Vol. 2, # 31
August 13, 2005

Q: What is aromatherapy and what is it good for? - Layperson

A: Aromatherapy is derived from the ancient practice of using natural plant essences to promote health and wellbeing. It consists of the use of pure essential oils( volatile oils that occur in plants and in general give to the plants their characteristic odors, flavors, or other such properties. Essential oils are found in various parts of the plant body (in the seeds, flowers, bark, or leaves) and are also concentrated in certain special cells or groups of cells (glands). Because of their properties, they are widely used in perfumes, flavorings, and medicines. Their chemical composition differs: A great many, for example, are principally terpenes, compounds of carbon and hydrogen. Others contain aldehydes, ketones, or phenols. Oxygen, sulfur, and nitrogen are present in compounds in others. In general, they are complex mixtures. They are obtained from the plant in various ways, depending upon the nature of the part in which they occur; by compression, by distillation with steam, by dissolving the oils out (extraction) or absorbing them, and by pressure and maceration. Among the plants notable for their essential oils are members of the following plant families: carrot (e.g., anise, dill, angelica), ginger (cardamom), heath (wintergreen), laurel (cinnamon and camphor), mint (pennyroyal, peppermint, spearmint, thyme), myrtle (clove and eucalyptus), olive (jasmine and lilac), orchid (vanilla), pulse (acacia and sweet pea), rose (attar of roses and almond), and rue (lemon and other citrus plants).) obtained from a wide assortment of plants, which have been steam distilled or cold-pressed from flowers, fruit, bark and roots.

Aromatherapy can help ease a wide assortment of ailments; easing aches, pains, and injuries, while relieving the discomforts of many health problems.

Aromatherapy also acts on the central nervous system, relieving depression and anxiety, reducing stress, relaxing, uplifting, sedating or stimulating, restoring both physical and emotional wellbeing.  The following is a partial list of common essential oils:

Essential Oils A - B essential oil leaf Essential Oils C - D essential oil leaf
Ambrette Seed (Ambrette Musk) CO2 Extract, Amni Visnaga Essential Oil, Angelica Root Essential Oil, Angelica Seed Essential Oil, Anise Seed Essential Oil, Aniseseed Myrtle Essential Oil, Sweet Basil Essential Oil, Bay Laurel Essential Oil, West Indies Bay Essential Oil, Beeswax Absolute, Benzoin Absolute, Bergamot Essential Oil, Bergamot Mint Essential Oil, Black Pepper Essential Oil, Blue Lotus Absolute Cajeput Essential Oil, Calendula Select and Calendula Total CO2 Extracts, Cardamom (Cardamon) CO2 Extract, Carrot Seed Essential Oil, Carrot Root (Heliocarrot)CO2 Extract, German Chamomile Essential Oil and CO2 Extract, Roman Chamomile Essential Oil, Champa Absolute, Cinnamon Bark and Cinnamon Leaf Essential Oils, Cistus Essential Oil, Clary Sage Essential Oil, Clementine Petitgrain Essential Oil, Clove Bud Essential Oil, Coffee CO2 Extract, Coriander CO2, Cypress Essential Oil, Davana
Essential Oils E - G essential oil leaf Essential Oils H - L essential oil leaf
Elemi Essential Oil, Eucalyptus species including Globulous, smithii, radiata and citriodora Essential Oils, Fennel Essential Oil, Balsam Fir Essential Oil, Frankincense species including carterii, Frereana, sacra and serrata Essential Oils and CO2 Extracts, Galbanum Essential Oil, Geranium Essential Oils, Ginger CO2 Extract, Golden Champa (Champaka), Pink Grapefruit Cold Pressed Essential Oil, Guaiacwood Essential Oil Helichrysum (everlasting, immortelle) Essential Oil, Hyacinth Absolute, Hyssop Essential Oil, Jasmine Grandiflora Absolute, Jasmine Sambac Absolute, Alpine Juniper Berry Essential Oil, Larch Essential Oil, Lavender, including officianalis, augustifolia, stoechas, Lavandin and spike lavender Essential Oil, Ledum (Labrador Tea) Essential Oil, Lemon Cold Pressed Essential Oil, Lemongrass Essential Oil, Lemon Myrtle Essential Oil, Lemon Scented Tea Tree Essential Oil, Lime Essential Oil, Linden Blossom Absolute, Litsea (May Ching) Essential Oil
Essential Oils M - O essential oil leaf Essential Oils P - R essential oil leaf
Mandarine Cold Pressed Essential Oil, Manuka Essential Oil, Marjoram (sweet) Essential Oil, Melissa (Lemon Balm) Essential Oil, Myrrh Essential Oil and CO2 Extract, Myrtle Essential Oil, Neroli Essential Oil (Orange Blossom), Niaouli Essential Oil, Nutmeg Essential Oil, Opoponax Essential Oil (Sweet Myrrh Oil), Orange Essential Oil, Orange Blossom Absolute, Oregano Essential Oil and Osmanthus Absolute Palma Rosa Essential Oil, Patchouli Essential Oil, Peppermint Essential Oil, Petitgrain Essential Oil, Scotch Pine Essential Oil, Pink Lotus Absolute, Ravensara , Rosalina , Rose Essential Oil, Rose Absolute, Rosa Alba (White Rose) Essential Oil, Rose Hip CO2, Rosemary Essential Oil, Rosemary Verbenon Essential Oil, Rosewood Essential Oil, Rosewood Branches Essential Oil
Essential Oils S - Z essential oil leaf
Sage Essential Oils, Mysore Sandalwood Essential Oil, Winter Savory Essential Oil, Sea Buckthorn Berry CO2 Extract, Seaweed Essential Oil, Spearmint Essential Oil, Spikenard Essential Oil, Black Spruce Essential Oil, Tagetes (Marigold) Essential Oil, Tansy (Annual Tansy, Moroccan Chamomile) Essential Oil,, Tea Tree Essential Oils,, Lemon Scented Tea Tree Essential Oil, Thymes (Linalol, Borneol and Capitatus), Tobacco Leaf Absolute, Tuberose Absolute, Valerian Essential Oil,, Vanilla CO2 Extract, Vetiver Essential Oils, Violet Leaf Absolute, Vitex Essential Oil, Wintergreen Essential Oil, Yarrow Essential Oil, Ylangylang Extra, Complete, and One Essential Oils, and Zdravetz Essential Oil

