Essential Oils: 11 Main Benefits and 101 Uses - Dr. Axe

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Essential Oils: 11 Main Benefits and 101 Uses


Essential oils - Dr. Axe

Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in various cultures for medicinal and health purposes. Because of their antidepressant, stimulating, detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral and calming properties, they continue to gain popularity as natural, safe and cost-effective therapy for a number of health concerns.

There’s no wonder why considering the high cost of health care bills and the side effects of conventional medications. Adding such oils to your personal medicine cabinet and lifestyle can make a world of difference.

This is especially true because essential oils benefits are vast, and essential oils uses range from aromatherapy to household cleaning products, personal beauty care and natural medicine treatments.

The particles in essential oils come from distilling or extracting the different parts of plants, including the flowers, leaves, bark, roots, resin and peels. In fact, just one drop of an essential oil can have powerful health benefits.

What Are Essential Oils?

Typically created through the process of distillation — which separates the oil and water-based compounds of a plant by steaming — they are highly concentrated oils that have a strong aroma. In fact, sometimes they are called volatile aromatic oils because of their high concentration of the aromatic compounds. They also are simply called aromatherapy oils.

How do essential oils work? By concentrating the oils of these plants, you literally separate the most powerful healing compounds of a plant into a single oil.

For instance, in order to get one single 15-milliliter bottle of rose essential oil, it take 65 pounds of rose petals!

These therapeutic oils protect the plants from insects, shield them from a harsh environment and help them adapt to their surroundings. By taking essential oils, you harness the protective and beneficial powers of a plant.

Essential oils are composed of very small molecules that can penetrate your cells, and some compounds in essential oils can even cross the blood-brain barrier. They differ from fatty oils (like those in vegetables or nuts) that come from large molecules because they cannot penetrate your cells, so they are not therapeutic in the same manner.

Are you ready to harness the power of the world’s most proven natural therapeutic compounds?

Related: What Is Linalool? Benefits, Sources + How to Use It

Health Benefits

1. Balance Hormones

There are essential oils for hormones that may help balance your estrogen, progesterone, cortisol, thyroid and testosterone levels.

Some oils, such as clary sage, geranium and thyme, help balance out estrogen and progesterone levels, which can improve conditions like infertility and PCOS, as well as PMS and menopause symptoms.

A 2017 published in Neuroendocrinology Letters indicates that geranium and rose have the ability to influence the salivary concentration of estrogen in women. This may be helpful for women who experience menopausal symptoms that are caused by declining levels of estrogen secretion.

Certain oils have been shown to lower cortisol levels, which can help to improve your mood and reduce symptoms of depression, and increase testosterone levels, which can improve a man’s libido.

2. Boost Immunity and Fight Infections

Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal properties that help boost your immune system and fight infections. The chemical substances found in the oils, such as terpenes, esters, phenolics, ethers and ketones, have the potential to fight foreign pathogens that can threaten your health.

Some of the best essential oils for your immunity include:

  • oregano
  • myrrh
  • ginger
  • lemon
  • eucalyptus
  • frankincense
  • peppermint (mentha piperita)
  • cinnamon

Studies have shown that essential oils effectively destroy several fungal, viral and bacterial pathogens, including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, Helicobacter pylori and Candida albicans infections. Because antibiotic resistance is becoming such a major threat in modern health care, using these oils as a form of independent or combination therapy can help fight bacterial infections in a safer and more natural way.

Choose oregano oil for powerful immune-boosting properties. It’s displayed both antiviral and antibacterial properties in lab research. Oregano oil contains carvacrol and thymol, two compounds that have antimicrobial effects and can inhibit the synthesis and growth of several types of bacteria.

Frankincense oil’s immune-enhancing abilities may include helping destroy dangerous bacteria, viruses and even cancers. For example, a lab study found that frankincense oil shows strong immunostimulant activity.

Frankincense also demonstrates anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor effects when tested in lab studies and on animals — specifically, helping fight the cells of specific types of cancer. A 2012 study showed that a chemical compound found in frankincense called AKBA may kill cancer cells that have become resistant to chemotherapy.

3. Support Digestion

Another researched essential oils benefit is their role in aiding and improving digestion. Some oils help relieve upset stomach, indigestion, diarrhea, stomach spasms and even conditions of the gastrointestinal system, such as IBS.

