7 Essential Oils – a must have in your medicine chest.
In our last blog entry we looked at the history of Essential oils, which have been used since 3500BC.
But which oils are you going to use? As pointed out in our last Blog, start with just a handful of oils to get used to the idea of using them, testing them, noting the results you get from using them and the difference they are making in your well-being and life.
The market is swamped with Oils sellers, so it’s important to be careful from whom you buy. As mentioned in our last article, if you are going to use them for enhancing your well-being and blend them for use on your body, you need to use 100% certified, therapeutic essential oils, cold pressed and from a supplier you can trust.
Another factor is the cost of Essential Oils. The real thing is not cheap and that is one way to judge if the oil you are about to buy is authentic and pure. For instance, a 10ml bottle of Rose Absolute requires approximately 20000 roses to fill it. This will cost anything from £45 upwards, depending on the supplier. With this price you know you are getting an Absolute and not just a blend of Rose Oil
By the way, an absolute is the most concentrated and differs from essential oils because it has a denser colour and contains higher levels of waxes and other constituents from plants than Essential Oils.
Rose, Jasmine, Lotus and Geranium are just four the Absolutes. These are used the ones used in Perfumery.
Just like in perfumery, Essential Oils are categorized in three notes: top
notes, middle notes and base notes.
So, when purchasing your Essential Oil for use on your skin, the rule of thumb is, the more expensive the oil, the better.
If you are looking to ingest essential oils (which is not recommended unless prescribed by a trained and fully certified Aromatherapist), you should make sure the Essential Oil you are purchasing is also certified Organic.
Fragrances or blends are not recommended for use of blending your own for home use on your skin, as they contain other oils and carrier oils.
Which Essential Oils should be in your Home Medicine Chest?
- Lavender – Lavandula –
the most widely cultivated species is Lavandula angustifolia
This is the top oil for home use that most people have heard of and use.
History shows that Lavender Essential Oil has been around for at least 2500 years.The name Lavender derives from the latin ‘lavare’ meaning to wash. It was mentioned in the gospel of Luke by the name ‘Spikenard’. The ancient Egyptians used it for mummification and the Romans used it in their public bathhouses.
Early travelers brought back Lavender plants from the Mediterranean and by the 16th century it was an established plant in the English garden.
In Medieval and Renaissance Europe the name ‘lavenders’ was given to washerwomen because they spread their laundry over lavender bushes to dry. This gave their laundry the scent of lavender.
Louis XIV insisted on bathing in lavender scented water.
In London during the 17th century, people tied a small bunch of lavender to their wrists to avoid the dreadful diseases like the plague and cholera.
It is said that Cleopatra used Lavender to lure Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony to seduce them, hence Lavender is known as the ‘herb of love’
Lavender was strewn under beds of newlyweds to ensure passion and young maidens put a sprig under their pillow encouraging hopes of romance.
This herb has been known as an aphrodisiac for centuries.
It was strewn on floors of castles and the sick to act as a disinfectant and deodorant. It was placed between linen to protect against months.
Christians shaped lavender twigs into a cross and hung it over their door to protect against evil.
Queen Elizabeth I had vases filled with lavender at the table every day.
As mentioned in Blog 1, in 1937, the modality ‘Aromatherapy’ was coined after Rene Maurice Gattfosse badly burned his hand and used the first salve that came to hand which was 100% pure Lavender Essential Oil. This immediately alleviated the pain and healed the burn without infection or scar. Because of him, Essential oils were used to treat wounded soldiers during World War II. The first person to prescribe essential oils was Marguerite Maury, who treated nerve endings along the spine with Essential oil combinations/blends
Still today lavender is used in sachets to freshen linen and drawers. It is used in potpourri to freshen the air.A lavender spray will freshen the room and still today lavender is used for decoration at weddings and confetti.
In the South of France, people place dried lavender across the window sill to deter spiders such as the Tarantula Wolf Spider from coming into the house. Although they wont bite humans unless repeatedly provoked, they look fierce and best kept outside.
France is also the romantic picture that pops up in the mind when one thinks of huge Lavender fields with their purple flowers drifting in the wind which many artists have captured in their paintings and photographs.
