Even with advancements in modern medicine, there is something to be said for more natural treatments in our everyday lives. Though they’ve been around for centuries, essential oils and aromatherapy have in recent times gained popularity for their natural medicinal properties.
Essential oils are derived from different parts of flowers, herbs, fruits, even trees, and have been used as folk remedies for centuries.
Study of these essential oils has become especially prominent as more people seek out natural solutions to certain health conditions. Essential oils may be just as effective as some medications, or may supplement medication, with minimal side effects. Either way, essential oils can be a natural addition to your everyday health and wellness routine.
Top Evidence-Based Beneficial Essential Oils
There are almost as many essential oil types are as there are plant-based foods, herbs and spices. We therefore cannot feature every essential oil under the sun; only the popular and evidenced ones. However, we shall be adding more from time to time.
Let’s now look at our top essential oil choices:
I know you’ve heard of cinnamon. It’s a spice that has been used throughout the world for centuries and was even considered as valuable as gold for its ability to help heal wounds and prevent infections.
There are two different kinds of oil, one made from the bark of the cinnamon tree and one from the leaf. Though they are both helpful, they have different properties and can be used for different effects.
Cinnamon oil has been used as an insect repellant and has been used to keep termites out of the home or ward off insects that can be harmful to crops. It may even be an effective mosquito repellant, which is important in many countries where these pests carry virulent diseases. It may also help prevent an issue where insects may become immune to other chemical treatments.
It has also been found to have strong antibacterial and antifungal properties. Cinnamon leaf oil may even be effective against bacteria, like salmonella and listeria, that have become resistant to other chemical treatments.
Studies have found that using this oil in a fruit or vegetable wash prevent the formation of food borne bacteria and may even increase the beneficial antioxidant properties already inherent in the fruit.
You’ve most likely used this oil in over the counter products and not been aware that the sharp camphor-like smell is that of eucalyptus. It is commonly used to help with colds and coughs and is generally found in body rubs for the chest.
Its main constituents promote the release of phlegm from the body through anti-inflammatory actions and have pain relieving properties as well. This property can help soothe muscles that ache from coughing.
Eucalyptus can be useful for many different types of respiratory conditions, from seasonal allergies to infections like pneumonia. When diffused in the air, it can kill mold and bacteria that irritate the lungs. Internally, it can even change the immune response in your body which causes symptoms such as a stuffy nose or watering eyes.
Topical application can help with general muscle aches from coughing and may even relieve headaches associated with congestion. Eucalyptus is an analgesic and blocks the production of pain signals as well as reducing inflammation at a wound site.
Lavender Flower (French and Bulgarian)
Lavender is the rockstar of the essential oil world. Mild with very few side effects, it possesses a flora scent that makes it ideal to mix with a variety of other oils without losing any of its benefits or scent.
Lavender is ideal for helping to treat minor wounds by killing bacteria before it invades the body and reduces inflammation. Diffusing it in the air may also kill the molds and bacteria that lead to respiratory issues. It can also relieve the pain and swelling associate with insect bites and skin issues such as acne or rashes.
Lavender has been studied extensively regarding its effects on the symptoms of depression and anxiety. It may even be of benefit to people who are suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, in conjunction with more traditional therapies. This reason makes it one of the most popular candle scents on the market. It has been found to be almost as effective without the side effects or issues when stopping the medication.
There are different types of lavender and though they have the same basic chemical composition, they tend to vary in the strength of certain chemicals. French lavender has been called true lavender and has a higher concentration of linalool, which is excellent when combatting inflammation.
When it comes to plant-based ways to clean your house, a lemon essential oil is at the top of the list. Almost every product you find in the store has a lemon scent to it so it’s no wonder that lemon is the smell of clean. Lemon oil consists of the compounds limonene and a-pinene which have been shown to be effective in preventing the spread of bacteria that cause food borne illness.
Lemon oil can also be useful for digestive issues like nausea and may even help with metabolism. Therefore, it is common to add lemon slices to water, though the oil is a much more concentrated version.
Commonly used to create healthy appearing skin, lemon may help reduce such conditions such as acne by reducing oil production and killing the bacteria that becomes trapped in the pores. It also reduces the inflammation associated with skin eruptions and, in turn, reduces pain and the itching response.
There is a good reason that people go for the orange juice when they feel a cold or the flu coming on. Not only does the vitamin C content bolster your immune system, but oranges contain chemicals that can fight stress caused by free oxygen molecules in the environment.
Orange oil is extracted from the peel of an orange but contains many of the same health-boosting, antioxidant properties that the whole fruit possesses. The properties not only include preventing free radical damage, but also the repair of current damage, allowing cells to heal.
Like many citrus oils, including grapefruit and lemon, orange is an excellent cleaning aid. Walking down the cleaning product aisle in any store has the overwhelming scent of an orange and lemon grove. It has been shown to kill many types of bacteria, such as e-coli and listeria, that can be the causes of food borne illness. Using it in your kitchen may also help repel pests such as ants so you can have a clean, insect free cooking area.
Studies have also shown that orange oil can help lower blood pressure and even improve your mood. This may be due to certain anti-inflammatory constituents that help the brain produce and process chemicals.
This herb is best known as a primary ingredient in Mediterranean dishes and has a very distinctive scent. It also possesses antibacterial properties that help prevent the formation of bacteria such as listeria and salmonella, making it an excellent addition to foods. The oil is a much more concentrated form of the leaf used in cooking, making it even more effective.
Oregano oil may also be effective against recurring fungal infections like athlete’s foot or nail fungus, which may become resistant to chemical treatments over time. People with candida overgrowth may find that oregano can reduce the presence of candida albicans in their body and find relief from conditions such as yeast infections or thrush.
This antibacterial property makes oregano essential oil the subject of many new studies regarding alternatives to antibiotics and ways to combat dangerous side effects arising from the use of certain medications. This includes radical treatments such as chemotherapy that may cause damage to the body that is not evident until a much later date.
If you have ever suffered from an upset stomach or excessive gas, you may have used a product that includes peppermint essential oil. One of its many benefits is that of soothing the muscles of the digestive tract, which may ease symptoms such as cramping. Peppermint can also relieve the pain associated with gas and bloating as well.
Peppermint is often used in conjunction with oils such as eucalyptus to ease the symptoms of allergies, colds, or even infections such as pneumonia. It contains the chemical camphor that is helpful in loosening mucus and can relieve pain associated with respiratory conditions.
Using peppermint in combination with other oils can create an effective pain reliever for sore muscles. Many over the counter products for use after working out or relief of minor soreness contain peppermint essential oil. Anti-inflammatory characteristics make this oil ideal for arthritis sufferers as it can reduce joint inflammation while it serves as a topical analgesic.
Antibacterial properties make this oil ideal for oral use. Most toothpaste and mouthwashes are made with a peppermint taste since the oil can help to kill the germs that cause bad breath and conditions such as gingivitis, as well as the fungus that forms plaque on your teeth.
* None of the statements on this page have been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a healthcare professional before starting a new supplement especially if you are pregnant, nursing, have known health condition or on medications.