There’s a reason your parents made you eat your vegetables as a kid. Put simply: plants are good for you! Your body craves and thrives off of the nutrients locked within them.
Unfortunately, nature made some plants’ health benefits easier to access than others. For example, while you probably know that broccoli, kale, and carrots are good for your health (because they’re easily edible), what about eucalyptus and lavender flowers?
Simply because it’s more difficult to access their health benefits, few people know that these and many other lesser-known plants are bonafide medicinal powerhouses!
Thankfully, modern-day distillation processes allow us to extract a plant’s most potent healing properties—straight from the bark, roots, seeds, flowers, fruit, and leaves.
The end result is a pure, concentrated solution called an essential oil.
41 Medicinal Uses for Essential Oils
It may shock you to realize just how many medicinal uses essential oils offer! Here’s a list of 41 you can try yourself:
- Helps heal bruises: Soak a washcloth in a mixture of five drops lavender, five drops frankincense, and four ounces of hot water for a bruise-treating, anti-inflammatory hot compress.
- Treats eczema and psoriasis: Lavender oil’s natural skin-healing properties make it a wonderful treatment for eczema and psoriasis. Mix lavender essential oil with shea butter for the best results.
- Treats ringworms: Adding three drops of tea tree oil to coconut oil makes for a powerfully anti-microbial and anti-fungal topical treatment for ringworms.
- Treats acne: Mix tea tree oil, geranium, and honey for a potent and delicious-smelling DIY acne wash. Rub the mixture gently on your face, then wash off with water.
- Reduces varicose veins: Cypress’ circulation-boosting properties help reduce varicose veins.
- Heals sunburns: Both chamomile and lavender essential oils are wonderful healers of the skin. Mix this power couple together with coconut oil and dab on sunburns using a cotton pad to reduce irritation, inflammation, and pain from sunburns.
- Treats burns: To reduce pain and promote the healing of burns, apply a mixture of lavender oil and aloe vera to the affected skin.
- Treats poison oak/ivy: While typically used to treat fevers and muscle pain, peppermint is also great for treating poison oak and poison ivy. If you’re itching up a storm, dilute three drops of peppermint oil into an unscented carrier oil and apply to the affected areas.
- Heals blistered skin: To prevent infection and heal blistered skin, dilute two drops of tea tree oil into an unscented carrier oil and apply the mixture to the affected area up to five times a day.
- Cures head lice: For a healthy, homemade head lice treatment, mix three drops each of thyme, eucalyptus, and lavender oil into an unscented carrier oil and apply the mixture to your scalp. Keep the mixture on for at least 30 minutes, preferably covered with a shower cap, and wash out with shampoo.
- Soothes bug bites: Apply lavender oil to your skin to ease itching and reduce pain and inflammation from insect bites and stings.
- Helps heal coughs and sinusitis: Eucalyptus is well-known for its usefulness in treating respiratory issues. To open airways in the chest and nasal passages, add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to a diffuser or bowl of hot water and inhale deeply.
- Reduces symptoms of bronchitis and asthma: For a soothing DIY vapor rub, combine eucalyptus, peppermint, and coconut oil and rub on your neck and chest.
- Relieves arthritis pain: Mix together two drops each of cypress, wintergreen, and lemongrass into an unscented lotion for an arthritic-pain-relieving massage.
- Relieves sore feet: Add a tablespoon of Epsom salts and 10 drops of peppermint oil to a warm foot bath to ease painful, achy muscles.
- Reduces back/neck pain: Mix ginger, cypress, peppermint, and coconut oil with cayenne pepper for a fiery, muscle-soothing concoction.
- Soothes aching muscles: When in need of achy muscle relief, use the power of the trees! Dilute wintergreen, cypress, and eucalyptus into coconut oil or an unscented lotion and massage into muscles for quick and lasting muscle pain relief.
- Helps treat broken bones: Topically applying a mixture of fir, cypress, and helichrysum oils will help broken bones to heal.
