Essential Oils Descriptions


The structure-effect diagram of essential oils not only allows us to create optimal combination, but it offers us a deeper understanding of the effects of both individual oils and their components.

We have now acquired a system of main effects for the twelve most important groups of components of essential oils, and the main effects of a given oil can be represented in a diagram of that form. One example should help to illustrate this: Anise oil has a rather simple makeup. The oil is clearly dominated by its content of 97 percent anethole and the sympatholytic effects of that compound (see structure-effect diagram below).

Anise (Pimpinella anisum)

Main component: phenylpropane (anethole)

Main effects: antispasmodic, sedative, stabilizing

Special qualities: estrogen-like, used for amenorrhea

Contraindications: contains ketone; should not be used by children less than 10years old or pregnant women

The character of anise oil is dominated by the content of 97 percent anethole and its strong calming effect on the nervous system. It acts estrogen-like and can be used for amenorrhea. It minimizes over-excitement and has stabilizing effects following a hangover.

Atlas Cedar (Cedrus atlanticus)

Main component: sesquiterpene-hydrocarbons, -alcohols (atlantol), and -ketones (atlantone)

Main effects: sustained stimulating effects, without irritation

Contraindications: contains ketone; should not be used by children less than 10years old or pregnant women

Moroccan atlas cedar oil is valued not for any unique medicinal properties, but more for its ability to gently but persistently stimulate circulation and metabolism. It counteracts the storage of excess moisture and fat in tissue, and stimulates their elimination. When combined with certain oils, it is the strongest weapon against cellulite.

Atlas cedar oil is very useful when a composition is desired that has a strong stimulating effect but is not too aggressive or irritating. The stimulating power of atlas cedar oil does not manifest itself as quickly as phenol-containing oils, such as thyme or oregano, but its effects are deeper and longer lasting. With atlas cedar in a certain mixture the desired effect is produced without having to deal with the dominant and somewhat crude aromas of thyme or oregano. The aroma of atlas cedar offers an elegant alternative.

The structure of niaouli oil is a somewhat different case, since the representation of niaouli oil, its main components being terpene alcohols and the oxide cineole, is more differentiated. Its composition is represented in a diagram [see structure-effect diagram below> Niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenerva viridiflora, MQV)] in which dark shading depicts the two areas corresponding to these components. We can glean the general character of the oil from the position of the main components, and determine that they are energizing, or yang, oils. Due to the presence of cineole we can expect niaouli to have an expectorant effect as well as antiseptic and strengthening qualities (along with being highly tolerable) due to the presence of terpene alcohols.

Niaouli (Melaleuca quinquenerva viridiflora, MQV)

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons, terpene alcohols, sesquiterpene alcohols, terpene oxide (cineole)

Main effects: expectorant, strengthening

Contraindications: none known; hormone-like effects. Children less than 10 years old and pregnant women should use with caution.

Niaouli comes from New Caledonia and Madagascar. The New Caledonian oil used to be “cut” and had a relatively uniform odor. Madagascar oil has proven itself for aromatherapy use. To differentiate between the two the abbreviation MQV (for the botanical name Melaleuca quinquenervia viridiflora) was often used by Pierre
Franchomme and became something of a trade name for that oil. Niaouli oil is as complex in its composition as it is in its uses.

The persistence of this tree is currently vexing United States environmentalists. Once it has taken root, the tree refuses to go away. This has happened in southern Florida, where this species has spread unchecked for several years. Clearing the trees by cutting provides no solution, as even stumps of felled trees simply grow back. As if that were not enough, allergists have recognized the pollen of niaouli trees as a powerful allergen. The spread of this tree is considered responsible for a great increase of allergic conditions in Florida.

These facts point to the most important qualities of niaouli oil. It is anti-allergenic and strengthening and yet another example of the phenomenon that an agent that causes a condition can also heal it. Niaouli oil is one of the most important anti-allergenics in the aroma therapy arsenal.

Niaouli oil also has the ability to tighten tissue and is used for hemorrhoids. The oil is effective for specific and general skin problems and can be used undiluted without risk.

In some cases, however, it may cause skin irritation; then it should be substituted with tea tree oil, or mixed with tea tree or lavender (in a ratio of 1: 1 to 1:4). Niaouli is nontoxic and can be used liberally. One of the fastest-acting and most effective applications of niaouli is to apply anywhere between 5 and 20 drops to the whole body during the morning shower. This procedure will become entirely holistic if a loofah glove is used and the oil is worked into the skin along the energy meridians. This application is refreshing and invigorating and is especially recommended in flu season, as it stimulates the defense mechanisms of the body.

Rubbing niaouli on the gums strengthens them, diminishing inflammation, and the oil’ antiseptic qualities protect the mouth and throat. Niaouli can also be used on dental floss to cleanse the spaces between the teeth.

Because niaouli has some estrogen-like characteristics, common sense and alertness are advised when hormonal imbalances are present.

There are oils in which active trace or other components induce secondary effects in addition to the main effect. When known, these components are listed along with their effects. In this way, the spectrum of action is represented more precisely.

It is important to realize in any case that essential oils are complex natural mixtures, which can have, aside from the main effects, many different areas of action which cannot be represented in a simplifying diagram.

