Essential oils have been used for centuries for natural healing and were once the primary form of medicine for our ancestors. But whilst our medicinal technology, knowledge and chemical manipulation has grown more advanced over the years, some of the most basic herbs and oils can still have fantastic results.
Essential oils are often used in massage for their wonderful smells – this is called aromatherapy massage – but the oils themselves have great properties that you can utilise to enhance your mood, reduce the signs of aging, heal scars, cleanse our bodies and so much more.
RenéMaurice Gattefossé, a French chemist was experimenting in his families perfumier laboratory and suffered a serious burn, he plunged his hand into the nearest tub of liquid which happened to be lavender oil. During recovery he was amazed at how quickly it healed with minimal scarring. This began his interest in essential oils and it was he who first coined the term ‘aromatherapy’.
Lavender has since been widely used to treat burns and help the skin to heal and is therefore great for treating bites and burns (including sunburn), offering a natural antihistamine and soothing skin irritations. However, there are also numerous other amazing properties and benefits of the oil.
Lavender is also known for its relaxing scent and this actually has been shown to promote a restful night’s sleep, with research demonstrating that lavender can increase slow-wave sleep. This part of our sleep cycle is where the body repairs itself, so better, deeper sleep will leave you feeling more revitalised and energised the next day – which is what the participants in the research also found.
In addition to this, the study found that lavender helped:
- reduce heart rate
- reduce respiratory rate
- reduce blood pressure
- increase energy
- stabilise mood
- reduce anxiety and depression
Some amazing results. So, depending on what health benefit you’re looking for, you can incorporate lavender into your life in a number of ways:
- Dab on your temples, wrists or neck as and when needed
- Sprinkle a few drops onto a tissue and tuck under your pillow
- Try an oil diffuser
- Water down the oil in a spray and spritz your pillow before bed
- Add lavender to your body lotion and pamper your skin before bed
- Take a bath with some drops of lavender
- Dab a bit on the collar or your jammies
- Harvest fresh lavender from your garden and have a fresh bowl of lavender potpourri by your bed
An oil that you may remember featured in the story of the birth of Christ, Frankincense was one of the gifts brought by the three wise men. There are a few reasons why this would have been a good gift for baby Jesus – the first is that Frankincense is exceedingly expensive (and still is today), but this is for good reason! Frankincense has some intriguing health boosting properties of which nearly everyone can make use. Some of the main benefits are it’s a natural antiseptic, can help with digestive complaints, anti-inflammatory and a natural healer of scars, but in addition to this, has been shown to boost collagen levels (one for the ladies!), helping leave skin nourished and healthy.
These properties make this oil great for treating skin imperfections and supporting healthy cellular function, as well as offering relaxing properties from the pleasant aroma. It has also been said that Frankincense can ease migraines, and some have even claimed some more unusual benefits, such as helping ease epileptic seizures and even, controversially, cancer.
It is extensively manufactured for the use with incense and fragrances.
Is extracted from the outer part of the fresh peel. Citrus is widely known for its cleansing properties, with lemon fragranced cleaning sprays, helping us cut through grease and grime for many a year. Whilst being great for cleansing surfaces and our bodies, lemon oil brings mood boosting properties from its bright fresh aroma and taste, can regulate hormones such as oestrogen, improving the symptoms of PMS, offering lighter periods and more regular cycles.
Another way lemon oil can boost your wellbeing is due, once again, to its cleansing properties: it is a great natural hangover cure! Pure lemon oil from reputable companies such as doTerra can be ingested in a tablet for fast acting effects, or you can dab other more diluted versions on your wrists, neck or clothing – or use a diffuser.
Melaleuca (Tea Tree)
Melaleuca, more commonly known as tea tree oil, can boost your wellness in a number of ways. This oil:
- Boosts your immune system, helping protect you from seasonal illnesses
- Cleanses the skin, and is great for treating spots and greasy skin
- Helps with dandruff
- Helps eliminate ticks and nits
- Has antifungal and antibacterial properties, making it a good natural cure for thrush according to some and useful for treating ear infections
In the below video, doctor of functional medicine and nutritionist, Dr Axe, suggests a few natural remedies for ear infections - and melaleuca oil is his second go-to oil for this ailment. Check out how to use tea tree oil for this purpose here:
Please note Tea Tree oil should never be ingested.
How to utilise melaleuca more
- Apply neat to spots for instant effects
- Add to shampoo to help keep your head and hair healthy (or opt for a tea tree scented shampoo)
- Rub around the ear to ease ear infections
- If you have a cold, add a drop to a bowl of boiling water, place your head over the bowl and create a tent over your head with a towel to help clear your sinuses and boost your immune system
Minty fresh! Another oil that is great for when you have a cold, peppermint is great for opening out your sinuses and airways to aid breathing and healthy respiratory function. In addition to this, peppermint can:
- give a boost to your digestive health, promoting regular bowel movements, reducing bloating, and easing symptoms of IBS
- combat sugar cravings
- ease headaches and nausea
- improve alertness and focus
- aid the functioning of your memory and recall
- give a cooling effect to the area to which it is applied
Another strange bonus… it’s also great for keeping your home clean and healthy too! Since spiders, flies and rodents hate the smell of it, if you diffuse it throughout the house it also will help keep pests at bay.
Ways to Pursue Peppermint
- In drinks – peppermint tea is very popular and an easy way to consume the oil
- Apply to the temples for headaches
- Chew peppermint gum to ease nausea and travel sickness, or suppress sugary cravings
- Apply it to wrists or neck to feel more alert at work or try a diffuser (if your colleagues don’t mind!)
- Like the tea tree, add to a bowl of boiling water and inhale the steam to open out your airways and help clear blocked sinuses – add both oils if you can
Just in the same way that peppermint is cooling on the skin, oregano is just the opposite, and has a warming effect. This can be great for easing aches and pains. Not something you can cook with like the herb, the oil of the oregano plant is very potent and can some fantastically powerful health uses.
It is an antioxidant, a great cleanser and a natural anti-virus treatment, making it a wonderful remedy for (and protection against):
- Flu’s and viral illnesses such as tonsillitis
- Viral infections such as warts and verrucae
How to make the most of oregano oil
- You can ingest only pure oregano, but if it’s pure you can take it three times a day
- Apply some oil neat to the soles of your feet
Please always read the directions carefully when purchasing your aromatherapy oils. Some oils can never be ingested so please ensure you read all the directions fully. The correct quantities should always be observed, and we recommend a small patch test is applied to check for skin sensitivity. Avoid contact with the eyes and guidelines recommend that oils are not used in the first trimester of pregnancy and dosage halved thereafter.