Methods of Extracting Essential Oils

I'd like to thank Ben Alkire (Contact Ben to see his home distillation kits if you want to produce your own essential oils and hydrosols) and Christopher McMahon of White Lotus Aromatics for providing much of the information below.


The vast majority of true essential oils are produced by distillation. There are different processes used, however. In all of them, water is heated to produce steam, which carries the most volatile chemicals of the aromatic material with it. The steam is then chilled (in a condenser) and the resulting distillate is collected. The Essential Oil will normally float on top of the Hydrosol (the distilled water component) and may be separated off.

Steam Distillation

True Steam distillation uses an outside source of steam which pipes the steam into the distillation unit, sometimes at high pressure. The steam passes through the aromatic material, and exits into the condenser.


The botanicals are fully submerged in water, producing a "soup", the steam of which contains the aromatic plant molecules. This is the most ancient method of distillation and the most versatile. It's the method most often used in primitive countries. The risk, of course, is that the still can run dry, or be overheated, burning the aromatics and resulting in an EO with a burnt smell. Hydrodistillation seems to work best for powders (ie, spice powders, ground wood, etc.) and very tough materials like roots, wood, or nuts.

Water & steam distillation

A water and steam distillation arrangement can be compared to a kitchen steamer basket, with the botanicals supported in a "basket" over boiling water, thus exposing the plant material only to the rising steam vapors. This is the best method for distilling leafy materials, but doesn't work well for woods, roots, seeds, etc.

Absolutes and Concretes: Solvent Extraction

Very delicate aromatics, Jasmine, Linden Blossom,etc. can not survive the process of distillation. To capture their magical aromas, a process of solvent extraction is used.

An extracting unit is loaded with perforated trays of blossoms. The blossoms are washed repeatedly with a solvent (usually hexane.) The solvent dissolves all extractable matter from the plant whch includes non-aromatic waxes, pigments and highly volatile aromatic molecules. The solution containing both solvent and dissolvable plant material is filtered and the filterate subjected to low pressure distillation to recover the solvent for further use. The remaining waxy mass is what is called the concrete and it contains in the case of J. grandiflorum as much as 55% of the volatile oil.

The concentrated concretes are processed further to remove the waxy materials which dilute the pure essential oil. To prepare the absolute from the concrete, the waxy concrete is warmed and stirred with alcohol (usually ethanol.). During the heating and stirring process the concrete breaks up into minute globules. Since the aromatic molecules are more soluble in alcohol than is the wax an efficient separation of the two takes place. But along with the aromatic molecules a certain amount of wax also becomes dissolved and this can only be removed by agitating and freezing the solution at very low temperatures (around -30 degrees F) In this way most of the wax precipates out. As a final precaution the purified solution is cold filtered leaving only the wax-free material (the absolute.)

This solvent extraction actually yields three usable products; first the concrete (as in rose concrete, my favorite solid perfume), the precious absolutes, and the floral waxes, for addition to candles, thickening creams and lotions as a softly floral scented alternative to beeswax.


Carbon Dioxide Extraction

When CO2 (carbon dioxide) is subjected to high pressure, the gas turns into liquid. This liquid CO2 can be used as a very inert, safe, "liquid solvent." which will extract the aromatic molecules in a process similar to that used to extract absolutes (above.) The advantage, of course, is that no solvent residue remains, since at normal pressure and temperature, the CO2 simply reverts to a gas and evaporates.

CO2 extraction has given us essences of some aromatics that don't yield essential oils, Rose Hip Seed, and Calendula, for examples. In my experience (or opinion!) if the same essential oil is available both as a steam distilled EO and a CO2 extracted essence, the CO2 seems to have a richer, more intense scent, since more of the aromatic chemicals are released through this process. For more details of this process and the different types of CO2 extracts please read our page devoted exclusively to the CO2 extracts.


