A basket of essential oils for nearly every ailment

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Image: bottle of essential oil, brown glass bottle
image by Helena Liu

I’ve only been on the essential oils bandwagon for a few months now, but I’m a complete convert.  I tend to be a very skeptical person and when a friend told tales of the wondrous things her little bottle of lemon essential oil could do, I rolled my eyes. Not only were there too many varieties for any human to comprehend but they seemed quite expensive.

Eventually, I decided to purchase just one bottle and once I began using it on occasion, I realized just how far a single drop or two will go.  One bottle might last several months or longer.  I’ve been adding to my collection each month, and here is what I have.

  • Peppermint oil — I bought this because if there’s one ailment of my kids that’s hardest to treat, it’s the tummy-ache.  Did they eat something bad?  Did they eat too much?  Are they eating too little?  Did they forget to go poop?  Is it their appendix?  I can easily treat a cough or the sniffles, but tummy aches are, well, a pain to deal with.  A drop of peppermint oil in a small glass of water can help soothe the stomach, and it’s also handy for fungal infections — not that my kids would ever have anything to do with fungus!  Naturally, as luck would have it, neither kid has had a stomach ache since I bought the oil.
  • Eucalyptus oil — I don’t remember why I bought eucalyptus oil originally, but I use it often as a topical pain reliever.  Several weeks ago I developed some pain on top of my left foot. It’s an odd place for a patch of burning pain, and I didn’t know how to deal with it.  One day I spread a drop or two of eucalyptus oil over the area, and the pain was gone, immediately.  It has worked every time since.  We’ve put a few drops in our humidifiers at night as well, and is on my short list of remedies the next time one of the kids has an ear ache.
  • essential oils distillery, image by Graham King

    Lavender oil — This is one of the most versatile of oils, and I’ve used it to relieve my son’s headache one night by rubbing a bit on both temples and my daughter has used it to help her get to sleep.  Its uses are numerous: antiseptic, antifungal (again, with the fungus!), analgesic, relaxant, anti-inflammatory, and may even reduce cholesterol levels.

  • Thieves oil — This is an interesting oil blend.  There’s a legend from the days of the Black Plague that a group of thieves were caught robbing the dead bodies of plague victims.  Somehow, they didn’t get sick and confessed that they rubbed an oil concoction over their bodies.  It was a mixture of clove, lemon, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and rosemary.  It has been lab-tested and proven to kill airborne microorganisms on contact.  It’s useful as an antiviral treatment, an antiseptic and antibacterial, and to treat infections.  Plus, it smells really, really good!
  • Lemon oil –– This oil can strengthen the immune system and is energizing.  A study in 1995 found that citrus fragrances boost immunity, relaxation and decrease depression.  I’ve also read that a glass of lemon water each day is a great boost to overall health, and a drop of this essential oil in water is a good substitute for a squeeze of fresh lemon.  It’s also a powerful antiseptic.
  • Wintergreen — I wanted an oil that would effectively soothe my husband’s sore muscles, which have a tendency to turn into painful spasms.  Poor guy.  A few drops of wintergreen oil can be diluted with another oil (a pure vegetable oil, for example), and I have a massage oil to rival Icy Hot.  This winter if any of us come down with respiratory problems, this oil is an effective treatment when used with a diffuser or vaporizer.
  • Orange blossom — I originally bought this just as a scent to add to my homemade cleaning mixtures.  The label said it was, “cheering,” and if there’s anything I need when I’m cleaning, it’s cheer.  It can also be used to heal scar tissue and for digestive problems.

The oils on my Wish List are oregano, thyme, clove, grapefruit seed, and tea tree.  If you’re just starting out, think about what physical ailment is most common around your house and buy an oil that addresses that issue.  Another strategy is to start buying the oils that are most versatile, such as lavender and peppermint.

As far as application goes, some of the oils can be applied directly to the skin but some are too intense, such as wintergreen.  All essential oils can be used with a diffuser, a vaporizer, or mixed with another oil.

Why all the sudden interest in essential oils?  Well, it could be just a fad for some people, but I expect our health care system to become far more expensive than it is now and far less accessible.  Soon, the days of a quick trip to the pediatrician’s office will be a thing of the past due to either very long waiting periods or prohibitive prices.  It will be up to us to have a foundation of knowledge when it comes to first aid and taking care of basic ailments.

Essential oils, herbs, and home remedies are easy to learn and the supplies are easy to acquire, at least for now.  Plus, it’s kind of fun to try out a new oil when someone has a headache or sore muscles.  In most cases, these alternative remedies can’t cause any harm and often, they can do a great deal of good.

20 thoughts on “A basket of essential oils for nearly every ailment”

  1. Tea tree oil is currently my favorite go to oil, we've been using it to treat my kids fungal (ew) bumps and newly sprouted acne. It's also very useful for helping to treat gum disease!
    A word of caution: a little as a teaspoon ingested can be FATAL so make sure to keep oils locked up with other medication.

    1. My daughter is starting the whole acne/pimple phase of her life. I'll have to try tea tree oil for her various breakouts. Lemon oil can also be used for that. And thanks for the warning about ingesting oils.