Under the heading “contraindications” in the following section, the term “physiological dosage” (from Franchomme and Pénoël) refers to an amount of up to a maximum of three drops of pure oil or oil mixture. Here “use with caution” refers to the application of a dose of one or two drops of oil or oil mixture. If, after twelve to twenty-four hours no negative side effects manifest, one can start to use the oil as intended, remaining alert for possible side effects.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)

Main components: composition varies; either phenylpropane (methyl chavicol) or terpene alcohols

Main effects: vary according to composition

Contraindications: not for use with small children

The variety of species, subspecies, and cherno-types of basil offer us virtually the entire arsenal of aromatic substances. Basil oil is made in many regions of the world: France, Egypt, Thailand, Nepal, Tanzania, and on the islands in the Indian Ocean. The Comoro Islands and Reunion Island produce a basil oil with a very high estragole content, known as exotic basil oil. An antispasmodic, it has a balancing effect on the autonomic nervous system. The French aromatherapy literature recommends it for Hepatitis A, B, non-A, non-B, and C, as well as yellow fever and tropical viral infections. European basil, in contrast to exotic basil, has a fresher scent due to its higher linalol and lower estragole contents. The European oils are therefore less “harsh”, but have less dramatic effects.

Bergamot (Citrus aurantium ssp. bergamia)

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons, linalyl acetate

Main effects: calming, balancing

Contraindications: phototoxic; should not be applied to skin

Bergamot oil’s effects result from the tension between terpene hydrocarbons and esters. Bergamot refreshes, relaxes, and helps relieve insomnia.

rinds: bitter orange

a) rinds: bitter orange

Main components: limonene

Main effects: calms nervousness

Contraindications: phototoxic; should not be applied to skin

flowers: neroli

b) flowers: neroli

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons (30%), terpene alcohols (40%), esters (10- 20%)

Main effects: relieves anxiety

Contraindications: none with physiological dosage

leaves: petitgrain

c) leaves: petitgrain

Main components: terpene alcohols, linalyl acetate

Main effects: balances the autonomic nervous system

Contraindications: none with physiological dosage

Citrus aurantium, the tree with three different oils.

Bitter orange, the oil from the rind of the fruit, is used as a calming component in fresh aroma mixtures.

Neroli, the oil from the flowers, is valued for its aroma alone-a drop on the wrist or temples is an effective remedy for anxiety and nervous depression.

The oil from the leaves, petitgrain, also has a stabilizing effect on the nervous system (see illustration above).

Main components: not an essential oil, but a fatty oil of varying composition; contains no typical essential oil components

Main effects: stimulates phagocytosis

Contraindications: none when used with caution

The fact that we use the botanical name for this oil, as no common English name is available, indicates that this oil has not been in use long in either conventional medicine or aroma therapy. This oil was introduced to aroma medicine in France, and it is not an essential oil but something of a hybrid, a cross between fatty and aromatic oils-an aromatic fatty oil. It is produced by pressing the fruit of the Calophyllum inophyllum tree. It has a blue-green color and an aroma somewhat similar to lovage.

People on the coasts of the Indian Ocean use calophyllum oil as a panacea. It finds its main application as an immune-modulating component in skin-care products, which benefit from its phagocytosis-stimulating qualities. Phagocytosis is a function of our immune system which serves to eliminate unwanted substances. In simpler terms, phagocytosis helps take out the trash.

This oil is recommended in cases of skin conditions accompanied by a buildup of pus. A mixture of equal parts Ravensare aromatica and calophyllum oil is an effective treatment for shingles.

Carrot (Daucus carota)

Main components: sesquiterpene hydrocarbons (10%), sesquiterpene alcohol carotol (50%)

Main effects: liver-regenerating

Contraindications: none known

Carrot seed oil is used (because of its sesquiterpene alcohol content-50% carotol) to stimulate regeneration of liver cells. It revitalizes dry, pallid skin.

The discussion of chamomile oils in aromatherapy literature first requires a clear definition of what can truly be considered chamomile. There are only two oils available on the market which can rightfully be called chamomile-
German chamomile (Matricaria recutita) and Roman chamomile (Anthemis nobilis). Other oils are called chamomile because the trade decided at some point that an oil that is blue because it contains some chamazulene sells better when named chamomile. The fact is that oils such as Ormenis mixta or Tanacetum anuum (see Moroccan chamomile) are not really chamomile oils.

This confusion of terminology is probably due to the fact that, especially in Germany, the word chamomile is connected to so many healing effects that clever business people found the potential for cashing in on these misleading associations quite attractive. If, however, the healing properties of chamomile are desired only true chamomile oils actually distilled from chamomile plants should be used.

German chamomile and Roman chamomile are often described as similar or as more or less identical, which stems from the similarity of the plants. For a meaningful application in aromatherapy it is advantageous to recognize the differences, which are more pronounced in the essential oils of these plants than in their alcohol extracts or teas.

To complicate matters even further, four chemotypes of German chamomile can be distinguished. Of those, the (-)?-bisabolol type performs all the miracles associated with German chamomile. This chemotype has been the most widely researched; therefore, the most knowledge of its pharmacological effects exists. Caution is advised when buying chamomile, as it is mostly the other chemotypes of chamomile which are sold. Any purveyor offering the (-)?-bisabolol type will certainly proudly designate it as such.

German Chamomile (Matricaria rectita)

Main components: sesquiterpenes, (-)?-bisabolol, chamazulene

Main effects: anti-inflammatory, antiallergenic

Contraindications: none

The long list of uses ascribed to German chamomile in the literature is impressive and at the same time somewhat discouraging because of the abundance of scientific information.

German chamomile type (-)?-bisabolol is a strongly anti-inflammatory oil, which works the fastest for all types of skin inflammations. Acute conditions, such as burns or allergic rashes react immediately to treatment with German chamomile. The astounding effects of the oil can be observed when treating typical kitchen burns. Simply putting one or two drops of oil on the burn and placing some ice on it will leave no trace of the burn by the next morning. Results with allergic skin reactions are just as impressive.

Naturally, the oil can be used for all other conditions mentioned in the literature. German chamomile is especially user-friendly because it is absolutely nontoxic and can be used in an emergency in its undiluted form.

Roman Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis)

Main components: esters (80%)

Main effects: antispasmodic, calming to the central nervous system; relieves symptoms related to shock

Contraindications: none with physiological dosage

Esters of acids only rarely found in essential oils determine the character of Roman chamomile.