Oils can also aid your digestion by helping to stimulate digestive enzymes that make it easier to break down and absorb the nutrients, fats and protein that you need.

Ginger essential oil, for example, is known to promote your digestive health by easing indigestion, constipation and ulcers. A study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that ginger oil stimulated gastric emptying in people with indigestion. Ginger oil is also used to relieve gas, reduce nausea and ease abdominal pain.

Another useful essential oil for digestion is peppermint. Research shows that it works to provide rapid relief of IBS symptoms.

In a four-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial, 72 patients with IBS received either peppermint or placebo. The treatment group experienced a 40 percent reduction in total IBS symptoms after four weeks, which was superior to the 24 percent decrease of symptoms reported by the patients in the placebo group.

After just 24 hours of using the oil, the treatment group experienced a decrease in symptoms of 19.6 percent.

Some other essential oils that may be helpful for digestion include fennel, lemongrass, marjoram, black pepper and juniper berry.

4. Boost Energy Levels

Did you know that essential oils can help boost your energy levels and even improve your athletic performance? Some oils have stimulating effects and can actually increase oxygen to your brain. This leaves you feeling refreshed, focused and energized.

A study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that peppermint oil increased brain oxygen concentration, improved exercise performance and reduced exhaustion in healthy male athletes who consumed peppermint oil with water for 10 days.

Some other great essential oils for energy include grapefruit, lemon, lemongrass, eucalyptus and rosemary.

5. Improve Brain Function

With neuroprotective effects and cognitive performance-boosting abilities, essential oil benefits have helped many people who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia. In a scientific review published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience, researchers found that because essential oils possess powerful antioxidants that work to inhibit free radical scavenging, they help naturally improve brain function and reduce inflammation.

Essential oils have also been shown to improve learning, memory and ability to focus. Both stimulating and sedative oils can be useful, as oils like eucalyptus can improve sustained attention over a longer period of time, while oils like bergamot can be useful for people going through tough exercises or situations.

Furthermore, they can be useful in relieving agitation in individuals with dementia. This is due to their calming and sedative effects.

Essential oils uses benefits - Dr. Axe

6. Reduce Emotional Stress and Anxiety

Perhaps one of the most well-known essential oils benefits is their ability to reduce stress and anxiety. Some have sedative properties and induce a calm, peaceful, uplifting and relaxed feeling.

The best essential oils for anxiety and stress include:

A 2016 randomized, controlled clinical trial notes that inhaling rose water for four weeks significantly decreased the state and traits of anxiety in patients undergoing hemodialysis treatment.

A pilot study published in Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice found that the use of aromatherapy as a complementary therapy helped to reduce anxiety and depression in postpartum women. Women between zero and 18 months postpartum were divided into either a treatment group that inhaled a blend of rose and lavender oils or a control group that didn’t receive any type of aromatherapy.

After four weeks, data indicated that the women using aromatherapy had significant improvements in anxiety and depression symptoms compared to those in the control group.

A 2014 study involving 82 participants evaluated the effectiveness of aromatherapy for elderly people with chronic pain and symptoms of anxiety and depression. Researchers found that after four weeks of treatment with essential oils, there was a significant reduction in negative emotions, including feelings of anxiety, stress and depression, among the intervention group.

These are just some of the studies that have displayed the anti-anxiety and stress-relieving capabilities.

7. Alleviate Aches and Pains

According to a systemic review and meta-analysis published in Pain Research and Treatment, there is a significant positive effect of aromatherapy compared to placebos or control treatments in reducing pain. Researchers evaluated 12 studies on this topic and found that essential oils were especially helpful in treating postoperative pain, obstetrical pain and gynecological pain.

There are many oils that may be applied topically or used aromatically to reduce aches and pains. One study that displays this essential oil benefit evaluated the efficacy of these oils on neck pain.

For the study, the experimental group received a cream that was composed of marjoram, black pepper, lavender and peppermint oils, and the control group used an unscented cream. The creams were applied for four weeks directly to the painful area after bathing.

Researchers found that the experimental group had improved pain tolerance in the neck and showed significant improvement in the 10 motion areas that were measured.

The best essential oils for alleviating aches and pains include:

  • peppermint
  • eucalyptus
  • chamomile
  • rosemary
  • majoram
  • thyme
  • frankincense
  • turmeric
  • ginger
  • myrrh

8. Boost Skin and Hair Health

Using essential oils on your skin and in hair and beauty products is a natural and effective way to keep up your personal care regimes without having to use products that are made with chemicals and hydrogenated oils. Essential oils may calm irritated skin, reduce signs of aging, improve acne, protect your skin from sun damage and thicken your hair.

