Essential Oil 101 ★ plus Top 32 Essential Oils + actions and safety - Free Printable Chart

Essential Oil 101 ★ plus Top 32 Essential Oils + actions and safety - Free Printable Chart

Essential Oil use can be traced all the way back to the Ancient Egyptians in 3rd Century BC, the Ancient Greeks used flower petals steeped in oil to make perfumed oil which was used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, while Roman soldiers carried myrrh with them to apply to wounds, as well as fennel seeds to sweeten their breath and kill fleas.

 

What are Essential Oils?

Essential Oils are found in plants and are the component responsible for the plants distinct aroma. They can be from the flower, fruit, leaf, root, wood, stem, bark or sap of the plant. Plants can synthesize two types of oils - fixed oils and essential oils. Fixed oils contain fatty acids, whereas essential oils contain volatile and organic compounds. Many constituents found in essential oils are used by the plant to communicate with insects and plants of the same genus. These functions require volatility, this is why essential oils are also called volatile oils, especially in pharmacognosy. The name essential oil can be broken down to essential meaning ‘the intrinsic nature or essence of the plant’ and oil indicating the substance's insolubility in water. Essential oils are commonly found in the Apiaceae, Asteraceae, Lamiaceae, Lauraceae, Myrtaceae, Pinaceae, Rutaceae and Zingiberaceae plant families. 

Essential oils contain many different constituents, with similar but distinct chemical structures. Constituents have their own smell and effects on the body. There are many constituents throughout the plant kingdom. Limonene and linalool are found in many essential oils, in fact only a small amount of essential oils don’t contain them.


How are Essential Oils Extracted?

Essential oils can be extracted 4 different ways. Distillation is the most popular. 


1. Distillation

Aromatic plants have been used for thousands of years for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, however distillation of essential oils dates back to the 10th century, this is when distillation was first developed. There are three types of distillation methods: 1. Water; 2. Water & Steam; 3. Direct Steam. 

2. Solvent Extraction

This process utilises a solvent, which may be petroleum, acetone or hexane. The solvent and plant material are mixed and heated. The volatile oils are then transferred to the solvent. Filtration and the addition of alcohol extracts the volatile oils from the solvent to the alcohol. The alcohol is removed through evaporation and you are left with volatile oil and some of the solvent. It would be wise to avoid this method as the solvents end up in the finished product.

3. CO2 Extraction

This method uses just below room temperature CO2 to extract the volatile oils. This requires extreme pressure and the equipment that can do that is quite costly.


4. Enfleurage

An almost extinct process of extracting essential oils due to the time it takes. The method uses a fat source which was traditionally tallow or lard, the plant material is added to the fat and soaked for some time. The fat is then mixed with alcohol to transfer the volatile oils, then the alcohol is evaporated. 



Why Use Essential Oils?

Each essential oil has different properties which work directly on the body and its functions. They are absorbed through the skin and nose, and enter the bloodstream. Essential oils can also reach the brain. They have profound healing attributes, with each essential oil producing it’s own effects. Check out our reference table below for more info on each oil.



How to Use Essential Oils?

Essential oils are great additions to DIY cleaning products, laundry loads & room spray. Always check each individual essential oil for any specific recommendations on use, refer to below chart.

Aromatically

An easy way to take essential oils is by diffusing them in cold water with a diffuser machine. Inhalation or steam inhalation also work well. If you can smell it, the powerful essential oil molecules are in your body.

Topically

Be cautious using essential oils directly on your body, many need a carrier oil to be diluted. Essential oils can be great for massage and as a DIY natural perfume.

Diluted

Remember, essential oils are highly concentrated and most need to be diluted to avoid irritation and/or overdose. Using a carrier oil makes dilution super easy. Fractionated coconut oil or sweet almond oil work well as a carrier oil. Add 3 drops of carrier oil to 1 drop of essential oil.

Ingesting

Don’t ingest any essential oils, unless you have consulted a qualified aromatherapist.

Storing Essential Oils

Store your essential oils in a cool, dark place out of direct sunlight. 


Toxicity & Cautions

Essential oils are highly concentrated, a little goes a long way.
Use only small amounts at a time and dilute in a carrier oil if necessary.

Citrus oils can cause sensitivity to UV light. When applying topically onto your skin, avoid direct contact with sunlight for at least 12 hours.

Always avoid contact with eyes, ears and inside the nose.


