Essential Oil Biographies


ANISE  In use in China for more than a thousand years to help aid digestion and counter bronchitis. It sweetens the breath and masks unpleasant tastes in medicines. Widely used in cosmetics and soaps.

BASIL Used in the East for centuries to help with breathing problems, for stomach and kidney disorders, and as an antidote to insect bites. It is soothing but also a powerful brain stimulant and should be avoided in pregnancy.

BENZOIN Native to Thailand in its pure form a resin in use for thousands of years now usually used as a 50% dilution in benzyl benzoate. A classic remedy for sore throats and blocked noses. Its other major use is in protecting overworked skin from cracking.

BERGAMOT (non-phototoxic) A type of orange which originated in northern Italy where it was used for centuries. It is most valued for its uplifting effect and is thus used in ameliorating anxiety. It is a favourite component in skin creams for oily skin.

BLACK PEPPER Used for 4000 years for medicinal and culinary purposes. It is reputed to have significant antiseptic properties as well as aiding digestion. It can cause skin irritation if used in excess.

CAJAPUT A much neglected and undervalued oil. Native of the Far East where it is held in high regard for dealing with pains, infections, spots and fevers. In the West it is used as a winter oil to warm muscles and quicken pulses.

CAMPHOR Native to China and Japan now widely cultivated in sub tropical climates. A traditional protection against infectious diseases camphorated oil was widely used in Victorian Britain for respiratory problems. Only white Camphor is safe to use and even this should be used very sparingly.

CARDOMOM Native to tropical Asia it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for over 3000 years. Used today to treat nervous disorders, mental fatigue and digestive complaints.

CARROT SEED Distilled from wild carrot a relative of the edible variety it is mainly produced in France. In the Chinese tradition it is used to treat worms and dysentery and in the West as a tonic for the liver and gall bladder and for dealing with accumulated toxins. Now much valued in restoring wrinkled skin. It is said to help with menstrual problems.

CEDARWOOD Possibly the first oil extract ever used by the Egyptians. Soothing and harmonising it should be avoided during pregnancy. Now a very common constituent of male perfumes being reputed to be a female aphrodisiac.

CHAMOMILE ROMAN & GERMAN Because of its ability to bring repose it has been used in Europe for 2000 years being held sacred by the Saxons. It is widely recognised in modern medicine for its calming qualities. Its uses overlap with lavender. Also used in hair-care and cosmetics.

CINNAMON LEAF A native of the Indian Ocean best known as a domestic spice but in use for centuries for digestive and menstrual problems. It should be used in moderation.

CITRONELLA A grass indigenous to Sri Lanka but now grown across the Middle and Far East. This traditional insect repellent is now re-emerging as insecticides fall into disuse.

CLARY SAGE A most interesting oil now regaining favour after generations of neglect. It is highly regarded as an aphrodisiac though its narcotic properties mean it does not mix with alcohol and should be avoided in pregnancy. Traditionally it has been used for reducing discomfort from throat infections. It is much preferred to the toxic garden sage.

CLOVE BUD Native of the Philippines and used world wide as a spice. Associated with toothache relief. It should be used sparingly.

CORIANDER Cultivated throughout the world but the oil is produced almost exclusively in Eastern Europe. Used since Egyptian times as a domestic spice because of its calming effect on the digestive system it is also claimed to help counter nervous exhaustion and even migraine. It should be used in moderation.

CYPRESS Native to the eastern Mediterranean including, the island which shares its name. Used as purification incense and valued as a stress reliever. Most famously it is used to check profuse sweating. Some experts suggest it should be avoided in pregnancy.

EUCALYPTUS A traditional Australian household remedy. Rightly famous for the treatment of respiratory ailments. It has also a history of use for burns and in reducing fevers. It is fresh, stimulating and cleansing.

FENNEL(sweet) Originated in the eastern Mediterranean where it was used as a general antidote to poisons and for digestive complaints. Folklore suggests it is useful for menopausal problems and for countering obesity. It should be avoided by those with epilepsy and in pregnancy.

FRANKINCENSE Used by the Egyptians as a luxury cosmetic and perfume. Its most celebrated use was in rejuvenating face masks; and this ability to refresh wrinkled skin enables it to be of use today. It also continues to be used in meditation as it induces a deepening and slowing down of breathing; a relaxing and calming oil.

