Essential oils have enhanced lives for thousands of years, offering a variety of benefits from cosmetic and dietary purposes to spiritual and religious use. Extracted through careful steam distillation, resin tapping, and cold pressing, the purest essential oils are far more powerful than the botanicals from which they come. Essential oils are extracted directly from the bark, flower fruit, leaves, nut, resin or root of a plant or tree, and just one drop can provide the amazing health benefits that each oil provides. Used medicinally for thousands of years, the potency behind these oils is their ability to support your natural healing systems.
Best Essential Oils: History
Truth be told, the best essential oils as we know them today are very new on the scene of plant-based therapies. To be fair, ancient civilizations did employ crude distillations techniques, but the essential oils that were extracted centuries ago were a far cry from the potent, filtered, and pure compounds that we see on the market currently. The same is true with extracts, salves and poultices that were made from healing plants. They all contained essential oils and were, thus, very effective at preventing and managing disease. However, they definitely lacked the medicinal strength of the best essential oils that we use today.
Be that as it may, a vital component of ancient culture spanning at least 3,000 years, it appears that essential oils were enjoyed by those in ancient Cyprus, Egypt and Pompeii who first made extensive use of herbs with distillation methods dating back 3,500 B.C. This wisdom sailed across the Mediterranean and evidently reached Hippocrates, who utilized aromatherapy to enhance massage techniques a few centuries before the coming of Christ. Somewhere in the midst of this knowledge transfer, China and India also started to employ herbal remedies, and Ayurvedic medicine embraced essential oils extensively.
As civilizations transferred world power, the technique of using healing essential oils from Greece travelled to Rome, who favored aromatherapy and fragrances. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Persia picked up these healing techniques and perfected the essential oil distillation process.
Sadly, the Dark Ages brought with it a disdain for Hippocrates’ holistic approach. However, because the Catholic Church viewed bathing as sin, high esteem was given to aromatics – which coincidently are also antibacterial – to keep foul odor at bay. Little did they know that their perfume was also helping stave off sickness and disease!
During this era, it is believed that Monks continued the healing tradition of essential oils and secretly kept herbal medicine alive in the halls of their monasteries. Unfortunately, folk medicine was viewed as “witchcraft,” and many herbalists were either burned at the stake or persecuted. Thankfully, the Renaissance resurrected herbal medicine, and physicians such as Paracelsus challenged his medical colleagues with testimonials of successful treating life-threatening concerns like leprosy.
Best Essential Oils: Modern Era
What we know as modern “aromatherapy” was not introduced formally until French chemist Rene Maurice Gattefosse first coined the phrase in 1937. Although he wasn’t necessarily a natural health advocate, he became interested in essential oils after a 1910 accident where he badly burned his hand, and used the first available salve in his laboratory: a pure, undiluted lavender oil compound that not only immediately eased the pain, but healed his injury without infection or scar.
Because of Gattefosse’s work, Dr. Jean Valet used essential oils to treat injured soldiers in the second world war, and this led to Marguerite Maury being the first person to “individually prescribe” essential oil combinations using a Tibetan technique for back massage that treated nerve endings along the spine.
Since then, the best essential oils for healing have become a staple in alternative medicine across the world. (1)
The Best Essential Oils that Work!
The best essential oils for healing are comprised of a complex network of molecules that each carry different effects to the body. Their power to beat disease is so effective that, under the supervision of a natural health expert and herbalist, you may be able to avoid the having to use needless drugs or have unnecessary surgeries.
The list is long, but after careful research I’ve narrowed the top 10 best essential oils that can help you the most!
1. Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata)
Clove essential oil is commonly used as an antiseptic for oral infections and to kill a wide spectrum of microbes to keep disease at bay. To evaluate the effectiveness clove has as an antimicrobial agent, researchers from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, took a look at which bacteria are most sensitive to clove’s potency. According to their study, clove has the greatest anti-microbial ability over E. coli and also exerted considerable control over Staph aureus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa, two bacteria that oftentimes lead to pneumonia and skin infections. (2)
2. Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus Globulus)
Used copiously by the Aborigines for most maladies in their villages, eucalyptus is a potent antibacterial, antispasmodic, and antiviral agent. Like clove essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil has a profound effect over Staph infections. Quite amazingly, recent research from VIT University in India showed (real-time) that when Staph aureus comes into contact with eucalyptus oil, the deadly bacterial completely lost viability within just 15 minutes of interaction! (3)
3. Frankincense (Boswellia Carteri, Frereana & Sacra)
Overshadowed the past several hundred years by its role in the “Christmas Story,” frankincense is finally getting the attention it deserves as one of the most viable healing agents on the planet. The journal Oncology Letters published an article late last year that highlights the ability of this Biblical tree to kill cancer cells; specifically the MCF-7 and HS-1 cell lines, which cause breast and other tumors. (4) Frankincense essential oil has also been used with much success to treat issues related to digestion, the immune system, oral health, respiratory concerns and stress/anxiety.