Even in very small concentrations, Roman chamomile, whether alone or in combination with other oils, has a soothing, calming effect. It relieves cramps and spasms and helps relieve shock. In such cases, it is appropriate to massage a few undiluted drops into the solar plexus.

Cinnamon (Cinnamomum ceylanicum)

Main components: cinnamic aldehyde

Main effects: general tonic, antiseptic; counter-acts enzyme deficiency in digestive tract

Contraindications: caustic to the skin, potentially sensitizing; not to be used with children less than 5 years old

Cinnamon bark oil provides ideal, fast-acting relief for infections, enzymatic deficiency in the digestive tract, and bacterial bladder infections.

Caution: Not to be used externally!

Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea)

Main components: esters (especially linalyl acetate, 75%)

Main effects: relaxing, spasmolytic

Noteworthy: estrogen-like, used for amenorrhea

Contraindications: mastosis, cancer

Clary sage impresses with its aroma. When applied to the wrists or temples, it is relaxing in a gentle, effective manner. Newcomers to aromatherapy often react to this with a light euphoria and giddiness. Robert Tisserand was the first aroma therapist to describe the occurrence of these euphoric effects during massage. This oil has intense effects on some individuals and more moderate effects on others. Through its sclareol content clary sage has an estrogen-like quality and is used to ease premenstrual syndrome.

Clove (Eugenia caryophyllata)

Main components: eugenol (80%)

Main effects: antiseptic, having a broad spectrum of action against bacteria; antiviral, strengthening

Contraindications: irritating to the skin, potentially sensitizing. External use only after a negative allergy test. Use only in a highly diluted solution (maximum I drop per 20-milliliter solution).

Clove bud oil is used in dentistry and has a broad spectrum of action against bacteria. In aromatherapy it is used for viral hepatitis, amebiasis, tuberculosis, and asthenia. Clove bud oil can be sensitizing.

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)

Main components: terpene alcohols (up to 80%, primarily linalol)

Main effects: strengthening; promotes digestion; can cause a mild feeling of euphoria

Noteworthy: coumarin and furocoumarin

Contraindications: none known

Because of the high linalol content, this oil is tonifying and strengthening. In addition, a series of coumarin compounds together with linalol provides a mild euphoric effect.

Cypress (Cupressus sempervirens)

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons (70%)

Main effects: decongesting for veins and Iymphs, antibiotic

Noteworthy: active sesquiterpene and diterpene alcohols

Contraindications: mastosis

In all of aromatherapy there is perhaps no oil more effective than cypress oil to counteract an infection of either the throat, nose, or bronchi in its early phase. Used at the very first signs of sore throat, it is typically sufficient to arrest the process and prevent the development of subsequent bronchitis or a cold.

This application is simple: one drop is taken as soon as scratchiness or soreness in the throat point to a beginning infection. As the admittedly disagreeable turpentine taste develops in the mouth, any soreness in the throat will become overshadowed by this pervasive taste. After a few minutes, the taste changes, taking on a relatively pleasing character. As the sore throat sensation returns, another drop of cypress oil is taken. This procedure is repeated until one gets somewhat used to the taste. After the third, fourth, or fifth application, the soreness typically will not return. Without the prompt of the sore throat, one generally forgets to continue taking cypress oil, which is the desired, self-regulating effect.

a) Eucalyptus radiata

Main components: terpene alcohols, cineole

Main effects: expectorant, antiviral

Contraindications: none known

The composition of this oil is such that it could be considered an aromatherapist’s “designer oil.” Together with its attractive fragrance and low price this is the number one all-purpose eucalptus oil. The combination of terpene alcohols and cineole is highly effective in treating coughing, sniffles, and a hoarse, scratchy throat. It also contains 3 to 4 percent aldehydes (including neral and geraniol), which lend this oil an especially broad spectrum of action (antiviral, expectorant, anti-inflammatory), as well as its exceptionally pleasant aroma.

b) Eucalyptus dives

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons (30%), piperitone (approximately 50%)

Main effects: mucolytic

Contraindications: contains ketone; not to be used by children less than 10 years old or pregnant women

With this oil, it is mainly the piperitone chemotype that is of interest. It is distinguished by a content of approximately 50 percent of this relatively harmless ketone, which makes it a highly effective, reasonably priced, mucolytic agent for bronchitis. Mix with Eucalyptus radiata to enhance and diversify its effects.

c) Eucalyptus globulus

Main components: up to 75% terpene hydrocarbons, cineole, sesquiterpenes, and alcohols

Main effects: expectorant

Contraindications: not to be used with small children

Eucalyptus globulus is the most well-known eucalyptus variety. This oil has a unique, fresh scent which is enhanced by the presence of sesquiterpenes and various aldehydes. As with Eucalyptus radiata, E. globulus is a good expectorant and is suitable for treating cold symptoms.

d) Eucalyptus polybractea

Main components: terpene oxide (cineole)

Main effects: expectorant

Contraindications: none when used with caution

Like other types of eucalyptus oils, Eucalyptus polybractea is also an effective expectorant. It is especially suited for improving room air with a diffusor.

Everlasting (Helichrysum)

Main components: esters (neryl acetate, 40-50%), sesquiterpene hydrocarbons (30%)

Main effects: anti-inflammatory, cell-regenerating

Noteworthy: up to 10% diketones

Contraindications: safe despite ketone content

The immense amount of anti-inflammatory, sedating sesquiterpene hydrocarbons came with around 40 percent spas-molytic esters and around 8 percent regenerative dike tones which only everlasting originate. The result that everlasting produce is inimitable: it kills and reduces pain and is regenerative and very effective for joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis; if applied in time, it prevents blood loss too.

Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)

Main components: terpene and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons

Main effects: anti-asthmatic, strengthens the immune system

Contraindications: none known

Frankincense consists primarily of terpene hydrocarbons, in addition to small concentrations of complex molecules with two functional groups. This oil is used for weakened immune system, asthma, and depression.

Geranium (Pelargonium odorantissimum)

Main components: terpene alcohols (60-68%), esters (20-33%)

Main effects: general tonic, fungicide

Contraindications: none

Geranium is produced in many different countries and consequently offered in different compositions with varying properties. Different distillation methods explain the variety of colors of geranium oil, ranging from brownish yellow to light green. The scent of geranium oil enjoys broad popularity, due to its citronellol content, which it shares with rose oil. This alcohol (citronellol) and a wide spectrum of esters lend geranium oil its pleasant character. The tonifying effect of the terpene alcohol combined with the soothing influence of the esters are responsible for the fact that geranium oil is perceived differently by each individual. One person will perceive it as an antiseptic, another as a calmative, and a third as a stimulant.

Despite-or perhaps because of-this versatile character, geranium oil is an excellent foundation for massage and body oils. Because of its ester content, geranium oil is also remarkably effective against Candida albicans and other fungi, as well as being especially valuable in skin care and holistic hygiene.

Interestingly, the antimycotic effect of geranium is not linked-as is the case with many other oils-to an antibacterial effect; this means geranium acts against yeasts without affecting bacterial flora. In addition, geranium stops bleeding, stimulates the functions of the liver and pancreas, and, applied topically, soothes pain in the breasts before and during menstruation (10 milliliters geranium oil with 100 milliliters base oil).

Green Myrtle (Myrtus communis)

Main components: monoterpene oxide (cineole)

Main effects: expectorant

Noteworthy: Esters, aldehydes, and lactones make this oil suitable for treating tension and insomnia

Contraindications: none

The oil of Myrtus communis varies in composition depending on whether it comes from the northern or southern shores of the Mediterranean. North African myrtle generally has a reddish or reddish brown color and contains the ester myrtenyl acetate. The Corsican variety of Myrtus communis has a brilliant green color and a high 1 ,8-cineole content. The green Corsican oil is produced exclusively for the aromatherapy market. There are no industrial uses. It is available at a somewhat high but fair cost in small quantities.

If it is inhaled directly, green myrtle has an astounding relaxing effect. It is also used as a gentle, non irritating component in skin-care mixtures, where it displays its regenerating, astringent, and anti-allergenic effects best. In addition, it imparts them with a truly elegant scent.

This oil is especially useful for treating hay fever (see Essential Oils Areas of Use> Hay fever), especially for patients who have been using Eucalyptus radiata or various needle oils fairly often and need a change of scent or effects.

Myrtle water is the most useful of all the essential oil hydrosols as it covers an area otherwise inaccessible to aromatherapy: the eyes. Essential oils do not mix with the watery environment of the eyes, and they also irritate them. Consequently, irritations of the eyes, caused by accidental contact with an essential oil, are best taken care of by imbuing a piece of cloth or papertowel with a fatty oil, such as sesame or olive oil, and wiping it over the closed eyelids. The fatty oil will draw the lipophilic essential oil from the eye more effectively than rinsing the eye with water or other similar measures.

Myrtle water is especially suited for treating all forms of inflammatory processes in the eyes, by spraying it directly on the eyelid or in the eye. The novice user will spray on closed eyes, and try to blink a little bit. Repeated spraying will be effective against conjunctivitis, allergic reactions, and all inflammations of the eye.

Myrtle water should not be used after the expiration date provided by the manufacturer.

Greenland Moss (Ledum gronlandicum)

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons

Main effects: purifying; detoxifies the liver

Special qualities: sesquiterpene-ketones, germacrone

Contraindications: none

This oil contains active sesquiterpene-ketones. It is used to stimulate regeneration of the liver, and it detoxifies the liver and kidneys.

Creeping Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis var. decumbens)

Main components: terpene alcohols

Main effects: strong antiviral effects, anti- asthmatic, antidepressant

Noteworthy: trans-linalol oxide

Contraindications: none known

Creeping hyssop oil (Hyssopus officinalis var. decumbens) has perhaps the strongest antiviral effects and is therefore especially suitable for treating herpes and fever blisters. Combined with Khella (Ammi visnaga), it is used to prevent asthma attacks. Used for nervous depression it has an uplifting effect and helps an individual to lighten up.

Inula graveolens

Main components: esters (bornyl acetate, 50%)

Main effects: mucolytic, heart tonic

Special qualities: sesquiterpene lactones make it a most powerful mucolytic

Contraindications: none when used with caution

Inula graveolens is generally only found on the French aroma therapy market, and even then at a very high price and only in years with a very good harvest.

Despite its uncertain availability, it is recommended for all bronchitis conditions, for which its usefulness cannot be overestimated. It is so effective that a family of four using it correctly will certainly not need more than 5 milliliters in one year.

What makes this oil so unusual? In brief, it is the strongest mucolytic to be found in aroma therapy.

Of this brilliant green oil only the main components are known. It contains traces of lactones which, although not yet identified, seem to be pharmacologically very active. This oil is most effective when it comes to loosening mucus. The effect is so pronounced that it occurs even at concentrations below od or threshold.

The best method of use is in a diffusor at night, with the output of the diffusor set at the lowest possible level. Otherwise, one can simply put a drop of oil on a pillow.

This oil is most effective against all catarrhal illnesses of the upper respiratory tract (throat, nose), against chronic bronchitis, and also against spasmodic conditions.

Khella (Ammi visnaga)

Main components: terpenes,  terpene alcohols (borneol, linalol)

Main effects: dilates coronary blood vessels; with asthma and hay fever, it relieves spasms in the smooth muscle tissue of the bronchi

Noteworthy: contains coumarin and related compounds (visnadin, khellin)

Contraindications: phototoxic; not to be used on the skin

This oil has a dilating effect, especially on the coronary blood vessels, the bronchi, and the urinary tract. It is used for asthma and gallbladder and kidney colics.

Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

Main components: cineole, esters, terpene alcohols, eugenol

Main effects: anti-infective, equilibrates the autonomic nervous system

Contraindications: none known; should be used sparingly for external applications to avoid potential sensitization

The composition of bay laurel, especially European grown, is multifaceted. Bay laurel contains elements of nearly all of the described twelve main chemical groups, which explains the wide spectrum of positive effects. Long perceived as powerful, laurel is a symbol of victory through- out Greek and Roman mythology.

There are a number of varieties of the essential oil of bay laurel. The oils from North Africa have an aroma reminiscent of eucalyptus due to their high cineole content. These oils are only of secondary importance in aroma therapy. The oils produced in Italy, France, and the former Yugoslavia have a lower cineole content (approximately 35 percent) and a more refined aroma reminiscent of the bay leaf used in cooking. These delicately scented oils from the northern Mediterranean are preferred for aroma therapy use.

Bay laurel sets significantly positive and pleasant effect on the lymphatic system although they are no scientific studies on the medicinal effects. Bay laurel visibly relieves swollen lymph at once by applying a few drops of it. One application is sufficient to persuade the most hardened skeptic to use it as this oil is so diverse and powerful.

A variation of this application is to use bay laurel oil in the sauna. Rubbing a few drops into the lymp nodes and solar plexus after some time has been spent in the sauna will quickly bring on its gentle, pleasant effects on the skin. The resulting stimulation is gentle but strengthening.

Caution: Frequent use of bay laurel oil on the skin over a longer period of time (e.g., longer than three weeks) can result in sensitization and irritability because of its content of sesquiterpene lactones. As with anything, a happy medium is the key to success. For a healthy body, one application weekly is an effective preventive measure. During flu season it can be applied more frequenly. After the acute phase of the illness is over it is advisable to take a break from using bay laurel.

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

Main components: linalol and linalyl acetate



Main effects: balancing, relieves tension. relieves pain



Contraindications: none with physiological dosage



Lavender comes in many forms. Depending on origin and the altitude at which it is grown, its composition varies greatly. In general, French lavenders are characterized by a high ester content, for which they are esteemed by perfumers worldwide. It has therefore become a usual but undesirable practice to add the ester linalyl acetate to the oil to reach a level of 40 percent.

Actually, one should always have a bottle of lavender oil close at hand as it works wonders for bums. It is also highly effective for relieving itching insect bites, heals small cuts (such as paper cuts), and generally keeps the skin in healthy balance. Interestingly, lavender also normalizes blood sugar output by the liver. One or two drops taken about fifteen minutes before a meal will noticeably reduce the appetite.

The oil that is produced in Croatia and known as lavender, but which is actually produced from a local hybrid (Lavandula hybrida, Burdrorka), is also effective for the purposes of aroma therapy. This oil contains significant amounts of borneol and terpinen-4-ol and has stronger antiseptic qualities than the French oil. It is suitable for treating infected hair follicles and other minor skin conditions (pimples, blackheads, and light forms of acne).

When it comes to blending oils, lavender has a special quality. It harmonizes scents of different origins. Adding a small amount of lavender to a mixture will make the blend round and harmonious.

Lemon (Citrus lemon)

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons

Main effects: antiseptic, stimulates digestions, prevents contagious illnesses, such as colds and flu

Noteworthy: coumarin

Contraindications: phototoxic, do not apply  to the skin.

This oil with the refreshing scent stimulates the liver, has a gentle, calming effect (despite its high terpene hydrocarbon content), and is perhaps the most effective oil for disinfecting room air using a diffusor.

Lemon Verbena (Lippia citriodora)

Main components: geraniol, neral (about 40% combined)

Main effects: anti-inflammatory, calming, antidepressant


Special qualities: complex composition, many special effects (see below)


Contraindications: none with physiological dosage: contains traces of furocoumarin: can have photosensitizing effects on the skin


Lemon verbena’s scent is gentler and more pleasant than that of all other oils with a high citral content. It works strongly on the psycho-hormonal level. It is strongly anti-inflammatory and calming and used to treat depression. Aromamedicine uses this oil as a supplemental treatment for malaria, multiple sclerosis, and Hodgkin’s disease.

Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons, especially limonene


Main effects: relieves anxiety


Noteworthy: esters of anthranilic acid


Contraindications: can be phototoxic to the skin


The scent of mandarin is as sweet as candy. The presence of the highly sedative anthranilic acid ester makes this oil the first choice for use with children suffering from anxiety, nervousness, or stress. Mandarin oil can be taken internally and can be used to freshen indoor air.

Tangerine oil has a scent very similar to that of mandarin, but it contains no anthranilic acid ester and has no sedative effects. Fluoresce- observable with mandarin oil-is not present.

Mandarin Petitgrain (Citrus reticulata)

Main components: esters (methyl anthranilate)

Main effects: strongly relaxing

Contraindications: none known

This oil from the leaves of the mandarin tree is above all stress-relieving. It is so effective that even small amounts (1 to 5 percent in a mixture) added to other calming oils will drastically strengthen the sedative effect of the composition.

Marjoram (Origanum majorana)

Main components: terpene alcohol (terpinen-4-ol), terpene esters

Main effects: anti-infective, spasmmolytic

Noteworthy: effective against whooping cough

Contraindications: none with physiological dosage

Marjoram oil is unique in its composition of relaxing, spasmolytic esters with a significant 25 percent content of terpinen-4-ol. This is the same alcohol that renders tea tree oil such an effective antiseptic.

