Essential oils can be used in aromatherapy, a kind of complementary medicine that uses smell to improve your health or applied topically to the skin.
Studies have shown that essential oils may help:
Here are some common essential oils and their benefits:
Lavender is Dr. Lin’s go-to oil. “It’s gentle and has a lot of benefits. You can use it in a variety of ways,” she says.
Try adding it to a bath or diffuser as aromatherapy, adding to water to make a room spray or body spritzer, or combining with a base oil to make body oil.
Lavender can help with stress, pain and sleep. “Before the discovery of antiseptics, lavender was also used as a cleaning agent in hospitals,” Dr. Lin says.
There have also been studies that show using lavender oil (and tea tree oil) can potentially disrupt hormones in young boys.
Dr. Lin says most people use tea tree oil as an antiseptic, antimicrobial or antifungal. You can also use it to help with:
One note of caution: Since tea tree oil can be neurotoxic, Dr. Lin says you shouldn’t diffuse it if you have small children or animals at home.
Known as the “king of oils,” frankincense can help with inflammation, mood and sleep. Studies have shown that it can also improve asthma and might prevent gum disease.
Frankincense oil has a woody, spicy scent and can be used as aromatherapy and can be found in skin creams. Makes sure you dilute frankincense oil before applying it to your skin.
Peppermint oil is known to:
“Peppermint tea can settle your stomach, too, if you have irritable bowel syndrome or gastric irritation,” adds Dr. Lin. “It’s very gentle and easy to use.”
When using the oil topically, make sure you dilute it.
Eucalyptus is a great essential oil to have on hand during cold season. It soothes a stuffed-up nose by opening your nasal passages so you can breathe easier. (Peppermint oil can also help with this.)
It can also relieve pain and fight against herpes simplex virus thanks to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Take precautions when using eucalyptus oil, making sure to dilute it before applying topically. It should not be ingested and can have dangerous side effects on children and pets.
Extracted from the peel of lemons, lemon oil can be diffused into the air or applied topically to your skin with a carrier oil.
Lemon oil is known to:
A study also states that aromatherapy of essential oils like lemon oil might improve the cognitive function of people with Alzheimer’s disease.
Lemon oil is safe for aromatherapy and topical use. But there have been some reports that lemon oil can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight and increase your risk of sunburn. Avoid direct sunlight exposure after use. This includes lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, lemongrass and bergamot oils.
Lemongrass oil has a strong citrus scent and is known to help relieve stress, anxiety and depression.
Its antibacterial properties make it a good natural remedy to heal wounds and kill bacteria. It has been shown to prevent the growth of fungus found in athlete’s foot, ringworm and jock itch.
A study found that using lemongrass oil can help reduce blood sugar in those with type 2 diabetes.
Be sure to use a carrier oil before applying to your skin.
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