Pregnancy

It is best to avoid essential oils in your first trimester unless you are under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. Some essential oils can be toxic, refer to the below chart.


Children

Essential oils are quite strong and powerful for little bodies, use smaller amounts in a diffuser than you would normally use for adults and avoid use on babies skin (0-24months). Store bottles out of reach.


Pets

Avoid using essential oils topically on pets. Store bottles out of reach.

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Download & print your copy of the below Essential Oil Chart here.

Essential Oils - Actions & Safety

Actions
Safety
Bergamot
Citrus aurantium var. bergamia
• May assists healing eczema and dermatitis
• A strong antiseptic, may help clear acne/oily skin
• May stimulates appetite, relieve indigestion and colic
• Supports general wellbeing
• May relieve anxiety, depression and nervous tension
• Promotes energy flow and a positive outlook
⩺ When applying topically avoid direct sunlight for up to 12 hours.
⩺ Store in a dark, cold place to avoid oxidation.
Black Pepper
Piper nigrum
• May ease muscular aches after physical activity
• Warms and stimulates the body
• May assist with digestion
• May stimulate and strengthen the nervous system
• Recharges the batteries
• Good for motivation
⩺ Store in a dark, cold place to avoid oxidation.
⩺ Potential for skin irritation is oil is oxidised.
Cedarwood
Juniperus virginiana
• May improve quality of skin
• May restore hair
• Promotes longevity
• May relieve congestion
• Deep cleansing
• Acts as a mild diuretic
• Relaxes, regenerates, stabilises and strengthens
No safety issues.
Cinnamon
Cinnamomum zeylanicum
• Highly effective antiseptic
• Useful for colds and congestion
• Excellent in combating exhaustion, feelings of depression and weakness.
⩺ Contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
⩺ Dilute when using topically.
⩺ Not recommended for skincare.
Clary Sage
Salvia sclarea
• May help reduce the production of excess oil
• May clear greasy hair and dandruff
• May help reduce painful periods and PMS
• May help with menopause of symptoms including hot flushes, headaches and sweating
• Assists with nervousness, fear, paranoia and depression
• Stimulates and revitalises
No safety issues.
Eucalyptus
Eucalyptus globulus
• Diffuse to disinfect and purify the air
• Assists with respiratory conditions
• Antiseptic and expectorant properties
• May relax nervous system
• Assists with mental focus
• Perfect for DIY cleaners or sprays
• Add a few drops to your laundry for an extra fresh touch
Do not apply to or near the face of children under the age of 10.
Fennel
Foeniculum vulgare
• May assist with calming the digestive system
• Perfect to diffuse while studying, as it assists with mental clarity and concentration
• Uplifting aroma
⩺ Contraindicated during pregnancy, breastfeeding, endometriosis, estrogen-dependant cancers and children under 5.
⩺ Potential skin sensitivity, dilute when using topically.
Frankincense
Boswellia carteri
• May balance oily skin conditions
• Helpful for fine lines and wrinkles
• May assist respiratory complaints and shortness of breath making it useful for asthma sufferers
• Slows down breathing to promote calm feeling
• Soothes the mind
• Ideal for meditation
Potential skin sensitivity, dilute when using topically.
Geranium
Pelargonium graveolens
Calming, great to use before a busy day or as an emotional restorative in the afternoon
⩺ Potential skin sensitivity, dilute when using topically.
⩺ May interact with certain medications.
Ginger
Zingiber officinale
• Great for travel sickness
• Helpful for menstrual cramps, coughs, colds and flu
• Stimulating and grounding
• May assist with memory
⩺ Not recommended in skincare.
⩺ No safety issues.
Grapefruit
Citrus paradisi
• Great for congested, acne and oily skin
• Excellent in treating fluid retention and cellulite
• Detoxifies body
• Great for exhaustion, depression and stress
• Uplifting
⩺ When applying topically avoid direct sunlight for up to 12 hours.
⩺ Store in a dark, cold place to avoid oxidation.
Juniper
Juniperus communis
• Useful for oily, acne skin, blocked pores, dermatitis, psoriasis, weeping eczema and skin inflammation
• May help with cystitis and kidney stones
• Helpful for cellulite and fluid retention
• Helps with digestive system
• May assist with the elimination of uric acid, therefore may relieve pain in cases of gout, rheumatism and arthritis