A review published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that “at least 90 essential oils can be identified as being recommended for dermatological use, with at least 1,500 combinations.” What gives these oils their skin benefits is their ability to fight against pathogens that are responsible for dermatological infections.

Oils can also help improve inflammatory skin conditions — like dermatitis, eczema and lupus — improve the general appearance of your skin and even aid wound healing.

There are also quite a few studies that have found essential oils to be helpful for hair growth. One such study, conducted in 2015, evaluated the efficacy of rosemary oil on patients with androgenetic alopecia, or male or female pattern baldness.

Patients were randomly assigned rosemary oil or minoxidil (a medication commonly used for hair loss) for a six-month treatment period. Researchers found that both groups experienced a significant increase in hair count at the six-month endpoint. They also indicated that scalp itching was more frequent in the minoxidil group.

The best essential oils for skin and hair include:

  • lavender
  • Roman chamomile
  • frankincense
  • tea tree
  • geranium
  • myrrh
  • helichrysum
  • rosemary
  • clary sage

9. Reduce Toxicity

Essential oils may help reduce toxicity by promoting the detoxification of your home and body. These days, we all inhale and ingest a number of chemicals and environmental toxins that can be dangerous for the heart, brain and overall health.

Some oils work as mild diuretics, thereby increasing urine production and improving detoxification. Research suggests that some oils aid digestion and promote the detoxification of toxins that build up within.

Oils that help to promote internal detoxification include lemon, grapefruit, fennel, lemongrass and ginger.

Using detoxifying oils can help flush out these toxins and clean the air of your home, too. In fact, unlike most home cleaning products that are loaded with chemicals, essential oils can naturally clean your home by destroying harmful pathogens and pollutants.

The best oils for reducing toxicity in your home or place of work include grapefruit, orange, lemon, lemongrass, eucalyptus and cinnamon.

10. Relieve Headaches and Migraines

Essential oils may work as natural headache and migraine relievers because they effectively treat the trigger, addressing the root of the problem instead of masking it. Essential oils for headaches provide pain relief, improve circulation and reduce stress, which can be a major cause of both headaches and migraines.

A placebo-controlled, clinical trial conducted in 2012 evaluated the efficacy of inhaling lavender oil for the treatment of migraine headaches. Forty-seven patients with migraines were divided into two groups — one that inhaled lavender for 15 minutes and one that used a color and odorless liquid.

After asking the patients to record their headache severity and associated symptoms every 30 minutes for a total of two hours, researchers found that the difference between the controls and treated patients was statistically significant. From 129 headache attacks in the treatment group, 92 responded entirely or partially to lavender. In the control group, 32 out of 68 headache attacks responded to the placebo.

Aside from lavender, some other oils that can help relieve headache pain include peppermint, which has a cooling effect and stimulates blood flow; eucalyptus, which relieves sinus pressure by opening the nasal airways; and rosemary, which reduces inflammation, promotes circulation and has a calming effect.

11. Promote Restful Sleep

Some essential oils have sedative properties, which can be helpful for people who have trouble falling asleep or getting through the night. Lavender oil, in particular, is known to be an effective sleep aid because of its ability to leave you feeling relaxed and calm.

Some other oils that can be used to promote a restful slumber include Roman chamomile, ylang ylang, bergamot and vetiver.

A 2014 systematic review conducted at the University of Minnesota evaluated 15 quantitative studies, including 11 randomized controlled trials that examined the effects of essential oils on sleep. Researchers found that a majority of the study findings suggest a positive effect of oils on sleep deprivation and disturbances.

Lavender oil was the most frequently studied oil, and of all evaluated studies, no adverse events were reported.

Another study, this one published in Nursing in Critical Care, investigated the effects of lavender oil on sleep quality among patients in the coronary intensive care unit. Sixty patients participated in the study, and they were divided into the intervention group or the control group.

The intervention group inhaled lavender oil for 15 days, and researchers found that those participants showed significantly significant differences in their sleep quality compared to the control group that received no form of therapy. Researchers pointed out that lavender oil is a non-invasive, inexpensive and easily applicable intervention for hospital patients who are having trouble sleeping and experiencing anxiety.

