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Eight Essential Oils for Health and Wellness

Avatar for Jodie Weston Jodie Weston  |  Updated: August 2, 2022
Eight Essential Oils for Health and Wellness

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Editor’s Note: This is a revised and updated resource for 2018.

When it comes to treating minor ailments, nothing seems to beat the effectiveness of essential oils.  I say this not as a healthcare professional for surely I am not, but as someone who recently dumped two drawers filled with over-the-counter remedies in favor of essential oils.  To say I am pleased would be in understatement and while a bit of experimentation has been involved, each day my confidence in these miracle-worker oils grows.

Eight Essential Oils for Health and Wellness | Backdoor Survival

In the past, I have written about the amazing uses for Melaleuca (Tea Tree), Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary and Clove oils.  If you have followed closely, you will have seen patterns where the solution to some ailment may be positively treated by more than one essential oil, either singly or in combination.

The reason for this is that many essential oils have common properties, such as Antiseptic, Anesthetic, Antibiotic, Anti-Bacterial, Antiviral, Anti-Inflammatory, Anti-Fungal, and Anti-Depressant.  Most essential oils will have at least two or three of these properties and sometimes more.

The goal today is not to confuse you with the various oils or combinations of oils that are out there to help with first aid and other minor health concerns.  Instead, I want to boil it down and give you a nice chart that you can keep with your medical supplies so you can easily jump to the right solution to what ails you.

But first, how do essential oils work?

How Do Essential Oils Work

The actual science behind the effectiveness of essential oils is best described by Debra Fulghum Bruce Ph.D. as follows:

Essential oils are highly concentrated substances extracted from a variety of different parts of a plant, including the flower, bark, roots, leaves, wood, resin, seeds, or the rind (in the case of citrus fruits). The oils contain healing vitamins, antibiotics, and antiseptics and represent the “life force” of the plant.

Scientists agree that essential oils may perform more than one function in living plants. In some cases they seem to be a part of the plant’s immune system. In other cases they may simply be end products of metabolism. Essential oils are said to be healing because they contain hundreds of organic constituents, including hormones, vitamins, and other natural elements that work on many levels. For example, essential oils can be sedative or stimulating. Some are antispasmodic, and most are antibacterial.  Essential oils are 75 to 100 times more concentrated than the oils in dried herbs.

When you think about it in terms of gardening, this makes sense.  You plant a seed, it germinates, a plant grows, and more seeds are created.  Each plant has its own circle of life.  So, from a non-scientific and non-technical perspective, to transfer the essence of a plant to the cells of a human body means we are taking advantage of this essence for a mostly if not completely positive outcome.

Okay, enough science.  Here is the chart I have put together for you.  This is my go-to chart when I don’t have time to look something up in my essential oil bible (The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy) or online.  And don’t worry, I have created a download link for you so you can easily print out a copy for reference purposes.

How to Apply Essential Oils for Health and Wellness

Although I have been writing about essential oils for quite some time now, I still get emails asking how to get started, or, more specifically, how to use them.  For me it was easy.  I became interested in aromatherapy in the early 90s and studied everything I could get my hands on to learn about the therapeutic values of essential oils.

Taking things one step further, it is a simple recipe from Valerie Worwood’s book that really clinched the deal.  I was having some serious issues with my wrist and thinking it was tendonitis, I used her healing formula that included lavender, rosemary, and peppermint oils to relieve my pain and suffering.

How to Apply Essential Oils BDS

Those three essential oils should sound familiar since they are the basis for my own blend of Miracle Healing Salve.

But I digress.  The question at hand is how to apply essential oils for health and wellness purposes. or, put another way, Essential Oils 101.

Today I call upon Contributing Author Rebecca Schiffhauer to help explain how to apply essential oils to derive health and wellness benefits for those that are just getting started on the EO journey.

How to Apply Essential Oils 101

EOs are used for a wide range of emotional and physical wellness applications.  A single oil can be used or a complex blend, depending on the user’s experience and the desired benefit.

Essential oils are usually administered by one of three methods: diffused aromatically, applied topically, or taken internally as dietary supplements.

Topically

Due to the natural molecular composition of EOs, they’re easily absorbed by the skin and can be safely applied topically, sometimes diluted with a carrier oil and sometimes “neat” (undiluted).

Once they’re applied, essential oils can have almost an immediate, localized effect to the target area of application. They have restorative and calming properties and can be used very effectively in massage and beauty therapy.

EOs are also natural disinfectants. The chemical structure of essential oils allows them to be absorbed into the bloodstream via the skin for internal benefit throughout the body.

TOPICAL Placements

1.  Sub-occipital Triangle:  (pictured below) is a great place to apply an EO topically, it sits at the base of the brain stem and close to the blood supply to the brain.