My mother always used the 4711 Eau de Cologne, one of the middle notes is Lavender, to this day when I smell 4711 I think of my mother, that smell has stayed with me all my life. In fact, even though my mother died in 1997, I still have a bottle of her 4711 with a little Eau de Cologne in it and sometimes I just open the lid, smell it and memories come flooding back.
Lavender is one of the few oils that can be applied directly to the skin without diluting in a carrier oil. It is one of the safest oils to use.
Apart from it’s many benefits, it can
- help with insomnia
- heal wounds quicker
- ease the pain of a burn and helps the skin not to scar.
- ease headache and migraine
- be used as a disinfectant, it’s an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, insecticide, antibacterial, anti-fungal and has wound healing properties.
- calm the mind and boost the mood
- Peppermint – Mentha piperita
Peppermint is the second one that should not be missed from your Home Medicine Chest. If you were to place a sprig of fresh peppermint herb in the bedroom, it would do very little for you. But adding a few drops in a burner or diffuser will fill the bedroom with it’s aroma and ease congestion in the respiratory system and help to have a good night’s sleep.
It is thought that Peppermint originated from Northern Africa and the Mediterranean. In Greek mythology, the legend says that the god Hades was having an affair with a nymph named Minthe. His wife found out and turned her into a common plant that would grow like a weed and would be trodden on by everyone passing. However, Hades, who loved Minthe desperately, changed the curse and gave her a sweet and calming scent, a loving reminder of her for all who trod on the herb/weed..
Peppermint was first mentioned in Ancient Egypt 1550 BC as a remedy for stomach pains. But in the inner chambers of Egyptian pyramids, archaeologists discovered 3000 year old leaves
Ancient Romans used peppermint to flavour their dishes, sauces and wine.
On special occasions ancient Hebrews covered the floors of their synagogues to give off a pleasant smell while being walked upon. (Wonder if that put a smile on Haden’s face?)
Today Peppermint is used in a range of products from chewing gum, sweets, chocolate and biscuits to soaps, toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, candle making and a whole range of wellness and beauty products.
The reason for this is because it contains a substance called menthol which stimulates ‘cool’ receptors in the mouth and nose.
Menthol is also used in products to calm muscle cramps, ease inflamed tissue, as a pain relief and to speed up the enzymes in the stomach and intestines and to break down food quicker. No wonder the ‘After Eight’ chocolates were so successful when invented in the ‘60’s.
Today, Peppermint leaf or oil is part of the national pharmacopoeias in Germany, Austria, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Switzerland and Russia.
By the way, Peppermint tea will settle the stomach and aid digestion. It can also help with IBS and constipation. It is useful to relieve headache and migraines. It can help with nausea, menstrual cramps and muscle spasms. It soothes the skin and is a strong diuretic meaning it will relieve the body of water retention.
My grandparents had a smallholding and my grandmother had turned a small part of the yard into her herb garden, which was her medicine cabinet. As a child I suffered from flatulence, (well, my parents thought so, I am not so sure about that 🙂 so my grandmother would make me peppermint tea to ease the flatulence. When I had an upset tummy (I did like my cake and always ate more than my share) she would make fennel tea for me. During the summer she would make herbal teas from fresh leaves, at the end of the summer she would harvest all the herbs and dry them for the winter months. Our wash house, which housed a huge copper for the Monday wash day and a tin bath for Saturday bath time, always proudly displayed bushels of herbs hanging from the ceiling, drying and waiting to be packed away for the winter months.
What else does it do?
- helps clear sinuses
- can reduce stress
- can relax muscles and reduce muscle pain
- eases headache and migraine
- eases muscle cramps and spasms
- eases skin rashes
- Can help with IBS symptoms
- a few drops of peppermint oil drizzled across the door threshold will deter spiders coming in during the summer months.
We use Peppermint essential oil in many of our products, for instance, to help children breathe easy when they have a bad cold, see our Breathe Ease available in our shop.
- Eucalyptus – there are 700 species of this tree,
Eucalyptus oil is another one that is a top oil for your medicine chest.
