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Most Popular Essential Oils – The Smells, Their Uses, and How Best to Diffuse or Apply

Every plant is designed by the gods to have their own unique therapeutic benefit and wonderful aromas. Having so many oils accessible it can be complicated to understand what the best is for you. Check out the list below for benefits of the most frequently used essential oils in alphabetical order, not by ratings or other criteria.

Another great place to look for essential oils is our complete list of oils and their uses.

  1. Bergamot

    Citrus bergamia, the bergamot orange tree, is grown in Italy and southern France in Côte d’Ivoire for its essential oil. The rind is pressed to release its oil and it is used for depression, stress, anxiety, skin infections such as eczema and psoriasis, is great for anorexia, liver stimulation, the gastrointestinal tract, fatigue, and the spleen. Put it in a diffuser, or in your bath water. It blends well with massage oils and is used at various salons, such as spas, massage therapists, nail and hair, and more places for its benefits. Dilute with carrier oils because it can burn the skin in its pure form. It is photosensitive, so stay out of the sun.

  2. Cedarwood

    Cedarwood is from the eastern red cedar from Juniperus virginiana, also known as eastern Juniper and has a woodsy fragrance. It is an old tree going back to our ancient ancestors in Egypt and just might be one of the first oils used. Today we use steam distillation for removing the oils from the tree’s woodchips. Use in your diffuser for a calming experience if you have stress or feel anxious; skin problems, and urinary tract infections, and your spirit energy will feel uplifted. Use in your bathwater and massage oils. Dilute with carrier oils because it can burn the skin in its pure form. Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

  3. Chamomile

    chamaemelum nobile has a light fragrance that has a note of apple, is sweet, crisp, and herbaceous. Chamomile grows in Egypt, Mexico, and wild in the Rocky Mountains and my backyard. It is a wonderful, sweet and a tasty calming tea. The plant’s small daisy-like flowers are of the family Asteraceae. The essential oils are removed from the oil within the leaves and there are two kinds: Roman or German Chamomile. The oils from each are somewhat different for healing benefits. The oils are extracted using the steam distillation process for use in your diffuser.

    German Matricaria recutita/Matricaria chamomilla is used in herbal medicine for sore stomachs, IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and as a sleep aid

    Roman—mouthwash, acne, analgesic elements, uplifts mood, antibiotic, and an antidepressant

    German—mouthwash, inflammation, urinary tract, and digestive problems, acne, analgesic elements, uplifts mood, antibiotic, antidepressant, mild laxative, anti-inflammatory effects, an anti-bacterial, and induces sleep

    Chamomile oil was demonstrated in studies to be effective against gram-positive bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Streptococcus salivarius, and Bacillus species.

    Studies have shown that chamomile extracts have in vitro growth inhibitory effects on cancer cells in skin, prostate, breast, ovarian, prostate cancer cell lines with minimal effects on normal cells—but pharmaceutical companies cannot patent this wonderful herb to cure cancer!

    Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Roman chamomile is not recommended for use during pregnancy because it can cause uterine contractions and miscarriage. If you are allergic to ragweed (Asteraceae family of natural weeds/wildflowers) do not use.

  4. Eucalyptus Oil

    is in the myrtle family, Myrtaceae, native to Western Australia cultivated for its gum, resin, oil, and wood. It is steam distilled from the leaves from the 500 varieties.

    It is effective for respiratory diseases, colds, and congestion. Eucalyptus oil can improve concentration and is great as an insect repellant. It is used as an antispasmodic, antiseptic, decongestant, stimulant, and diuretic. It is wonderful for fevers, headaches, and migraines due to its cooling elements and it is used for a deodorant and helps with muscle pain relief. Pairs well with clary sage.

    Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. If you have epilepsy, do not use. Eucalyptus oil can be fatal if ingested in large doses.

  5. Jasmine

    Jasminum grandiflorum is native to Asia, has a sweet fragrance and the oils are extracted using a solvent method. Jasmine is a very expensive oil and has potent healing properties. It is used for depression, stress, its ability to provide relaxation, boost libido, helps with respiratory and addiction issues. Add a few drops to your diffuser, bath, or massage oils for therapeutic benefits with a wonderful aroma. Jasmine is not toxic, but can cause an allergic reaction to those sensitive to its properties.

    Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding.

  6. Lavender Oil

    Lavandula angustifolia is related to the mint or deadnettle family, Lamiaceae. It is native to the Old World, Europe, eastern Africa, southwest Asia, southeast India and the Mediterranean. The very popular fragrance smells sweet and heavenly. Using the flowers, it is steam distilled. Lavender oil is great for relieving stress, the common cold, flu, and headaches including migraines. Lavender essential oil is useful as an antidepressant, decongestant, anti-inflammatory effects, sedative, diuretic, and deodorant.

    Lavender oil is wonderful in your diffuser, in the bath for you own spa-like experience and a few drops on your pillow at bedtime for a restful night’s sleep.

