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Guide to Essential Oils

Guide to Essential Oils

Aromatherapy, the use of scents from the essential oils of plants to alter mood and promote healing, is an ancient art currently enjoying a resounding revival. While many common garden plants are used in essential oils—peppermint, basil, and lavender, to name just a few—the quantities of flowers or leaves needed to produce the oil (1,000 pounds of jasmine flowers for one pound of oil, for example) means that even the most prolific gardeners would be better off buying their essential oils from catalogs or stores.

Most commonly the oils are used in the bath (put in at the very end; the water should be no more than l00°F) or in a diffuser or placed on a handkerchief and inhaled when you need a lift. Since essential oils are very potent, they should always be diluted with a base oil such as sweet almond or grapeseed before being put on your skin. And don’t ingest or get it in your eyes.

If you are pregnant or have a chronic illness of any kind, consult your physician before using any.

Here are some of the most common oils and their qualities:

Basil: Uplifting, clarifies thought processes.

Bergamot: Uplifting, yet calming.

Cedarwood: Relaxing; stress reducing.

Chamomile: Soothing and calming, excellent to use after an argument.

Fennel: Relaxing, warming, calming.

Fir needle: Refreshing, cleansing.

Frankincense: Calming, helps release fear.

Geranium: Balancing mood swings, harmonizing.

Juniper: Purifying, stimulating.

Lavender: Calming, soothing, relaxing

Lemon: Uplifting, refreshing, mental alertness.

Lemongrass: Stimulating, cleansing, tonifying.

Lime: Invigorating, refreshing.

Mandarin orange: Uplifting, refreshing.

Marjoram: Very relaxing, anxiety reducing.

Myrrh: Strengthening, inspiring.

Orange: Uplifting, refreshing.

Patchouli: Inspiring, sensuous.

Peppermint: Stimulating, cleansing, refreshing, invigorating.

Pine: Refreshing, cleansing, stimulating.

Rose: Emotionally soothing.

Rosemary: Stimulating, cleansing, good for studying, invigorating.

Sage: Cleansing, purifying.

Sandalwood: Stress reducing, sensuous, soothing, helps release fear.

Spearmint: Refreshing, stimulating.

Ylang-ylang: Uplifting, sensuous.

Read more: Beauty, Health, Holistic Beauty, Mental Wellness, ,

Adapted from Every Garden Is a Story: Stories, Crafts and Comforts by Susannah Seton (Conari Press, 2007).

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Melissa Breyer

Melissa Breyer is a writer and editor with a background in sustainable living, specializing in food, science and design. She is the co-author of True Food (National Geographic) and has edited and written for regional and international books and periodicals, including The New York Times Magazine. Melissa lives in Brooklyn, NY.


+ add your own
6:52AM PDT on May 26, 2013

Useful list, thanks for sharing.

1:54AM PDT on Apr 23, 2013

Very interesting. Thanks for posting.

3:37PM PDT on Apr 6, 2013


2:20PM PST on Nov 13, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

12:31AM PDT on Sep 20, 2012

Thanks for sharing.

5:19AM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

I'm glad I found this so I know what oils work for what.

5:16AM PDT on Aug 30, 2012

I'm glad to come across this because I love aromatherapy and always wondered what is for what.

6:04PM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

I dislike too much scent, but just the right amount really is soothing. Ahh.

5:46PM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

Thanks :)

12:12PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Thanks for the info.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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