As much as I write about essential oils, I tend to forget how easy it is to become overwhelmed, especially if you are just getting started. Couple that with the fact that EOs have been a part of my life since the early 90’s, it is easy to become complacent and assume everyone knows how to use them day to day.
My goal today is to change that. Here are twenty uses for the four basic essential oils that I believe should be in everyone’s home and health care toolbox: Lavender, Peppermint, Rosemary, and Melaleuca (also known as Tea Tree). Each of these oils is inexpensive and can be used in a myriad of ways.
These twenty uses are tried and true and represent how I use these four oils myself.
Lavender Essential Oil
If you want to get started with a single oil, this is my choice. Modestly priced at around $7 for a quality oil, lavender essential oil is something I carry with me at all times. A small bottle is in my handbag, first aid kit, pocket survival kit, and desk drawer. When in doubt, use lavender!
1. Relaxation: Often times many of us will feel anxious – you know the feeling! Rubbing a few drops of lavender essential oil on your feet, back, and neck can really help you to relax and calm down. Often times, simply the scent of lavender oil can help to relieve stress and help calm your mind and body.
2. Mosquito Band Other Insect Bites: Lavender Essential Oil can also help with the itch and irritation caused by mosquito and other small insect bites. Simply place a drop directly on the bite and it will greatly reduce, and often eliminate, the annoying itching that being human, we are compelled to scratch. As I learned this summer, lavender is also useful to mitigate the irritation and itch caused my No See Um’s which I had never heard of until moving to the mountains of Arizona.
3. Dry cracked heels and feet: Mix together a teaspoon or two of coconut oil (or other oil of your choice) and 2 drops of lavender. Rub the mixture onto your feet morning and night. Put a pair of socks on for about an hour after applying the oil and you’ll be on the road to baby smooth skin. If you would rather ditch the sock routine, add some sugar to the mix and create a scrub. Rub vigorously then wipe with a fresh washcloth. This also works well on scaly elbows. At first, you may need to do this every few days but soon you will find that once a week does the trick.
4. Papercuts: At one point in my career I worked in the field of accounting. Paper cuts were the bane of my existence. That is when I started keeping a bottle of lavender in my desk drawer. These days the cuts are still there but the source is typically those boxes that seem to arrive daily from Amazon. When you get a cut, simply take a drop of oil and dab it on the owie. Lavender is very mild and will not sting. It will, however, take away the pain and promote healing.
5. Small Burns: Gently apply a few drops of lavender to relieve the pain and tenderness of a burn. In my experience, I have found that lavender also mitigates scarring.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is another well-priced oil. As far as I am concerned, nothing beats it for headache relief and insect control.
6. Headaches: Peppermint is a powerhouse when it comes to headache relief. To use it, rub a drop of peppermint oil on your temples, forehead, over the sinuses but do stay away from your eyes. I find it also helps to dot some peppermint oil on the back of your neck. Peppermint is quite potent so my recommendation is that you mix up a rollerball with a few drops of peppermint topped with fractionated coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or any other liquid carrier. Start with 10 drops in a 10 ML roller ball bottle. You can always add more if needed.
7. Stay alert: Rub a few drops of peppermint oil in your palms then bring it up to your nose and inhale. If that does not wake you up, nothing will!
8. Relieve tired, sore feet: Nothing will perk up tired sore feet better than peppermint essential oil. You have some choices. One is that you can add a few drops to a foot bath and soak your feet. As a bonus, follow up with the lavender sugar scrub I mentioned above. Another option is to add a few drops of peppermint essential oil to your favorite carrier oil (there is that word again) or favorite lotion and massage the mixture into your feet. Don’t forget your toes. If you have a willing partner, have that person do this for you. Heavenly!
9. Insect Control: Bugs hate peppermint. If you live in an area where ants, scorpions, and other insects are common, try putting a few drops of peppermint oil on cotton balls and leaving them in nooks and crannies around your home. You can also make a spray by adding 15 drops of peppermint essential oil to a 16-ounce spray bottle filled with water. I like to spray the baseboards around my home with this mixture and so far, fingers crossed, the interior of my home is bug-free. For an effective insect repellent for use on your skin and clothing, you may want to read Make Your Own Insect Repellent Using Essential Oils.
