Essential oils. There are lots of people talking about them, but do you know what they are or how they are beneficial? Essential oils are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds that are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. They have been used for centuries, in many cultures for their medicinal and therapeutic benefits. These oils often possess a unique chemical structure that allows them to pass directly through the skin for immediate absorption by the body. In other words? They can often work faster than traditional medicines and can be better for you.
If you’ve ever enjoyed the scent of a rose, or the smell of freshly cut mint, you have already experienced the aromatic qualities of essential oils. From A to Z, here are some of the most basic essential oils and their health benefits.
Arborvitae – Protects against environmental and seasonal threats, and promotes healthy cell function. It is also a powerful cleansing and purifying agent and is a natural insect repellent and wood preservative.
Basil – Valued for its restorative effects, Basil is also commonly used for its calming properties. It soothes sore muscles and joints, assists with clear breathing and can act as a cooling agent for the skin.
Bergamot – Cold pressed from the rind of the bergamot fruit, Bergamot is unique among citrus oils. It has a calming and soothing aroma, promotes healthy, clear skin and is frequently used in massage therapy for its calming benefits.
Black Pepper – More than just a way to spice up a meal, Black Pepper is a rich source of antioxidants, supports healthy circulation and aids digestion.
Cardamom – Closely related to Ginger, Cardamom is beneficial to the digestive system. It supports healthy gastrointestinal functions. You can take internally by adding to foods to enhance flavor and to aid digestion
Diffuse or apply topically to promote clear breathing or to alleviate occasional feelings of nausea or motion sickness.
Cassia – A close relative to cinnamon, Cassia has a wonderful fragrance and thousands of years of historical use.
It promotes healthy digestion, supports healthy immune function, and has a warming, uplifting aroma.
Cedarwood – Known for promoting healthy skin and clear breathing, it has a warm, woody, balsamic fragrance that relaxes the mind and body. It promotes clear breathing and supports healthy respiratory function, helps skin recover quickly, and has a soothing, grounding effect on the mind and emotions which makes it perfect for use in massage therapy.
Cilantro – From the leaves of the Coriander plant, it is commonly used for its fresh and tasty flavor, but it also aids digestion and is a rich source of antioxidants.
Cinnamon Bark – Well-known for its use as a spice, Cinnamon also has many therapeutic benefits. It promotes circulation, helps to alleviate aches and pains and builds and maintains a healthy immune system.
Clary Sage – Known for its mood-lightening properties and ability to ease monthly menstrual cycles. It helps to soothe monthly discomfort associated with menstrual cycles, balance hormones and is often used to lift and lighten mood.
Clove – More than a popular cooking spice, Clove is a favorite among health-care providers and health-conscious individuals for its powerful antioxidant properties. It also supports cardiovascular health and promotes healthy teeth and gums.
Coriander – Provides a myriad of health benefits. It promotes digestion and eases stomach upset, aids in a healthy insulin response and soothes joint and muscle pain.
Cypress – This essential oil is distilled from the twigs and foliage of the cypress tree, and is popular for its therapeutic uses and in spas. Used to assist with breathing and as a throat gargle, soothes tight, tense muscles
and supports localized blood flow.
Eucalyptus – Has many beneficial compounds and is a key ingredient in cough and throat medicines and in chest ointments. It assists with clear breathing, supports overall respiratory health and soothes tired, sore muscles.
Fennel – Used for centuries as a tonic, Fennel provides many health benefits and has a distinct licorice aroma.
It relieves indigestion and digestive troubles, eases monthly menstrual cycles, supports a healthy lymphatic system and calms minor skin irritation.
Frankincense – Perhaps the most precious of the ancient oils, Frankincense is highly versatile in uses and benefits. It has been valued for centuries for its ability to help build and maintain a healthy immune system, promote cellular health and reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks.
Geranium – Known for its ability to balance emotions, Geranium is also a common ingredient in skin care products.
It promotes clear, healthy skin, helps calm nerves and lessen anxiety and supports liver health.
Ginger – is most noted for its sweet, citrusy fragrance and positive effect on digestion. It helps ease indigestion and nausea and supports overall digestive health. There’s a reason your mom gave you sips of gingerale when you had a tummy ache!
Grapefruit – Energizing and invigorating, Grapefruit is renowned for its cleansing and purifying benefits. It cleanses and detoxifies and is highly beneficial for oily skin issues. It also helps reduce mental and physical fatigue.
Helichrysum – One of the most precious and sought after essential oils, Helichrysum is distilled from the flower cluster of an evergreen herb. It helps skin recover quickly, promotes healthy liver function and supports localized blood flow.
Juniper Berry – The Juniper Berry has a rich history of traditional use and therapeutic benefits. It supports healthy kidney and urinary function, and may benefit problematic skin areas as it acts as a natural cleansing and detoxifying agent. The woody, spicy, yet fresh aroma also helps relieve tension and stress.
