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choosing essential oils

Ask the Panel: Top 5 Essential Oils for Beginners

“I am just starting out with essential oils and I have no idea what to buy first. Could you recommend an assortment of 4 or 5 oils that you think would get me off to a great start?” This is one of the questions I am often asked as an aromatherapist, so I thought I would compile a list of the professional panel’s answer to this question here for you. Feel free to share it with friends who might find it useful. =)

Which 5 essential oils would you include in a beginner's starter kit? Let me know in the comments section at the end of this blog post.

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Sweet Orange, Lavender, Tea tree, Siberian fir, Peppermint Andrea Butje


I would include Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Mandarin (Citrus nobilis), Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis), Geranium (Pelargonium graveolens) and Peppermint (Mentha x piperita). The saying ‘if in doubt use lavender’ is, in the main, true. True Lavender has a wide range of therapeutic effects. It is analgesic, anti-bacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, sedative, cardiotonic and hypotensive. It is best known for its stress-relieving properties, treating headaches, burns, wounds, irregular periods, asthma, eczema, acne, candida, aches and pains and high blood pressure. in a starter kit it can be safe to use on most people and most conditions so no mistakes are likely! Use 4 drops for a massage to help relieve stress and anxiety. Mandarin is antispasmodic, calming, digestive and hepatic. It is used for stomach cramps and spasms, indigestion and constipation, as a liver tonic and for excitability. Best of all, as a beginner's oil, mandarin can be used with children for restlessness and insomnia. Just one drop of oil on a tissue near the crib can help to send baby off to calm sleep. Roman Chamomile is anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, calming, digestive and menstrual. It is used in particular, to address eczema, arthritis, inflamed skin, headaches, indigestion, menopausal symptoms and conjunctivitis. A soothing massage using almond oil with 4 drops of this oil can really help to calm eczema and dermatitis, and is also useful for allergic reactions. Geranium is antiseptic and antiviral. It is most often used for childhood ailments (chickenpox, mumps, measles, common cold), but is also useful in other viral situations, such as herpes or shingles. Geranium helps to reduce breast congestion, fluid retention and cellulite, as well as menopausal and menstrual problems, so this oil is popular with most women. For skincare, geranium oil is regenerative and moisturizing. Peppermint has a wide range of therapeutic uses and is very useful in a starter kit. The oil is analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-migraine, antispasmodic, antiviral and digestive. It is used for painful situations such as period pain, arthritis, headaches and knocks, while also being very calming for the digestive system. Use diluted peppermint next time you knock yourself where it hurts and feel the pain disappear! Please remember that all essential oils should be used with care, and if there are doubts about how to use them, a trained aromatherapist should be consulted.Penny Price


Lavandula angustifolia, Citrus sinensis, Melaleuca alternifolia, Pelargonium asperum, Boswellia carterii - Rhiannon Lewis


Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), geranium (Pelargonium graveolens), sweet orange (Citrus sinensis), spearmint (Mentha spicata), and ginger (Zingiber officinale) Sharon Falsetto


Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis), steam distilled Lemon (Citrus limon), Vetiver (Vetiveria zizanoides). These have the least safety precautions and have so many good uses. - Robin B. Kessler


It REALLY depends on who is the beginner. A young mom with young children? Someone concerned about skincare? An older person dealing with chronic pain? There is no one size fits all recommendation. Having said that, lets start with an effective antibacterial - most folks would say Tea tree, but I would prefer Manuka (gentler, aromatically softer, and, in my experience, more effective across the board.) Other effective germkillers are Geranium and even Palmarosa. A relaxant: perhaps a true Lavender, but perhaps Roman Chamomile or Sweet Marjoram, or even Petitgrain. (All are calming, relaxing, may help induce sleep, and are "child safe.") Third, some citrus for freshening the air and uplifting the spirit. Sweet or Blood Orange have a wide range of uses. Fourth, something for respiratory effects, perhaps Eucalyptus globulous or radiata for stuffy noses with an adult, but if the house has babies and/or toddlers I would suggest a conifer, instead. Not as effective, but perhaps more appropriate. Let's say Siberian Fir but your choice of conifers would do. That's four categories; we have done germkillers, relaxants/anti-insomnia, a citrus for mood elevation and "clearing the air", something to unstuff clogged sinuses... let's look at something not normally considered a 'beginners' oil, but, in my experience, the single most healing oil in our aromatherapy arsenal... Helichrysum italicum from Corsica. Amazing for bruises, anti-inflammatory for nerve and joint pain, helpful for problem skin (we use in blends for acne and rosacea), amazing healing for scars, sometimes used for meditation, it's an oil that is well worth splurging on. I would not be without it, and would rather see people invest in amazingly effective oils than some that are less costly, but also less effective. Having said all that.. if someone is dealing with a LOT of pain... I would want them to have Kunzea ambigua, from Australia, the most effective pain reliever I have found. If there are babies in the house, I would want German Chamomile in there, it's one of the first three oils for use with babies and toddlers. So there is truly no one size fits all list.  - Marge Clark