GERANIUM Used since antiquity to help deal with water retention problems. A balancing oil for mind and body, suitable for all skin types. Its strong sweet scent is now very popular.

GINGER Native to Asia, used originally in China and India in cooking and medicine to deal with stomach disorders, including travel and morning sickness. Famous also for helping sufferers from respiratory problems.

GRAPEFRUIT A useful and underrated oil which is now more widely used. It is especially valuable for revitalising congested and oily skin, often used to reduce cellulite. Its has a sharp delicate fragrance; suitable for burning.

HYSSOP Grown and used for centuries across much of Europe and Asia it is now often maligned and criticised as too toxic to use. In the past it has been used for bronchitis and colds. It is also a traditional antidote for stress.

JASMINE (absolute) The Monarch of oils with a rightful reputation as truly glorious. Its fragrance is famed and much copied -though never truly successfully. As well as its wonderful scent it is unmatched in care of all skin types. It is considered to be an aphrodisiac and helps to lift mind and body.

JUNIPERBERRY Grown across northern Europe it has been in use for centuries. Used in Britain for gout, cystitis, and rheumatic pain for generations. It should be used in moderation and avoided during pregnancy and by those with kidney disease.

LAVENDER The most versatile and widely used oil with a well established folk tradition. It has two magnificent properties; it can be used neat on cuts, bites, burns, bruises, and spots; and it enhances the effectiveness of oils it is blended with. It soothes and revives tired minds and bodies.

LEMON Widely used as a food and environment seasoning because of its long tradition as a cleanser of the digestive system and as a general cure-all. A powerful antiseptic and skin toner it should be used only in moderation . It is considered uplifting and stimulating.

LEMON EUCALYPTUS A variant of eucalyptus with many of the characteristics and uses of eucalyptus but sharing some constituents with citronella and considered especially useful in deterring mosquitoes.

LEMONGRASS Unrelated to lemon, being a grass from east India like vetivert and Citronella. Used traditionally to fight fever and as a sedative. Widely used for relieving tired and aching feet and heads.In vaporisation removes smells.

LIME (non-phototoxic) Native to South East Asia it is now always associated with Central America. Its uses are virtually the same as lemon and it is sometimes preferred because the oil is less harsh. Neph lime is distilled from the whole fruit and this is accepted as superior to the phototoxic expressed oil.

MANDARIN The famous orange is a native of China and the oil has been used there for thousands of years to strengthen the liver and digestion. It was brought to Europe 200 years ago. It can help congested and stretched skin.

MARJORAM (sweet) Grows around the Mediterranean and first used in ancient Greece in foods, cosmetics and medicines. It is comforting, warming and soothing but it is also a famous an-aphrodisiac. Commonly used to relieve rheumatism and to lower blood pressure.

MYRRH Used for 4000 years first in Egypt and then in China. A classic ancient treatment for gum and mouth problems. Famed as a cleanser and for fighting infection it has been used in countering conditions like thrush and for a range of respiratory difficulties

MYRTLE Grows wild right around the Mediterranean. Related to the English bog myrtle as well as the Eucalyptus family it has been used since the 16th century for skin care. It is a mild oil and often used for children's coughs and chest complaints. As well as its uses for skin and respiratory problems it is renowned for fighting infectious diseases.

NEROLI (pure and blend) A most exotic and expensive oil. Neph blended neroli is distilled over petitgrain which is oil from the leaves of the bigardia orange blossom from whose flowers pure neroli is made. Its perfume is famed for its calming qualities and it is also considered as a fine skin treatment.

NIAOULI Indigenous to Australasia it is similar to cajaput but kinder to the skin. Its wide range of traditional uses include improving acne, circulation, sinusitis and cystitis. May strengthen the immune system.

NUTMEG Native to the Indian Ocean but also grown in the West Indies. Used for centuries to remedy digestive and kidney problems. Use sparingly.

ORANGE (sweet) Claimed as beneficial to the digestive system and particularly in treating constipation. It is also said to help in ameliorating water retention. It helps dull and oily complexions and its uplifting scent means it is widely used as a general fragrance.

ORANGE (bitter) Claimed as beneficial to the digestive system and particularly in treating constipation, bitter oranges are larger fruit than the sweet. The best are from Spain and Sicily. It is also said to help in ameliorating water retention. Bitter orange is considered as especially helpful to dull and oily but usage on the skin must be avoided if it is then exposed to direct sunlight. Its uplifting scent means it is widely used as a general fragrance.