    Do not use if you have an allergic reaction.

  7.  Lemon Oil

    Citrus limonum also known as Citrus Limon, of the Rutaceae family is a native of India. Lemon oil is obtained from the fresh fruit peel by cold expression. The cool, clean and fresh scent is loved by everyone. It decreases acid in the body, a good thing, and aids with digestion. Lemon essential oil improves concentration to help you in making decisions. It is great in your diffuser to help with arthritis, rheumatism, and gout, helping remove cellulite, boils, acne, abscesses, increases energy, and improves the immune system. Add a few drops to your bath and for help with many things including circulation and skin problems. It is great for headaches, fever, and uplifts mood.

    Lemon essential oil is not toxic but can cause an allergic skin rash.

    Dilute with carrier oils because it can burn the skin in its pure form. Lemon oil is photosensitive, so stay out of the sun.

  8. Marjoram

    Origanum majorana is in the family of Lamiaceae (lavender). Marjoram is indigenous to Cyprus and southern Turkey, and was known to the Greeks and Romans as a symbol of happiness. It helps with constipation and cramps, and calms a hyperactive child (give up those psychotropic drugs). It relieves anxiety, depression, uplifts mood, tension, headaches, helps digestion, asthma, and sinusitis. It relieves insomnia, so put a few drops in your bath or essential oil diffuser for a relaxing good night’s sleep. It is steam distilled using the herb’s flowers and leaves. It is also a great spice for cooking.

    Add a few drops to your diffuser for fatigue, circulation problems and respiratory issues.

    It is recommended to not use if pregnant or breastfeeding even though it is not toxic.

  9. Patchouli

    Pogostemon cablin is in the family of Lamiaceae of the mints. It is steam distilled from leaves. It is a heady sweet lovely scent used for its potent skin care applications, relieving anxiety, uplifting of mood—used by hippies back in the day and other good Earth people. Light a candle, turn up the music, and add a few drops to your tub bath for some relaxing moments of pleasure. Also put in your essential oil diffuser to help heal wounds, skin infections, to remove depression, fatigue, curb addictions, and reduce bloating and cellulite. It is used to grow skin cells when applied to the skin. Mix with massage oils for a wonderful relaxing experience. Do not use undiluted.

    Patchouli is not at all toxic, but it is recommended to use in small amounts because of its potency. Start slow, check yourself out, and increase the oil as you need.

  10. Peppermint Oil

    Mentha × piperita, also known as M. balsamea Willd is in the family of Lamiaceae, the mints, of course. It is a hybrid crossed with watermint and spearmint. It hails from Europe and the Middle East and is now everywhere. Sometimes it is found in the wild with its parent species. Peppermint oil hybridized itself without man’s help. How smart is that? How wonderful is nature! It is used in nebulizing diffusers as an energy booster, and the scent itself perks you up. It is cooling, refreshing, and wakes up your mental alertness. The yearly blooming herb is extracted before the lovely tiny purple flowers bloom using the steam distillation process. Use peppermint oil in your nebulizing diffusers, vaporizer, massage oils, and in you tub bath. It is used in toothpaste, mouthwash, and of course, candy canes. The cooling vapors has a menthol component that boosts your mood, to be centered and focused, it removes irritation and redness on skin, helps with congestion and digestion.

    Even though peppermint oil is not toxic, the menthol might irritate some people. Keep it away from your eyes and the mucous membranes of the nose because it can be irritating. Use with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, for best results.

    Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not use around young children.

  11. Rose

    is of the genus Rosa, within the family Rosaceae, and the volatile essential oils are obtained by steam distilling the crushed petals of roses. ‘Rose Absolute’ is solvent-extracted with hexane and rose oil is steam distilled. Rose essential oil is wonderful for depression, digestion, anxiety, circulation, asthma, protects the heart and the skin loves it. It has powerful aromatherapy therapeutic benefits. It is costly to make from millions of rose petals. It takes two thousand flowers to produce one gram of oil.

    Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding

  12. Rosemary Oil

    Rosmarinus officinalis is an herb in the Lamiaceae family and is fragrant native to Asia and the Mediterranean region. It is a mental stimulant of the blood-brain barrier and is steam distilled from the flowers. The oil in your diffuser will boost memory, reduce congestion and sinusitis problems. Whether applied topically or in nebulizing diffusers, rosemary oil is wonderful as an antidepressant, helps to soothe aches, cramps and muscle pain relief and tightness, headaches and migraines. Rub some rosemary oil on your scalp for stimulation and circulation there for better hair growth. Add to your hot bathwater for a soothing bath. It works on skin problems, and aids liver and digestive conditions.

    Do not use if pregnant or breastfeeding. Do not use if you are epileptic or have high blood pressure.