Where to apply essential oils 1

Gaye’s note:  When Shelly and I “salve-up” at bedtime, we call this “salving the brain”.  I use my Sleepy Dreamy salve blend for this.

2.  Feet: the bottoms of our feet host the largest pores on our body and allow quick absorption.

3.  Over the heart:  I nice place for a topical application, I find it very soothing and calming.

4.  Localized:  When aches and pains are involved, apply EOs directly to the area of discomfort and massage the oils in with carrier oil.

Aromatically

Our sense of smell influences lots of physiological pathways including the stimulation of hormones and other metabolic processes. Aromatherapy is founded on the body’s predictable response to specific olfactory stimuli.

Essential oils are widely used in aromatherapy applications. Certain essential oils, when diffused in the air, can be stimulating while others can be calming and soothing. Beyond emotional benefits, diffusing essential oils can purify air of unwanted odors and some airborne pathogens.

Low or no-heat essential oil diffusers are recommended because they don’t change the chemical structure of the oil being diffused. EOs can also be used as cleaning and purifying laundry and surfaces in the home.

Application Internally

Therapeutic grade essential oils can also be used as dietary supplements supporting a variety of healthy conditions. Some EOs have powerful antioxidant properties while others help support a healthy inflammatory response in cells.

Many EOs are generally regarded as being safe for dietary use, but some oils should not be taken internally. Please don’t use any essential oil product internally that does not have the appropriate dietary supplement facts on its label.

Gaye’s note:  My best experience taking essential oils internally has been placing a drop or two in a glass of water and drinking it.  Adding essential oils to a capsule did not work for me at all (severe heartburn).  A drop of lemon oil in a glass of water is surprisingly refreshing (see 33 Awesome Uses of Lemon Essential Oil for some tips for using lemon essential oil) and nothing beats the woes of eating too much or too spicy than a drop of a digestive blend in water.

Using essential oils can be both profoundly simple and life changing all at once. Working with someone who has used essential oils before can help first-time users have a good experience and boost their confidence. There’s a wealth of information available for those wanting to increase their knowledge of essential oil applications.

I highly recommend Valerie Worwood’s books, and lots of time spent Google-ing EOs and their uses!  As always, hands on use will add to your confidence and open up lots of learning opportunities to broaden your healing skills.

I hope this post helps simplify some of the basics of EO use. While it all seems overwhelming at first, very soon it becomes second nature, I promise.  Just keep EOs within reach and use them everyday!

Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment

When it comes to essential oils, keep in mind that everyone’s physiology is different.  Not only that, it has been my experience that something that is working great for months may suddenly become less effective.

I equate this to growing tomatoes.  You may have grown a particular variety of tomatoes in your garden patch for years when suddenly, boom, they do not do well at all.  By switching to another type of seed – similar but different – all is well again.  I just wish I understood the science behind this better but for now, let’s just say that this is Mother Nature’s way of doing things.

The good news is that many essential oils have similar qualities (Antiseptic, Analgesic, Anti-Inflammatory, Antiviral, Antibacterial, Anti-Inflammatory, etc.) so it is easy to switch around.  Another thing to keep in mind that many are quite inexpensive, at online retailers like Spark Naturals, making it easy to build up a reasonable collection of basics at very little cost.

Final Word on Application

Late last year I dumped two drawers full of over-counter-remedies into a box and the box has not seen daylight since. My feeling is that by using essential oils exclusively, I will learn what works and what does not work.  Besides, playing with my oils brings out the inner chemist is me and is fun.

There additional things you need to know.  A little goes a long way.  Also, when stored in a cool dark area, most essential oils will have an infinite shelf life.  Now I don’t know about you, but I would much prefer to use 100% pure and natural essential oils than a concoction whipped up in a corporate lab somewhere.

For more articles on essential oils, see Interested in Learning About Essential Oils?  Start Here.  And of course, if you have questions, leave them in the comments below and I will do my best to answer them in a future article.

8 Best Essential Oils for Your Health and Wellness Kit

Here they are, the 8 essential oils you need to cover a wide range of maladies,  Except for Frankincense, all are very inexpensive and will serve you well for a variety of conditions. NOTE: Feel free to navigate with the hyperlinked items below for more in-depth information on the respective Essential Oil / Treatment covered by BDS. 

