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Essential Oils & Their Uses

Essential Oils 2Aromatherapy is the study and practice of essential oils and their uses for balance and harmony within the body. An essential oil is a volatile liquid containing aroma compounds from plants. Oil is essential in the sense that it carries a distinctive scent or essence of the plant from which it’s extracted.

Many common essential oils have medicinal properties that have been applied in medicine since ancient times and are still widely used today. Aromatherapy is used to guide the emotions of a person and to relieve physical ailments and essential oils are used to tackle these problems, which may be mental, physical or internal issues like stress relief, circulation, pain or swelling.

The Most Popular Essential Oils Used in New Zealand are:


Bergamot is a citrus-scented essential oil extracted from the Citrus Beragamia tree, a native of Southeast Asia but now found primarily in Italy and along the Ivory Coast. It is a popular aromatherapy oil and widely used in perfumes and colognes. Bergamot is extracted by pressing the oil from the rind of the fruit.

Used to treat stress, depression, anxiety and skin infections like psoriasis and eczema as well as stimulate the liver, digestive system and spleen.


Cedarwood is a woody-scented essential oil that comes from the Juniperus Virginiana tree native to North America. It has been around for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Egyptians and is thought to be one of the first essential oils ever extracted. The oil is extracted from cedar woodchips using steam extraction. It can be applied via vapour inhalation, as a massage oil blend or mixed with facial creams. Cedarwood oil is often used as a calming agent to help alleviate stress and anxiety. It provides a spiritual lift but also aids respiratory problems as well as skin issues.


Chamomile, widely known for its calming characteristics and is extracted as an essential oil from the leaves of the flowering plant. There are two types- Roman and German. The aromatherapy oil can be extracted from both varieties but healing properties are slightly different.  Both varieties can be blended with massage oils, used in steam or vapour therapy or mixed with creams.

The Roman variety can also be used in mouthwash as an analgesic. The German variety is often better suited to inflammation, specifically urinary tract and digestive inflammation. Both also have analgesic properties and can help eliminate acne.


Eucalyptus oil comes from the Eucalyptus tree (there are more than 500 varieties), native to Australia. It has a powerful scent and is easily recognisable. It’s an effective agent against respiratory diseases. It also has the ability to enhance concentration.

It is used as an antiseptic, antispasmodic, decongestant, diuretic and stimulant. It also has cooling properties and helps fight migraines and fevers as well as muscle aches and pains.


Sweet-smelling Jasmine is extracted from the Jasminum grandiflorum, an evergreen with origins in China. Jasmine has powerful healing properties; it aids with everything from depression to childbirth. It is known for its relaxing properties. Extracting Jasmine is an extensive process that takes a number of days and yields a small amount of oil. Hence the reason Jasmine is one of the most expensive essential oils. Add some drops of Jasmine to your bath or to the vaporiser, or blend it with your favourite massage oil.

Jasmine has been known to ease depression and childbirth, in addition to enhance libido. It’s great for respiratory problems, addiction issues, and reducing tension and stress.


Lavender is one of the most popular essential oils on the market and for good reason. It is effective stress-relieving oil. The name stems from the Latin word lavera meaning to wash.  In addition to stress-relieving properties, Lavender is a healing aid against colds, flu and migraine. Lavender is extracted from the flowers of the plant and steam distilled.  Add a few drops to a diffuser or even your pillow before bedtime to get a good night’s sleep.

It’s also an antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory decongestant, deodorant, diuretic and sedative.


Lemon is widely appreciated for its clean smell but has numerous therapeutic qualities as well. It improves concentration, aids digestion and eases symptoms of acne and arthritis. The oil is extracted from the peel. Lemon oil is a terrific fragrance for the house; add a few drops to a vaporiser or diffuser for enhanced energy.

It helps with everything from skin irritation to digestion to circulation problems as well as alleviating headaches and fever it is also a quick mood enhancer.


Patchouli comes from the plant Pogostemon cablin and has powerful skincare properties. Oils are extracted from young leaves. Add a few drops to your bath or humidifier to alleviate depression and anxiety. Blend with massage lotion to combat skin infections and to facilitate healing of wounds Patchouli helps to relieve anxiety, depression, and fatigue, curb addiction, reduces cellulite and bloating.


Peppermint has a cooling, refreshing effect and is widely used to enhance mental alertness. Its  a perennial herb that boasts natural energy-boosting properties. It is used in vaporisers, massage oils, lotions, baths and mouthwash.

It is a cooling agent that enhances mood, sharpens focus, combats irritation and redness, alleviates symptoms of congestion, and aids in digestion.


Powerful aromatherapy treatment for issues targeted mainly at females. Roses are some of the first plants to be distilled for their essential oil. Rose oil is pricier than other aromatherapy oils given the number of roses it takes to distil it. Rose oil is extracted from fresh rose petals and then steam distilled. Extracting rose oil is a delicate process.

It helps with a number of illnesses and conditions, such as depression, anxiety and digestion issues. It is also helps with circulation, heart problems and respiratory conditions like asthma.


Rosemary oil is a wonderful mental stimulant. Add a few drops to your humidifier or bath water for a natural lift and memory booster. This essential oil packs a powerful punch when it comes to aromatherapy uses. Blend it with massage oils to help stiff, aching muscles, arthritis, liver and gallbladder congestion and digestive disorders. Rosemary oil in shampoos is excellent for stimulating the scalp and hair growth.

Antidepressant properties of Rosemary oil make it ideal for enhanced memory, focus and overall brain performance. It also acts as an analgesic, soothing aching, cramping muscles, headaches and migraines.


Sandalwood is recognised by its woody fragrance. It’s extracted and distilled from the wood chips of a mature tree. Sandalwood oil can be blended with massage oil, added to a vaporiser, used as incense, even gargled (diluted). Sandalwood oil can help mucous membranes of the urinary tract and chest wall. It helps to alleviate chest pain. It is also used as a relaxing agent for tension relief. Many practitioners of yoga use Sandalwood for its calming and sexual properties.

It is a hydration aid for the skin, as well as an anti-inflammatory.


Tea Tree oil is one of the most popular and effective essential oils for aromatherapy use. It is widely known to boost the immune system and fight infections.  Oils stem from the Cypress-like Melaleuca alternifolia tree. It is extracted from the trees leaves and steam distilled. Tea Tree oil can be inhaled and/or applied to the skin via oil. Add a few drops to your bath. Tea Tree oil is also found in shampoos, lotions and mouthwash because its healing properties are so powerful. It works to heal skin conditions, burns and cuts, and also works as an insecticide.

In addition, it helps to soothe and treat cold sores, respiratory conditions, muscle aches, flu, athletes foot and dandruff. Its uses are vast and its healing power is quick.


Ylang-Ylang is recognisable from its strong fragrance. Its sweet aroma is excellent for reducing stress and as an aphrodisiac. Ylang-Ylang is extracted from the flowers of a tropical tree and steam-distilled. Much like other essential oils can be used in a vaporiser or blended with other lotions for massage purposes. Add some drops into a bath, especially if you’re looking for a little romance.

Ylang-Ylang oil is also used to soothe headaches, nausea, skin conditions, stimulate hair growth, reduce high blood pressure and fight intestinal problems.


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