It is said that Eucalyptus has been around for 35 to 50 million years. It is a native of Australia, the leaves of which are the main food for Koala bears. Indigenous Australians used both the leaves and roots as medicine.
An early Aboriginal story tells how an early settler had accidentally cut of his thumb with an ax. An Aborigine bound the stitched wound with Eucalyptus leaves and later a surgeon expressed how surprised he was at the speed at which the wound had healed with no infection.
However, officially Eucalyptus was discovered in 1642. In his journal on December 2nd 1642 Abel Janszoon Tasman wrote that they had found a tree that secreted gum. This is why many people call it the gum tree.
Although Eucalyptus originates from Australia it is now grown in Greece, China, India, Europe and Brazil for the production of Essential Oil and it is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine
In 1955, where Algerian swamps were malaria ridden, the French government sent Eucalyptus seeds to convert these swamps into dry, healthy soil.
During the WWI when in 1919 there was an influenza epidemic, the oils was used to suppress an outbreak of meningitis.
In the home it can be added to water to remove grease and grime as a surface cleaner and can be used to remove mold which can be an issue for the respiratory system.
It can be added to hair wash to eliminate dandruff, lice and an itchy scalp. It can be added to water to clean wounds, insect bite, sores, cuts and burns.
Burning Eucalyptus in a burner or diffuser helps to clear the mind, stimulate mental activity and improve concentration.
The Eucalyptus tree has become on of the most grown hard wood trees because it grows so quickly and especially, now that people are searching for alternative ways to use for healing, well-being and cleaning.
Living in Guernsey back in the 80’s and 90’s, we had a 3/4 acre garden. In the middle of it, surrounded by different gardens like the secret garden, the herb garden, the large strawberry patch, the rose garden etc stood proudly our huge Eucalyptus. It was the king of our garden and we were so proud of how it had grown and matured. From this tree I would harvest leaves for tinctures to add to creams and balms and also to add to oil, leave in the sun for a few weeks and use that oil to make my creams and balms.
However, back in the 90’s we had a freak tornado and as we watched from the lounge window we saw our beautiful Eucalyptus tree being swirled around and around like a cork screw and then lifted out of the ground and crashing to the ground. Once the wind had died down we rushed out to see the damage and how we could rescue the Eucalyptus tree.
The swirling and twisting had created a ball at the base leaving the roots still in the ground. Not knowing what exactly we should do, we decided to dig a large hole where it had once stood, remover some of the old roots making room for the ball but leaving most of the roots in place to provide food the the tree once the roots rotted down. For the next few months we watered it regularly, hoping it wouldn’t die. And it didn’t !! Instead it flourished and grew and bloomed like every year and obviously grew new roots. When we left Guernsey it was still standing there, proud and majestic in the middle of the garden.
What are the benefits from Eucalyptus:
- it’s a wonderful respiratory system support it can alleviate nasal congestion, coughs, asthma and some sinus problems.
- as an anti-inflammatory it can ease the pain and symptoms from lumbago, sprained tendons and ligaments and rheumatism.
- As an antiseptic it can help with insect stings and bites.
- As a tooth paste or mouth wash it can help fight plaque and mouth infections
- Smelling Eucalyptus can act as a minor stimulant help with stress, anxiety and depression.
- It has anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammable and anti-bacterial properties
- Together with peppermint and other oils it makes a fantastic vapour rub with no added chemicals.
- Oregano -oreganus – oreganum
Oregano can be traced back to 3000BC. During ancient Roman and Greek it was the most common herb used for cooking, good health and medicinally.
The name Oregano comes from two Greek words ‘oros’ and ‘ganos’ meaning ‘joy of the mountains’ and is believed to have originated in the Greek mountains.
The best Oregano Essential Oil comes from the Mediterranean, specifically from Greece or Cyprus. This is because these are the hottest countries in the Mediterranean with the least rain and Oregano thrives on neglect. The less water Oregano gets, the more it drives it’s roots deep into the soil to find moisture and in turn that enhances the plant to grow and produce strong and resilient foliage. The foliage in turn then contains more of the numerous phytonutrients which include carvacrol, thymol and rosmrinic acic. This in turn provides powerful antioxidants against oxidative stress and free radicals in the cells through the Human body. Therefore, Greek or Cypriot Oregano is very powerful and a great ally when the body is poorly.