  13. Sandalwood

    is the name of a class of wood from trees in the genus Santalum. Both the tree and the oil produce a fragrance that has been prized and valued for centuries. The trees are not ready until they are 15 years old, and they have been over harvested in the last hundred years. It is expensive and has a woodsy fragrance and many aromatherapy benefits.

    Sandalwood is distilled in a four-step process, incorporating boiling, steaming, condensation, and separation. The process is known as steam distillation and is widely carried out industrially at Kannauj, India. The entire tree is removed from the ground, not just sawed off leaving a stump. The roots, too, have the fragrance.

    Use in your diffusers, and blend with massage oils. It can be used diluted as a gargle for your throat. Sandalwood reduces tension, anxiety, and has a calming effect. It also has sexual properties. As a hydration help for the skin, your flakiness will go away. It is an anti-inflammatory agent, helps urinary tract and chest wall mucous membranes to eliminate the mucous. It has been used in all religions for thousands of years, the Middle East, Asia, and China, and more places.

  14. Tea Tree

    Melaleuca alternifolia essential oils are isolated from the leaves of this tree and is steam distilled. With the fragrance of a fresh camphoraceous (aromatic) odor, this oil is a necessary staple in your essential oils kit for its effective aromatherapy benefits. It is known to fight infections and boost the immune system.

    Put tea tree oil in your diffuser, bath, or massage oils with carrier oils or blend with other oils for a relaxing experience.

    Its healing properties go to work on burns and cuts, dry skin, and are used to rid your area of insects. Great for soothing and treating cold sores (herpes), flu, aching tired muscles, respiratory problems, dandruff and athletes foot. Healing will be quick.

    It is not toxic but should not be taken internally. Do not use on serious cuts. Keep it away from your eyes and the mucous membranes of the nose because it can be irritating. Use with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, for best results.

  15. Ylang-Ylang Essential Oil

    Cananga odorata is a tropical tree originating in the Philippines and is highly valued for its exotic and intoxicating flowers. Ylang-ylang essential oil is removed from the flowers and steam distilled. It is used as an essential oil in aromatherapy. Its sweet fragrance is wonderful for aromatherapy and it is excellent with therapeutic benefits reducing stress. It is also known as an aphrodisiac. Use in your diffuser, in the bath, add to massage oils and enjoy its heady fragrant benefits. Its foremost use is for its calming abilities. It soothes headaches, skin problems, nausea, stimulates hair growth, intestinal upsets, and high blood pressure.

    It is not toxic but can cause headaches if you use too much too often. Take it slow.

It’s Essential: When and How to Use Essential Oils

Choosing a Brand

There are a lot of reputable companies and brands from which to purchase the most popular essential oils. They usually carry both nebulizing diffusers and ultrasonic diffusers for purchase as well. Whether you’re buying pure essential oils or an essential oil blend, be sure to look for therapeutic grade essential oils. Brands like Young Living and DoTerra essential oils are multi-level marketing companies which may have higher costs associated.

Compare essential oil brands in this next article.

Make it your priority to find therapeutic grade, pure essential oils. These have many health benefits, including antiseptic properties when applied topically or put in an essential oil diffuser.

These are just some of the most popular essential oils. Other oils, like frankincence essential oil and clary sage are also worth investigating.

Melissa Styer

Melissa Styer is the Founder, and long time Editor-in-Chief of With a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of Oregon, and a Masters Degree in Biology from California State University, Melissa has been writing and teaching about essential oils and the importance of a maintaining a healthy living environment for over 25 years. === Hi All, I started Wellness Appliances in the Winter of 2014 as a way to and share my knowledge and thoughts on essential oils and the importance of healthful living. As a youngster, I have vivid memories of walking through the large fantastic garden my dad kept for his entire life. It was there I learned about all the plants and the varied, important properties they can offer humanity. A cool morning misty walk down the meandering paths was a child’s delight, and something I still do to this day in my own sprawling gardens. While I have stepped back from the day-to-day managing of Wellness Appliances, I intend to continue contributing articles on subjects that matter to me from time to time. My days are largely filled volunteering at the local co-op, tooling in my vegetable and fragrance gardens (which I attempt to keep as a year-round gardens), writing, and being the leader of the pack to my two dogs Jacko and Lea. Thanks for the years of great readership! - Melissa

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. sharon Dayhoff

    I would like more information on how to use essential oils and for what product. thanks

  2. Melissa

    Hi. I’m wondering why swiss just aromatherapy products are never mentioned on ANY web sites. I have been usuing their juniper and 31 oil for a few years for disc degen., scaticia, herniated discs. Their anti -stress, geranuim , roman chamomile oils have killed flu and viruses rapidly in my house hold as iam a single mother of 3. We haven’t had to use any over the counter meds. Even their tea tree , body balm, and lavender cream have worked wonders for my toddlers rashes, falls, and any bug bites or bruises. I do question their prices and purity of jasmine and neroli. I have tried plant therapy, aura casia, and now brand. I was just curious why tnis company is never mentioned ?

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