10 Essential Oils

Words:  Dr Ryan N HARRISON 

Aromatherapy is a unique branch of herbal medicine. It uses the medicinal and therapeutic properties of oils found in various plants. The special oils are called essential oils, and they are incredibly potent.

The following ten essential oils are easy-to-find and easy-to-use. 

  1. Tea Tree

Tea made from tea tree leaves is evidenced to strengthen the immune system. Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil, can thwart bacteria, fungi, and viruses; it can eliminate parasites. It also inhibits inflammation, protects the skin and eases pain. Tea tree oil can heal internal and external infections too, including athlete’s foot and fungal growth that affects the nails. It can also be used to alleviate skin rash, and treat cough, bronchitis, arthritis and constipation.

Caution. Never apply undiluted Tea tree oil near the eyes.

  1. Lavender

Lavender oil is cleansing and deodorising; at the emotional level, it can be stimulating and also calming. The best-known active components in lavender oil are geraniol, cineole and coumarin. They are useful in the treatment of inflammatory conditions and pain. Lavender can also be used to relieve nervousness, anxiety, difficulty in falling asleep, stomach-ache, middle ear infections, burns, atopic dermatitis [eczema], insect bites and other skin disorders.

  1. Peppermint

Peppermint oil [pudīnā tēla], improves concentration and focus. This works, because the scent triggers the hippocampus, a part of the brain linked to memory. The oil is also effective for easing colds, sinus infection, bronchitis, fever, cough, bad breath, headaches, intestinal cramps, diarrhoea and mental exhaustion. Peppermint’s cooling, fever-reducing and antiseptic properties are largely due to its high levels of menthol, the antibacterial and anaesthetic agent.

Caution. Do not treat children with peppermint oil, since the high menthol content can irritate sensitive mucosa. If you have chills, avoid peppermint oil, because of its intense cooling properties. Keep your eyes tightly shut when inhaling peppermint oil, as the vapours can irritate them. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid using the oil.

  1. Eucalyptus

Most people are familiar with this oil’s strong scent, because it is frequently used in decongestant products. Aromatherapists recognise its value as an expectorant and use it to treat respiratory infections, because it apparently reduces mucous and helps people cough up excess mucous. It can also be used to alleviating aches and pains, thanks to its ‘warming’ ability.

Caution. Too much eucalyptus oil [nīlagirī tēla], can potentially irritate the skin, so use the exact amount specified in the aromatherapy recipe. Combining eucalyptus oil with massage oil reduces the chance of irritation. Keep eucalyptus oil away from children below age six.

  1. Cinnamon

Cinnamon oil [dal chini tēla] is traditionally used to help alleviate muscular pain and joint problems [arthritis]. It is also effective as a repellent for head lice, for battling colds and improving circulation. At the emotional level, cinnamon oil can be used to calm your anxieties and strengthen self-confidence. It is also useful for instilling emotional strength and regulating your blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

Caution. Cinnamon oil should only be used sparingly for topical applications. Even when diluted, it can irritate the skin, if the amount is a little high. As with most volatile oils, cinnamon oil is always diluted first with a carrier oil. Oil extracted from the bark of the cinnamon plant is suitable only for use in a diffuser, or simmer pot. Don’t use more than three drops, since its high potency may cause headaches.

  1. Lemon

Like other essential oils in the citrus family, lemon [nimbu] oil comes from the peel of the fruit, not the flesh. It has been used in laundry and cleaning products because of its clean and healthy smell. The pure essential oil has a short shelf-life, so purchase it in small quantities.

Lemon essential oil is most commonly used in aromatherapy to uplift and focus the mind. It’s also used as an aerial disinfectant, a germicidal and antibacterial. It is particularly useful for treating colds, flu and other infections. Lemon oil can also positively affect varicose veins, poor appetite and exhaustion.

Caution. When the skin is exposed to intense sunlight, lemon oil has been known to cause pigment spots. Do not use lemon essential oil, or toiletries, containing citrus essential oils, or citrus perfumes, within six hours of exposure to the sun.