PALMAROSA Widely used in cosmetics and soaps because of both its fine scent and its balancing effect on skin This native of Indonesia is gaining in popularity. Its traditional use in the East was to counter infectious disease, especially stomach disorders.

PATCHOULI Native to tropical Asia and long used there as a preservative and to prevent diseases spreading. In the West it is used to assist cracked skin. It is a reputed aphrodisiac and used to calm and counter stress. It became a favourite in the 60s amongst hippies.

PEPPERMINT Cultivated for centuries in the East but the best quality oil is produced in the Northern Hemisphere. Famed as a treatment for dyspepsia. It is also good at invigorating the tired and stressed and helping with respiratory problems.

PETITGRAIN Originally from China now produced mainly in South America it is an undervalued oil. As well as its fine fragrance it is helpful in convalescence, especially for exhaustion.  

PINE Native to the north of the Northern Hemisphere. Famous for helping unblock sinuses and alleviating bronchial catarrh. It is useful and underrated oil with many possible uses including helping circulation and alleviating arthritic pain. It also is a good general cleanser.

ROSE (absolute) The Queen of oils originated in Persia and spread across the East as an important healing substance where it is widely used especially for digestive and menstrual problems. Now its main application is in skin treatments.The symbolism of rose as the most feminine of oils is reflected in its near universal use in perfumes.

ROSEMARY Used by the ancient Egyptians for a wide spectrum of disorders including respiratory and circulatory problems. Its most interesting use is as a stimulant of mental activity and the thought process. It should be avoided by those with epilepsy and in pregnancy.

ROSEWOOD Native of and exclusive to the Amazon. The oil requirements of the world can be met from less than 1% of the trees felled in the rainforest; trees are not felled to obtain oil. A relaxing and sensual floral oil often used in skin care, its refreshing fragrance is now gaining popularity.

SPIKE LAVENDER Like lavender though more camphoraceous but with a similar range of traditional uses. Much more likely to cause skin irritation than lavender so it should be applied sparingly and in dilution. There is a general view that it it is best avoided during pregnancy.

SANDALWOOD Used in the East for over 4000 years as a perfume, cosmetic, incense and embalming material. Its fragrance is said to linger forever. Today it is widely used in skin care. Famed as an aphrodisiac it is very common in male perfumes.

TAGETES Known also as marigold and a close relative of calendula it is a native of south and central America.  It is considered a powerful antiseptic and an effective insecticide.  It is used to counter catarrh and excess phlegm and increasingly for skin diseases, especially of the foot. Some experts suggest it should be avoided during pregnancy.

TARRAGON A familiar sweet smelling folk remedy used traditionally for muscle and joint discomfort. A nostalgic aroma for rugby and football players of a certain age. Use only sparingly and well diluted and to be avoided completely during pregnancy and by anyone allergic to aspirin or using blood thinning drugs.

TEA TREE Recently the subject of considerable scientific interest. Used by aborigines for centuries this native Australian tree is unique because its oil attacks fungus, bacteria and virus, and is said to strengthen the immune system. It has a vast range of claimed effective uses: -for athlete's foot, herpes, insect bites, warts, verrucas, thrush etc.

THYME (wild) Used in medicine and cooking around its native Mediterranean from ancient times. In food it adds flavour and also aids digestion and is seen as valuable in countering intestinal infection. A further traditional use is for coughs, colds and sore throats.

VETIVERT  A scented grass related to Lemongrass, Citronella and Palmarosa. A subtle and much admired fragrance widely used in male perfumes. It is very relaxing and used in massage for dealing with stress and anxiety.

WINTERGREEN In use since ancient times. Considered helpful in alleviating the effects of snake bites and toothache. Now more often seen as useful for digestive conditions.

YARROW Native to Tunisia but now most quality oil is from the UK it has traditionally been used for a wide range of conditions  including fever, nervous tension and digestive problems. It is said to promote hair growth.

YLANG YLANG This exotic sensual fragrance resembles Jasmine at a fraction of the price. It helps to calm nerves and produces a feeling of well-being and is famed as an aphrodisiac. Its other traditional uses include treating blemished skin, lowering blood pressure, slowing the heartbeat, and inducing sleep.