I have been asked many times if I had to choose a selection of botanical oils, say a top three, which oils would I consider essential for everyday life. Well, that is so hard to do… I could not pick just three! If I had to narrow it down to the ten oils that I would always keep in my home these are the ten I would choose and why. Of course, I have many more but let’s start with these ones…
This is my favourite all round oil for relieving stress and lifting the mood – it brings you to your ‘happy place’. This citrus fruit, commonly grown in the Calabria region of Italy, is a small and green fruit whose skin is distilled to produce bergamot essential oil ( citrus bergamia). It has been the most popular oil used in perfume making since the 18th Century with a lovely aroma that is both floral and fresh. The oil is found in Earl Grey tea and since the 1830s it was the tea of choice as an afternoon tea pick-me-up. Relaxing, restorative and calming bergamot oil makes the perfect mood booster. Used in room diffuser, 4-5 drops of bergamot oil creates an uplifting atmosphere that can bring calm to even the most stressful times. There have been many studies on the health effects of bergamot and more studies are needed to examine the effects of this powerful oil. 2 drops on a tissue is a very good one to keep up your sleeve.. literally!
However, its mood boosting effects are perfectly used in my car clearing spray that I shared recently. (I also found some studies that suggest that inhalation of bergamot lowered work related stress when tested on teachers so it might be a good one for back to school!)
Sweet Orange essential oil, sourced in Italy, is one of the oils I use in my Carry On Travel Oil. I have included it here because, historically, It is known to have anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. According to a group of Italian researchers writing in “Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal” in November 2018
“Overview of clinical trials conducted with Citrus aurantium (Seville Orange) or Citrus sinensis (sweet orange) on people with anxiety showed that inhalation or oral administration of Citrus aurantium and inhalation of Citrus sinensis can exert beneficial effects on anxiety; however, further more complete clinical studies are warranted.”
Like its cousin bergamot, it is also a mood-booster, relieving anxiety. It also imparts that sunshine feeling we most associate with the colour and the fruit.
Like the other two citrus fruits mentioned above, lemon brings the sunshine and sparkle. It is refreshing and a natural antiseptic: why else would it make such a frequent appearance in so many cleaning products? I included this cold pressed oil in my kitchen cleaning spray.
A 2017 study that I found while formulating that spray showed that Citrus Limon Essential oil was proven to have antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. For this reason I also included it in my Carry on Travel Oil. Travelling can be a hot bed of germs so anything that will support you on the journey is a welcome addition.
Who wouldn’t want that kind of help in their home? That’s why I include it here in my top 10 oils to have in your home.
However, like the fruit we all love, citrus oils do retain some acidity and can be phototoxic. This means that it can cause skin damage if exposed to the sun.
Use extremely sparingly on skin as it can cause irritation. Do not use on children under seven or those who are frail or elderly. There is further information about essential oil safety at the foot of this post.
This aromatic herb has long been cultivated in Europe and is used extensively in our cuisine to enhance the flavour of dishes, bringing warmth and a freshness and a smell that increases our appetite.
Rosemary essential oil, (romarinus officinalis) is similarly effective and has long been considered a fundamental oil in any aromatherapist’s kit. A wonderful choice to include in a massage oil for muscular aches and pains due to its anti-inflammatory properties. It can also work well in a steam inhalation – 2 drops with 3 drops of lavender oil in a bowl of hot water can help clear the head and ease breathing and blocked sinuses.
There is also evidence and ongoing research about its effectiveness as a memory booster so it’s a good choice to have around you. You can use it in a room spray, a room diffuser or a couple of drops on a face cloth on the floor of the shower will give you that extra burst of energy to kick start your day. I also put a couple of drops into my bottle of shampoo… gorgeous aroma.
Rosemary is to be used sparingly and should be avoided during pregnancy, and by those who have epilepsy.
Next to lavender, Tea Tree, (melaleuca alternifolia), is the most widely recognised essential oil. Native to Australia, its anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and antiseptic properties are well documented. This is the reason it is included in my kitchen spray. Use sparingly as the aroma can be overpowering.
It is also an effective insect repellent and, like many parents, I mixed one or two drops of Tea Tree oil in a hair oil or add to the shampoo to rub into my children’s hair to help keep lice at bay, paying special attention to the area behind the ears. You can also soak hair bands, bobbles and combs in a basin of hot water with a few drops of tea-tree oil if your child has sensitive skin.
