This past week I was having dinner with a friend who asked me what my top essential oils are, and after sharing my thoughts with her I decided to make this the topic for this week.
I find it amazing that although aromatherapy is an integral part of my life now, my introduction with aromatherapy begun when I started my career in spas 15 years ago. Spas use essential oils for various purposes within massage or other treatments. However, back then I did not realize there was a therapeutic benefit to essential oils, and thought they simply added pleasant aromas. But, as my career progressed, I learned that aromatherapy was therapeutic, and there were real benefits to using essential oils. Now, I cannot live without them.
The essential oils I use most prominently are tea tree, lavender, manuka, orange, and rose.
1. Tea Tree, Melaleuca alternifolia
Tea tree is my go to oil for many reasons. I use it as an antiseptic for cleaning purposes in the house by diluting it in distilled water or vinegar. I also keep a bottle of tea tree essential oil in my handbag, and use it as an antiseptic instead of anti-bacterial hand gels. It comes in handy with cuts or abrasions as a disinfectant. In addition, I have diluted it in a jojoba oil to use on my skin to treat acne. I get hormonal bouts of acne, and tea tree has helped me fight even the worst cases with localized action.
2. Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia
Lavender is the oil that I turn to when I am getting headaches, and I used to use it to treat migraines. I was in a car accident a couple of years ago, and although I thankfully did not have any serious injuries, the whiplash from the impact eventually led to acute migraines. Lavender helped me overcome them, and by putting a put a few drops on a diffuser on a daily basis, I eventually found relief. I did not find immediate relief from the migraines, but rather progressive. I went from having to use prescription migraine medication to using Advil, and after a few months of continuous use, my migraines eventually went away.
I do not get migraines anymore, but do suffer from the occasional headache. At the first sign of a headache, I place lavender on my pulse points, in a diffuser, or on a tissue and inhale deeply. The headaches either do not come on or become dulled and tolerable.
I have also used lavender on cuts as an antiseptic and to help the wound heal. I have applied it regularly to scars to help them go away. Lastly, although this does not happen often, when I have difficulty sleeping, I put a few drops on a tissue and placed it next to me on the pillow to help me get sleep.
3. Manuka, Leptospermum scoparium
I suffer from allergies and I am allergic to some commonly found elements, such as dust, mildew, grass, pollen, and grass. It used to be a daily struggle with congestion, sneezing, and post-nasal drip, until I discovered manuka to help treat the allergies. I found manuka on a trip to France during the summer of 2015 in a shop that sold honey from the manuka plant. They also sold other products, including essential oil of manuka, and with the promise of treating allergies I was intrigued to give it a try. It completely changed my allergies, which went from waking me up at night with sneezing attacks that lasted 20 minutes, to allowing me to sleep through the night. I use manuka oil daily by placing it in a diffuser, particularly at night before going to sleep, and in the morning when I wake up. It is a strong antibacterial, antifungal, and most importantly an anti-allergic. Since I started taking manuka, I have ceased to take medication to treat my allergies.
I also use manuka in conjunction with eucalyptus, Eucalyptus globulus, when I have a cold. Both oils work well together to help fight the cold. In addition, they are expectorants, so when I feel congested, I place a few drops on a tissue and inhale it, or I burn them together on a diffuser.
4. Orange, Citrus sinensis
Smelling orange essential oil brings me joy! It reminds me of peeling an orange and biting into its juicy pulp, which simply makes me smile. Orange oil offers me great support in times of stress, and in addition to making me feel happy, has helped me feel calmer and relaxed. I often burn orange essential oil during the day, particularly at the end of the day to help me unwind. It brightens my day, goes great with a glass of wine, and has the added benefit of masking cooking odors. I also incorporate it into cleaning products because I feel it adds a more pleasant smell than using tea tree on its own. Plus, it has its own antiseptic properties. I avoid putting orange essential oil on my skin because it is phototoxic, which means that I need to avoid the sun if I do, but with the constant rain in Seattle, I often do not need to worry!
5. Rose, Rosa damascena
Many of my clients do not like the smell of flowery essential oils, but I enjoy them. Out of all them rose to me smells sublime. I absolutely love this oil, but use it with caution because it is pricey. Similarly to orange, it helps me feel calm and relaxed, and I find it to be effective in reducing stress and relaxing my muscles. Emotionally it also makes me feel unconditionally loved. It is a comforting and nurturing. It is a great oil to use on skin, and diluted in sweet almond oil is a great alternative to body lotion. I use my rose oil to help me with dry skin, sensitive skin, and for its anti-aging properties. It also combines well with lavender to help me sleep at night, when I need it.
I use many other essential oils for different purposes, but tea tree, lavender, manuka, orange, and rose are the ones that deepened my interest in aromatherapy and brought me a deeper awareness of the power and magic behind essential oils. They are the staples in my life. I would encourage you to experiment with essential oils, these or any other that spark your curiosity, and discover the ones that you can use for yourself and in your life.