In the old days, The Greeks planted Oregano around their houses for good luck, joy, to ward off evil and for medicinal uses.
In ancient times, during Roman and Greek weddings, the bride and groom were given a crown with laurels that included Oregano. During the Middle Ages, it was planted around graves to enable the dead to rest in peace, and it was carried as a magic spell to help achieve happiness and tranquility. It was planted around the home to protect from evil. And in England it was used as a snuff.
Even today it is used to purify the room and placed under a pillow to enhance sweet dreams. Today scientists have discovered that Oregano has antibiotic and antioxidant properties.
If you are thinking of growing your own Oregano, make sure to ask the nursery to confirm it is actually Oregano and not Marjoram as they really look very similar. Ask for the latin name, if it is called Oregano vulgare it is mainly used for cooking and is also called Wild Marjoram. Ask for Oregano origanus origanum
Among other benefits, Oregano is:
- Antibacterial so can help fight bacteria
- Natural Antibiotic which helps fight bacteria
- A powerful Antioxidant which helps protect the body caused by free radicals
- Antiviral – test tube studies have found that the components Oregano contains, particularly thumol and carvacrol have antiviral properties
- May be used to relieve pain
- A couple of drops in water to use to clean worktops and you have your own disinfectant
I have used Certified Organic Cypriot or Greek Oregano Essential oil pure when I’ve had flu or the onset of any inflammation in the body by placing 1-2 drops in a capsule, closing it tightly and swallowing with lots of water, morning and evening. It is not recommended to continue longer than 6 weeks at any one time. My whole family also used this method when the Covid19 epidemic started and every time we had a cold or flu symptoms, we took this oil in a capsule. Never take it neat in the mouth, it will burn your whole mouth and taste vile. But in a tightly closed capsule it’s fine.
We use Oregano essential oil in some of our products, for instance in our 3A’s oil anda spray. This is similar to the Thieves Oil on the market, we have added Oregano as we think it is a must with it’s anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti fungal properties. We used pure essential Oregano oils in our sanitizer spray & Our Sanitizer oil.
- Tea Tree – Melaleuca Alternifolia
Aka ‘the king of Essential oils’
also known as ‘a medicine cabinet in a bottle’
Upon arriving in Australia on his around the world trip in 1732, British explorer Captain James Cook brewed a tea from the leaves of the maleleuca alternifolia tree and thus he named it Tea Tree.
Since then it was used as ‘the’ medicine before Penicillin was invented in 1928.
In 1860, Nelsons, Europe’s oldest manufacturer of homeopathic products added Tea Tree to their natural skin care products.
During WWI Australian soldiers were give Tea Tree oil to use as disinfectant and during WWII this oil was added to their first aid kit as an official germicide.
During WWII, the Australian government made sure that enough Tea Tree trees were planted to keep the supply going.
Arthur Penfold, an Australian chemist began studying Tea Tree oil back in the 1920’s. He found it to be 13 times stronger than carbolic acid which until then was used as a disinfectant.
In 1976, Anita Roddick founded the company Body Shop using natural products such as Tea Tree in her formulas.
I have a bottle in the bathroom medicine cabinet for wound cleaning etc It is my ‘Go to’ oil for all occasions and emergencies.
Because of it’s antiseptic and anti-fungal properties it is found in products such as mouthwash, toothpaste, soap, deodorants, anti-dandruff shampoos, lip balms and many more.
Among other benefits, Tea Tree is:
- Use a couple of drops with some carrier oil to rub on toes to get rid of toe nail fungus
- Rub a blend of carrier oil and tea Tree to treat athlete’s food.
- Soak a suppository in a blend of carrier oil and Tea Tree oil and insert one daily for symptoms of vaginitis
- Use a blend if you have warts, insect bites, acne, herpes
- Burn Tea Tree oil in a burner to calm the mind, relieve stress and combat fatigue
- Burning it in a burner or diffuser can also benefit the respiratory system
- Add a couple of drops in water to clean surfaces as a strong disinfectant.