Lavender – Long cherished for its unmistakable aroma and therapeutic properties for thousands of years, Lavender is widely used for its calming and relaxing qualities. It soothes occasional skin irritations, helps skin recover quickly and eases muscle tension in the head and neck.
Lemon – Is there nothing this wonderful citrus fruit can’t do? Cold pressed from lemon rinds to preserve its delicate nature and potent properties, lemon essential oil is known as a powerful aromatic and internal cleanser. It cleanses the air and uplifts mood, and can be used throughout the home as a non-toxic cleaner.
Lemongrass – Long used in Asian and Caribbean cooking for its subtle lemony flavor and aroma, Lemongrass boasts many therapeutic benefits, including the support of healthy digestion, the soothing of aching muscles and can purify and tone skin.
Lime – A must have in any essential oils collection. Lime is a powerful antioxidant that supports healthy immune function and positively affects mood with stimulating and refreshing properties. It is often used as an aromatic, topical, and internal cleanser and to promote emotional balance and well-being.
Marjoram – Also known as “wintersweet” or “joy of the mountains,” Marjoram has both culinary uses and therapeutic benefits. Valued for its calming properties and positive effect on the nervous system, Marjoram essential oil soothes tired, stressed muscles, supports a healthy respiratory system and benefits the cardiovascular system.
Melaleuca – More commonly called “tea tree,” Melaleuca has 90 different compounds and limitless applications. Renowned for its cleansing and rejuvenating effect on the skin, it promotes healthy immune function and protects against environmental and seasonal threats. Check the ingredients on many skin products or dandruff shampoos – you’ll find “tea tree oil” listed as an ingredient.
Melissa – This rare oil has a sweet, fresh, citrus-like fragrance and a wide range of beneficial properties, including the support of a healthy immune system. It can calm tension and nerves and address stomach discomfort.
Myrrh – Used historically in many ways, Myrrh is still frequently recommended today for its powerful cleansing properties, especially for the mouth and throat. It is also soothing to the skin; promotes a smooth, youthful-looking complexion, and promotes emotional balance and well-being.
Oregano – Not just for cooking, Oregano can also be used as a cleansing agent and to support healthy digestion and respiratory function. It is also an excellent source of phenolic acids and flavonoids—powerful antioxidants.
Patchouli – People either love or hate Patchouli’s easily recognizable rich, musky-sweet fragrance. but the essential oils can help skin recover quickly and has a grounding, balancing effect on emotions.
Peppermint – This very popular ingredient provides a myriad of health benefits. Peppermint essential oil promotes healthy respiratory function and clear breathing, alleviates stomach upset and is frequently used in toothpaste and chewing gum for oral health.
Roman Chamomile – Is the most versatile of the chamomiles; extracted from the daisy-like flower of the Roman chamomile plant. It has a therapeutic, calming effect on the skin, mind, and body, soothes the systems of the body and supports a healthy inflammatory response.
Rosemary – A popular herb and often used in cooking, this plant was considered sacred by the ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Hebrew cultures. Very popular among healers, Rosemary supports healthy digestion and soothes muscle aches and pain.
Sandalwood – With documented history of use over several thousand years, Sandalwood has a wide variety of applications. It promotes healthy, smooth skin, and reduces the appearance of scars and blemishes. It also enhances mood and is frequently used in meditation for its grounding and uplifting properties. You’ll find that this scent is featured in many candles or diffusers for the home.
Thyme – This popular herb is familiar to most as a common seasoning, but it produces a potent essential oil that has a cleansing and clarifying effect for the skin and has broad-spectrum activity in promoting winter-time health.
Vetiver – Taken from the roots of Vetiver Grass, it is loved for its rich, exotic, complex aroma and is used extensively in perfumes. It also supports healthy circulation, has a calming, grounding effect on emotions and possesses immune-enhancing properties.
White Fir – Most notable for soothing sore muscles and joints, it also supports clear breathing and respiratory function and energizes the body and the mind.
Wild Orange – Cold pressed from the peel and releasing an energizing, citrusy aroma, Wild Orange is a powerful cleanser and purifying agent. It protects against environmental and seasonal threats, has immune-enhancing benefits and is energizing and revitalizing to the mind and body.
Winter Green – Most consumers recognize the aroma and flavor of Winter Green from its popularity in candy and chewing gum, but it also soothes achy muscles and joints and promotes healthy respiratory function.
Ylang Ylang – While famed for its exquisite fragrance, has much to offer therapeutically. It helps balance hormones, promotes healthy skin and hair and also manages to lift mood while at the same time having a calming effect.
I invited several of my friends to my home over the weekend to sample essential oils and learn a little more about them.
There are so many common ailments that can actually be helped via essential oils, it only makes sense to give them a try before turning to more harsh remedies. If you are able to get relief from a headache with a dab of quick absorbing essential oil, that certainly seems to be a healthier option than taking over the counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
Of course, when girlfriends get together, it helps to have yummy food and drinks to make the day a little more special.
Do you use essential oils? Which one is your “go-to” favorite?