3-4 drops of tea tree in epsom salts for a foot bath has excellent anti fungal properties, I often add 2 drops of lavender which adds an additional healing boost.
Never use Tea Tree oil neat on the skin as it can burn and cause irritation.
Sweet, warm and protective are the words that best describe the aroma of the woody herbaceous Sweet Marjoram plant, (origanum marjorana). I have written about this oil in detail before, detailing its use in a carrier oil to massage a stomach troubled by cramps or to soothe aching joints. Added to a bath, again in a carrier oil, along with lavender, it can really soothe a restless mind. It can aid the transition to a peaceful night’s sleep. I use sweet marjoram as a companion to my “warrior” oils – Ravintsara and Niaouli – in my Carry-on Travel Oil. Not only does this oil have antibacterial properties, it is my go-to oil when you need some calm and peace. So a brilliant one to have on hand in a busy household. Blend with bergamot and orange oils and add to your diffuser to create a calm and nurturing aroma in your home.
Pungent and earthy, Vetiver ( vetiveria zizanioides ),is not so well known in Northern Europe. It is renowned in its native Madagascar and further afield in India for its relaxing and sedative effects. This oil is distilled from the roots of a wild grass that grows in India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Madagascar. Like the roots that it comes from, it is a grounding oil. This oil helps to calm a restless mind and prepare for rest. Great for a muscle relaxing massage oil, a pre-bed bath or shower. I have written about its properties in some detail including how I originally discovered this unusual oil with its earthy aroma. I blend it with other oils that are rich in vitamins, omegas 3,6,9, and antioxidants that heal and soothe skin conditions. It is a key element of my Rest Oil and my Facial Oil. It blends beautifully with citrus and floral oils such as orange, bergamot, lavender, rose, neroli and ylang ylang.
Lavender ( lavandula angustafolia),is one of the most popular and widely used oils in the Western World. Floral and light with a woody undertone, It is prized for its ability to aid sleep and relieve tension headaches. It has a profound and balancing effect on the nervous system which made it an obvious addition for my REST Oil along with calming frankincense and reassuring neroli. Along with these benefits Lavender Oil has also been shown to have anti-fungal capabilities. There has been some clinical research on its ability to alleviate nausea, pain and anxiety and its antibacterial properties. Clinical research into this area is ongoing and will be welcomed by clinical aromatherapists. Interesting to note is that one piece of research suggested that the presence of the diffused lavender oil may alleviate pain due to the “distraction hypothesis”.
Never underestimate the power of aroma!
Black Spruce ( picea mariana) is a beautiful oil, grown in Canada and distilled from the needles from the tree. It has numerous benefits in that it is an immunostimulant, a powerful anti-inflammatory, and can also help to ease mental and physical fatigue. When you breath it in you are transported to the crisp, clear air of a forest which is both invigorating and protective. It is a great oil to include in your bathroom cabinet, especially in winter. A few drops in a bowl of steaming water clears the head and helps boost the system. I love to add it, with bergamot oil, to a room diffuser in a living area or kitchen.
You can also add Black Spruce essential oil to create a Christmas Scent right into your home. It can easily be swapped with Cypress in my Chistmas Calm Room Scent,
You will find Frankincense( boswellia carterii), in my REST oil. I chose it because this ancient, mystical oil is calming and brings a comforting. It has long been used to soothe nerves and relieve tension. No wonder it was prized and given as an incense offering to the Gods in Ancient Rome and as a gift in Biblical times. Its association with Christmas is one of the reasons I include it in my Christmas Calm Room Scent. However, I have also added it there because of its ability to create a peaceful atmosphere. It has a haunting deeply spiritual fragrance – woody, spicy with a hint of citrus. I have written in more detail about this scent including lots of ways you can use it in your home at different times of the day.
Frankincense is also very healing on the skin and has rejuvenating and restorative properties. I chose it for this reason in creating my Facial oil.
USING ESSENTIAL OILS
When used appropriately, essential oils are a wonderful way to promote health and wellness in your home and in your life.
They are a way to connect with nature on a sensory level. Botanical Oils can evoke happy memories and feelings of joy in a moment. Enjoy those moments and feel the benefits as you incorporate them into your everyday life.
Do remember that essential oils are highly concentrated powerful botanicals. Each drop is distilled from a large quantity of plant material so only a little needs to be used. Always adopt the ‘less is more’ approach.
These oils are precious gifts from nature and should be used sparingly. They can also be harmful and are never to be used directly on the skin.