• Wonderful for nerves, relieving anxiety, nervous tension and mental exhaustion
• Clears the mind and supports and strengthens the spirit
⩺ Potential to irritate sensitive skin, dilute when using topically.
Kunzea
Kunzea amigua
• May help to relieve muscle & joint pain
• May help treat skin issues
• May assist in the treatment of respiratory infections
• Suitable for oily skin as a spot treatment
• Expectorant & antimicrobial properties
• Extremely useful for spiritual growth
• When ready to let go of old pain, kunzea illuminates the path of healing
⩺ Store in a dark, cold place to avoid oxidation.
⩺ Potential for skin irritation is oil is oxidised.
Lavender
Lavendula augustifolia
• Helps revitalise skin
• Useful for acne or oily skin
• May assist muscular aches and pains
• Calming and soothing effect
• Perfect to diffuse before bed
• Helps calm panic, tension, anxiety and nervous exhaustion
⩺ Potential skin sensitivity, dilute when using topically.
Lemon
Citrus limonum
• Effective in addressing oily skin
• Antiseptic properties make it helpful for cuts and wounds, clearing acne, cleaning greasy skin and hair, as well as removing dead skin cells, easing painful cold sores, mouth ulcers, herpes and insect bites
• Great for minor wound healing
• May improves digestive function
• May benefit the circulatory system aiding with blood flow, reducing blood pressure and helping with nosebleeds
• Helps bring down fever
• Helps relieve throat infections, bronchitis, asthma and flu
• Boosts the immune system
• May assist with constipation, dyspepsia and cellulite
• May soothe and relieve headaches and migraines
• May be helpful for rheumatism and arthritis
• Great for mental alertness
• Clears the mind and aids in decision making
• Stimulating on the mind
• Cooling and refreshing on the body as a whole
• Lifts spirits and is useful in times of mental fatigue making it great for study
⩺ Store in a dark, cold place to avoid oxidation.
⩺ Potential for skin irritation is oil is oxidised.
Lemongrass
Cymbopogon schoenanthus
• May enhance concentration
• May assist with reducing stress and anxiety
• Useful as an insect repellant
• Great addition to DIY cleaning blends
⩺ May interact with certain medications.
⩺ Caution during pregnancy, sensitive skin and with children under 2.
Lemon Myrtle
Backhousia citriodora
• Uplifting & stimulating
• May prove useful to fight cold & flu
• Antibacterial, anti fungal and antiviral properties
• Excellent insect repellent
⩺ May interact with certain medications.
⩺ Caution during pregnancy, sensitive skin and with children under 2.
Mandarin
Citrus nobilis / Citrus reticulata
• Great in pregnancy for reducing stretch marks as it keeps skin soft and supple
• Increases circulation and reduces fluid retention
• Soothing to the nervous system
• Tonic effect on the digestive system, while helping flatulence, diarrhoea and constipation
• Very uplifting
• Helps to refresh the mind and relieve anxiety and depression.
⩺ Store in a dark, cold place to avoid oxidation.
⩺ Potential for skin irritation is oil is oxidised.
May Chang
Litsea cubeba
• Useful for oily acne prone skin because of its astringent and tonic effect on the skin
• Tonic of the heart and respiratory system and can also be helpful in cases of bronchitis and asthma
• Very uplifting and stimulating
⩺ May interact with certain medications.
⩺ Caution during pregnancy, sensitive skin and with children under 2.
Oregano
Origanum vulgare
• May provide mental clarity & help maintain focus
• Strong antibacterial action
• May help reduce inflammation and promote muscle healing
• May exert anti-inflammatory properties
⩺ Contraindicated during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
⩺ May interact with certain medications.
⩺ Potential skin sensitivity, dilute when using topically.
Palmarosa
Cymbopogon martini
• Moisturises skin
• Stimulates cell regeneration
• Effective in treating acne and dermatitis
• Good for scar prevention
• Reduces fever
• May clear intestinal infection
• Effective in relieving sore, stiff muscles
• Good for tired feet and athlete's foot
• Calms the mind and has uplifting effect
• Good for nervous exhaustion, stress-related problems and nervousness
⩺ Potential skin sensitivity, dilute when using topically.
⩺ May interact with certain medications.
Patchouli
Pogostemon cablin
• Good tissue regenerator
• Good for wound healing