  2. Please, please be careful using essential oils. Even though they are natural, they can be unsafe and even deadly in some cases. Essential oils should not be ingested unless you know, with out any doubt that it is 100% pure, and that it is safe to do so. A lot of oils, a small amount can prove fatal if swallowed. Do your research on ANY company that you purchase your oils from. Just because they claim that they are "pure," well there are ways around those claims.
    Also, just because you are not allergic to the flower does not mean that you wont be allergic to the oil. You should always do a patch test to see if there are any allergies or sensitivities to the oils. Oils should be diluted before applying to the skin. Even safe oils such as lavender and tea tree oil, should be diluted in most cases. Some oils if applied before going into the sun can cause adverse reactions. Not all oils are safe for all people. The easiest example is this: most people assume lavender is safe for everyone, but it should not be used on people with low blood pressure. Use extra caution using essential oils on pregnant women and young children. There are oils that can induce contractions, and others that are just too strong for kids.
    You can become sensitized to oils. If you use an oil too much you may find the next time you try it that you have allergies to it.
    with all that being said, Like Karyn said, lavender oil is great to use on burns. It will sting a bit for a couple minutes when you first put it on but after a couple of minutes that sting will go away, and a lot of times you wont even develop that burn blister.
    For upset stomachs, I prefer to use peppermint tea, as it is milder than the oil. But the oil is great for getting rid of headaches. Rub a little bit (that has been diluted) on your temples and lay down for 5 minutes. If it is a really bad headache you can even add a couple of drops of lavender to the mix.
    For the acne, I would try rose water. Try to not use soap on the face instead use a bit of baking soda and water then use the rose water as a final rinse.
    I also use a version of the thieves blend ( I personally wont use Young Living essential oils) and I put about 15 drops in a spray bottle with 1 part vinegar and 3 parts water. I use that as a cleaning agent and it works wonderfully, just shake before using.
    Essential oils can be a wonderful thing, just remember to use cation and learn as much as you can about the oils you choose to use.

  3. I have tea tree oil mixed in with plain skin lotion for my son's eczema. It hasn't cured it yet, but his skin is at least smoother than it was before.

  4. We are very new to essential oils, and have just started researching them. I note that Tia says she will never purchase Young Living essential oils, and I was wondering why? That is, if you can say …….?

    Thank you in advance for your help in this matter.

    1. I have oils from three different companies and have found them all to be similar in quality. I\’m not sure why Tia specifically mentioned Young LIving as a brand she wouldn\’t buy.

    2. ShopGurl, thru my research, I choose not to buy Young Living oils because they condone some practices that *I* believe to be unsafe. Because of this, I decided to not purchase their oils, and instead take my business elsewhere. There are a lot of people who would disagree with what I have to say, so my suggestion is to do as much research as you can.
      Good luck with your journey to using essential oils. They are fun to work with.

    1. Quack?? Are you saying essential oils are quackery?? LOL Well, like I said in my article, I was very skeptical, but I know for a fact that the eucalyptus oil immediately took away some pain in my foot, and others have told me that lavender oil works wonders on burns. I haven't tried that yet since it's been a while since anyone around here got burned. I do think some of the claims made by essential oils promoters tend to be 'out there', but I take those with a grain of salt.

  5. Hi Lisa! I attended your food storage class last year and mentioned essential oils to you and how important it is to include them in our food storage. You invited me to submit an article to your blog (which I was terrified to do, but I knew they were important so I had to speak up!) 🙂
    I use doTERRA oils and products daily (still) and they are fantastic. They are 100% pure, Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade. They don't contain any fillers or artificial ingredients that would dilute their qualities and are free of contaminants. They go through rigorous testing to make sure they are the safest and most beneficial oils available in the world today and are safe to use internally, topically and aromatically.
    I agree with Tia, make sure that you educate yourself. Purchase a reliable resource book and take some classes… they are invaluable. continued….

  6. continued… You learn so much from the experiences of others and it's a great way to get to know the oils. There are some great classes available in the Phoenix area each month and I sell the doTERRA oils and a great book if anyone is interested in learning more or trying the oils. (There I go, speaking up again!) Email me at lisa dot doterra at gmail dot com.
    Thanks Lisa…I appreciate your blog. It's invaluable to me as well.

  7. I have been using Essential oils for Years, Oil that are safe are rated GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) . Peppermint oil, Lavender, Clove oil Eucalyptus oils are Generally regarded as Safe. Citrus oils can make you sensitive to the sun. The Essential Oils Desk Reference Manuel is a must have.

    Rose oil is the most unbelievable of oils, truly a gift from God.

    Texas Cedar wood, and Sandalwood oils are very good oils for men, Maybe a complement on your new cologne

    Lavender Oil is a great oil for burns, however it should not be used on young boy, it can promote estrogen production.

  8. These might make a good Christmas gift – or ask someone to give them to you for Christmas. I gave MIL Tea Tree Oil last year. Maybe I should go do some more shopping…..

  9. I am a big fan of MountainRoseHerbs.com I like that their loose herbs are still green and fresh, and I can actually tell them apart, not like some where it's all a mess of gray-green bits. I have never ordered essential oils from them before, but everything else they have is fantastic and they are reliable. Customer service is good, too–I once had a gallon bottle of glycerin pop open in transit (!!!) They really wanted to replace the entire gallon $$ but I insisted that it only lost about a pint and so that's what they sent me.

  10. I have used oregano oil on toenail fungus and have eleminated it on three nails. This is a good oil for many purposes; however also expensive.

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