If you had to choose the 8 most versatile and useful essential oils for the average home medicine chest, these would be the ones. Although these oils are chosen first for their medicinal properties and their ability to deal with a wide range of health complaints, you will find that they also useful for a diversity of purposes from skin care to gardening and from home care to celebrations.
The usages outlined for each oil are straightforward yet effective. Other useful additions to your care kit would be aloe vera, witch-hazel and rosewater. Aloe vera comes from the leaf of the cactus of this name and is a fine healing agent in itself for cuts, inflammations and burns, as well as being a good carrying agents for the essential oils. It can be bought in gel or liquid form. Witch-hazel is extracted from a shrub and is known for its astringent and anti-inflammatory properties. Rosewater is a by-product of the distillation of the essential oil of roses and is used for its mild antiseptic and soothing properties. Now let’s look at the 8 essential oils that comprise the basic care kit.
Lavender essential oil is capable of many important jobs and is a delight to us. Every home should have a bottle of lavender, if no other oil, because it is very effective as a remedy for burns and scalds. Lavender oil is a natural antibiotic, antiseptic, anti-depressant, sedative and de-toxifier which promotes healing and helps prevents scarring, and also stimulates the immune system and contributes to the healing process by stimulating the cells of a wound to regenerate more quickly. Although not known specifically as a circulatory stimulant, lavender oil certainly seems to allay the effects of clinical shock and as a mood tonic and anti-depressant it helps to deal with the psychological shock of injury. It also has a multitude of other qualities, which make it a truly indispensable oil.
The antiseptic action of tea tree essential oil is thought to be one hundred times more powerful than carbolic acid – and yet it is non-poisonous to humans! The Aborigines have been using this indigenous Australian tree in their medications for centuries and today tea tree is the subject of a great deal of international research. Its impressive anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties make it useful in a wide range of conditions. It can be used as a remedy for candida and all sorts of infections, for ringworm, sunburn, acne, athlete’s foot, toothache and pyorrhea, among other things.
Peppermint essential oil has been used by many ancient cultures, including the Egyptians, Chinese and American Indians, no doubt because of its extremely useful health-promoting properties. It is an excellent digestive, it helps the respiratory system and circulation, and it is an anti-inflammatory and an antiseptic. These qualities make it a good remedy for indigestion, flatulence, bad breath, flu, catarrh, varicose veins, headaches and migraines, skin irritations, rheumatism, toothache and fatigue. It evens keeps mice, fleas and ants away!
Eucalyptus essential oil has been distilled from at least 1788 when two doctors, John White and Dennis Cossiden, distilled Eucalyptus piperatar for its use in treating chest problems and colic. This was here in Australia where the Blue Mountains of New South Wales are so called because of the blue haze that exudes from the resin of the eucalyptus gum and envelopes the entire landscape. In such a powerfully aromatic environment, the medicinal qualities of this ancient tree would be hard to miss.
Eucalyptus oil is a marvellously versatile and useful oil. It cools the body in summer and protects it in winter. It is anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibiotic, diuretic, analgesic and deodorising. Research has proved its anti-viral properties as well. It is best known for its effectiveness against coughs and colds but is equally effective as a remedy for cystitis, candida, diabetes and sunburn, while also being useful in veterinary care and as an insect repellent. There is a wide range of eucalyptus varieties, any of which would be a useful addition to this basic care kit.
Geranium essential oil is one of the favourite oils because it works profoundly on the emotions and is useful in many medical conditions, and it smells wonderful while it works so hard. The oil is extracted not from the familiar brightly coloured geranium but from the species Pelargonium – Geranium Robert or ‘lemon plant’ which is very often displayed in abundance in Greek restaurants.
Geranium will make chilblains disappear overnight and brings a radiant glow when used in skin care. More importantly, it is a key remedy for endometriosis, is very effective for menopausal problems, diabetes, blood disorders, throat infections and as a nerve tonic, and works well as a sedative. It is reputed to help in cases of uterine and breast cancer – and if nothing else, would certainly help the patient to relax and copy with the pain.
Rosemary essential oil is both a physical and mental stimulant, which makes it a good oil to have in the morning bath, while also being an excellent remedy for all muscular conditions, making it the perfect oil for a bath after a long tiring day. This antiseptic oil is used as a remedy for muscular sprains, arthritis, rheumatism, depression, fatigue, memory loss, migraine, headaches, coughs, flu and diabetes, among other conditions. It is also very useful in beauty treatments, being used in hair care and acne and cellulite remedies. For the sportsman, cook and gardener, rosemary is invaluable.
When our adventures seafaring ancestors sailed the high seas, fresh lemons saved them from getting scurvy. For modern stay-at-homes, lemon essential oil is just as useful as a water-purifier. This antiseptic and anti-bacterial oil will perform many tasks when used in blends, including treating verrucas, insect bites and tension headaches. It has a tonic action on the lymphatic system and a stimulating action on the digestive system. It will assist you to slim, help disperse cellulite and keep wrinkles at bay. Its contribution to synergy makes it particularly useful in blends, while it is indispensable as a fragrancing and flavouring agent.
Clove essential oil is anti-bacterial, antiseptic and analgesic and is a good oil to assist with prevention of disease and infection. Being a spice it can easily be incorporated into your cooking. It is best known as a quick aid for toothache although it is equally useful in digestive problems and muscular disorders. It can be used as a remedy for asthma, nausea and sinusitis, and as a sedative. Clove is a powerful oil that has been used for the sterilisation of surgical instruments. It should not be used undiluted on the skin.