Top 15 Essential Oils

Each and every essential oil contains compounds with unique healing and therapeutic benefits. Here are some of the most popular essential oils and their top benefits:

  1. Clove: Clove provides antibacterial, anti-parasitic and antioxidant protection.
  2. Cypress: Cypress essential oil has been shown to improve circulation, reduce varicose veins, lift confidence and can help heal broken bones.
  3. Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus oil helps improve respiratory issues like bronchitis, sinusitis and allergies. Research also suggests that it has invigorating and purifying effects.
  4. Frankincense: Frankincense builds immunity, reduces inflammation and heals age spots. It has also been shown to support brain health and may help fight cancer.
  5. Ginger: Ginger reduces inflammation, supports joints, improves digestion and helps relieve nausea.
  6. Grapefruit: Grapefruit has been found to support metabolism in animal studies and help with cellulite reduction. Mix it with coconut oil and rub on areas of cellulite, or take a few drops internally with water.
  7. Lavender: This popular oil helps with relaxation, improves mood, and help with the healing of burns and cuts.
  8. Lemon: Lemon essential oil is great to use in homemade cleaning products as a natural antibacterial tool.
  9. Myrrh: Myrrh works as a natural antiseptic, and it may prevent or reduce infections and reduce inflammation of skin cells.
  10. Oregano: Oregano has powerful antimicrobial properties, and it possesses antifungal and antimicrobial properties.
  11. Peppermint: Peppermint supports digestion, boosts energy and works as a fever reducer. Research shows that it also helps alleviate headache and muscle pain.
  12. Rose: Rose oil can reduce skin inflammation, and it’s great for creating glowing skin. Add a few drops to your facial moisturizer.
  13. Rosemary: Rosemary essential oil can naturally thicken hair, so it’s great to add to homemade shampoos. It also can help improve brain function and memory so it’s great to use when working, reading or studying.
  14. Tea tree oil (melaleuca): Tea tree serves as a natural antibacterial and antifungal that reduces bad odors and can help stimulate the immune system.
  15. Sandalwood: Sandalwood is a natural aphrodisiac that has displayed an ability to help improve libido.


Ready to let essential oils guide you back to health? Here are the four most common ways these healing oils are used today:

1. Topically

Essential oils have a very small size and a chemical weight of less than 1,000m (m = weight of molecule). According to scientific testing, any substance with a molecular weight below 1,000m should be absorbed by the skin.

This means that they are able to penetrate the skin and pass into the bloodstream and into different areas for internal therapeutic benefits.

2. Aromatically

There is great evidence that essential oils are absorbed into the bloodstream when inhaled. The large amount of blood vessels in the lungs absorb the oils and then circulate them throughout the body.

Using a diffuser can help you experience the perks of these plant extractions. You can diffuse bergamot to reduce stress, melaleuca to cleanse the air, wild orange to improve mood, frankincense for spiritual enlightenment, and spearmint to improve focus and energy.

3. Ingestion

Essential oils can be used as a powerful form of medicine, but remember, essential oils are powerful. Most essential oils are safe for internal use, but a little bit goes a long way. Usually one to three drops are plenty mixed with water.

Oils like lemon and frankincense have great internal benefits and can be taken with water. Other essential oils like clove and oregano need to be diluted and shouldn’t be taken internally for more than a week.

4. Personal Care

Today, essential oils are used often to make homemade DIY personal care products. This is an excellent away to take advantage of essential oils to improve your beauty, home and long-term health.

Some of the best DIY recipes to use essential oils with include:

  • shampoo
  • lotions
  • toothpaste
  • bug spray
  • lip balm
  • household cleaner

Related: Essential Oil Safety (and Are Essential Oil Diffusers Safe?)

Carrier Oils

Some essential oils uses and DIY recipes call for carrier oils. Combining carrier oils with organic essential oils is often called “blends.”

Essential oils are extremely small so they can pass through the skin and into the bloodstream quickly. If you want to keep the oils on your skin and dilute them to create more gentleness on the skin, you can combine them with carrier oils.

These larger oils that come from the fatty part of the plant can increase the length of time the essential oils stay on your skin and also prolong the aromatherapy effects.

Some people mistakenly think using carrier oils reduces the effectiveness of the oil, but really it can do the opposite. Dilution increases the surface area of absorption and with certain oils can prevent sensitivities.

