As if all the Facebook posts and Instagram stories from your friends didn’t tip you off, essential oils are all the rage right now. From reducing anxiety to boosting immunity and clearing congestion, it seems there’s nothing they can’t do!
So, what exactly are they and how do they work?
Basically, they’re natural extracts from flowers, plants, leaves, bark, roots and seeds. They’ve been used for centuries in traditional medicine and are just as popular today. You can diffuse them, apply them topically with a carrier oil, add a few drops to your bath… The possibilities are endless!
A word of warning, however – essential oils can be dangerous. They should never be taken orally (no matter what you read online!) and should be used with caution – particularly around children and pets. Whether you’re diffusing them or applying them topically, ensure you always dilute them with a carrier oil (like coconut oil or rose hip oil).
Now that we know what they are, let’s take a look at which ones are worth using and the incredible benefits they offer.
First up, it’s one of the most popular kids on the block – lavender. Aside from smelling utterly beautiful, it’s also got a whole host of health benefits. When diffused, it may reduce anxiety, increase sleep length and quality, and relieve migraines. When diluted with a carrier oil, it can be applied to the skin to relieve minor burns, itchy bites and even eczema!
It may conjure images of the Three Wise Men, but thousands of years later, we’re still singing the praises of frankincense. Why? Because of its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. As a result, it’s popular among sufferers of arthritis and gut conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. It may also aid in digestion, anxiety reduction, and cough and cold relief.
If you love your Earl Grey tea, you’re probably already familiar with the taste and smell of bergamot. Extracted from the rinds of citrus fruits, beautiful bergamot is commonly used in perfumes, hair care products and body lotions. However, it’s also popular among people living with depression, thanks to its circulation-boosting powers that leave users feeling invigorated, fresh and happy.
Like frankincense, clove oil is an anti-inflammatory, as well as being a topical antiseptic and anaesthetic. Traditionally, clove oil (diluted with a carrier oil, of course) has been used to treat toothaches and even acne. And thanks to its antiviral properties, it may also help boost immunity. Win, win!
Every Aussie knows the gorgeous scent of eucalyptus leaves, so it should come as no surprise that it’s one of the world’s favourite essential oils. With its strong medicinal properties, eucalyptus oil is a true powerhouse during cold and flu season. Simply pop it in your diffuser and let it work its magic, clearing the sinus, silencing coughs and even easing asthma. In summer, you can mix it with citronella for an all-natural bug repellant!
Brain fog getting you down? Or perhaps you had a few too many wines last night? Relax – grapefruit essential oil is here to save the day. Known for its ability to restore and energise, grapefruit can relieve symptoms of depression, fatigue, jet lag, headaches, and yes, even hangovers. Its antimicrobial effects have also made it a popular anti-acne treatment, when used with a carrier oil.
7. Sweet Orange
If you want to wind down at the end of a busy, stressful day, look no further than sweet orange essential oil. Not only is it a natural sedative, but it may also reduce symptoms of depression, inflammation and muscle spasms. As an antibacterial, it can also be applied to small wounds (with a carrier oil) to prevent infection. You could even use it to make your own natural disinfectant!
8. Tea Tree
Also known as melaleuca, tea tree is another native Australian plant hailed for its medicinal benefits. Tea tree essential oil has powerful antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. As such, it can work wonders on a number of common skin complaints, like acne, contact dermatitis and athlete’s foot. It’s also effective in treating head lice and dandruff!
Expanding your brood? Diffuse some lemon essential oil for a quick way to alleviate morning sickness – or any kind of nausea, for that matter! In addition, lemon oil is a great mood booster and stress and anxiety reliever. Studies have also found that it may also assist in the prevention of weight gain and may improve cognition in Alzheimer’s patients.
Rounding out our top 10 favourite essential oils is peppermint, which is fantastic for the relief of cold and flu symptoms, allergies and congestion. It may even assist in the management of digestive issues, headaches, and muscle and joint pain. Like grapefruit, peppermint is also a natural energy booster. So, next time you’re craving caffeine, give this oil a sniff and experience the difference for yourself.