- A good product for wound cleaning and making a dressing to heal the wound.
Tea Tree oil is a powerful anti-fungal, anti-bacteria.l, antiseptic disinfectant. It can be aggressive for people with sensitive skin. Before using it always test it on the inside of your arm and watch for a skin reaction before applying on other parts of your body.
- Frankincense – Boswellia sacra aka olibanum
Ah, Frankincense oil is one of my favourites. We use it in some of our beauty products and I use it on a more spiritual level. I burn it constantly.
It is won from tapping for the resin from a knobbly and gnarled tree that grows in the dry and mountainous regions of the Middle East, India and Africa. Living in high heat and relentless wind, it seems to thrive on punishment from the elements, digging its roots deep into the dessert rocks where no other plant can live. Probably because of the environment and it’s life style, it’s not a pretty tree but goodness, through it’s persistence, a truly sacred tree.
There are five species of Boswellia but only five produce Frankincense. The one from Oman is considered the very best. Because of over harvesting where trees are tapped for the resin far too frequently, the Boswellia tree is now under threat of extinction because natural regeneration isn’t possible under these circumstances. When a tree is cut or tapped too much it basically bleeds to death or becomes infected with bacteria that kills it. The demand for Frankincense has gone through the roof for the oil in perfumery and general usage for spiritual purposes but also for it’s medicinal properties.
But there is good news, the Wadi Dawkah park in Oman was established in 2000. At that point only 1200 Frankincense trees were growing on the site. Today thousands more have been planted and the goal is to reach 10000 trees. There are Frankincense trees flourishing along the fence of this park as well and it is said that the camels eating its leaves produce especially sweet and delicious milk. However, it will be more expensive to buy 100% pure Frankincense oil in the future and in my opinion that I a good thing. It is a luxury and should be treated as such.
Long, long ago, it was probably burnt as a disinfectant and insecticide, then picked up by cultures to be used in their ceremonies.
The ancient Egyptians used it in their religious rituals, for mummification and the kohl was also made into an eyeliner.
Frankincense is mentioned 17 times in the bible.
It is said that in 65AD the Roman emperor Nero burnt 3000 tons of Frankincense at his wife’s funeral. (What a waste of good Frankincense).
It was used to fumigate dead bodies. It was always used in Greek and Roman temples, mosques, synagogues and churches. And is still used today on special occasions in synagogues, temples and of course Catholic and Orthodox churches, although today Myrrh and Rose is also added, probably to make the smell of burning resin sweeter.
Frankincense was traded at a higher value than gold and was one of the gifts in the bible the three kings brought for baby Jesus.
When the tomb of king Tut was opened in 1922, the 3000 year old burial chamber contained jars of Frankincense perfume oil that were still fragrant.
Perfumers such as Chanel No 5 and others used Frankincense to create perfumes that still live on and are as popular and loved as ever. It is used as both a top and a base note in perfumery, adding either a floral or earthy dynamic to the blend.
In Oman today, it is part of the fabric of the Omanis. It is burnt in hotels and shopping malls, Omanis drape their clothing over smoldering resin and it wafts from passers by. Locals chew the gum and burn it in their homes to ward off bad luck.
Today it is still used in Churches where smoking pendulums of the resin are walked and waved around but that smell is stuffy and sometimes sickly, nothing like the spicy, floral, woody smell that drifts up your nose from Frankincense oil.
As a child, brought up in a very strict Catholic family, every morning at 6am I had to walk to the church down the road for morning prayers. Of course this was on an empty stomach because breakfast was after church and before school. The smell of the incense used to make me feel sick and to this day, when I smell Frankincense resin being burnt that memory comes flooding back and upsets my stomach. However, I changed my mind the first time I started using Frankincense oil and now love it and not only use it in our products but for personal use as well.
It is said that when the mythical phoenix rose from the ashes, it’s new nest was built from Frankincense twigs and it feasted on the Frankincense resin gum. How apt!!
I burn Frankincense oil when holding Meditation classes, workshops and doing Reiki initiations. It transports students to a different plane where they can relax and get in touch with their inner selves. For me, it is indeed a sacred oil.