Carrier oils for essential oils

For most people,  I recommend 10 percent dilution, which is five drops of oil per half-teaspoon.

Carrier oils include:

101 Essential Oil Uses

What are essential oils good for? Well, here are the many uses for your body (including oral, hair and skin care), general health (such as for allergies, digestion and sleep), the home (DIY all-purpose cleaner, mold killer, etc.) and recipes (including with healthy foods, drinks and sweets).

See my handy essential oils uses chart to tell you exactly how much of each oil to utilize.

For Body, Oral, Hair and Skin Care

  • Acne face wash: To get rid of acne, make a homemade face wash by mixing tea tree oil (melaleuca) with raw honey and rub on your face. Then rinse off with water.
  • Age spot reducer: Put on frankincense essential oil three times daily directly on skin to improve sun spots and age spots.
  • Blistered skin healer: Mixing two drops of melaleuca with two drops of unscented oil makes for a skin-healing ointment. Apply to the blistered area up to five times per day.
  • Body butter: Mix coconut oil, shea butter, magnesium oil and essential oils for moisturizing body lotion.
  • Body spray: Add 5–10 drops to four ounces of water for a fragrant body spray.
  • Breath freshener: Use a drop of peppermint for a natural way to freshen breath.
  • Bruise healer: Use essential oils as a hot compress to treat bruises or other wounds. Add five drops of lavender and five drops of frankincense oil to four ounces of hot water and soak. Apply to affected area.
  • Bug bite soother: Use lavender oil for bug bites and stings.
  • Burn healer: Mix lavender essential oil with aloe vera to treat burns.
  • Cellulite reducer: Mix five drops of grapefruit seed essential oil with 2 teaspoons of coconut oil and massage into dimpled areas.
  • Dandruff remover: Mix five drops of rosemary and lavender oils with three tablespoons of an unscented carrier oil such as jojoba oil. Massage into your scalp and leave on for 10 minutes. Shampoo mixture out.
  • Deodorant for women: Combining coconut oil, beeswax and your favorite oils such as lavender and tea tree oil makes for a perfect female deodorant.
  • Deodorant for men: Combine coconut oil, beeswax and your favorite oils like cedarwood and clove oil for men.
  • Detox bath: Mix lavender oil, Epsom salts and sea salt into a warm bath to cleanse and rejuvenate the body.
  • Dry, cracked feet soother: Add three drops of lavender oil to two tablespoons of coconut oil. Apply to the feet at night and put on some socks.
  • Eczema/psoriasis cream: To treat eczema, psoriasis or red dry skin, apply a mixture of lavender essential oil with shea butter.
  • Facial scrub: Mix one-fourth cup yogurt, one-fourth cup cornmeal, and five drops of lavender, grapefruit and patchouli oils. Apply to face and wash off.
  • Facial sugar scrub: Mix a few drops of an essential oil with almond oil and rock salt or sugar to make your own salt or sugar scrub.
Uses of essential oils for body and skin - Dr. Axe
  • Foot bath: Add a few drops of lemon or eucalyptus oils to a large bowl of warm water to help soothe the feet.
  • Hair conditioner: Mix 15 drops of rosewood oil with five drops of sandalwood and lavender oils into carrier oil. Place mixture in a small plastic bag and dunk into warm water to heat up. Apply to hair and wrap for 20 minutes. Shampoo as usual.
  • Hair thickener: Add rosemary oil to shampoo to naturally thicken hair and increase volume.
  • Itchy scalp helper: Adding lavender, cedarwood or basil essential oil makes for a shampoo that reduces itching.
  • Lip balm: Combine coconut oil, beeswax and lavender oil for an amazing healing balm for chapped lips.
  • Nail strengthener: Mix 10 drops of frankincense, myrrh and lemon oils into two tablespoons of vitamin E oil, then rub on cuticles.
  • Oily hair reducer: Mix 10 drops each of ylang ylang, lime and rosemary oils with two ounces of a carrier oil. Massage it scalp 2–3 times per week. Wash out as usual.
  • Perfume: Use 1–2 drops of jasmine essential oil on your wrist as a fresh natural fragrance. Rose and vanilla oils also agree with most women, while cypress and clove oils work well for men’s cologne.
  • Sauna therapy: Add two drops of your favorite essential oil into two cups of water in a sauna.
  • Shampoo: To make homemade shampoo, mix lavender oil, rosemary oil, aloe vera gel and coconut milk. It lasts 2–4 weeks.
  • Skin toner: Mix eight ounces of water with two drops of lavender, geranium and frankincense oils.
  • Sore feet reliever: Adding 10 drops of peppermint oil with a tablespoon of Epsom salt makes for a warm-water foot bath.
  • Stretch mark reducer: Mix five drops of frankincense, myrrh and grapefruit seed oils with coconut oil and apply to stretch marks.
  • Sunburn soother: Combine chamomile oil with one tablespoon of coconut oil and apply to the skin with a cotton ball to reduce swelling and pain.
  • Sunscreen: Mix coconut oil, zinc oxide, shea butter, helichrysum and lavender, then store in a squeeze bottle to make homemade toxic-free sunscreen.
  • Teeth whitener: Combine lemon and coconut oils, and fresh strawberries, then rub on your teeth. Rinse after two minutes.
  • Toothpaste: Combine sea salt, baking soda, coconut oil and xylitol with peppermint essential oil to make homemade remineralizing toothpaste. Then brush.
  • Wrinkle reducer: Mixing 3–5 drops of sandalwood, geranium, lavender and frankincense with an unscented lotion makes for a great wrinkle reducer. Apply to face (avoid contact with the eyes).

