system: Mix one drop of oregano oil with four drops of carrier oil and rub on the bottom of your feet before flying on a plane.
- Kick a cold fast: Take three drops of oil of oregano and Frankincense three daily for one week.