The healing benefits of frankincense have traditionally centered on disease prevention and anti-inflammatory properties, and researchers have been able to confirm that boswellic acids contain a potent ability to modify the immune system as well. (3) Part of having a more efficient immune system is the regulation of inflammation, as well, which can have effects topically or systemically. (4)
4. Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia)
Well-known for its soothing, calming properties, lavender is wonderful for accelerating healing time for burns, cuts, stings, and other wounds. It is jam-packed with antioxidant power, which is why researchers from Tunisia evaluated its ability to treat diabetes and oxidative stress in rats. Published in the journal Lipids in Health and Disease, the article tells us that lavender essential oils “significantly protected against the increase of blood glucose as well as the decrease of antioxidant enzyme activities.” Ultimately, scientists discovered that lavender essential oil treatment helped induce a decrease in oxidative stress, which is known to cause heart disease and a slew of other health concerns, as well as increase antioxidant enzyme activities. (5)
5. Lemon (Citrus limon)
Various citrus essential oils are widely used to stimulate lymph drainage, to rejuvenate sluggish, dull skin and as a bug repellant. Lemon oil stands out, however, as research has recently discovered that it carries useful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. (6) Lemon, along with a number of other widely used oils, is now being praised for its ability to combat food-born pathogens! (7)
6. Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
Several research studies have demonstrated the improving effect on performance, changes in blood count, antibacterial, antifungal and immunomodulating abilities of oregano oil. It’s actually quite amazing – the health benefits of oregano seem limitless. To give you a sample of its wide-spread potency, WebMD reports,
Oregano is used for respiratory tract disorders such as coughs, asthma, croup, and bronchitis. It is also used for gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as heartburn and bloating. Other uses include treating menstrual cramps, rheumatoid arthritis, urinary tract disorders including urinary tract infections (UTIs), headaches, and heart conditions. The oil of oregano is taken by mouth for intestinal parasites, allergies, sinus pain, arthritis, cold and flu, swine flu, earaches, and fatigue. It is applied to the skin for skin conditions including acne, athlete’s foot, oily skin, dandruff, canker sores, warts, ringworm, rosacea, and psoriasis; as well as for insect and spider bites, gum disease, toothaches, muscle pain, and varicose veins. Oregano oil is also used topically as an insect repellent. (8)
7. Peppermint (Mentha Piperita)
Pleasantly suitable for an abundance of oral and topical uses, peppermint may be the most versatile essential oil in the world. Literally, there are few issues that it can’t help. Possibly the most fascinating aspect of peppermint is that recent research suggests that it is literally antibiotic resistant. According to an article published in the journal Phytomedicine in 2013, “Reduced usage of antibiotics could be employed as a treatment strategy to decrease the adverse effects and possibly to reverse the beta-lactam antibiotic resistance,” due to the powerful effects of peppermint oil. (9)
This is absolutely groundbreaking because antibiotic-resistant bacteria have been a major cause of concern for many Americans who are simply ruining their health by taking too many of these dangerous drugs. Can you imagine a world where your doctor prescribes peppermint essential oil for the common cold and flu instead of antibiotics? We can! And we hope that more research like this reaches mainstream media to get the word out!
8. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
One amazing healing effect of rosemary that many people are unaware of is its ability to normalize blood pressure. Used for centuries to improve everything from memory and brain function to relieving common aches and pains, rosemary even has a history of stimulating hair growth. But most people don’t think of rosemary mimicking their blood pressure pills!
In one of the few human studies evaluating this phenomenon, researchers from the Universidad Complutense de Madrid took 32 hypotensive patients and measured how their dangerously low blood pressure fared under rosemary essential oil treatments for 72 weeks. The results? Simply astounding! In addition to observing that rosemary could raise blood pressure to normal limits in a vast majority of the volunteers, it was discovered that overall mental and physical quality of life was drastically improved, which highlights the far-reaching healing effects that this ancient oil has on health and wellness. (10)
9. Sandalwood (Santalum album)
Oftentimes used to soothe and heal sore throats, sandalwood is a gentle bactericide that is more potent than most give it credit for. According to research published last year, sandalwood essential oil also has an uncanny ability to inhibit both tyrosinase and cholinesterase, which affects several physiological processes from melanin production to proper nervous system function. The results were so significant that scientists concluded that, “There is a great potential of [sandalwood] essential oil for use in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease!” (11)
10. Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
Last, but certainly not least, tea tree is one of the healing essential oils with a rich history of use as a local antiseptic for burns and cuts as well to treat a wide spectrum of bacterial and fungal infections (including athlete’s foot and jock itch). Known in the science community as “volatile” because of its sheer power in killing microbes, a study was actually conducted to determine whether it could be damage your DNA. Don’t worry, thousands of years of use wasn’t done in vain. According to the study published in The Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers finally put this criticism to rest last year by proving that tea tree oil is not toxic and is completely safe for use. (12)
The way I see it, if an essential oil is so powerful that scientists need to test if it can cause damage to your genes, it has got to be doing something that is turning heads! And it’s not just tea tree oil. All of these oils are super-healers and should be in medicine cabinets all over the world.
Uses & Applications
Because they are so potent, you must also dilute the best essential oils in one way or another. The following are some common ways to use them appropriately:
- Baths: 10 drops mixed with 1/2 cup coconut milk and 1 cup of salt makes a fantastic aromatherapy for circulatory, muscular, respiratory, skin and sleep problems in addition to calming your nerves. Generally, it is advisable to avoid potent oils that could irritate the skin such as lemon, oregano or tea tree; instead, use soothing oils like eucalyptus, lavender, and sandalwood.
- Compresses: 10 drops per 4 oz. of water. Soak cloth and apply for bruises, infections, aches and pains.
- Inhalations: 5 drops in a diffuser or in hot water for sinus or headache relief.
- Salves: A 2% dilution is recommended, which is 12 drops per 1 ounce of oil, for relaxation and to alleviate joint/muscle soreness.
Resources: Dr. Eric Z, Young Living
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Love this article topic! Very useful thank you!! I use lavender and eucalyptus all the time!! I have try the other ones :))
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Lavender has to my my most used oil. It is the “Swiss Army Knife” of essential oils.
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