Lavender

Acne
Allergies
Anxiety
Asthma
Athlete’s Foot
Colic
Depression
Headache
Insect Bites
Sunburn
Earaches
Sleep

Rosemary

Muscle Aches
Arthritis
Dandruff
Dry Scalp
Circulation Problems
Rheumatism
Dry Skin
Strengthen Hair
Stress and Anxiety
Joint Pains and Arthritis
Cold and Flu Symptoms
Bad Breath
Mental Clarity

Peppermint

Asthma
Colic
Exhaustion
Fever
Headache
Nausea
Scabies
Vertigo
Sinusitis
Digestion Problems
Decongestant

Melaleuca (Tea Tree)

Respiratory Ailments and Bronchitis
Fungal, Bacterial or Viral Infections
Acne
Chicken Pox
Cold Sores
Cold and Flu
Corns and Warts
Minor Cuts and Scrapes
Insect Bites
Ring Worm
Athlete’s Foot
Head Lice
Dandruff
Dry Scalp

Lemon

Athlete’s Foot
Colds and Flu
Corns
Cold Sores
Psoriasis
Warts and Skin Tags
Minor Cuts and Wounds
Dull Skin
Oily Skin
Varicose Veins
Warts
Mood Enhancement
Hard Water Stains
General Cleaning Solutions
Remove Sticky Labels

Oregano

Burns
Insect Stings/Bites
Headaches
Acne
Skin Irritations
Diaper Rash
Gum Soreness and Infections
Digestion Problems
Menstrual Issues
Lice
Cold and Flu Symptoms
Gas and Bloating
Mild Fevers
Allergies
General Cleaning Solutions

Frankincense

Anxiety
Asthma
Respiratory Issues
Bronchitis
Scars
Arthritis
Stress Relief
Stretch Marks
Dry Skin
Menstrual Issues
Emotional Issues
Cold and Flu

Clove Bud

Toothache
Sore Gums and Throat
Insect Repellent
Indigestion
Tension Headache
Stress Relief
Burns
Pain Relief
Acne

A Note About Quality

There are many companies that make and sell essential oils. It is beyond the scope of this article to evaluate the effectiveness of one brand over another, however, I do have my favorites.  First let me say this: there is no official system that grades essential oils as A, B, C or therapeutic grade. That is bogus and if any website claims their essential oil is “FDA” or otherwise approved, run for the hills since it is marketing hype and not fact.

On the other hand, a company may legitimately indicate that their oils are of a “therapeutic grade” (without reference to certification) which will likely mean it is manufactured according to strict standards of purity.  That may also mean that under certain conditions, the essential oils may be taken internally (not something I have tried).

So here is the scoop.  For wellness purposes, I use essential oils from Spark Naturals.  There are a lot of reasons the most important being their commitment to both quality and value.  I am satisfied that the raw materials used in Spark Naturals products are tested and authenticated to be of pharmaceutical-grade purity.

For cleaning solutions and DIY household products, I sometimes use essential oils from NOW Foods (available at Amazon).  They are inexpensive to the point of being downright cheap and they work just fine when added to cleaning products.  I use and recommend both brands.

Note: If you do decide to make a purchase from Spark Naturals, you will receive a 10% discount by using the code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.  I do earn a small commission on your purchases.

Please keep in mind that I am not a health care or medical professional and when in doubt, consult with your own physician regarding the use of essential oils for a particular ailment.

The Final Word

Once you start using essential oils, it is easy to get downright evangelistic about them even to the point of becoming preachy.  That said, they really do work and can play a vital role in a potential survival situation where over the counter remedies are in short supply or non-existent.  The beauty of essential oils is that they take up little room, store well, and perhaps best of all, a little bit goes a long way.

Spotlight Item:  After a ton of research, for wellness purposes, I use essential oils from Spark Naturals.  There are a lot of reasons the most important being their commitment to both quality and value.  I am satisfied that the raw materials used in Spark Naturals products are tested and authenticated to be of pharmaceutical grade purity.

Spark Naturals Health & Wellness Kit - Backdoor Survival

One of my favorite SN products is the Health and Wellness Kit which includes all of my favorites all of those referenced in this article but Clove Bud.   Be sure to use the discount code BACKDOORSURVIVAL to receive a 10% discount.

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45 Responses to “Eight Essential Oils for Health and Wellness”

  1. I found a humidifier with an EO tray on Amazon by Bossjoy. It holds 6 liters of water with an auto shut off. I love this humifier. While the original question was asked in 2014, I came late to the party — but boiught a tiny scrap of info.

  2. For a while i am suffering for my back pain. Most of the day i spend my time with laptop in my bed. I know this is the main fact because of this back pain. Can essential oil help me?

  3. Hi Gaye, would like your input on a very timely topic – mosquitoes. I live along the Gulf Coast and I seem to be one of those folks that attracts mosquitoes when others don’t, and the bites turn into big whelps. Anyway, someone told to use geranium or lavendar essential oil to ward off mosquitoes – dab it just as tho it were perfume. What do you think?

