There have been many times over the years that customers and clients have asked me, “If you could only choose five essential oils to use, which ones would they be?” The answer is the same whether using essential oils for the first time or trying to create an essential oil “medicine cabinet.” The five oils would be: lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, lemon, and tea tree.
LAVENDER for general relaxation and stress, to place on bug bites and burns, blisters, rashes, sunburns and many skin irritations. Lavender is the main soap and the main essential oil I use in the bath, primarily for its relaxing properties. It is also a good oil for a restful night’s sleep. Simply place two or three drops on a bare pillow, put the pillowcase back on, and see how well the lavender helps with rest or insomnia. It also seems to work quite well when the cat gets a little too playful and gives me a good scratch. A drop rubbed into the scratch (after a good washing) prevents that “cat scratch itch” and seems to help it heal much faster.
PEPPERMINT is the best thing for a tension headache. Just placed two or three drops on a cotton ball, cradle in the palms of your hands, and breathe in deeply. A normal tension headache will ease off in about ten minutes. When used in bath products it can have a cooling effect (too much will be irritating, though). Peppermint is a good stimulating oil when you need to feel invigorated or on those mornings when you just can’t seem to wake up. Mix a drop in a half-teaspoon of olive oil and rub on the stomach when you have stomach cramps or an irritable belly. Out of mouthwash? Add one or two drops in a glass of water and gargle with it. Rinse again with pure water after.
EUCALYPTUS is great for sinusitis and for when you have a cold or the flu. It is one of the ingredients in the well-known Vicks Vapor Rub. Whenever there is a cold in our household, we fill up the oil burner with mainly water and about six drops of eucalyptus oil, allowing the scent to fill the house. At bedtime, I place eucalyptus in the vaporizer beside the bed (make sure you have a vaporizer that will handle essential oil use). Eucalyptus is also good for muscular aches, tendinitis, and swelling.
LEMON is not only good for cheering you up and lifting your spirits, it makes for an excellent ingredient in natural cleaning products. Just remember that it is one of the phototoxic oils, so don’t use before going out in the sun or in a tanning bed. Some people have reported that a single drop several times a week will make warts go away but I have no personal experience with this. A few drops of lemon oil in the dishwater really helps to cut grease and increase the cleansing power of the soap you are using. Feeling down? Blend a few drops of lemon with a few drops of lavender and smell the relaxing and cheerful aroma. A few drops in your shampoo also helps with oily hair.
TEA TREE is the king of the antifungal essential oils. It can be used to aid the healing of fingernail and toe funguses and has excellent reports in improving athlete’s foot. When used in skincare products, it is wonderful for acne and troubled skin. While I have no proof of it, we have many customers who tell us they buy our tea tree soap because it helps maintain the color of their tattoos. The indigenous Bundjalung people of eastern Australia use “tea trees” as a traditional medicine by inhaling the oils from the crushed leaves to treat coughs and colds. They also use the leaves to create a poultice for wounds.
Of course, I could never limit myself to ONLY five essential oils. They each have their own expertise in the plant world. I can tell you that the five I mentioned above are readily available in my medicine cabinet at home. Whenever a customer comes into our store wanting to start their essential oil collection but they only want to start with a few – these are the ones I suggest.