Frankincense can help reduce joint pain.
What are the benefits of Frankincense:
- It’s an anti-inflammatory
- It has anti-anxiety and anti-depressive properties, can help with mood swings
- It can help reduce joint pain caused by arthritis
- Burning it may reduce asthma and respiratory symptoms
- It has anti-bacterial properties and may reduce gum disease and mouth infections.
- It’s a wonderful skin care oil, said to induce a youthful skin
- Can promote memory
- Can help with PMT and stomach crams during menstruation.
- It has powerful antioxidants and anti-aging properties
- It has moisturizing properties which keeps the skin subtle and from drying out
We use Frankincense oil in our products. You can find the products that include Frankincense in the following links:
- Clove Oil – Syzyguim aromaticum or Eugenia caryophyllata.
You are probably wondering why I am adding Clove oil to my recommended Medicine Chest. It’s not an oil widely known or used by the average person. But given the fact that we have had two years of Covid restrictions, constantly being told to wash our hands, wash surfaces, stay away from people, wear masks etc etc, Clove oil cannot be left out of our medicine chest because it has anti-fungal, anti-microbial, anti-viral and antibacterial properties.
Cloves go back as far as 200BCE during the Han-dynasty court of China and were usually held in the mouth to perfume the breath before having an audience with the Emperor.
In 330 A.D., Constantinople became a trading metropolis. It was then that both nutmeg and cloves were brought to Europe for the very first time.
Originating from Indonesia and even up until now the main growers of Clove are Indonesia, Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
It was originally used as a spice. During the Middle Ages, Cloves were used in Europe to preserve food and to flavour and garnish dishes.
Of course today we love Cloves as a spice in Christmas bakery, just think of ginger bread men.
Clove oil is used as a germicide, in mouth washes and perfumes.
It is a prime ingredients in many weed killers on the market today. Yes, it is actually a natural weedkiller.
Burning clove oil in a burner or diffuser will get rid of unpleasant odors after cooking cabbage, fish or other foods.
Due to its antiseptic properties in can be used to treat wounds and cuts. It can be used to treat fungal infections, insect bites and stings. But, never use it neat, always dilute in a carrier oil otherwise it will burn your skin.
Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, dilute in warm water and gargle for a sore throat, coughs, colds and sinus trouble.
Before using Clove oil it is important to test it to make sure you aren’t allergic to it or have a skin irritation. Place a couple of drops in a teaspoon of carrier oil and rub onto the inside of your arm where the skin is soft. If you have an irritation, redness, itching or swelling, then don’t use Clove oil.
- It is antimicrobial, anti-fungal,
- Anti-bacterial due to its ‘eugenol’ component
- Can be used for tooth ache and to help stop tooth decay
- Can be used as a disinfectant
- Can be used for wound healing or pain
- Can be used as an insecticide
- Can improve circulation and is one of the oils used in Tiger Balm
- A diluted mix of Clove oil rubbed into the scalp promotes hair growth, reduces hair loss and gives a healthy shine to dull hair
- Add 2 drops of Clove oil to a teaspoon of oil, drizzle into the ear to ease ear ache
- Add a drop of Clove oil to toothpaste on a toothbrush to promote clean teeth and a fresh breath
- Add Clove to a pot pourri to add a warm feeling to the house.
- In conjunction with Wormwood and Black Walnut Hulls it is used to rid the human and animal body of worms. You can order the parasite cleanse from here:
When buying essential oils there are a few points to go by:
- Look for the scientific/latin name on the bottle
- Make sure it says it’s 100% pure oil
- It should be stored in a dark glass bottle
- Ask the seller if they have a tester bottle that you can smell, you’ll soon know if it is authentic by its pungent smell.
You can purchase good quality Essential oils at www.naturallythinking.com We love their oils, and have used them for years in our blends and creams. They are a company you can trust and are very helpful when you need an answer to a query.
If you have a question or a comment, please feel free to comment on this blog post – we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Written by Anna Mandala MCMA, MCTC, MASC (P.TH.), MUBM
Principal of the IIHTVH
Teacher, Healer, Counselor, Medium, Author