For General Health

  • Achy muscle rub: Mix eucalyptus, wintergreen and cypress oils with an unscented lotion or coconut oil and apply to muscles.
  • Allergy fighter: Rub frankincense and lavender oils on your palms and inhale deeply to relieve itchy eyes and throat.
  • Anxiety reducer: Diffuse lavender essential oil around your home to reduce feelings of stress and tension.
  • Arthritis reliever: Mix two drops of wintergreen, cypress and lemongrass oils into an unscented lotion. Massage into affected areas.
  • Asthma remedy: Make a homemade vapor rub by combining eucalyptus, peppermint and coconut oil. Rub on your chest and neck.
  • Back/neck pain reducer: Combine peppermint, cypress and ginger oils with cayenne pepper and coconut oil for a homemade muscle rub.
  • Broken bones helper: To support the healing of broken bones, apply helichrysum, fir and cypress oils.
  • Circulation improver: Add 8–10 drops of grapefruit essential oil to warm bath water.
  • Cold reliever: Take three drops of oil of oregano and frankincense oils three times daily for one week.
  • Concentration helper: Inhale bergamot or grapefruit seed oils to increase concentration during the day.
  • Cough reducer: Eucalyptus essential oil is known for its powerful ability to fight coughs and open airways. Add a few drops into steaming hot water or diffuser. Inhale to help clear nasal passage.
  • Depression reliever: To boost mood and relieve depression, add rose essential oil to baths, inhalations and diffusers to improve mood.
  • Digestion helper: Take ginger and fennel oils to support digestion and healing leaky gut.
  • Fever reducer: Add 1–3 drops of eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender oils to a cool cloth and sponge the body.
  • Food craving suppresser: Inhale peppermint and cinnamon oils to reduce your appetite and balance blood sugar.
Uses of essential oils for general health - Dr. Axe
  • Hangover reliever: Add six drops each of juniper berry, cedarwood, grapefruit, rosemary and lemon oil into a warm bath.
  • Head lice remedy: Mix three drops of thyme, lavender and eucalyptus oils with carrier oil and apply to scalp. Cover head with a shower cap and leave on for 30 minutes. Shampoo out.
  • Immune system booster: Mix one drop of oregano oil with four drops of carrier oil and rub on the bottom of your feet before flying on a plane.
  • Love potion: For a cute bridal shower gift or for you and your partner, create a “love potion” with essential oils. Add 20 drops of sandalwood essential oil and four drops of cocoa, vanilla and rose oil to unscented lotion.
  • Massage therapy: Use a few drops of cedarwood or lavender, mixed with an unscented lotion during a relaxation aromatherapy massage.
  • Migraine/headache reliever: Try combining a few drops of lavender oil and peppermint oil and apply to temples to help with headaches and migraines.
  • Morning sickness reducer: Add a few drops of wild orange, lemon or ginger oil to a handkerchief and inhale.
  • Motion sickness reliever: Peppermint and ginger oils can help reduce motion sickness.
  • Nausea reliever: Breathe in peppermint through your nose to get rid of nausea, plus apply to your neck and upper chest. Ginger and lavender may help, too.
  • PMS reliever: Mix two drops of sage, basil and rosemary oils, then apply to a warm, moist hand towel and apply to abdomen.
  • Poison ivy/poison oak remedy: Mix three drops of peppermint oil with carrier oil and apply to affected area.
  • Relaxation mixture: Apply 2–4 drops of chamomile, lavender and peppermint essential oil to your temples for a cooling effect and immediate relaxation.
  • Ringworm remedy: Combine three drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil and massage over the affected area twice a day.
  • Sleep aid: Lavender oil can alleviate insomnia. Sprinkle a few drops on your pillow to help you fall asleep.
  • Spiritual enlightenment: Diffuse frankincense essential oil while praying, meditating or reading to increase spiritual awareness.
  • Teeth grinding stopper: Massage 1–3 drops of lavender on the bottom of the feet and behind ears before bed.
  • Tension reliever: Help to relieve anxiety by using a single drop of lavender oil on your hands, rub together, and cup your hands to your nose and let the smell flood your senses.
  • Upset child smoother: Help soothe and calm children by adding lavender or chamomile oils to their stuffed animals.
  • Weight loss: Combine grapefruit, ginger and cinnamon oil and take as a supplement three times daily to support metabolism.
  • Workout energizer: Inhale peppermint oil before a workout to reduce fatigue.
  • Yoga and Pilates: To relax during yoga or meditation, inhale lavender or sandalwood before class. In addition, mix clove and citrus essential oil to clean yoga mats.