• Nourishes dry, cracked skin
• Used to treat acne, eczema, sores, ulcers, bites, fungal and scalp disorders
• Helpful with water retention, eases constipation and breaks up cellulite
• Cools down inflammation when hot and bothered
• Grounding effect on the emotions
• Banishes lethargy
• Fights depression and calms anxiety
• Creates romantic atmosphere
⩺ May interact with certain medications.
Peppermint
Mentha x piperita
• Uplifting, cool, crisp scent, perfect for diffusing in a stagnant room
• Add to water in a spray bottle for a refreshing room, linen, body and hair spray
• May help relieve muscle & joint pain
• May help reduce headaches
• May assist with sinus relief
⩺ Contraindicated during cholestasis and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
⩺ Do not apply to or near the face of children under the age of 10.
Petitgrain
Citrus aurantium var. amara
• Relaxing & uplifting
• Calming to the nervous system
• Toning effect for all skin types
• Helps reduce tension
• Helps ease muscle spasms
No safety issues.
Rosemary
Rosmarinus officinalis
• Helps clear acne, dermatitis and eczema
• Promotes hair growth
• Helps with headaches, migraines, neuralgia and mental fatigue
• Antiseptic action helps intestinal problems and diarrhoea
• Relieves pain associated with rheumatism, arthritis, muscular pain and gout
• Helps poor circulation and varicose veins
• Reduces water retention
• Effective for asthma, bronchitis, sinus and whooping cough
• Clears the mind and promotes mental awareness
⩺ Do not apply to or near the face of children under the age of 10.
Sweet Orange
Citrus sinensis
• May soothe dry, irritated or acne-related skin conditions
• Helpful for colds and flu
• Eliminates toxins from body
• Reduces water retention
• Helps with constipation
• Uplifts the senses
• Relaxes and helps children to sleep at night
• Helpful for nervous tension and stress
⩺ Store in a dark, cold place to avoid oxidation.
⩺ Potential for skin irritation is oil is oxidised.
Tangerine
Citrus reticulata blanco var.
• Great in pregnancy for reducing stretch marks as it keeps skin soft and supple
• Increases circulation and reduces fluid retention
• Soothing to the nervous system
• Tonic effect on the digestive system, while helping flatulence, diarrhoea and constipation
• Very uplifting
• Helps to refresh the mind
• Relieves anxiety and depression
⩺ Store in a dark, cold place to avoid oxidation.
⩺ Potential for skin irritation is oil is oxidised.
Tea Tree
Melaleuca alternifolia
• Uplifting and stimulating
• Perfect addition to DIY cleaning products
• Helps relieve acne
• Natural antiseptic
• Assists with respiratory conditions
⩺ Store in a dark, cold place to avoid oxidation.
⩺ Potential for skin irritation is oil is oxidised.
Thyme
Thymus vulgaris
• Powerful disinfectant & antibacterial
• May be calming to the digestive system
• May support immune function
• Remedy for mental fatigue
⩺ Contraindicated during cholestasis.
⩺ May interact with certain medications.
Vetiver
Vetiveria zizanoides
• May benefit the immune and circulatory systems.
• May decongest and strengthen the digestive system.
• May support a regular menstrual cycle and improve hormone related issues during menopause.
• May be helpful to treat skin infections such as acne.
• May brighten tired and dull skin.
No safety issues.
Wintergreen
Gaultheria procumbens
Traditionally used for arthritis and muscular pain, thought to be of benefit by decreasing inflammation. ⩺ Contraindicated during pregnancy, breastfeeding, children, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and people with salicylate sensitivity.
⩺ May interact with certain medications.
⩺ Keep out of reach of children.
Ylang Ylang
Cananga odorata
• Soothes and balances all skin conditions
• Stimulates scalp and promotes hair growth
• Eases rapid breathing, rapid heartbeats, high blood pressure and intestinal infections
• Has a euphoric effect on nervous system after times of anxiety, tension and shock
• It is also said to be an aphrodisiac
⩺ Caution with children under 2.
⩺ Potential skin sensitivity, dilute when using topically.

Download & print your copy of the below Essential Oil Chart here.

 

 References

1. ECO Modern Essentials Blog (2022) https://ecomodernessentials.com.au/blogs/eco-modern-essentials-blog

2. Tisserand, R., & Young, R. (2014) Essential Oil Safety (2nd ed.). Churchill Livingstone. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-443-06241-4.00013-8.