Essential Oils in the Home

imagesEssential oils have been used for centuries around the world (notably in China, Egypt, Greece, South America, Middle East, and Africa) and are still recognized around the world for their powerful therapeutic properties.

If you have any doubts about their power and efficacy, rub the bottom of your feet with eucalyptus radiata (also known as the Narrow-leaved peppermint) and fifteen minutes later, your breath will smell like eucalyptus. In other words, in only fifteen minutes, the essential oil penetrates your skin and makes its way into your body where it takes effect, and is then eliminated through your lungs.


Although their use has become more and more widespread in the home, they are also often used incorrectly. Below are some guidelines for the proper use of essential oils:

  • Always buy high quality oils (100% pure and natural) and of a reputable brand
  • Always test the oil on your skin before covering a large area of your body
  • Always wash your hands after applying essential oils
  • In case of accidental absorption, apply a greasy oil (olive, coconut, sunflower) on the area
  • Keep essentials oils stored in a safe, cool place in your home and out of the reach of children – they can be kept for as long as 3-5 years (depending on type)

If you catch early symptoms (notice you have a sore throat or pain in a specific area), treatment can be as short as 12 to 48 hours. For more significant issues, treatment can be continued from five days to as long as three weeks.

Essential oils have strong, overpowering smells and can be diluted by honey, olive, or coconut oil. For children and babies especially, essential oils should never be applied “neat” (directly on the skin) and should be mixed into a carrier oil (I recommend olive or coconut oil) immediately before application.

It is also important to note that not all essential oils should be used during pregnancy (as a precaution, they should not be used at all during the first trimester). Although oils such as Clary Sage, Idaho Tansy, Fennel, and Wintergreen should never be used during pregnancy, Lavender and other mild oils may be used as long as they are applied correctly. If you have any doubts, do some research or consult with your physician before use.

Rosemary herb flower and leaf sprig with aromatherapy essential oil glass bottle, isolated over white background.

The following oils are some of my favorite and I use and recommend them for a variety of issues. The names below will vary depending on common (English or French) and botanical name, so remember to look them up to be sure you are buying the right ones.

Ravintsara, Eucalyptus Radiata, Niaouli – This is my favorite and most used mix, especially in the winter months. I blend the three in a bottle and use the mix for anything cold or flu related. Ravintsara not only strengthens immunity and fights infection but also acts as an expectorant and decongestant. The great thing is that it can be used on newborns (1 week minimum!). Eucalyptus Radiata is great for seasonal viruses and epidemics (especially cold and flu) and is a known anti-viral, antibacterial, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory oil. It also helps calm a bad cough and stimulates immunity (Eucalyptus radiata is very well tolerated by children over 3 years old). Niaouli is also an immunity booster, expectorant, and is known to help fevers drop.

Treatment: 3 drops, 4 times daily on thorax and nape of neck (approx. 3 days).

Oregano – This is the most powerful of all essential oils.  It is known as an antibacterial oil, but is also a very strong anti-infectious oil. It can even replace antibiotics in certain cases! It helps prevent contamination and stimulates the immune system. This oil can unfortunately not be given to children under 15 years old and cannot be used any longer than one week.

Treatment: Oregano cannot be ingested as an oil (too strong) and must be taken in the form of capsules, often no more than three times daily.

Tea Tree & Lemon – This is an amazing mix for sore throats.Because of its antifungal and antibacterial qualities, tea tree is often used for skin problems. However, its antibacterial and antiviral qualities make it perfect for treating nasal or respiratory infections like sinusitis, but also for colds and other types of infections. Lemon oil is best known for its ability to cleanse toxins from any part of the body and is used to stimulate lymph drainage, to rejuvenate energy, and purify skin.

Treatment – 3 drops in a teaspoon of honey — leave under tongue for 30 seconds to let it work its magic. Take mix every 5-6 hours until pain goes away.

Peppermint – The best for migraine and headache relief, peppermint oil gives a cooling sensation and has a calming effect on the body. It can relieve sore muscles when used topically, and due to its antimicrobial properties, can help freshen bad breath and soothe digestive issues as well.

Treatment – 3 drops applied around eyebrow/forehead area. Warning: do not apply anywhere near eyes.

Helychrysum, Gaultherie (Wintergreen) – The athlete’s mix. These two oils heat and relax muscles after effort. Ideal for articulation or arthritic pain.

Spike Lavender – Excellent oil used to provide relief from burns. Lavender can be used as an “emergency” oil that can heal burns and insect bites almost instantly. It is also used for psoriasis, athlete’s foot, articulation pain, rheumatism, and cramps.

Treatment: 3 drops on the affected area (three times a day). Reapply as necessary.


There are many, many essential oils out there for all types of issues ranging from stress, nausea, migraines, depression, and insomnia to arthritis, acne, asthma, cellulite, stomach pain, and ulcers. If you are interested in finding out more about essential oils and how you can use them in the home, do not hesitate to comment or e-mail me! xo

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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

2 thoughts on “Essential Oils in the Home

  1. Essential Oils are amazing! When Our son was only two weeks old our (then 2yr old) daughter got him sick with the FLU and the dr told us there was nothing we could give him to help relieve symptoms , to just keep nursing him and it would go away in about a week and a half. It was the saddest thing ever because he wS so congested he could hardly eat and breathe. I took one drop of lemon oil and one tablespoon of coconut oil and massaged the bottom of his feet and a little on his chest. Two days later he was 100% again!

    And after telling the pediatrician and coming in for a follow up she is a fan !

    Ps. I think it would be a good idea to note that not all essential oils are safe for pregnancy 🙂


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