For Home

  • Air cleaner: Diffuse cinnamon essential oil in the air and enjoy its antimicrobial properties.
  • Air detoxifier when painting: Add eucalyptus to a gallon of paint to dispel fumes.
  • All-purpose cleaner: Add three drops each of lemon oil and melaleuca to a few ounces of warm water, then spray countertops to naturally disinfect.
  • Bathroom freshener: Put a cotton ball soaked in lime or lemon oil behind the toilet for a bathroom refresher.
  • Bathtub scrub: Mix one-half cup of baking soda, one-half cup of vinegar and five drops of bergamot or lime oil. Use as a scrub for a sink or bathtub.
  • Burnt pans cleaner: A few drops of lemon oil and some boiling water can help remove burnt food from pots and pans.
  • Carpet cleaner: Mix 20 drops of melaleuca with borax for homemade carpet powder.
  • Christmas scent: Add a drop of pine, sandalwood or cedarwood oil on a fire log about 30 minutes before burning.
  • Dishwasher fluid: Add a few drops of lemon oil to the dishwasher before washing for a spot-free rinse.
  • House fragrance: Diffuse clove, rosemary and orange oils when guests come over, and they will talk about how amazing your house smells.
  • Kitchen odor eliminator: Add a few drops of clove, cinnamon or citrus essential oil to a simmering pan of water to get rid of cooking odors.
  • Medicine cabinet: Makeover your medicine cabinet and create a family physician kit with essential oils of lavender, lemon, peppermint, oregano and frankincense.
Uses of essential oils for home - Dr. Axe
  • Mold killer: Add tea tree oil to your diffuser to kill mold and other pathogens in the air.
  • Mosquito repellent: Combine one drop each of lemongrass oil, citronella oil and eucalyptus oil with one teaspoon of coconut oil to make natural bug spray and rub on exposed skin. Reapply as needed.
  • Pest killer: Combine orange and clove oils and then spray to kill pests on contact.
  • Produce washer: To clean fruit and vegetables, add two drops of lemon oil to a large bowl of water, then wash.
  • Refrigerator cleaner: To freshen up the fridge or freezer when cleaning, add a few drops of lime, grapefruit or bergamot oil to the rinsing water.
  • Shoe smell eliminator: To remove the smell from shoes, add a few drops of tea tree oil and lemon oil to freshen them up.
  • Shower scum remover: Using a 16-ounce spray bottle, use four drops of eucalyptus essential oil and four drops of tea tree oil with warm water. Spray onto your shower for natural mold-killing action.
  • Smoke eliminator: To remove cigarette smoke, put four drops of rosemary, tea tree and eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle and spray around the house.
  • Sports gear freshener: If your kids play sports, add two drops each of tea tree oil and lemon essential oil to one quart of warm water. Next add four tablespoons of baking soda and mix. Use to clean ripe jerseys, cleats and sports gear.
  • Trash can freshener: Put a cotton ball with two drops each of lemon oil and tea tree oil at the bottom of the trash can to help decrease the odor and detoxify.
  • Vacuum cleaner freshener: Add 5–10 drops of your favorite oil in your vacuum bag or dust container.
  • Washing machine freshener: Add 10–20 drops of your favorite scent per load.