    Sue

  4. There’s nothing more comforting or invigorating than a home scented with essential oils. I am a huge fan of lavender essential oil. Thanks for 8 essential oil chart. btw, thanks for sharing your food book too Gaye:)

  5. Gaye,
    Wondering what you think about the book “Essential Oils Desk Reference 6th ed”?
    It is costly so was wondering it is essential for the EO home library.
    Thanks,
    Jacqueline

    • I own the book and refer to it at least once a week. If you can afford it, definitely get it. I ignore some of the advice about ingesting oils but when it comes to finding a solution to an ailment, I love the way it will list a number of oils – all of which will work. That way if I have the #2 item on the list and not the #1, I have an alternative to try.

      Like you, initially I hesitated due to the cost but now I can’t imagine not having this reference in my library.

    • I do not have any personal experience with this but this information came from my friend Rebecca who I trust implicitly.

      “Tinnitus is described as a ringing in the ears but it can be several different sounds like clicking, whistling or buzzing. Tinnitus isn’t a disease but a symptom of something underlying and most often related to getting older somehow. The symptoms can be very mild or intense with or without dizziness.

      2 drops of Helichrysum on half of a cotton ball.

      Insert gently into affected ears and leave in over night to let the vapor of the oil penetrate into the ear. Helichrysum can be used during the day as needed by adding a drop to a cotton ball and wiping inside the ear.”

      Note: Helichrysum is pretty expensive (worth it if it works) but you might try Geranium, Peppermint, or Lavender first.

      It goes without saying that for something health-related, use quality oils.

      Good luck and let us know if this works.

  6. Just wondering, in how large of a room can I use the above-named diffuser? I would like do use one in my living room as well as in my bedroom, both of which are very large.

    • The diffuser in my bedroom is about eight feet away from my bed. What I find is that depending on what oil or oils are used, sometimes I can barely smell them. My nose may be becoming immune; hard to tell. In my research, I have read that physical proximity to the diffuser is not critical since the oils are dispersed into the air throughout the room. Still, if I am going to spend the money on good oils, I want to smell them in addition to reaping their healing benefits.

      One thing I have noticed is that stronger oils carry further. I can “smell” Shield from ten feet away but lavender not so much.

      For that reason (becoming immune to the smell), I tend to mix things up using one oil one day (or night) and another the next. In my office, a diffuser sits on my desk perhaps three feet from where I sit. I am positive that I am getting maximum benefit with the diffuser being that close. I tend to mostly using the ZEN blend while working and when I am super stressed, I become calm, relaxed and focused. I also use a combination of Rosemary and Peppermint for the same reason.

      My advice is to do some trial and error to see what works best. I have 3 diffusers and plan on getting a 4th this week while they are on sale.

  7. Love your blog and the great ‘prepping’ information you provide for us all! I can’t think of any other ‘prepper’ blog that I’ve read that includes the use of essential oils as important health preparation for emergency AND every day use! Quality is so important! I’ve mostly used, and love, Spark Naturals EOs. Though I’m sure I will still use theirs for things I can’t find elsewhere, I have found a new line of EOs that is launching on Sept 25th and will be the only “Clinical Grade” EOs available with proven, patented technology from a Harvard PhD who developed the science behind the oils and will finally be able to SHOW proof of how the oils interact with our body and cells. I’m excited to get my hands on more than just the samples of Améo EOs I have now. Thanks again for all of your great Prepping Resources!

  8. What would you suggest for migraines? Mine seem to have come back with a vengeance and my meds don’t seem to be working any more. Tnx

    • Oh my gosh – years ago I suffered from migraines and used some heavy duty meds. Nasty stuff. Without knowing what you have tried, essential-oil wise, I would start with a blend of lavender and peppermint rubbed on your temples and forehead. You can mix the two in a roller bottle with a bit of coconut oil (or other carrier oil) to lessen the chance of your eyes watering. I would also rub the same mixture on the balls of your feet.

      (Note that I am not a medical professional and am only passing on what I do when I get a bad headache.)

    • hmm..strangely enough, that’s on the line of what i was thinking, just wasn’t quite sure…i’ve worked with herbs for a while, just not with eo’s…i just want to get away from stabbing myself in the stomach (’cause it’s easier to reach than the back of my arm) with sumatriptan when i have a migraine, and not having it work *anyway*…that crap *burns* when it goes in!..i’ve a teensy bottle of pepperment eo, but no lavender, only lavender flowers…thanks for the info…may try the headache relief blend, too..or birch, that’s interesting..

    • Imitrex. I remember it well. I used to call those shots mainlining.

      Here is an article that discusses using birch for migraines. (I trust Rebecca when she says something works.)
      //campwander.com/2013/09/wash-away-migraine-with-birch/

    • Also, I have not tried it myself but Spark Naturals has a Headache Relief Blend. I have also heard that Birch knocks a migraine out as well. I hope these ideas help and that relief is on its way!

      Here is a link to the Headache Relief Blend if you want to try it: //sparknaturals.com/index.php/eo-blends/relief-headache-blend.html?id=377

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