  1. Clary Sage

Clary sage [rishi] has antiseptic, deodorant, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been widely used as a natural treatment for atopic dermatitis [eczema] and psoriasis, as well as for minor cuts and wounds, including eye strain. Clary sage oil is oestrogen stimulating. The oil’s ability to balance fluctuating hormones makes it a highly beneficial remedy for PMS, painful menstrual cramps and the hot flashes and migraines associated with menopause. Apparently, the oil has been used during pregnancy to help minimise labour pains.

Clary sage oil’s range of uses is wide, but it seems to be most commonly used for muscle aches and tension, labour pains, menstrual cramps, psoriasis and acne, dandruff, dry hair, melancholy and depression. Emotionally, it is useful when dealing with fear, stress and anxiety.

  1. Clove

Cloves and clove oil [lavanga] have been used for thousands of years for their therapeutic properties. Today, whole and ground cloves are most often used in cooking, but the herb has not lost its therapeutic value. Its oil is spicy, warm and sweet and possesses antispasmodic, antiviral, and antiseptic effects. It also has analgesic qualities — generations have used it topically, for example, to treat toothaches. At the emotional and psychological level, clove oil is a mental stimulant and helps in romance.  In general, aromatherapists use clove essential oil to treat headaches, muscle pain, inflamed gums, stomach ache, gas and diarrhoea.

Caution. Use clove oil sparingly and only when diluted, because it may irritate the skin. Also, avoid it, if you’re pregnant, since it can trigger contractions.

  1. Yarrow

Yarrow oil [milfoil] is something most people are not familiar with, though it has a long list of uses and strong healing power when applied appropriately. The flavonoids present in the oil dilate the peripheral arteries and induce sweating, while the alkaloids help to lower blood pressure. In addition, its tannins give it astringent, anti-inflammatory, not to speak of laxative, analgesic, antispasmodic, carminative, expectorant, stimulant and antiseptic effects.

The traditional usage of yarrow oil is keyed to treat cuts and abrasions and to relieve muscle pain, stomach cramps, flatulence, painful menstruation, irregular menses, sinus congestion, fever, skin inflammation, stretch marks and varicose veins, support meditation and strengthen intuition.

Caution. Like most essential oils, yarrow may be too strong to cause skin irritation in people with sensitive skin. It can also cause allergic response in some people, so ‘spot testing’ is certainly the best way to proceed with this oil.

  1. Sandalwood

Sandalwood [chandana] essential oil contains a high percentage of terpene-containing alcohols, primarily alpha-santalol and beta-santalol; the compounds give the oil its antispasmodic, germicidal and expectorant effects. However, it must be said that the oil’s best-known use is more emotional in nature: You can use the healing aroma of the sandalwood tree to promote feelings of peace and serenity, or as an aphrodisiac for its highly relaxing and erotic effects. Other medicinal uses include treating respiratory and urinary tract infections, pimples [acne], dry skin, atopic dermatitis [eczema], tension, depression and anxiety.

Caution. Research has shown that sandalwood oil can be toxic, when taken internally and in high doses. The essential oil can cause inflammation of the skin and damage the kidney tissue.

Home Aromatherapy

Acne [Pimples] 

10 drops Lavender

10 drops Lemon

10 drops Tea Tree

Mix all the oils together and store in a dark glass container. Use the end of a cotton swab to apply tiny amounts to blemishes on your skin.

Try a little dab of it on your next pimple; you’ll be able to feel it going right to work [This may sting when you apply it; don’t use it too often as it may dry out your skin].


3 drops Yarrow

3 drops Lavender

3 drops Eucalyptus

3 drops Chamomile

Add the essential oils to 8oz of sweet almond oil and massage into affected areas.


2 drops Geranium

2 drops Chamomile

2 drops Clary Sage

Fill a bowl with steaming water and add the essential oils. Dip half of a large cloth into the water; fold the cloth and apply the warm compress to the area, with the oil-soaked sideways from the skin.

Cuts & Wounds

2 drops Tea Tree

5 drops Lavender

Put the 7 drops into 2 cups of warm water to bathe the wound.


