Essential oils have been used for thousands of years to improve overall wellness and relieve a range of health concerns. But with so many options available, it can be hard to pinpoint which oils to choose.
A great way to dive into the world of essential oils is to start with three therapeutic options praised for their many benefits and uses. Adding these three oils to your cabinet can cover a breadth of wellness category needs, including mental health, beauty and toxic-free cleaning.
When in doubt, try frankincense. It’s been used for thousands of years for its versatile healing and therapeutic effects. With its grounding wood, pine and lemon scents, it’s the ideal essential oil to use aromatically in your home to help you unwind and de-stress. But the benefits of frankincense don’t stop there—studies show it can boost immune function, fight bacterial infections, balance hormones, ease digestion, relieve pain and battle cancer cells. You can also use it topically to strengthen skin and reduce the appearance of cracked skin, scars and acne.
The most common ways to use frankincense are aromatically in a diffuser and topically. You can combine it with any carrier oil (like coconut oil or jojoba oil) and massage into areas of concern. You can also add frankincense to your natural household cleaner for its antiseptic properties.
This is one of the most well-known essential oils—for good reason. Research shows it has powerful calming, sedative, anti-anxiety, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Lavender oil has been used therapeutically and cosmetically for thousands of years, and today you’ll often find it in body-care products, household cleaners, candles and perfumes.
To boost your mood, relieve stress and support brain function, add lavender oil to a diffuser or warm bath, or simply inhale its aroma directly from the bottle. Lavender is also gentle enough to apply directly to the skin to ease headaches, speed up wound healing and improve inflammatory skin conditions.
Peppermint essential oil has pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, invigorating and antimicrobial properties. It’s also used to relieve nausea and respiratory issues, like clogged sinuses.
You can use peppermint oil aromatically, topically and internally (with very small amounts at a time). Studies suggest it can boost your energy levels and even improve exercise performance. Simply inhale the scent of peppermint directly from the bottle, or apply a small amount to your temples and back of your neck.
Breathing in peppermint can diminish respiratory complaints, and combining it with a carrier oil and then massaging it into areas of concern can reduce muscle and joint pain.
Dr. Josh Axe, D.C., D.N.M., C.N.S., is the creator of the natural-health website draxe.com, co-founder of the health company Ancient Nutrition, and author of The Collagen Diet (Hachette, 2019) and Essential Oils: Ancient Medicine (Destiny Image, 2018).