Cold Pressing

We are all familiar with the spray of orange essential oil that can be released by scoring or zesting the skin of the fruit. The cold pressed citrus oils are commercial produced just this way, by machines which score the rind and capture the resulting oil. Although many citrus oils are also produced by steam distillation, they seem to lack the vibrancy of the cold pressed oils.


This extraction method uses a new type of benign gaseous solvents. In the late 1980s Dr. Peter Wilde first recognized the unique properties of these solvents for the extraction of aromatic oils and biologically active components from plant materials, for use in the food, pharmaceutical, aromatherapy and perfume industries. "Florasol" (R134a), is the solvent upon which the process is based

Extraction occurs at or below ambient temperatures, hence there is no thermal degradation of the products. The extraction process utilizes the selectivity of the solvent and produces a free flowing clear oil free of waxes.

Methods of Application

Pure essential oils have a wide range of therapeutic benefits. The method applied can effect the results you receive. First of all, please remember that almost no essential oil should be applied neat (undiluted) to the skin. "Normal dilution" is 2.5%, ie, 15 drops of the essential oil or synergistic blend to one ounce of carrier oil. Less is more when we speak of these powerful healing essences.

The most popular or common way that the oils are usually administered, in the USA at least, is through an Aromatherapy Massage. Blend your chosen blend or single oil into your choice of carrier. You don't need to be a trained massage therapist Warm hands and a gentle touch may not produce the deep muscle results that a trained Licensed Massage Therapist can produce, but long sweeping strokes can relax tensions and relieve anxiety. There are many introductory massage books on the market today, some may be ordered from our online bookstore Massage, however, is only method to receive the healing gifts of Aromatherapy. Please bear in mind that from a scientific standpoint the path the oils take to effect our bodies is through the olfactory system. It is by inhaling the aromatic chemicals that comprise these natural oils that they effect our central nervous system, and cross the "blood-brain" barrier. The issue of whether the oils are absorbed through the skin is often hotly contested. Traditionally, aromatherapists have believed and taught that the oils did enter the skin during massage, but modern testing indicates that this may well be wrong. So many other methods of delivery that allow you to inhale the volatile aromatics may be at least as effective.

The choice of delivery method often depends on the intended goal.

For Skin Care:

Facial Steam:

for skin care, part of a deep cleansing routine: 5 or 6 drops in a pint of warm water or in facial steamer.

Facial Masque:

add 3 to 5 drops to moistened clay, honey, mashed avocado, egg white, etc.

Facial Oil Blend:

use up to 15 drops of Essential Oil to your chosen carrier oil, or unscented cream or lotion.

Dry Brushing:

To stimulate the skin, and the lymphatic system all over the body use a natural bristle  bath brush with two or three drops of a stimulating essential oil (rosemary or pink grapefruit are good choices if not contraindicated) to the bristles and brush your skin, from the toes up to the heart, from the fingers to the heart, always working from the extremities toward the heart.  Brush lightly but cover your whole body.  This is effective either before or after your morning shower.  I would omit the face and neck from this process.

For sinus or bronchial problems:

I prefer to use:


add 5 to 7 drops to a bowl of steaming hot water, put a 'towel tent' over the head to capture the steam. Close your eyes and inhale until water cools or until you stop smelling the oil. Repeat, if necessary, every four or five hours.


Use a nebulizing diffuser that will break the oil into millions of micro-particles. In case of illness, inhale near the "mouth" of the nebulizer. Only four or five minutes worth should be sufficient, repeat every few hours.


(cool mist). Add from 3 to 9 drops of your chosen EO to the water of the humidifier. Run overnight, or add the essential oils two or three times a day, if running continuously. Please note, the essential oils can conceivably damage a humidifier. I've never had this happen, but it is a slight risk. This is an effective method if using the essential oils with a sick child, since there is not risk of danger from hot water, etc.

General use, for colds, flu, sore muscles, relaxation:


from 5 to 12 drops in a tub of warm water. Fill tub, add oils, swish to disperse in the water. you might try adding the oils to a spoonful of honey, a small cup of milk or cream, or to your favorite carrier oil, and then adding to the water.


Excellent for topical application to ease pain, from strained muscles, menstrual cramps, etc. Add 4 to 7 drops of Essential Oil to a bowl of warm water. Swish the surface of the water with a cloth, wring out, apply to area, repeat when cloth cools. You may cover the warm cloth with a sheet of plastic and a towel to keep the warmth in longer. This is an excellent method for treating painful menstrual cramps.


The amount of Essential Oil used depends on the purpose of the spritzer. To 4 ounces of distilled water add:
  • 8 to 10 drops for the face
  • 30 to 40 drops for an all over body spritzer
  • 80 to 100 drops for a room spray/air freshener
Shake well, spray. May be used as facial toner, to moisten a body wrap or as an all over freshener, or as a room spray. This mixture will require a lot of shaking, since the essential oils do not dissolve in water. You may first dissolve the essential oils in an ounce of perfumers alcohol or high proof vodka, or in a solublizer like the polysorbate available on our carrier oils page, then top the mixture off with approximately three ounces of distilled water.


add three drops of essential oil per person. This may be repeated every 30 minutes. Be aware that some sources warn that the oils may do damage to plastic plumbing.