Melaleuca Essential Oil (Tea Tree)
My first experience with Melaleuca (tea tree oil) was in the late 80s when I was faced with a nail fungus that would not go away. The pharmaceutical solutions at the time were harsh and required frequent monitoring of liver enzymes. For a simple, non-life threatening nail fungus, I took to pass and tried melaleuca upon the advice of my doctor. After using a topical application of tea tree oil for three months, the fungus was all but gone.
Melaleuca is known for its antimicrobial, antiseptic, anti-fungal and antiviral properties, making it an excellent addition to DIY household cleaners.
10. Sore Throat: Add 2 drops of melaleuca essential oil to 1 cup of warm water with a pinch of sea salt and gargle 2-3 times a day. As with any gargle, do not swallow!
11. Abrasions & Minor Cuts: After cleaning the area well, apply a few drops of the oil directly. If a bandage is needed, allow a few drops of the oil to penetrate a cotton ball, then lay it face down on the wound with a bandage on top.
12. Athletes Foot: Clean feet thoroughly, paying particular attention to the area between the toes. Add 10 drops of melaleuca oil to 1 tablespoon of your preferred carrier oil and massage onto your feet and between your toes daily.
13. Nail Fungus: Add 1 or 2 drops of oil directly to nail and the surrounding tissue. Be sure to allow the oil to dry completely on hands before touching anything. Repeat this process morning and night for up to three months. Yes, that is a long time but did you know that “curing” nail fungus using toxic pharmaceuticals takes just as long?
14. Toilet Bowl Cleaner: Fill a 16-ounce spray bottle with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water. Add 15 drops of melaleuca essential oil. Use this mixture to clean and sanitize your toilets, sinks, and shower.
15. Mildew and Mold Remover: Make an all-purpose cleaner made with 2 teaspoons of tea tree oil and 2 cups of water. Spray on growing mold and mildew. Shake well before using and do not rinse.
Rosemary Essential Oil
Like melaleuca, rosemary essential oil is also an effective antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal agent. In addition, it helps restore mental acuity and focus. Sometimes I cut a sprig of rosemary from my garden and hold it up to my nose to smell. To me, there is something magical about fresh rosemary fronds.
16. Improve focus: When you are working on a project and losing focus, try rubbing a few drops of essential oil into the palm of your hands then bring them up to your nose to inhale. Adding a few drops to a diffuser does the same thing but this alternative method works too and requires no additional investment.
17. Muscle and joint pain: Applied topically, rosemary oil is an effective treatment for muscle pain and arthritis. In my opinion, rosemary is especially effective when used in combination with lavender and peppermint essential oils.
18. Improve Circulation: A bit of rosemary oil works wonders to restore circulation, especially in the hands and feet. Try rubbing some into your extremities both before and after going out in the cold weather.
19. Condition dry, frizzy hair: Add one or two drops of rosemary essential oil to your conditioner before running it through your hair while in the shower. If your hair still seems a bit frizzy after drying your hair, add a single drop of rosemary oil to jojoba or coconut oil and lightly work through your hair, concentrating on the ends. Less is definitely more.
20. Stimulate hair growth: Concoct a hair serum using 50 drops of rosemary and enough fractionated coconut oil to fill a 10ML roller ball. If you are noticing that your hairline is beginning to recede, rub this serum into the affected area once or twice a day. Whether it was stress or some other reason, this worked for me. I kid you not! I honestly thought I was going bald.
Using these Oils in a Healing Salve
For years I have used the combination of Lavender, Rosemary, and Peppermint to relieve muscle and joint pain and also to reduce scarring from cuts, scrapes and even surgical wounds. I would create a 5% dilution by adding 10 drops of each oil to 2 tablespoons of a favorite carrier oil. In the 90s, that was Sweet Almond Oil but these days it is Fractionated Coconut Oil or Jojoba Oil. You might recognize this combination as the basis for my healing salve which, for lack of a better title, I call “Auntie Gaye’s Awesome Healing Salve“.