10 drops Eucalyptus

10 drops Lavender

10 drops Tea Tree

Mix all oils together. Use in any, or all, of the following ways:

Put 3 drops in a diffuser at bedtime

For heavy congestion during the night, put 2 drops of the mixture on a piece of cotton and tuck it inside the individual/child’s pillowcase

Put 2-5 drops in a warm/hot bath. Not only will the steam help clear nasal passages, but the properties of the oils will help you/your child sleep well.


2 drops Lemon

2 drops Peppermint

Mix the essential oils in a small bowl. Dip a cold, moist linen cloth into the mixture. Lie down

and drape the compress across your forehead and temples. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. You should begin to feel refreshed and renewed in half-an-hour.

Gum Disorders

1 drop Cinnamon

Add the essential oil to 2tsp of water. Shake the mixture well, and swish your toothbrush in it. Brush your teeth as usual. This helps to firm up the gums and prevent gum disease.


1 drop Lavender

Massage one drop into your temples. Put your feet up for a few minutes and envision yourself in a quiet, calm, refreshing place. Let the essence of lavender take the pain away. 

High Blood Pressure

2 drops Clary Sage

1 drop Chinese Ylang-Ylang

To make use of clary sage’s blood pressure lowering properties, place 3 drops of essential oil on a tissue and inhale. This will help settle the mind and restore emotional equilibrium.


2 drops Cinnamon

6 drops Mandarin

4 drops Peppermint

Mix oils with 2 tablespoon of carrier oil and massage into stomach for indigestion relief.


4 drops Cinnamon

To repel head lice, add the essential oil to 1 tablespoon of jojoba oil. Rub the mixture into the scalp daily until the lice are gone. Be careful to avoid the eyes.

Mental Concentration

3 drops Lemon

2 drops Peppermint

3 drops Rosemary

Add the oils to 2 cups of water. Spray around your work area when you find your mental energy flagging, or for that typical after-lunch sleepiness.

Muscle Pain 

10- 15 drops Eucalyptus

Mix the essential oil with 2oz of sweet almond, or grapeseed oil. Massage into sore muscles.

Sore Throat 

Good for sore scratchy, throats and for those times when you can ‘feel something coming on.’

2 drops Lavender

2 drops Lemon

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all ingredients into a glass of warm, filtered water. Gargle until it’s all gone. 


1 drop Clove

1 drop Myrrh

Mix the essential oils. Put the mixture on a cotton ball and use it to gently swab the gum that surrounds the painful tooth. 


1 drop Lemon [per wart]

Apply the essential oil undiluted directly to the affected area several times a day for at least four weeks. If used regularly, this treatment will help the wart recede and may also prevent future outbreaks.

Other Uses


Try this mix to take advantage of the antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-microbial properties of the following oils.

1 drop Eucalyptus

2 drops Lavender

3 drops Lemon

2 drops Tea Tree

Add to 3 cups of water. Use as air spray, or as a surface disinfectant. Don’t forget to spray telephones, mobile phone carefully [If using in a spray bottle, be sure to shake the bottle well, right before spraying; remember, oil and water don’t mix].

Facial/Skin Tone

5 drops Yarrow

5 drops Lavender

4oz Spring Water

Combine all ingredients and use as a facial/skin toner [Alternately, add the essential oils —without the spring water — to a simple lotion or moisturiser].

Stretch Marks

3 drops Yarrow

Mix the essential oil with 1 teaspoon of any appropriate carrier oil and rub on the affected areas daily.

Dr RYAN HARRISON, PsyD, MA, BCIH, EFT-ADV, HHP, NC, MH, QTP, LWM, HSM, is a holistic health educator and consultant in private practice. He also holds a post-graduate degree in transpersonal psychology and certifications as a nutritional consultant, holistic health practitioner, spiritual counsellor, and quantum-touch. Aside from being an advanced practitioner of EFT [Emotional Freedom Techniques], Harrison teaches and lectures in conventional and online forums. He lives in California, US. 

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