After a shower, apply 5 to 7 drops to a damp wash clothe. Rub briskly all over the body. Preferably allow to air dry.

Bath Salts:

Use a blend of Epsom Salts (good for sore, aching muscles), Sea Salt, Baking Soda. Add 6 to 10 drops of your chose oil blend. Either add to warm bath, or use as a 'salt glow' rub before the bath. Adding a spoonful of your favorite carrier oil to the salt glow leaves your skin feeling soft and silky, but makes the tub harder to clean.

Household Use:


Essential Oils may be added to the washing machine, or a few drops put on a cotton cloth and added to the dryer. If using in the washer, the warnings above about possible damage to plastic or hard rubber parts would apply.
  • Adding a teaspoon of Lemon Oil to the washer will remove greasy/oily smells. (A great trick for Massage .therapists!)
  • Research indicates that adding Eucalyptus Globulous to the washing machine MAY kill dust mites in bedding.
  • Lavender EO in the dryer can scent bed linens
  • To really preserve the scent of EO's used in the dryer, add them and run on a 'no heat' cycle for a few minutes at the end of the drying cycle.

General Cleaning:

Use Lemon or Grapefruit EO, possibly with a touch of Tea Tree oil added, in the water you clean with. Wipe down kitchen counters and your bathroom with these cleansing, germicidal oils. I find that Lemon Oil in water does a wonderful job cleaning the bathroom mirror, as well as all the fixtures.

Washing Dishes:

Lemon Oil is a great grease cutter; I add a few drops to the dish pan.
And while we are in the kitchen:


Either add a drop or two of a citrus, spice, or floral EO to a cup of honey, mix well and let stand, OR put a couple of drops of the same EO on a scrap of paper towel, lay on top of a jar of sugar, seal tightly and let stand for a week. Add the flavour of the fresh plant to sugar for tea, baking, etc.

Measurements/conversions (volume)

30 ml 1 fl oz 6oo drops 2 tablespoonsful
15 ml 1/2 oz 300 drops 1 tablespoonful
5 ml 1/6 oz 100 drops 1 teaspoon
1 ml 1/30th oz 20 drops 1/5  teaspoon

Physical Ailments and Suggested Remedies


Blue Tansy, Amni Visnaga, German and Roman Chamomile, Helichrysum Lavender, Yarrow


Prevention:  Blue Tansy, Amni Visnaga.
Treatment:   Frankincense CO2, Hyssop, Inula, Litsea, Ravensara, Black Spruce, Blue Tansy, Cedarwood, Cajeput, Clary Sage, Roman Chamomile, Cypress, Fennel, Eucalyptus Radiata, Hyssop decumbens, Lavender,  Spike Lavender, Pine, Lemon, Mandarine, Myrtle, Peppermint, Petitgrain, Rosemary


Lavandin, Helichrysum, Black Pepper,Ginger, Marjoram, Lavender, Lemon, Nutmeg, Rosemary, Cajeput, Cinnamon, Clove Bud, Eucalyptus, Angelica Seed, Roman Chamomile, Holy Basil, Clove Bud, Cypress Tips, Balsam Fir,  Juniper, Nutmeg, Dalmatian Sage, Winter Savory, Seaweed, Thyme Borneol, Wintergreen, St. John's Wort oil as a carrier oil. Back Ease Massage oil

Athletes Foot and other fungal infections.

Myrrh, Patchouli, Lemongrass, Niaouli, Palma Rosa, Tagetes, Tea Tree


Helichrysum, Lavandin, Black Pepper, Cajeput, Chamomile, Eucalyptus, Ginger, Juniper Berry, Spike Lavender, Lemon, Peppermint, Marjoram, Nutmeg, Rosemary, Thyme, Backease Synergy


Bergamot, Lavender, Lemon, Tea Tree, Thyme, Juniper, Geranium (in hot compresses)

Bronchial Congestion:

Hyssop,  Inula, Frankincense, Black Spruce, Copaiba Balsam, Balsam Fir,  Larch, Pine


 Helichrysum, Black Pepper, German Chamomile, Hyssop, Fennel, Spike Lavender, Lemon, Rosemary

St. Johns Wort infused oil

Burns: Lavender, Helichrysum, Carrot Seed, Frankincense, Manuka, Neroli, Tea tree

Candida (Yeast Infection)

Tea tree, Cajeput, Holy Basil, Melissa, German Chamomile, Lemon Eucalyptus
Chronic Fatigue Sweet Basil, Rosemary, Geranium, Lemon, Pink Grapefruit

Chronic Pain

Topical Application: Black Pepper, Clove bud, Frankincense, Ginger CO2, Juniper, Spike Lavender, Lavender, Lemongrass, Sweet Marjoram, Myrrh, Peppermint, Rose, Roemary,  Ylangylang.
Inhalation: Frankincense, Lavender, Lemongrass, Sweet Marjoram, Rosemary, Lemon Verbena

Cold Sores (Herpes simplex):

Melissa,  Rose Otto, Myrrh, Bergamot, Eucalyptus Globulous, Sandalwood, Bergamot, Eucalyptus radiata, Cajeput, Niaouli, Ravensara, Teatree

Congestion (chest and bronchial)
(For Nasal Suggestion, see sinus suggestions.)