- Supports joint health: Combine ginger and peppermint to reduce inflammation and pain in the joints.
- Relieves migraines: To ease the pain of a pounding migraine, mix a few drops each of lavender and peppermint oils and apply to your temples.
- Curbs hangovers: I wish I had known about this one back in college! Mix six drops each of cedarwood, juniper berry, lavender, rosemary, grapefruit, and lemon oils into a warm bath and soak away the pain of poor decisions.
- Fights cancer: Cedarwood, sandalwood, and German chamomile contain phytochemicals called “sesquiterpenes,” which have been shown to reverse DNA damage in cells and could help fight cancer. Frankincense has also been shown to fight cancer by shrinking brain tumors!
- Eases tooth grinding: One to three drops of lavender massaged behind the ears and on the bottom of your feet at bedtime will help your body relax and promote deeper, healthier sleep to ease incessant tooth grinding during the night.
- Reduces fever: Eucalyptus purifies, lavender soothes, and peppermint cools. Mix together one to three drops of each and apply to the body with a cool cloth for a powerful fever reducer.
- Reduces food cravings: Inhale peppermint and cinnamon oil to balance blood sugar levels and reduce appetite.
- Heals leaky gut: Mix together ginger, fennel, and peppermint oils for overall digestive support. Ginger oil will be especially helpful here, as it contains gingerol, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent.
- Relieves PMS: Combine rosemary, sage, and basil oils and add to a warm, wet washcloth. Apply this to the abdomen to reduce pain and cramping from PMS.
- Helps with pregnancy-related morning sickness: Just a few drops of lemon, ginger, and wild orange oils can reduce most of your morning sickness symptoms. Drip a few drops of each onto a tissue or handkerchief and inhale for quick, direct relief.
- Relieves motion sickness: Mix ginger, lavender, and peppermint oil for a calming yet invigorating boost that will ease nausea and motion sickness.
- Improves diabetes: Cinnamon oil’s ability to balance blood sugar levels makes it a useful medicinal tool for diabetics.
- Improves circulation: For an invigorating boost to your body’s circulation, soak in a warm bath with around 10 added drops of grapefruit oil.
- Energizes workouts: Inhaling peppermint oil before a workout will boost energy levels, reduce fatigue, and sharpen focus for a killer workout.
- Boosts concentration: Add grapefruit, bergamot, and peppermint oils to a diffuser or bowl of hot water and inhale the steam for increased concentration throughout the day.
- Supports weight loss: Cinnamon, grapefruit, and ginger oils combine into a healthy weight loss supplement that boosts metabolic enzymes and balances blood sugar levels. Take three times daily.
- Boosts the immune system: Oregano’s potent anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties can provide a much-needed boost to your immune system when rubbed on the bottom of your feet. This is a great one to try before long plane rides.
- Cut down on colds/the flu: Next time you feel a cold coming on, start supplementing three times daily with oregano and frankincense oils. Do so until the cold is gone or for at least a week.
- Reduces allergy symptoms: For relief from an itchy throat, drip frankincense and lavender oil onto your palms, rub them together to activate the oils, and inhale deeply.
- Cleanses the body: Lemon essential oil improves lymph drainage for a natural, all-body cleanse.
- Improves libido: Keep some sandalwood oil by your bed as a libido-enhancing natural aphrodisiac.
- Balances hormones: Myrrh (of biblical fame) can naturally balance hormone levels throughout your system.
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression: While initially made famous by aromatherapy founder René-Maurice Gattefossé for its uses in treating burns and wounds, lavender oil is widely used today (even in some hospitals!) to reduce depression and stress/anxiety. Try diffusing lavender oil around your home or dripping a couple drops into your palms, rubbing them together, and inhaling deeply.
While they won’t replace a healthy diet or lifestyle, integrating essential oils into your life can vastly improve your health. For tips on which oils to start with when building your own natural medicine cabinet, check out our guide on The 15 Most Popular Essential Oils and The Benefits of Each. And, as always, take it slow and be gentle when introducing your body to these potent oils.