The 10 Best Essential Oils

Using essential oils to heal or unwind started in Ancient Egypt thousands of years ago, and the practice has spread around the world. While the science on aromatherapy is currently somewhat inconclusive, some studies have shown that using plant oils can be effective in treating anxiety and stress.

Essential oils have a variety of beneficial properties. With this list of the 10 best essential oils, you can choose which one to use during your well-deserved downtime.


Peppermint oil is one of the most versatile oils available, with many studies showing a wide range of benefits. It’s long been used on tissues to help clear blocked noses, but that’s not all this wonder-plant can do. Some of its potential positive effects include:

  • Antifungal, antiviral, antimicrobial effects
  • Spasm relief
  • Pain relief
  • Headache treatment
  • Reduced antibiotic resistance
  • Enhanced memory
  • Increased alertness

So not only can it help to reduce your stress levels, clear up your headache, and help you deal with colds, it may help you focus and perform better at work. It can even be used to deter rodents and spiders, as they are repelled by the scent.


Everyone knows the scent of lavender, and it’s widely appreciated for its relaxing, heady aroma. It is used in many different kinds of products, and rightly so. The beneficial properties include:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Antibacterial effects
  • Spasm relief
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Antioxidant effects
  • Sedative effects – lavender helps with insomnia

A recent study has also shown its potential to help reduce the damage that diabetes can cause to the body. Some people also use it to speed the healing of cuts and burns. Lavender can also provide your immune system with a boost.

Tea Tree

Tea tree oil comes from a plant only found in Australia, where it has been used for many years as a natural antiseptic for minor injuries, as well as to treat both fungal and bacterial infections. Its many other potential healing effects include:

  • Antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral effects
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Reduced gingivitis (bad breath)
  • Dandruff treatment
  • Acne treatment

There has been some concern in recent years that tea tree oil might have a damaging effect on your DNA due to the strength of its antimicrobial action. But studies have shown that is entirely safe and non-toxic.


From hand soap to air freshener, lemon oil is widely used in commercial products for its zesty aroma and its antimicrobial effects. While a lot of these products use synthetic versions these days, the real deal has many possible benefits, such as:

  • Antiseptic effects
  • Skincare – it acts as an astringent
  • Antibacterial effects
  • Anti-inflammatory effects

It’s been shown to help combat depression and reduce stress. So, when life gives you lemons, distill them down to their essence, and use them to lift your mood.


Citronella is another plant with a huge number of beneficial properties, though possibly the most well known is that it can work as an insect repellant. It can help keep some species of mosquito from biting you for two to three hours. Other reported benefits include:

  • Antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic effects
  • Spasm reduction
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Diaphoretic effects – makes you sweat more and so encourages detoxification by perspiration
  • Diuretic effects – makes you pee more often, again encouraging detoxification

It also acts as a mood enhancer and stimulant, it fights stomach infections, and even kills intestinal worms. Because it makes you sweat more, while reducing inflammation and fighting off infections, citronella oil is a popular treatment for combating fevers.


Cinnamon oil was commonly used by the Ancient Egyptians, and it was a highly prized and expensive commodity for a long time. Global trade has made the musky, warm-scented spice widely available today. Its oil has been shown to have many helpful properties, including:

  • Antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiseptic effects
  • Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects
  • Pain relief
  • Improved focus and concentration


Perhaps most commonly used as an ingredient in Thai cuisine, lemongrass has a sweet, herbal scent that is also quite lemony. Some of its many benefits include:

  • Antibacterial, antimicrobial, antifungal effects
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Insect repellant
  • Reduces anxiety, stress, and tension
  • Combats dandruff

It is occasionally used in anti-cancer treatments.

Clary Sage

Another favorite of both the Egyptians and medieval physicians, clary sage was used to flavor wine, while its seeds were used to help with vision problems. There are many beneficial effects to be gained by using the plant’s essence, including:

  • Antibacterial effects
  • Improved circulation
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduced menstrual pain and cramping when used in massage
  • Hormone regulation

Clary sage can also help combat depression.


Eucalyptus is widely used in products that help reduce congestion, such as Vicks VapoRub and Tiger Balm. It also has many other possible benefits, such as:

  • Antibacterial effects, antifungal, antiparasitic effects
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Improved immune system

It is also sometimes used as a pesticide, as it can kill certain insects and weeds. It can also be used as a salve to help combat asthma attacks, and it reduces the pain associated with fibromyalgia.


You probably know this traditional scent as one of the gifts given to baby Jesus, according to the Bible. Modern research has shown that the aromatic resin has a number of potential benefits, including:

  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Anticancer effects
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Immune system boost
  • Improved memory
  • Hormone regulation
  • Improved digestion

Essential Oil Essentials

This list of the 10 best essential oils showcases an impressive range of benefits. Many of these are supported by scientific research, while others are still being assessed. But whichever oil you choose, try to ensure that you are buying 100% natural products, rather than synthetic oils, as these artificial versions are far less potent than the original plant.

If you have sensitive skin, go for soothing oils with less intense effects. If you experience any adverse reactions when using these oils, consult with your doctor to make sure you don’t have an allergy. And always test essential oils before using them for the first time (use a small area of your skin, like the back of your hand, and wait to see if there is any redness or discomfort).