Eucalyptus Globulous, Sweet Eucalyptus, Frankincense CO2, Inula, Sweet Basil, Black Pepper, Lemon Myrtle, Peppermint, Pine, Black Spruce


Sweet Fennel, Yarrow, Black Pepper,  Sweet Marjoram, Rosemary, Carrot Seed, Peppermint, pine, sweet orange


Hyssop, Cardamon Seed, Balsam Fir, Inula (for dry, unproductive cough), Pine, Greek Sage, Oregano

Cramps, Muscle Spasms

Sweet Marjoram, Black Pepper, Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Cypress, Geranium, Lavender, Marjoram, Thyme

Cuts and scrapes

Lavender, Chamomiles, Tea Tree for disinfecting, Helichrysum
Cystitis Bergamot, Atlas Cedarwood, Juniper, Cypress


Black Pepper, German and Roman Chamomile, Cinnamon Leaf, Cypress, Eucalyptus, Sweet Fennel, Ginger, Mandarinr, Neroli, Peppermint, Cajeput


Cistus, Angelica Root, Ravensara, Rosemary, Seaweed, Carrot seed, Sweet Fennel, Grapefruit, Juniper, Lemon, mandarine, tangerine.


Sponge the body with cool water with 1 drop each Eucalyptus, Lavender, and Peppermint oils added.


Ginger, Peppermint, Anise Seed, Fennel, Litsea, Oregano, Black Pepper, Cardamon, Roman and German Chamomile
Gout: St. Johns Wort oil with Wintergreen. (note this is the only time I ever recommend using wintergreen or birch oils.) Juniper berry, Lemon, Rosemary.


 Lavender, Sweet Basil, Roman Chamomile, Clove Bud, Lavandin, Cajeput, Clary Sage, Eucalyptus, Marjoram, Peppermint, Rosewood, Rosemary, Thyme

Hot Flashes:

Vitex, Peppermint Hydrosol, Passages Synergy

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure):

Bergamot, Roman chamomile, lavender, litsea, melissa, sweet marjoram, neroli, ylangylang

Hypotension (Low Blood Pressure)

Ginger, lemon, red thyrm, rosemary


Cardamon, Black Pepper, Ginger, Peppermint, Anise Seed, Coriander, Fennel, Lemongrass, Litsea, Melissa, Nutmeg, Cinnamon Leaf, Sweet Fennel


Helichrysum, Roman or German Chamomile, Coriander, Juniper, Fennel, Nutmeg, Yarrow

Insect Bites

Cajeput (fire ants), Helichrysum, German Chamomile, Lavender


Red Mandarine, (a recent study indicates that Mandarine is even more effective than lavender in dealing with sleep disturbances.)Bulgarian Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Clementine Petitgrain, Bergamot, Ledum, Myrtle, Petitgrain, Sandalwood, Spikenard,Valerian, Sleepy Time Synergy
Lymphodema Cistus, helichrysum, lavender


Clary Sage, Geranium, Rose, Vitex, Bergamot, Chamomile, Cypress, Fennel, Jasmine, Neroli, Ylang ylang, Passages Synergy

Menstrual Cramps

Clary Sage, Sweet Marjoram, Geranium, Sweet Fennel, Anise Seed, Sweet Basil, Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Cypress Needle, Yarrow, Moondays Synergy or body oil.


Lavender, Peppermint, Roman Chamomile, Clary Sage, Marjoram,  Valerian, Eucalyptus, Spike Lavender, Neroli

Muscle Aches

Lavandin, Rosemary, Black Pepper, Ginger, Black Spruce, Sweet Basil, Spike Lavender, Vetiver, Eucalyptus, Muscle Ease Massage Oil

Muscle Spasms

Roman Chamomile, Petitgrain, Clary Sage, Fennel, Frankincense, Lavender, Sage.
One client reports relief by spritzing St.John's Wort Hydrosol.


Ginger, Peppermint,Spearmint, Cardamon Seed, Sweet Fennel, Patchouli
Peridontal problems Myrrh, Sweet fennel, manuka, peppermint, tea tree.


Geranium, Clary Sage, Rose, Sweet Fennel, Bergamot, Chamomile, Juniper Berry, Lavender, Neroli, Rosemary, Sweet Fennel, Palma Rosa, Rose Otto, Vitex, Ylang Ylang Extra, Moondays Synergy, La Rosa Synergy
Pressure sores (Bed Sores) German Chamomile, helichrysum, geranium, frankincense, lavender,Calendula infused oil
Rheumatism St. John's Wort Oil,  Black Pepper, Ginger, Helichrysum, Lavender, Lavandin,  BackEase Synergy


Tea Tree(5% dilution)
Sciatica St. John's Wort Oil,  Black Pepper, Ginger, Helichrysum, Lavender, Lavandin,  BackEase Synergy


All Eucalyptus species, especially Radiata, Peppermint, Angelica Root, Sweet Basil, Clove Bud,  Hyssop, Inula, Lemon, Lemon Myrtle,  Pine, Sinease Synergy