Cajeput, Sweet Marjoram, Orange, Blue Tansy, Vetiver – Ken Miller


For the perfect starter kit, I'd consider a person's lifestyle. Do they have kids? Allergies or other health concerns? Are they athletic, with muscle or joint overuse? The all-purpose list below includes popular multitasking oils distilled from different plant parts that blend well together, while addressing issues we all deal with: colds and flu, muscle or joint aches/pains, relaxation and sleep, focus and concentration, or skin care. I've selected affordable oils that are not over-harvested. Note: "kid-friendly" = safe for kids ages 2 and up (if conservative, 5 and up), unless otherwise stated.
1. Cedarwood (I prefer
Cedrus deodara or Juniperus virginiana) - calming/grounding, respiratory congestion, muscle tension, astringent, hair and skin care, good in bug sprays. Kid-friendly.
2. Eucalyptus globulus - energizing, supports mental focus, respiratory infections, congestion and mucus, aches and pains, headaches. Avoid for kids under 5, caution for kids under 10 (instead, try Rosalina or a conifer such as Siberian Fir).
3. Lavender - deeply calming/soothing, supports sleep, aches and pains, spasms/cramps, antiseptic, great for skin care and burns/bites. Kid-friendly.
4. Sweet Orange - uplifting and cheering, antiseptic, supports immunity, helps digestion or nausea, sore muscles, freshens air. Kid-friendly, a non-phototoxic citrus.
5. Tea Tree - uplifting, helpful for allergies, respiratory infections, general anti-infectious and immune support, skin eruptions or minor cuts, freshens musty air. Kid-friendly.
Michelle Gilbert


1. Lavender
2. Lemon
3. Peppermint
4. Tea Tree
5. Helichrysum Amy Emnett


Lavender, lemon, tea tree, peppermint, and ginger – Lora Cantele


Lavender, bergamot, eucalyptus, frankincense, and tea tree. - Nyssa Hanger


My own Top 5 list for beginners would include: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia), Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis), Cedarwood (Cedrus atlantica), Peppermint (Mentha x piperita), and either Sweet Marjoram (Origanum majorana) or Rose Geranium (Pelargonium asperum).

I hope these valuable answers from this panel of professional aromatherapists and aromatherapy educations have been a help to you. Feel free to pin this post for later use or share it with friends who might also find it valuable.

Which 5 essential oils would you include in a starter kit for beginners? let me know in the comments section at the end of this blog post.

Much love,
Erin


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Ask the Panel: How Do You Choose An Essential Oil Brand to Purchase From?

We’re beginning a Question of the Month blog series today. Every few weeks, I’ll be featuring a reader-submitted question here on the blog along with several answers to the question from a panel of professionals in the herbal / aromatherapy industries. If you have a question you’d like to submit for this series, please stick around until the end of the post for instructions.

Our first question posed to our panel of qualified professionals is:

What are the top two things you look for when choosing a brand from which to purchase an essential oil?

