Exactly as their name implies, essential oils are an indispensable part of life. Contrary to popular belief that oils are the exclusive domain of Eastern Medicine right alongside acupuncture and Tai Chi, oils have been a part of every culture—ancient and modern. Various civilizations throughout the ages have been harnessing incredible and diverse potential of essential oils and their derivatives for a myriad of uses.
Now, don’t write me off as a New-Agey, yoga-practicing, health nut—though I plead guilty to all three. I spent my early childhood in a decidedly rural area in China where natural remedies for various ailments were preferred. And not just for practical reason. But even in Vancouver where I reside and where I’ve built a thriving career as a massage specialist, essential oils are everywhere. Check the labels of the contents of your medicine cabinet or vanity. You’d be hard pressed to find something without a trace of any of these essential oils—sometimes, more than one.
The key question would them be what are the best essential oils to have on hand? Which among the many out there available should you keep in your cupboard? Read on to find out.
1. Eucalyptus Oil
Although the tree from which it comes from is endemic to specific regions, eucalyptus oil is one of the most popular. It has terrific medicinal properties and a strong scent. If you or anyone in your household is prone to chronic or seasonal respiratory troubles, this would be one of the best essential oils to have. You can add a few drops to a diffuser or to a steam bath and inhale all its awesome healing and soothing effects. As a bonus, it’s also a great odor-remover! You’ll learn to love your eucalyptus oil the way cute koala bears love its leaves.
2. Tea Tree Oil
Got a teenager at home? You best have some tea tree oil on hand. You’ll find most drugstore acne or scar treatments, even the most expensive ones, contain tea tree oil or some derivative of it. It’s really effective for treating acne scars and almost any minor skin ailment. Rub a few drops on insect bites for instant relief. For athlete’s foot, eczema, gout, or fungi, you can mix it with warm water for a good, antiseptic soak. This is hands down one of the best essential oils to have if you’re plagued with problematic skin—at any age.
It’s good enough for the baby Jesus and it’s certainly good enough for you. Our ancestors have been using frankincense since time immemorial. Though affordable and readily available, this used to be considered a luxury fit for a king. Nowadays, this is probably most popular as a natural insect repellant, and since it’s not as harsh as some of those available over the counter, frankincense is ideal for young kids or those with sensitive skin. You can even mix a few drops to lotions or creams of your choice. It also has antiseptic properties, making it great for treating scrapes, scratches, and minor burns.
4. Lemon Oil
Lemon is probably the most ubiquitous and the most popular. Conveniently, it’s also one of the top essential oils to have in your personal medicine cabinet. This is a great natural deodorizer and boasts of potent antimicrobial properties. Add a few drops to detergents and cleaners and use it on your kitchen or bathroom. It’s also safe to use on yourself. Mix it with your usual lotion, bodywash or shampoo for a fresh, clean, and citrusy-smelling finish. If you have pets at home, lemon oil mix with water will also come in handy when cleaning after them. It’s inexpensive, gentle and non-toxic, yet it’s also fantastic odor neutralizer.
5. Peppermint Oil
Peppermint is not something that should only make an appearance on Christmas. This essential oil is something worth having year-round. This is incredibly versatile and beneficial. As a natural pain reliever, you can massage it onto aching muscles and—something for us ladies—for menstrual cramps. That alone should make it one of the top essential oils to have. But peppermint has more uses. This popular aromatherapy scent boosts your energy and can treat headaches and migraines especially when massaged straight onto the temples. You can also put a few drops on a clean hanky to inhale. This should ease nasal congestion and alleviate headaches caused by clogged sinuses. It’s also been said to suppress the appetite and reduces food cravings. Isn’t that fantastic? A quick whiff of peppermint and you won’t need a midnight snack.
6. Lavender Oil
Ooh, lavender. This has got to be my favorite, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Aside from its wonderful smell, a few drops of this essential oil massaged onto strategic places will have an instant soothing effect. It isn’t any wonder why most spas go for a lavender scented ambience. It relieves anxiety, relaxes the mind, and helps you rest and sleep better. Personally, I love adding a few drops of lavender oil to a warm bath to soak away all the day’s stress. I light lavender scented candles as well for good measure. Rubbed onto the skin directly or mixed with creams or lotions, it also leaves it soft, supple, and moisturized.
Word of Caution
There are many more readily available out there, but in my experience, these are the top essential oils to have. Feel free to do your own research or consult with experts to stock up your own essential oil armory. Many of these oils also work well together to create a more potent, personalized mix to suit particulars needs. Just a word of caution, be mindful of existing allergies. These essential oils are gentle and relatively non-harmful to anyone. Make sure to consult your physician if you’re not sure. Don’t be intimidated to make use of any of these. There is a world of information available at your fingertips if you want to learn more. With due diligence and a little creativity, you’ll find countless of good use for these essential oils. If you are not sure from which company to buy your essential oils you can read our article "The best place to buy essential oils" to get you started