Ravensara in a base of Calophyllum, Bergamot, Eucalyptus Globulous, Melissa with Rose Otto, Lavender, Tea Tree

Sore Throat:

Hyssop, Sandalwood


Chamomile with Lavender, Blue Tansy, German Chamomile, Peppermint, Peppermint Hydrosol

Varicose Veins:

Calendula infused oil, Cypress, Lemon, Geranium, Juniper, Rosemary


Anti-bacterial Essential Oils

Please follow appropriate safety warnings. Many of the most effective oils are truly not safe for use on the skin and would do better in a nebulizing diffuser. Also, please remember that all essential oils have some antibacterial/antimicrobial effect, so oils may be chosen for other reasons and still be effective.
As with any information presented on this page, please use all proper precautions in using these powerful aromatic essences, and consult a medical practitioner when in doubt. We are in no way responsible for misuse of the information presented herein.

Tea Tree esp. against Staph infections Manuka (staph & strep) Bay Laurel Thymes (I recommend Linalool) Bergamot
Dalmatian Sage Lavender Eucalyptus Clove Bud Oregano
Spike Lavender Lemon Niaouli Lemongrass Ravensara
Pine Palma Rosa Cistus (E-Coli) Sweet Marjoram Peppermint
Black Pepper Cassia Patchouli Cajeput Sandalwood (strep)

Please remember that as more and more infectious conditions become resistant to various antibiotics, the essential oils seem to retain their effectiveness.

Anti-fungal Essential Oils

As with any information presented on this page, please use all proper precautions in using these powerful aromatic essences, and consult a medical practitioner when in doubt. We are in no way responsible for misuse of the information presented herein.

essential oil leaf link to tea tree essential oilTea Tree (melaleuca alternifolia)
Most frequently recommended for the treatment of athletes foot, candida, in fact any sort of fungus. Tea tree oil is an effective all round anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal oil. Many authorities recommend using Tea Tree neat (undiluted) but much recent evidence shows that it is actually more effective in a 2% dilution. I personally consider it much too harsh to use undiluted on the skin.

Tea Tree is the usually suggested aromatherapy remedy for Ringworm. If I were trying to treat this fungal infection I'd go with a weak (ie 12 drops/ounce of carrier) dilution of tea tree in Jojoba Oil.

essential oil leaf link to Myrrh essential oilMyrrh Essential Oil Commiphora myrrha
Specifically often recommended in a blend to treat "Jock Strap Itch." I have found it effective blended with tea tree and worked into Bentonite Clay, used as a body powder. Please don't use Corn Starch in this "do it yourself" dusting powder as it tends to feed the fungus and makes things worse, not better.

leaf image for cedarwood essential oilsCedarwood, either Atlas or Virginia
Wonderful for clearing out musty closets or basements. Perhaps blended with Lemongrass For a basement or large area, I would suggest running in a nebulizing diffuser to really fill the atmosphere; For a closet, first wipe the closet down with a blend of the oils in water, allow to dry thoroughly (perhaps running a dehumidifier, if available)

leaf image for cedarwood essential oilsTagetes Tagetes glandulifera
Recommended for use with fungi that affect the feet. Tagetes is a strong photosensitizer so really shouldn't be used on other parts of the body. I've found a blend of Tea tree oil and Tagetes added to a vinegar and water foot bath very effective for athletes foot and for dealing with toenail fungus.

leaf image for cedarwood essential oilsLavandin Lavandula hybrid var. Super
This is the essential oil that I use to keep the linen closet fresh and sweet smelling. I use one of our little "clay pot" diffusers in the closet

leaf image for cedarwood essential oilsLemon Eucalyptus Eucalyptus citriodora
Lemon Eucalyptus, in a nebulizing diffuser is what I used when part of the house was flooded, wet carpets etc., last year. It is a wonderful air cleaner and strong antifungal for use in a large area.

Anti-viral Essential Oils

It has not been proven, scientifically, that any essential oil has specific antiviral effects. However, anecdotal evidence indicates that the following essential oils may have some antiviral effects. Please follow appropriate safety warnings; many of the most effective oils are truly not safe for use on the skin and would do better in a nebulizing diffuser.

As with any information presented on this page, please use all proper precautions in using these powerful aromatic essences, and consult a medical practitioner when in doubt. We are in no way responsible for misuse of the information presented herein.

TeaTree Manuka Cinnamon Bark Thymes (I recommend Linalool) True Melissa (against the herpes virus)
Dalmatian Sage Lavender Hyssop decumbens Clove Bud Oregano
Cinnamon Leaf Lemon Niaouli Myrrh Ravensara (said by some to be effective against Mononucleosis, herpes, shingles, flu, etc.)
Eucalyptus Radiata Peppermint Cistus, Palma Rosa Elemi
Helichrysum Italicuum Steam Distilled Lime Eucalyptus Globulous Sandalwood??? Thuja (Cedarleaf)
Black Pepper Cassia Patchouli cajeput Laurel??

Essential Oils recommended for various skin types.

Please note, many of the suggested oils are photosentizers. Angelica, and cold pressed citrus oils should not be used on the skin within 12 hours of exposure to sunlight or ultraviolet light. If you choose to use one of these oils on your face, please use it only at night.