  • Lavender cake: Mix coconut flour, raw honey, organic eggs and lavender essential oil and bake at 350 degrees.
  • Lemon water: Use 2–3 drops of lemon essential oil in water for a delicious citrus flavor.
  • Mint chocolate cocoa: Add 2–3 drops of peppermint essential oil to hot cocoa for instant minty chocolate!
  • Mint tea: Use 1–2 drops of peppermint essential oil in your favorite tea for a hint of mint.
  • Peppermint patties: Use peppermint essential oil, coconut oil, dark chocolate and raw honey to make real peppermint treats.
Recipes with essential oils - Dr. Axe

Common Questions

What is the best essential oil?

It’s important to choose the best essential oil depending on the health concern or condition that you are trying to remedy. Each essential oil is made up of different compounds and possesses uniqe properties, so while some oils are great for relaxing your mind, easing muscle tension and promoting restful sleep, other oils are stimulating, energy boosting and support cognitive function.

To find out what essential oil is best for you, do some research on your specific health concern.

What are the best essential oils to start with?

Some people ask for a list of essential oils before they realize how many essential oils exist. The most common essential oils (all of which should be organic) that I believe everyone should have stored in the medicine cabinet include the following:

  • Lavender: treats burns, cuts, rashes and stings; reduces anxiety; and promotes restful sleep.
  • Peppermint: improves joint and muscle pain, relieves digestive issues, reduces fevers, clears sinuses, improves asthma and bronchitis, and relieves headaches.
  • Frankincense: reduces inflammation, treats bruising, reduces scars, boosts immunity and promotes emotional well-being.
  • Tea tree: has antibacterial and antifungal properties, can be used to prevent and reduce infections, and cleans the air of pathogens and allergens.

How do I know which essential oil to buy?

This is one of the most vital things you must know about essential oils: Not all essential oils are created equal. In fact, most of them are worthless to your health and often synthetic.

Therefore, when buying such oils — whether 5 ml, 10 ml or 15 ml bottles — choose pure ones that are certified USDA organic, 100 percent pure, therapeutic grade and indigenously sourced.

How do I use essential oils?

There are three types of applications for essential oils: aromatically (using a diffuser or inhaling the aroma directly from the bottle), topically and internally. The best way to start is with aromatic uses, like adding five to 10 drops of a high-quality oil to a diffuser.

When using oils topically, it’s best to combine them with a carrier oil, like coconut oil or jojoba oil.

For internal use, only some essential oils are safe for ingestion, so be sure that it’s safe before using it. Limit internal use to very small amounts for short periods of time.

Risks and Side Effects

Some people are sensitive to certain oils, so before bringing any new product into your routine, try a patch test (placing a small amount on a small surface area of the body) or inhalation test to be sure that you don’t experience any adverse reactions.

Infants, toddlers, young children and pregnant women are all more sensitive to the effects of these potent oils. For these groups, it’s best to stick to gentle options like lavender, bergamot and frankincense.

There’s a long list of oils that should not be used by pregnant women, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and ask your health care provider before use.

Before using an oil internally, make sure that it’s safe for human consumption. Only some oils are safe for internal use in very small amounts, such as lemon or ginger, but in general, use precaution when ingesting.

When using oils in a diffuser, make sure that the room is well-vented and the diffuser is not around a fire or other heat source. It’s also recommended to use a diffuser that has a timer and can be turned off automatically after 20–30 minutes.


  • Essential oils have been used for thousands of years in various cultures for medicinal and health purposes. They have antidepressant, stimulating, detoxifying, antibacterial, antiviral and calming properties, making them a natural, safe and cost-effective therapy for a number of health concerns.
  • There are over 100 ways to use these potent oils in your home and on the go. Aromatic and topical uses are the most popular and safest ways to reap the benefits of pure, high-quality products.
  • Want to get started? Choose two to three oils that you enjoy, such as lemon, lavender and peppermint. Use them in a diffuser at home, or inhale the aroma directly from the bottle.

More Essential Oils