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The 10 Best Essential Oils That Everyone Should Have in Their Collection

The 10 Best Essential Oils That Everyone Should Have in Their Collection

2. Cinnamon oil

If lemon oil is bright, cool, and invigorating, cinnamon oil is its opposite: sweet and spicy, musky and warm. For me, cinnamon conjures up a distinct mixture of sexy exoticness and cozy familiarity, which makes sense because it’s both a Far East import and a spice drawer mainstay.

Derived from both the bark and leaf of the Cinnamomum verum tree, it’s actually one of history’s oldest essential oils, with the Egyptians recording their extensive use of it in Ebers Papyrus, a medical text dating to approximately 1550 BC.

“For me, cinnamon conjures up a distinct mixture of sexy exoticness and cozy familiarity.”

At that time, cinnamon was a hot commodity. It was expensive and hard to get because Arab traders controlled most of the supply coming from Sri Lanka and India and—in a pretty savvy marketing tactic—they kept the true source of their supply a secret. Cinnamon oil was affordable only for the very wealthy—emperors, royals, and, later on, Europe’s elite. Fortunately for us, price and access to this super-useful oil are no obstacle today.

In aromatherapy, cinnamon essential oil can be used to help clear up chest colds. Applied topically, it can soothe muscle aches and pains, thanks to its antispasmodic and analgesic properties. It’s also an antiseptic and makes a powerful natural preservative. It is both antibacterial and antimicrobial, as well as being anti-inflammatory, and pain-relieving. Some studies have shown that cinnamon oil contains powerful antioxidants and could potentially be useful in fighting neurological disorders and heart disease.

The 10 Best Essential Oils That Everyone Should Have in Their Collection

3. Lemongrass oil

Google “lemongrass” and your search will most likely garner a bunch of hits for Thai restaurants in your local area (yum!). I’m all for a killer curry, but I’m even more into the plant’s essential oil.

Lemongrass is a fast-growing, tropical grass native to Sri Lanka and south India and is now cultivated in warm climates in Africa and Asia. The entire plant is utilized in everything from tea to cleaning products, and it has been used for years in Indian healing traditions to treat maladies like gastrointestinal issues and fever (it earned the nickname “fever grass”).

“I like to use it for its cheerful, energetic scent alone, but there also happens to be plenty of evidence that it possesses powerful medicinal and pharmacological properties.”

Lemongrass essential oil is derived from the steam distillation of the plant and, true to its name, it possesses a mild, sweet, lemony-yet-herbal aroma. I like to use it for its cheerful, energetic scent alone, but there also happens to be plenty of evidence that it possesses powerful medicinal and pharmacological properties, including the potential to slow the growth of cancerous cells and tumors.

Research also shows that lemongrass essential oil is antibacterial and anti-fungal, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and can be a potent insect repellent. Its antifungal properties are especially helpful in combating the nasty yeast associated with dandruff. One study noted that participants who used a dandruff tonic with a 10 percent concentration of lemongrass oil saw a significant reduction in dandruff in as little as a week.

Personally, I love to add some lemongrass oil to my bath when I’m feeling sick.

The 10 Best Essential Oils That Everyone Should Have in Their Collection

4. Clary sage

Clary sage possesses myriad beneficial properties for the skin: It’s antibacterial, astringent, antiseptic, and can help improve circulation. I like the uniquely sweet herbal aroma of clary sage, which helps to cut through some of the more pungent ingredients used in natural skin care, too.

“Clary sage has been lauded for its reputed ability to regulate hormones, and its scent is thought to have antidepressant effects.”

Clary sage is a perennial plant that is native to the northern Mediterranean region and North Africa; its essential oil is derived via the steam distillation of the plant’s flowering tops and leaves. Although the ancient Egyptians used it in medicinal practices, it wasn’t until medieval times that clary sage really took off. During this time, doctors and herbalists used clary sage seeds to help treat vision problems; “clary” is derived from the Latin word for clear, “clarus.” And it was also used to flavor wine (and referred to as “muscatel sage” because of its similarity to German muscat wine). Someone, somewhere, got clever—maybe while drunk off clary sage wine?—and mashed up the two nicknames. Hence: clary sage.

Clary sage has been lauded for its reputed ability to regulate hormones, and its scent is thought to have antidepressant effects. A 2014 study of twenty-two postmenopausal women in their 50s—some of whom were depressed—showed that breathing diffused clary sage helped to alleviate participants’ depression by lowering cortisol levels and improving thyroid hormone levels. And a 2012 study revealed that clary sage—along with lavender and marjoram—makes an effective massage treatment for alleviating menstrual pain and cramping.

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