See our Methods page for suggested methods of using the oils in skincare. Also see our descriptive carrier oils page to help select appropriate carriers for your skin type.

Nature's Gift offers a range of skincare products on our Aromatherapy Skincare Blends page.


Lavender, rose, rosemary camphor, cypress, geranium, chamomiles, rosewood, geranium essential oils and hydrosols


Tea tree, manuka, helichrysum, lavender, spike lavender, thyme linalool, rose geranium, teatree, petitgrain, grapefruit, sandalwood, vetiver, mints, basil, german chamomile, atlas cedarwood, rosewood, palma rosa, thyme thymol, cajeput, niaouli, Yarrow Hydrosol


Grapefruit, yarrow, rosemary, lime distilled


Coriander, thymus vulgaris, peppermint, lemongrass


Myrrh, patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, cajeput, roman & german chamo, lavender

Calendula infused oil.


Black Pepper, Cinnamon leaf, clove bud, ginger, lavender.  (ie, circulatory stimulants to promote warming.)


Sweet Basil, juniper, lemon, lemongrass, niaouli, peppermint


Geranium, Rosewood, ylangylang, Rose Geranium Hydrosol, Neroli Hydrosol


(Thread veins, congested capillaries)

Lemon, helichrysum, cypress, rose, lavender, parlsey, roman & german chamomiles, geranium,  calendula infused oil, helichrysum or neroli hydrosols.


Eucalyptus globulous, myrtle, neroli, basil juniper, lemon, lemongrass, niaouli, peppermint, pine, orange, oregano, rosemary, spearmint, geranium, grapefruit


Petitgrain, lavender, spike lavender, clary, rose geranium


Carrot seed, cedarwood, clary, jasmine, geranium, lavender, orange, palma rosa, rose, roman chamo, rosewood, neroli, petitgrain, mandarine petitgrain, vetiver, sandalwood, ylangylang, carrot seed, lavender, rose or neroli hydrosol, Calendula infused oil.


German Chamomile, Helichrysum, Lavender, Bergamot, Carrot Seed, Atlas Cedarwood,Roman Chamomile, Juniper, Myrrh, Palma Rosa, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Teatree, Yarrow, Ylangylang.

Calendula infused oil, Karanja or Neem oil.


Palmarosa, sweet orange, mandarine, tangerine, rose, most hydrosols, esp. Neroli


German chamo, manuka, eucalyptus, lavender, myrrh, roman chamo,rosemary, spikenard, teatree, thyme lihnalool, calendula, palmarosa, niaouli, laurel, myrtle, rosewood


helichrysum, st. johns wort infusion, carrot seed, cistus, galbanum German & Roman chamomiles, clary, myrrh, myrtle, rosewood, angelica, yarrow, Helichryum, Witch hazel or Chamomile Hydrosols


Jasmine, heli, lavender, peppermint, roman chamo, Lavender or Witch Hazel hydrosol


Myrtle, lemongrass, rose, cedarwood


Carrotseed, elemi, cistus, frankincense, galbanum, fennel, geranium, myrrh, patchouli, rose, clary, rosewood, sages, cypress, fennel, lavender, neroli. See also Sea Buckthorn Berry Extract, Also consider our CO2 Combo.


Atlas cedarwood, geranium, jasmine, lavender, neroli, roman chamo, rose, rosewood, ylangylang, angelica, all hydrosols


Roman & German chamos, cedarwood, (atlas, red, texas) geranium, clary, lavender, ylangylang, lemon, peppermint, niaouli, cajeput, cypress, calendula infusion, frankincense, patchouli, sandalwood, juniper, melissa, yarrow, coriander, petitgrain, lime distilled, grapefruit, thyme linalool, lavandin, spike lavender, rose

PIMPLES, blemishes:

Teatree, Manuka, Lemon Myrtle, German Chamomile, Helichrysum italicuum, thyme linalool, cajeput, oregano (spot only) niaouli, rosemary


(extremely difficult to treat)

Bergamot, helichrysum, cajeput, carrot seed, german or roman chamomile,Lavender, Juniper, Sandalwood, Teatree

Calendula infused oil


Oregano, spanish marjoram, cypress, peppermint, rosemary, fennel, celery, clary, roman chamo


Frankincense, lavender, neroli, patchouli, rose, rosemary, sandalwood, teatree, helichrysum, elemi, vetiver, spikenard, caraway, palmarosa, Spanish sage, clary, lavender, galbanum,myrrh, myrtle, calendula, carrot seed, cistus, CO2 combo


Carrot seed, Rosewood,niaouli, teatree, orange, calendula


German chamomile, helichrysum italicuum, rosewood, helichrysum hydrosol, see our Rosacea Synergy


Roman & german chamo, rose, palmarosa, helichrysum, neroli, rosewood, carrot, angelica, jasmine, Neroli, Chamomile or Yarrow Hydrosols


Helichrysum (in a base of Rose Hip Seed Oil), carrot seed, lavender, petitgrain, galbanum


Calendula infused , lemongrass, chamomiles, lavender, neroli, orange, rose, frankincense, petitgrain, lemon, hydrosols

Some of the most beneficial oils can prove harmful under certain conditions. Concentrated oils are very strong, and just because a product is natural doesn't mean that it's harmless. Inappropriate use can often lead to adverse and damaging side effects. This is a partial list of medical conditions that warrant avoiding some oils. 