The uses of marjoram extend from replacing tea tree oil-if one should tire of tea tree’s strong scent-to other uses for which its special combination of properties makes it most effective. For example, it is used for whooping cough (see Respiratory Condition>Whooping cough) and acute bronchitis with accompanying cough, in which the spasmolytic effect is of special value. Marjoram oil is either taken internally or applied to the skin.

Caution: In addition to the marjoram (Origanum majorana) oil discussed above, different oil from another plant species, Thymus mastichina, is often sold under the names “marjoram,” “wild marjoram,” or “Spanish marjoram.” This oil should not be confused with the true marjoram oil described here, as its composition and effects are different.

Mastic (Pistacius lentiscus)

Main components: terpene- and sesquiterpene-hydrocarbons


Main effects: decongesting for veins, lymph, etc


Contraindications: none known

Mastic oil is distilled from the resin of the mastic tree, predominately on the island of Crete. In aromatherapy it is valued for its vasoconstrictive action, especially in the treatment of varicose veins.

May Chang (Litsea cubeba)

Main components: terpene aldehydes (geranial and neral, together composing approximately 75%)

Main effects: calming, anti-inflammatory

Contraindications: none when used with caution

Litsea cubeba is valued for its high content of citral, due to which it normally is used only in combination with other oils. Its refreshing scent makes it perfect for giving a composition a brighter scent. When the antiviral and regenerating qualities of citral are needed, this oil is a cost-effective solution.

Melissa (Melissa officinalis)

Main components: terpene aldehytes (neral, geranial)


Main effects: relieves depression, nervous weakness, and insomnia


Contraindications: none with physiological dosage



The way in which melissa oil combines an excellent antiviral component with a soothing but pervasive sedative power is difficult to imagine; it has to be experienced. In its complexity, power, and gentleness, melissa oil perfectly illustrates how nature time after time works better than one-dimensional synthetic medicines.

Melissa oil appears to be one of the strongest antiviral agents available in aromatherapy. With only a few topical applications a herpes outbreak can be ended and the blisters dried up.

Rubbing a trace of the oil on the temples will ease a headache. The sedative and anti-inflammatory effect of this oil can be utilized best in many external applications (see Wounds and Scars).

Note: It is advisable to use the oil for these purposes in very low concentrations. For this, melissa is mixed with a base oil in a ratio of 1:100. An even smaller portion of melissa will still have excellent results.

Moroccan Chamomile (Tanacetum annuum)

Main components: monoterpenes (limonene), sesquiterpenes (azulene)

Main effects: anti-inflammatory (especially on the skin), anti-allergic, anti-asthmatic

Contraindications: none known

This oil is striking not only for its blue color- due to a high azulene content-but also because of its sweet, aromatic scent. Moroccan chamomile is an obligatory component for any mixture used for burns or sunburns, or otherwise inflamed or damaged skin. It is also a must for ameliorating allergic reactions. It is most effective applied externally or by inhalation by adding a few drops to 5 or 10 milliliters of a mixture (see Cosmetics with Substances> Problem-free application: Care for sensitive skin, chemically damaged or sunburned skin, and spider veins).

Moroccan Thyme (Thymus satureioides)

Main components: terpene alcohols (borneol. phenol. carvacrol)

Main effects: strengthening

Noteworthy: especially effective against chronic infections and in strengthening a weakened immune system


Contraindications: can cause mild skin irritation

The only readily available oil with a distinctively high content of borneol, Moroccan thyme oil is best suited for treating chronic infections and autoimmune conditions. It relieves arthrosis and counteracts general asthenia.

Myrrh (Commiphora molmol)

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons. sesquiterpenes

Main effects: anti-inflammatory, antiviral

Noteworthy: sesquiterpene ether

Contraindications: none known

Myrrh has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It is primarily used for diarrhea, but also as a mouthwash in dental care.

Oregano (Origanum vulgaris)


Main components: phenols (carvacrol)


Main effects: stimulating, antibacterial


Contraindications: not to be used on the skin (dermocaustic)


In oregano oils, we encounter high concentrations of the antiseptic and stimulating phenol carvacol, in combination with stimulating terpene hydrocarbons. A certain ketone and sesquiterpene content (approximately 6 percent caryophyllene) balances the extreme effects of phenol.


When it comes to combating bacterial infections, oregano is aromatherapy’s heavy artillery. It also has stimulating qualities. Because its phenols can cause carting degrees of skin irritation, it recommends itself for internal use. Ideally oregano oil is taken in a carrier oil, such as sunflower. The amount of oregano oil should be about 50 milligrams per application.



Oregano oil is well suited for treating acute bacterial infections of the gastrointestinal tract and the bronchi. When a strong response to a bacterial infection is needed, taking up to ten dosages of 50 milligrams of oregano (equivalent to 1-2 drops per application or ½ gram in total per day) will do the trick. Thyme and mountain savory oils have similar effects due to their similar compositions.

In general, use of oregano should be limited to treating acute conditions. The French aroma medical literature advises that the long term use of the oil, or generally oils with a high phenol content, can lead to undesirable changes in the liver metabolism.

Palmarosa (Cymbopogon martini)

Main components: terpene alcohol (geraniol)

Main effects:
effective against bacterial and viral illnesses of throat and lungs

Contraindications: none with physiological dosage


One could say that this oil is the dream of every aromatherapy enthusiast. It is inexpensive and combines an impressive variety of desirable qualities. It is effective against viruses, yet it is mild and nontoxic, and has a very attractive scent. This oil is perfect as a central, reasonably priced component for antiseptic skin-care compositions.

Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin)

Main components: sesquiterpenes, sesquiterpene alcohols


Main effects: vein tonic

Contraindications: none known

Patchouli- the scent of the hippie generation. Its scent certainly is the most prominent feature of this oil. But, used externally, it is also a good tonic for veins.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita)

Main components: menthol, menthone


Main effects: stimulating, strengthening


Contraindications: topical applications need to be limited to small areas (for example, on the forehead or temples); not to be used on infants less than 30 months old.


