With so many essential oils on the market, it can be confusing to decide which oils to start with and how. Each essential oil is made up of a unique chemical composition that allows for its health benefits.
If you're just getting started with essential oils and looking to experiment with some of the most popular products, here’s a simple guide to the top types.
5 Most Popular Essential Oils and Their Uses
What is frankincense oil? Frankincense essential oil has been used for thousands of years for its healing properties and it’s been associated with several religions, especially Christianity. The word frankincense comes from the term “franc encens,” a term in old French that means quality incense.
Where does frankincense come from? Frankincense oil comes from the Boswellia serrata tree that’s grown in Somalia and regions of Pakistan. The trunk of the trees produces a milky, orange-brown gum resin that’s used for its healing properties.
Boosts Immunity: Perhaps one of the most well-known benefits of frankincense oil is its ability to help support immune function and fight infections. This is due to frankincense oil’s immunostimulant and antimicrobial properties.† (1)
Helps to Reduce Stress and Anxiety: Frankincense is used aromatically to help reduce stress and anxiety. It’s been shown to support healthy heart rate and high blood pressure, and it’s known to have mood-supportive effects.† Frankincense oil may also work as a natural sleep aid because of its ability to help with anxiety and stress levels, inducing a calming and grounding feeling.†(2)
May Help to Fight Inflammation: Some research suggests that the compounds found in frankincense oil have strong anti-inflammatory effects. It’s believed that frankincense is able to inhibit certain pro-inflammatory cytokines that can damage DNA and destroy healthy cells.† (3)
Best uses: Frankincense oil can be used aromatically, topically and internally. To use it aromatically, simply diffuse about 5 drops at home or work, or breathe in the scent directly from the bottle. Topically, combine 2-3 drops of frankincense oil with a carrier oil (like coconut oil) and rub the mixture into your achy muscles or areas of pain to reduce inflammation, or onto the skin to fight inflammatory conditions. To use frankincense internally, add 1-2 drops to 8 ounces of water or a tablespoon of honey. This can help relieve indigestion and boost immunity.† (Note: When using any essential oil internally, make sure it’s 100 percent grade.)
What is lavender oil? Lavender oil is one of the most widely recognized essential oils in the world. It’s been used for over 2,500 years and continues to be one of the most popular oils because of its healing benefits and versatility.
Where does lavender come from? Lavender oil is distilled from the flower spikes of the lavender plant, which has the genus name Lavandula.
Boosts Mood and Supports Brain Health: Research suggests that lavender oil may play a role in the health of our nervous system. Because it works as an antioxidant that combats brain oxidative stress, it may help to improve cognitive impairment and neurological dysfunctions.† It also has sedative properties and is often used to ease anxiety, reduce pain, relieve headaches, improve sleep and fight depression.† (4)
Has Antimicrobial Properties: Due to lavender oil’s antimicrobial properties, it can be used to prevent and fight infections.† It’s used to promote wound healing and provide relief from cuts or burns.† Lavender oil can also be applied topically to improve the appearance and health of your skin and hair. This is due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and antimicrobial effects.† (5)
Best uses: Lavender oil is gentle enough to apply directly to the skin, which is one of the reasons that it’s so popular. Apply 2-3 drops topically to your skin in order to fight inflammation, ease pain and speed healing. You can also rub lavender oil into your temples to relieve headaches and induce relaxation. Another popular way to use lavender oil is it diffuse it. This can help to improve your sleep, ease anxiety and boost your mood.†
What is lemon oil? Lemon oil is one of the most popular essential oils out there because of its versatility. It has a refreshing and invigorating scent, works as a powerful antioxidant and cleansing properties.†
Where does lemon come from? Lemon essential oil is cold-pressed from the peel of the lemon, the fruit of the Citrus limon plant.
Relieves Nausea: Lemon oil can be used to help reduce nausea and vomiting, especially during pregnancy.† (6)
Promotes Detoxification: Lemon oil has cleansing and purifying effects. It works to promote detoxification and defend the body against harmful pathogens that make us sick. It also works to stimulate lymphatic drainage, aiding the body to cleanse itself of harmful toxins and wastes.† (7)
Works as A Natural Cleanser: Lemon oil works as an antimicrobial agent, so it can be used to support the immune system and even cleanse your home of harmful pathogens, including bacteria and fungi.†
Best uses: Lemon oil can be used topically, aromatically and internally. To cleanse your home of bacteria and other pathogens, add about 40 drops of lemon essential oil to a spray bottle filled with water and use it as a natural cleaning product. You can also combine lemon oil with tea tree oil. Lemon oil can be diffused at home to kill microorganisms as well. To use it topically, combine 1-2 drops with a carrier oil, and to take lemon oil internally, add 2 drops to 8 ounces of water or to a cup of warm water with honey.
What is peppermint oil? The invigorating properties of peppermint oil make it one of the most popular essential oils on the market. It’s been used for thousands of years, beginning in Japanese, Chinese and Egyptian medicine.
Where does peppermint come from? Peppermint oil is extracted from the fresh aerial parts of the flowering plant. It’s actually a hybrid species of water mint (called Mentha aquatica) and spearmint.
Aids Digestion: Using peppermint oil internally or topically is known for its ability to support digestion. It’s able to reduce spasms in the colon, relax the muscles of your intestines and reduce gassiness and bloating.† (8)
Relieves Muscle and Joint Pain: Peppermint oil works as a natural pain reliever and muscle relaxant. This is due to its cooling, invigorating, antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties.v (9)
Benefits Respiratory System: Peppermint oil works as an expectorant that helps to open the airways of your respiratory system, clearing mucus and reducing congestion. It also helps to relax the muscles in your nasal passages, which can be helpful if you’re suffering from a respiratory infection or allergies.† (10)
Best uses: Peppermint oil can be used aromatically, topically and internally. To kill airborne pathogens and boost energy, it can be diffused or inhaled directly from the bottle. To use it topically, combine 2-3 drops of peppermint with a carrier oil and rub it into areas of muscle or joint pain, into your temples to reduce headache pain, or into the back of your neck.† For internal use, add 1-2 drops of peppermint to 8 ounces of water or place 1-2 drops under your tongue.
What is oregano oil? Oregano oil has been used in folk medicine for over 2,500 years. Today, it’s a popular essential oil because of its ability to fight infections.†
Where does oregano come from? Oregano oil comes from the herb Origanum vulgare. It takes 1,000 pounds of wild oregano to produce one pound of oregano essential oil.
Fights Infections: The active ingredients in oregano oil work to fight bacterial, as well as other infections.†(11)
Relieves Digestive Problems: Oregano oil can be used as a digestive aid because it works to relax the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract and helps to support the balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut.† (12)
Best uses: Oregano oil can be used internally, topically and aromatically. To use oregano oil as a natural antibiotic, it can be taken internally for ten days at a time. To kill pathogens in your home, add about 5 drops of oregano oil to a diffuser, and to use it to fight skin infections, warts or fungal overgrowth, combine 3-5 drops of oregano with a carrier oil and apply the mixture to the area of concern.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.