If you are pregnant avoid: Basil, Cedarwood,Clary, Coriander, Hyssop, Jasmine, Juniper,Marjoram. Oregano, Myrrh,Peppermint (which should also be avoided while nursing), Rockrose, Rosemary,Sage and Thyme.

Please note, the above oils are listed as contraindicated during pregnancy by most Aromatherapy authors. However, Martin Watt, the source that I respect the most regarding the safety of aromatic materials used in aromatherapy has this to say: "There are NO essential oils that used externally are proven as harmful to a developing foetus. The vast majority of oils you have listed are common food additives. This is all stuff from the aromatherapy novel writers."

If you suffer from a seizure disorder it's best to avoid Basil, Fennel, Hyssop, Rosemary and Sage.

To which Martin Watt states: "There is not a shred of evidence that the oils you mention have any adverse effect in epileptics and again most are common food additives."

If you have Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) avoid Geranium.

To which Martin wrote "Total and utter B-S."

If you have High Blood Pressure avoid Pine, Rosemary, Sage and Thyme.

And Martin replies "There is no evidence that the stated essential oils of themselves can increase blood pressure. Of course if someone does not like their smell that might marginally increase it, but probably not.."

Those with kidney problems should approach Juniper, Sandalwood and Coriander with caution.

"No evidence and unlikely if the oils are only used externally," says Martin

The following oils can cause severe sun damage (photosensitivity.): Bergamot, expressed Lime and Rue, very strong, Cumin, Mandarine, Lemon, Tangerine, Orange, Verbena (moderate), Angelica, Caraway, Cassia,  Cinnamon Bark, Grapefruit, Honeysuckle absolute, Laurel Leaf Abs., Patchouli (mild), Virginia Cedarwood, Dill weed, and Petitgrain (very mild.)

Consider any cold pressed citrus oil a potential photosensitizer.  Steam distilled citrus oils, on the other hand, do not carry this risk. St. John's Wort CO2 and infused oil are also photosensitizers.

Clary should not be used when consuming alcohol, because it can greatly increase its effects. Marjoram and Chamomile can cause drowsiness.

If you are anti-coagulant therapy (blood thinners) avoid oils high in Eugenol (clove, cinnamon leaf and bay laural (pimenta racemosa).

Two oils with almost identical components that are too dangerous to use lightly, if at all, are Birch (Betula lenta) and Wintergreen.  They have their own page.
Sensitizing oils:  Essential Oils with a proven or suspected history of causing sensitization (allergies):  Aniseed, Bay, Benzoin (indeed, any Styrax oil), Balsam of Peru (VERY HAZARDOUS), Calamus, Cardamon (suspect), Cassia, Cinnamon Bark & Leaf, Citronella, Clary Sage (suspect), Costus, Dill Seed (not Weed), Fennel, Bitter,  Fig Leaf Absolute, Galbanum Resin (cross sensitizing with Peru Balsam),Hyacinth abs. (suspect), Jasmine Abs. Junipers (suspect)  Laurel (bay laurel), Lemon (suspect), Litsea Cubeba (suspect) Lovage (suspect), Mimosa Abs., Oakmoss Concrete (suspect), Orange (suspect),  Pines (suspect) Rose Abs. (if used in high concentrations.) Spearmint, Tolu (balsam, VERY STRONG?)  Tagetes, Tolu Balsam, Turpentine,Lemon Verbena (The IFRA strongly advises against the use of Verbena oil in cosmetics or perfume products.)Ylangylang (in very high concentrations.)

Some toiletries makers recommend the use of Benzoin oil or resin as a preservative. This practice is of enough concern that a special page has been devoted to the possible results of its use.

NOTE, some oils should not be used by anyone except a clinically trained aromatherapist. Among them are Birch, Sage, Thuja, and  Wintergreen,
Carcinogenic oils:  Calamus (European and Asian), Sassafras.   (Please note: Sassafras E O is banned for use in cosmetics and toiletries in all of Europe.)

Others have such  potentially dangerous effects as to make them too risky to experiment with. The oils on my personal 'to be avoided at all costs' list are: Bitter Almond, Calamus (grown in Europe or Asia, the Canadian/USA grown is safer) Yellow Camphor, Horseradish, Mugwort, Mustard, Rue, Sassafras, Southernwood, Tansy (other than Annual Tansy),  and Wormwood.  

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DISCLAIMER:  The information in this column, is NOT intended to diagnose and/or treat any health related issues and is provided solely for informational purposes only. Consult the appropriate healthcare professional before making any changes to your healthcare regime. Even what may seem like simple changes in the diet for example, can interact with, and alter, the efficiency of medications and/or the body's response to the medications. Many herbs and supplements exert powerful medicinal effects. Neither the author, nor the website designers, assume any responsibility for the reader's use or misuse of this information.

� 2002 Nature's Corner