For the aromatherapy user, peppermint oil is as indispensable as it is problematic: indispensable due to its healing properties; problematic due to the many different qualities and compositions in which it is offered.


Peppermint oil is produced on an industrial scale in the United States and in China, mainly for the production of menthol. Most oils produced in the U.S. are standardized blends of different oils of varying qualities from regions such as the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest.


The oils produced in England or France are the most suitable for use in aromatherapy, as they are produced for this purpose and are generally not doctored or minimally doctored. The price differential between generic oils produced for the world market and genuine oils produced for aromatherapy is significant.


Peppermint oil should be a part of every traveler’s first aid kit. A drop works wonders for motion sickness or general nausea. In additions, medical research has found that peppermint is effective for irritable colon. French aroma medicine recommends peppermint oil for general asthemia as it strengthens and regenerates the liver.

Peppermint oil is also an appropriate means for adding some zest to a bland mixture of oils. For this, a concentration of between .25percent and .50percent is sufficient. Naturally, one can experiment individually with more or less, but the strongest effects normally are achieved when peppermint oil is used sparingly.

Pine (Pinus pinaster)

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons

Main effects: applied topically as a disinfectant, or in a diffusor used as an air freshener

Contraindications: not for internal use

An inexpensive oil for use in a diffuser, pine oil has a strong effect for bronchial illnesses. The high monoterpene hydrocarbon content is characteristic of needle oils. Sesquiterpene hydrocarbons and sesquiterpene alcohols round off its effects.

Ravensare (Ravensare aromatica)

Main components: terpene alcohols, terpene oxides (cineole)

Main effects: expectorant, antivirals


Contraindications: none known; well tolerated on the skin

An oil used in French aromatherapy known by the name of ravensare really comes from the leaves of Cinnamomum camphora. Despite the confusion of names its chemical composition and identity are well defined.


Ravensare oil’s effectiveness appears to stem from the interaction between cineole and ?-terpineol. It is light and not dissimilar to Eucalyptus radiata. It is used primarily to treat viral conditions.

In addition to its strong antiviral effects, ravensare is also valued as an excellent nerve tonic. It works small wonders with acute cases of the flu, raising overall energy and creating an optimistic mood. Ravensare is best suited for treating mononucleosis and for relieving insomnia. Its most notable use is in the treatment of shingles in conjunction with Calophyllum inophyllum. For the treatment of acute flu, ravensare is best taken internally (1drop every 2 hours for acute flu) and/or applied externally.

Rose (Rosa damascena)

Main components: terpene alcohols (citronellol), approximately 50%, paraffin (as in waxes)

Main effects: nerve tonic

Contraindications: none known

The unfortunately very expensive rose oil is best used for its fragrance. The scent alone has uplifting and tonifying effects and stabilizes the nervous system.

In aromatherapy, rosemary is a problem oil. Hardly any other oil is so routinely adulterated and diluted. Diverse scientific articles point to contradictory results which can only be explained by widespread adulteration. According to the estimates of a group of German experts, the cost of manufacturing rosemary oil is at least 200-300 German Marks (about U.S. $112.00-170.00) per kilogram. How this relates to the usual wholesale price of $30.00 to $50.00 remains unexplained. When buying this oil, close attention must be paid ,to its source, and only products whose origins can be traced back to the manufacturer should be accepted. Quality can only be provided by producers who make the oil exclusively for the aromatherapy market, and whose oils will command the appropriate price. A small number of producers of rosemary oils are currently located in Croatia and Corsica.

Three chemotypes of rosemary oil are recognized. They are outlined below.

Rosemary-camphor type (Spain and Croatia)

Main components: terpene ketone (camphor), terpene oxide (cineole), terpene hydrocarbons

Main effects: neuromuscular, stimulating for asthenia, relieves tension

Contraindications: contains ketone; not to be used by children less than 10 years old or pregnant women

An oil for many uses, especially for muscles and nerves, this type is especially suitable for muscle pain and cramps. In small dosage it relieves nervous tension; in higher dosage it counteracts exhaustion. Expectantly, rosemary supports the digestive system: it stimulates the production of bile.

Rosemary-cineole type (North Africa)

Main components: cineole, terpene hydrocarbons

Main effects: stimulating, promotes digestion

Contraindications: none with physiological dosage

Especially suited for catarrhal conditions and as a component for diffusor mixtures.

Rosemary-verbenone type (Corsica)

Main components: ketones (verbenone), cineole, terpene hydrocarbons

Main effects: mucolytic, promotes digestion, cell-regenerating (skin care)

Contraindications: ketone content. Children less than 10 years old and pregnant women should use with caution.

An aroma therapy classic, this oil’s regenerating qualities and the way it is tolerated by the skin make it essential for skin care. It is especially effective as the beginning mucolytic treatment of bronchial and cold conditions.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

Main components: high concentration of ketones (up to 70%), primarily thujone

Main effects: strengthening, promotes digestion, estrogen-like

Noteworthy: broad spectrum of action, but difficult to categorize due to varying compositions

Contraindications: high ketone content; not to be used by children less than 10 years old or pregnant women

The main ingredient of sage oil is thujone (20-70 percent). Besides that it contains a great number of active molecules which provide a diverse range of complex effects. It is effective against Staphylococcus aureus and bacteria of the genus Streptococcus and has an antiviral effect. Sage is also used to stimulate bile production.

Spike Lavender (Lavandula latifolia)

Main components: cineole, terpene alcohols, terpene ketone (camphor)

Main effects: expectorant, antiviral

Contraindications: depends on camphor content; small children and pregnant women should use only with extreme caution

Spike lavender is a practical oil: while the scent is not as delicate as that of true lavender, its camphor and cineole content make spike lavender very useful for colds. It is most effective when used together with the linalol chemotype of thyme as an expectorant-antiviral mixture to be massaged into the skin (see Essential Oils Application Methods>External Application). For skin care, this oil can be used as a mild but effective antiseptic.

Spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi)

Main components: sesquiterpenes, sesquiterpene alcohols, and sesquiterpene ketones

Main effects: sedative

Contraindications: none known

This oil consists primarily of sedative components. It contains only sesquiterpenoids, such as valeranol, valerenal, and especially valeranone, which are responsible for the sedative effect.

The external application of the oil, rubbed over the heart or the solar plexus, provides thedesired sedative effect. This oil has a distinct affinity to the skin, and is one of the few oils which has any effect against dandruff.

Spruce (Picea mariana)

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons and esters (bornyl acetate)

Main effects: general strengthening for asthenic conditions

Contraindications: none with physiological dosage

Spruce oil restores depleted adrenal glands. Combined with Pinus silvestris and applied externally over the kidney area it will re-energize. Spruce oil combined with atlas cedar oil and peppermint oil results in a mixture that-when applied to the body after the morning shower-will, for several hours, substitute for morning coffee (see Essential Oils Areas of Use>Fatigue).

Caution: Only use spruce oil externally!

Tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus)

Main components: methyl chavicol

Main effects: antispasmodic

Special effects: coumarin strengthens the antispasmodic effect

Contraindications: none when used with caution

Tarragon oil, like exotic basil, contains estragol as well as various coumarins with names such as aesculetin, herniarin, scoparon, and scopoletin. Like basil, it is an effective antiviral agent, but its greatest area of efficacy is as a spasmolytic. Used internally or externally, tarragon is one of aromatherapy’s strongest antispasmodics.

Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)

Main components: terpene alcohols (terpinen-4-ol)

Main effects: anti-infective agent with very broad spectrum of action

Contraindications: none known

The Australian wonder, this oil is renowned for its unbelievable antimicrobial qualities. Its wide spectrum of action makes it perfect for the traveler’s first-aid kit. It is the oil perfect for treating infections of the mucous membranes of mouth and gums, for acne and herpes, and for bacterial, candida-related, or viral intestinal infections. Tea tree oil is also effective for infections of the genital area, especially chronic candida-related vaginitis, as well as infections with trichomonads.

a) thyme-thymol type

Main components: phenol (thymol, carvacrol, up to 60%)

Main effects: strong anti-infective agent, stimulating, skin irritant

Contraindications: not to be used on the skin (dermocaustic)

This oil is often distilled, in whole or in part, from another plant, Thymus zygis. Genuine Thymus vulgaris is not as readily available as one might think. Through its natural content of thymol and carvacrol, Thymus vulgaris oil has an extremely broad spectrum of action against infectious illnesses. In its genuine state, it has a significantly more pleasant scent than most oils with an upward-adjusted phenol content.

Note: This oil should not be applied externally.

b) thyme-thujanol type

Main components: terpene alcohols (50%, thujanol and a variety of others)

Main effects: stimulating, tonic, antiviral, mild, nonirritating

Noteworthy: thujanol stimulates the liver

Contraindications: none with physiological dosages

This oil contains up to 50 percent terpene alcohols. It is one of the few oils effective against chlamydia. It is also effective against viruses and stimulates immune response as well as the regeneration of liver cells. Its broad spectrum of action against many infectious conditions makes it appropriate for a traveler’s first-aid kit. Especially suitable for treating flu, bronchitis, vaginitis, cervicitis, and a general weakened condition (see Essential Oils Areas of Use>Respiratory Conditions>Phase 2, 3).

c) thyme-linalol type

Main components: terpene alcohols (linalol, 60%), esters (Iinalyl acetate, 20%)

Main effects: strong antiseptic, but mild on the skin

Contraindications: none with physiological dosage

This oil the mildness of linalol and linalyl acetate is combined with the strong antiseptic action of thyme. It is excellent for impurities of the skin. Its gentleness and antimicrobial effects have made it an aromatherapy classic overnight. It is effective against Candida albicans and Staphylococcus (stomach, intestine, cystitis), is a pleasant tonic for nervous exhaustion, and is irreplaceable in skin care.

d) thyme-geraniol type

Main components: terpene alcohols (geraniol)

Main effects: antiviral

Contraindications: none with physiological dosage

A luxury oil: very mild in its application, yet it is extremely strong and has broad action against bacteria, viruses, and fungi (yeast infections). This oil is especially suitable for use in bronchitis and viral intestinal infections. It aids falling asleep.

Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides)

Main components: sesquiterpene-hydrocarbons, -alcohols, -ketones, esters

Main effects: tonic for arteries and veins, strengthens circulation, strengthens a weakened immune system

Contraindications: none known

This oil is often used as a fixative. Because of its active sesquiterpene-alcohols and -ketones it provides sustained stimulation for endocrine glands and circulatory system. Aroma medicine recommends vetiver for a weakened immune system.

Yarrow (Achillea meillefolium)

Main components: terpene hydrocarbons, chamazulene, ketones

Main effects: anti-inflammatory, cell regenerating, analgesic

Contraindications: contains ketone; not to be used by children less than 10 years old or pregnant women

Yarrow oils are often of deep blue color, because of a high chamazulene content. Interestingly, this is not always the case-it also often has a light yellow or green color. Yarrow oil is applied externally for neuralgia or tendinitis.

Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)

Main components: sesquiterpenes, esters (“ylang ylang extra” has a relatively higher terpene alcohol content)

Main effects: relaxing

Contraindications: none with physiological dosage

Ylang ylang oil’s narcotic scent is its dominant characteristic. It is used for heart palpitations, for which even the smallest amounts, applied topically, have a remarkable effect.