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1. I always appreciate when an essential oil company imports their oils directly from distillers who extract their oils from plants grown without pesticides and herbicides. 2. I admire companies that test their essential oils, batch specific, with GC/MS technology and do not standardize or adjust their oils once they arrive from the distiller. Andrea Butje

 

As a supplier I guess this is a different answer to someone who is a therapist looking for a brand! For me, it is visiting the farmers and cooperatives that I have known and trusted over the years, who will pick and distill at the times I want for my company. This is the first thing as when the oil is picked does determine which chemicals are present in the finished oil. The second thing would be the trust I mentioned. I would never buy from someone I did not trust to supply me with the therapeutic quality I am seeking. Most 'traveling salesmen' are selling leftovers from the perfume trade, who use fractionated and adulterated essential oils, not oils specific to aromatherapeutic use. If I were to guide therapists, I would say that firstly you need to trust the company you buy from - do they give advice for every oil and the clinical uses for the oils in your situation? Do they give the right paperwork (although that is not always an indication of quality), do you feel comfortable with your supplier? I would also say, do not go by the smell. Unless you are an established aromatherapy expert with many years experience, you probably wont know if that lavender is 42:42 or not! Be aware of copies and don't buy from folk you don't know. Hope this helps you :) – Penny Price

 

Availability (Do they have the correct oil that I need? i.e. chemotype/form) and purity [of the oil]. – Sylla Sheppard-Hanger

 

The organoleptic qualities of the oils and the straightforwardness of the proprietors of the brand. I read about the organoleptic qualities on my blog.– Jeanne Rose

 

Knowledge and experience of the brand. Do they employ a certified aromatherapist on staff/consult? How long have they been in business? What is their reputation within the industry? Can they answer my questions and make suggestions about the essential oil use? All of these questions give me information about their knowledge (not just their training, but their actual knowledge of each essential oil) and experience within the industry and use of essential oils in practice. If a brand has both knowledge and experience of essential oils, the other important stuff (such as quality/extraction methods/sourcing of the essential oils) should automatically follow through/be answered within those two points. Sharon Falsetto

 

Good moral code about aromatherapy and essential oils and the price! – Elizabeth Ashley

 

I check for GC/MS reports to see if the oils are pure and I evaluate the company’s reputation. – Robin B. Kessler, CA

 

Reputation & longevity of the company, and testing documents – Ken Miller

 

I don't necessarily think in terms of "brands" when I purchase essential oils. I'm more interested in the oils than the brand, and for that reason I focus on how a supplier represents and maintains their relationship with the oils they offer, their customers, and the distillers they work with. There are many ways I evaluate that, some factual and some nuanced. To turn the question around a bit, if I had to choose two deal breakers, I'd say that if I couldn't get batch-specific GC/MS reports, and if I saw spurious therapeutic claims or extreme usage suggestions on the supplier's website, I would absolutely look elsewhere. GC/MS reports, ideally from an independent third party, identify the chemical composition of that specific batch of essential oil. I need this information to verify the therapeutic properties, safety, and efficacy of my blends. Strongly curative or prescriptive language on a brand's website or literature, as well as suggestions for frequent neat (undiluted) use or ingestion, are all red flags to me. By contrast, when a supplier speaks in more neutral language including proper dilution guidelines and other safety information, they exhibit a better understanding of essential oils and aromatherapy. They are also more likely to provide other useful information such as when the oil was distilled, its shelf life, its full Latin name (genus, species, and chemotype where appropriate), and its geographic origin, all of which impact my purchasing decisions.Michelle Gilbert

 

1. I look for companies that provide GC/MS reports of each batch. Knowing the percentages of chemical components is an integral aspect of my blending process. I look at it like each bottle is its own character. While some batches may be similar, they are not always the same. Knowing what makes them "tick" helps me to know their therapeutic value. 2. I look at the ethics of the company. Do they provide safe usage advice? Do they fully disclose information when a person inquires about their essential oils ? Do they focus on education and not just sales? Does the owner of the company have professional training, years of experience, and relationships with the distillers? Utilizing a company whose core foundation lies on integrity and kindness is paramount. – Amy Emnett

 

Integrity (company provides quality product for ethically obtained oils) and proper documentation (batch-specific GC/MS & other testing, proper Latin name on label, MSDS sheets). – Lora Cantele

 

I hope these valuable answers from this panel of professional aromatherapists and aromatherapy educations have been a help to you. Feel free to pin this post for later use or share it with friends who might also find it valuable.

Much love,
Erin


Have a question to ask the panel? Submit it for consideration below.

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