Here is the basic recipe for muscle relief:
Rosemary – 10 drops
Lavender – 10 drops
Peppermint – 10 drops
Combine the essential oils with 2 tablespoons of your favorite carrier oil (or base salve). The creates a 5% dilution which is more than adequate. Oftentimes I cut this back to a 2.5% dilution using only 5 drops of each oil.
Note: I have never added melaleuca to my base healing salve. Instead, when needed, I place a dab of salve in my palm then add a drop of melaleuca oil to that on more of an ad hoc basis.
Other Essential Oils
Are these the only oils I recommend? Of course not. They are, however, a good start and for many of you, perhaps enough to see you through for the long term. You see, my opinion is that not everyone has an interest in collecting a large assortment of oils and learning how to use them either singly or together in what is called a synergy.
In addition, the cost to purchase these four oils can be managed by almost everyone, even those that are on extremely fixed incomes. As of this writing, for example, each oil can be purchased for about $7, or $28 for all four. Many of the other oils I tend to use are double or triple that amount and while useful for specific applications, are not what I call day-to-day essentials.
What Are Carrier Oils?
For many new users of essential oils, the term “carrier oils” is somewhat foreign. The simplest explanation is that to most efficiently use an EO, it is often necessary to dilute the oil in another oil so that it can be easily spread or massaged on the affected area. In addition, many oils are too “hot” or strong to be used directly on the skin, especially sensitive skin. Although that does not apply to these four oils (lavender, rosemary, peppermint, and melaleuca), adding the oil to a carrier allows for a more elegant application.
Common carrier oils include coconut oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, and hemp oil, among others.
My current favorite is Jojoba oil because it is extremely emollient and its properties mimic the natural oils in our skin. It is also rich in vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant.
In addition to a traditional, liquid oil, you can use coconut oil (the same type you cook with) are, of course, use a DIY base salve. Salves are simple to make and cost-effective. You can find a recipe for a simple homemade salve here.
I have mentioned a lot of products in this article. Not only is there the oils, themselves, but there are the carrier oils and roller balls that help make the application of oils simple and without waste. I am including a short list of product suggestions to get you started. These are all products I use myself and can personally recommend.
Spark Naturals Essential Oils: As you have heard me say before, I am a Spark girl from the get-go. I like the quality and pricing, and over the years have gotten to know the management team. Their customer-centric philosophy is exemplary and I have a direct line to the CEO who is always available to address my questions or concerns. For the best pricing, order Spark Naturals directly from their website and enjoy an additional 10% off all prices using code GAYELEVY at checkout. You can also purchase their oils via their Amazon store.
Rollerballs and other accessories: Amazon.com is my go-to choice for roller balls, salve jars, and other essential oil accessories.
Fractionated Coconut Oil: This is one of the brands I use. Regardless of what you choose, be sure to use a pump with your bottle of carrier oil. This will help you control the amount used, resulting in less waste.
Golden Jojoba Oil: You will need to take a leap of faith and trust me when I say that this golden oil is divine. I use it on my face, in my hair, and any other time I need a liquid carrier for my essential oils.
Note: I am an affiliate of both Amazon.com and Spark Naturals and earn a small commission when you make a purchase.
Summing It All Up
As a long time user of essential oils, I sometimes tend to get preachy about their use and look down my nose at individuals that close their minds to the possibility. On the other hand, it is easy to see the turnoff when a quick Google search comes up with articles such as “50 Ways to Use Lavender Oil that Will Blow Your Mind”. Give me a break. None of the uses I have outlined will blow anyone’s mind.
Essential oils are simply tools that can be used to foster a healthier, more pain-free, and less toxic lifestyle. Can they do more? Possibly, and my mind is open to that. Not being a scientist, however, I chose to share what I know and leave it at that.
Finally, I am compelled to add that it is my opinion that essential oils are not snake oil, at least not in the manner in which I propose using them. I want you to try them and so, in this article, I have been very careful in outlining ways I have personally used each of these four oils. There are many other uses but these are tried and true and have worked minor miracles in my own life.
I very much hope you will give them a try.