There are over 300 different essential oils each with distinct chemical structures, therapeutic effects and aroma. Of these approximately 40 are used most commonly and have a range of spiritual, physical and emotional benefits.
For an easy approach to making aromatherapy a part of your everyday, this article examines the top five essential oils for medicinal use that should be incorporated into every home’s medical kit. These are some of the most versatile and useful essential oils chosen for their medicinal properties and ability to address many health complaints. Arranged in no particular order are the essential oils, their description and instructions for treating common ailments associated with each oil.
Lavender is well known for its sedative effects in promoting a peaceful sleep but this is only the beginning for this most versatile natural medicine. If you could only choose one essential oil for your medicine kit, I would recommend lavender. Lavender oil is antibiotic, antiseptic, antidepressant and a detoxifier which promotes healing and prevents scarring. It also stimulates the immune system and contributes to the healing process by stimulating the cells of a wound to regenerate more quickly. It is also very effective in the treatment of burns and scalds.
For burns: apply ice cold water to the burned area for at least ten minutes. Then immediately put two drops of neat lavender oil directly on the burn. Put five lavender drops on a dry, cold compress and cover the area. Repeat as needed.
The antiseptic action of tea tree is thought to be one hundred times more powerful than carbolic acid and yet it is non-poisonous to humans. Indigenous to Australia, the Aborigines have been using tea tree in their treatments for centuries. Its impressive antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties make it useful in a wide range of conditions and you can use it neat on the skin. It is used in the treatment of all sorts of infections, ringworm, sunburn, acne, athlete’s foot, toothache, among others. To treat acne: place one to two drops on affected area. You will notice a reduction in size and colour of pimples overnight. Note: I have long since stopped using Clearasil(c) cream for the treatment of acne. Using tea tree oil instead is natural, safer, less expensive and I have found I get fewer pimples forming.
For an easy antibacterial cleaning spray: fill a clean mist spray bottle with purified water, add ten drops of tea tree essential oil and spray on hard surfaces. Use a damp clean cloth to wipe. This spray will kill bacteria and clean your home naturally.
Peppermint has been used by many ancient cultures including the Egyptians, Chinese and Native Americans due to its extremely useful health-promoting properties. An excellent digestive, it helps the respiratory system and circulation, it is an anti-inflammatory, and an antiseptic. These qualities make peppermint superb in treating indigestion, flatulence, bad breath, varicose veins, headaches and migraines, skin irritations, motion sickness, and fatigue. Peppermint is also useful for keeping mice, fleas and ants away by sprinkling a few drops at the bottom of doors and windows. To treat car sickness: Inhale deeply from bottle directly, or put a few drops on a tissue and inhale deeply. Repeat until symptoms ease. Note: Peppermint is one of the essential oils I keep in my purse to help with car/motion sickness which is frequent with many of the winding roads here in New Zealand.
Another marvellously versatile and useful oil, eucalyptus cools the body in summer and protects it in winter. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibiotic, diuretic, and deodorising. Research has proved its antiviral properties as well. It is best known for its effectiveness against coughs and colds but is equally effective in the treatment of diabetes and sunburn, while also being useful in veterinary care and as an insect repellent. To treat the common cold: place two drops of eucalyptus and two drops of tea tree essential oil in a hot bath. Swirl the water to mix the oils, lie back and inhale deeply. Carry with you a tissue with one drop of eucalyptus, one drop of peppermint and inhale deeply whenever possible. Massage two drops of eucalyptus, three drops of rosemary diluted in one teaspoon vegetable oil around the chest, neck and sinus area. Inhale deeply.
Geranium has a profound effect on the emotions and is useful in many medical conditions. Geranium oil is extracted not from the familiar brightly coloured geranium but from species Pelargonium or “lemon plant”. Geranium oil is an effective treatment for menopausal problems, hormonal imbalances, diabetes, blood disorders, throat infections and as a nerve tonic as well as a sedative. Geranium has many applications from frostbite to infertility and its delightful rose-like fragrance makes it a pleasure to use. To treat premenstrual syndrome: Add five to seven drops of geranium essential oil (I recommend the bourbon variety from Madagascar for this treatment) in bath water, lie back and inhale the restorative properties. After your bath, mix three drops of geranium oil to one teaspoon of vegetable oil and massage into abdomen, hips, and lower back.
These are my recommendation for the essential oils to have in your home. Remember to keep essential oils out of direct sunlight and heat to preserve the medicinal properties of the essential oils.