By Mag Teo
Essential oils can be good for the mind and body, hence the word 'aromatherapy'. Some can be used straight, while others have to be mixed with carrier oils to dilute their concentrated potency.
I like to put drops of essential oils into warm water in a burner, allowing the gentle flame of a tea-light to warm up the mix and diffuse the scent in my bedroom. At times, I like to dab them on my pillows or a hanky, to aid sleep (lavender) or stave off nausea (peppermint).
Here's a simple introduction to six common essential oils and their properties.
1. Citronella – An insect-repellent, this oil is favoured by people who prefer a natural alternative to ward off pesky pests, especially mozzies.
2. Eucalyptus – Although the eucalyptus plant is widely known as sustenance for koalas, its oil is also a germicide and a palliative for respiratory illnesses like coughs and colds. I use it when my sons have a congested nose or a particularly bad cough.
3. Jojoba – A popular carrier oil, jojoba can be mixed with other essential oils to ensure their safe use on the skin. It can also be used on its own as a gentle moisturiser.
4. Lavender – Calming and relaxing, lavender soothes frazzled nerves and helps eradicate insomnia.
5. Peppermint – A common scent, peppermint not only smells nice, it also works wonders for digestion and nausea. A dab of it on a hanky for sniffing goes a long way in relieving indigestion, as well as alleviating morning sickness or vertigo-related nausea. It is particularly effective as an invigorative oil too.
6. Tea tree – An antiseptic and anti-bacterial essential oil, tea tree oil combats germs and infections. A few drops into the laundry load cleans clothes more effectively.
Often, essential oils can be combined. Some blends that I favour:
• lavender oil + eucalyptus oil in a diffuser for a better night's sleep
• lavender oil + tea tree oil in hot water as a disinfecting foot bath
• eucalyptus oil + jojoba oil as a decongestant applied on the chest
Whichever one(s) you choose, do remember to buy essential oils from reputed stores – these oils can come in many grades and the price you pay generally reflect their purity (or the lack of it).