Used for thousands of years for a wide range of purposes, essential oils are recently gaining ground as safer and better alternatives to conventional health care for various medical, beauty, and skin care concerns. These oils are distilled or extracted from different parts of plants such as barks, flowers, leaves, resins, roots, and peels, which typically feature a very strong aroma. In fact, essential oils are also called volatile aromatic oils for the number of aromatic compounds that they contain.
According to the literature on natural medicine, essential oils can help with anything from relieving sleep issues to even preventing cancer. They can be used as air fresheners, weight loss support, and cleaning agents. Similarly, they are ideal for treating allergies, motion sickness, and respiratory illnesses. And they can help balance your hormones, promote mental alertness, support heart and bone health, and improve blood circulation.
The market for essential oils is expected to reach almost 12 billion by 2020. And if you are interested in contributing to it, here are ten of the best brands that you can choose.
Top 10 Essential Oils Brands
With over two decades of experience in the industry, Young Living has established a solid reputation for delivering only therapeutic-grade products to their clients. The company has strict ethical and quality guidelines from seed germination to harvesting their mature plants to purity testing. Because of this commitment, they are known for selling the highest quality oils that you can find on the market.
The brand also offers about a hundred single oils, including those that are not very well-known, as well as almost a hundred blends. Their products are part of a Global Compliance Program, which ensures sustainable sourcing of the raw materials that go into their oils.
One of their bestsellers is their Everyday Oils Collection. Users have proclaimed it to be well worth its rather steep price, as it comes packed with some of the brand’s most useful oils and blends, which can serve a myriad of functions. You also only need a small quantity to achieve the results that you want.
- Contains some of the best blends of the brand, as well as five of their most popular essential oils
- Offers a plethora of uses
- Lasts for a long time
- Some users think that the instructions for use are a little too vague for beginners
Launched in 2009, Eden’s Garden has since made a name for itself as among the best essential oil brands in the market. Like Young Living, the company also runs stringent tests on their products to ensure their quality. In fact, many of their essential oils are GC/MS certified, free of additives, fillers, or bases. They also come in ochre glass bottles, so that the light cannot interfere with the individual properties and integrity of the oils.
Eden’s Garden has over 141 single oils in their catalog, 57 blends, and 25 carrier oils. They also have certified and uncertified organic oils. Among the most popular of their products is their 12-oil collection, which features GC/MS tested products that are guaranteed to be of pure therapeutic grade quality. And they come in 5, 10, 30, or 100-ml packages.
If you’re interested in buying from them, you have the assurance that their stocks are rotated every two weeks so you’re getting maximum quality.
- GC/MS tested to ensure pure therapeutic grade quality
- Comes with a 150 Ways to Use Essential Oils brochure
- Some users think their scents do not last as long as those of other brands
Another established brand, doTERRA registered its own quality standard, Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade, to communicate to clients that their essential oils are of quality. They run various tests such as GC/MS and Chirality Analysis, the results of which can be viewed upon the request of customers.
The company offers more than 50 single and almost 50 blends, as well as packs that are ideal for various purposes. One of the most popular of these is the Family Essentials Kit, which contains 10 essential oils and blends that can help everyone in your little unit feel better, on a daily basis. The kit comes with 5-ml bottles of oregano, lemon, melaleuca, lavender, and peppermint, as well as doTERRA Breathe, doTERRA On Guard, DigestZen, and Deep Blue.
Other options include the Athletes’ Kit and the Beginners’ Trio Kit. And they help ensure that they only contribute positive things to the lives of the farmers and harvesters from which they source their raw materials.
- Good for a wide variety of uses
- Comes with a Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade
- Some users have complained of issues with the packaging of the oils
- Does not come with an instructional manual, which frustrates beginners
ArtNaturals is a company local to Los Angeles that is every bit as dedicated as their more established counterparts in offering quality essential oils. They don’t have many right now, only 15, and a couple of signature blends and carrier oils, but they make sure that their customers know exactly what they are getting by outlining the full element list on the label of their products.
One of the best-selling products in their catalog is their 16-oil collection. Each one of the bottles in this kit is pure therapeutic-grade essential oil that is perfect for a wide range of uses. Another plus that you will like about this company is that their essential oils are some of the most reasonably priced. You won’t need to spend too much to get the benefits that you want out of their products.
- GC/MS tested pure, unadulterated, therapeutic grade
- Comes with a 100% satisfaction/money back policy
- Also comes with a recipe booklet
- Some customers have complained of issues with the packaging
The Rocky Mountain was established in 2004, with the goal of providing essential oils that are safe and pure. At present, they have lived up to their goal exceptionally well as their products are known to be 100-percent pure therapeutic-grade. Their selection is also large, with 100 single essential oils and 75 blends, which are perfect for differing needs.
Their bestsellers primarily feature their Immune Strength blend, which is included in their Wellness collection. This 15-ml bottle helps fortify your immune system and has a mix of cinnamon, herbal, and citrus scent.
The brand’s commitment to quality is also outstanding, as they send their products to a third-party lab for purity and quality testing, and the results are published. And they source their materials from a few numbers of farms worldwide so that they can maintain and control the quality.
- GMO-free, GC/MS, and Pesticide tested
- Grown with organic practices
- More cost-effective than other brands that offer the same product
- Some customers think it smells bad
Plant Therapy is a small and family-owned business that sources their essential oils from reputable distributors all over the world. A popular part of their selection is their Six Synergies set, which contains 6 10-ml bottles of pure essential oil blends. These include Germ Fighter, Stress-Free, Relax, Energy, Pain Aid, and Immune Aid. The oils are also guaranteed to be free from additives, fillers, bases, or carriers, as all of the brand’s oils are tested by a third-party laboratory using MS/GC testing and then marked with the corresponding batch number that matches their set of published results. They also offer a comprehensive selection that is reasonably priced.
- Free of fillers, additives, bases, or added carriers
- Provides multiple benefits
- Offers excellent customer service
- Some people are not partial to the smell of the oils
NOW Foods is one of the most trusted names in its industry, and the company is known for delivering high-quality products in various niches. Their essential oils carry this same respected tradition, particularly where quality is concerned. Their suite of in-house laboratories guarantees the purity and safety of each of the product that the bottle and the company pride itself on using only high-quality materials.
Among the most popular that you can find is their Variety sampler, which includes 1-oz bottles of ten different essential oils that can be used for various purposes. They include jasmine, peppermint, eucalyptus, tangerine, citronella, orange, lavender, clove, and rosemary.
- Offers multiple benefits for various uses
- Provides good value for its price
- Also comes with good packaging
- The jasmine in the kit is a synthetic fragrance and not an essential oil
Saje Natural Wellness is not as well-known as other brands on this list, but they are nevertheless worthy contenders. The company offers a wide variety of 100% pure organic oils, which they tout as being free of chemicals and additives. In addition, their processes are designed to help not only their customers but also the planet. They are supported by sustainable farms, and their packaging uses only recyclable materials. They also assert that their products are not tested on animals.
One of their more loved products is their Peppermint Halo, which is an oil blend that is specifically formulated to soothe your head. It includes 6 essential oils: peppermint, cajeput, rosemary, eucalyptus, vetiver, and lavender. To use it, all you need to do is roll it along with your hairline, while avoiding your eyes. It can also be used on the neck and shoulders for more benefits.
- 100% natural, and free of toxins, synthetics, fragrances, dyes, or parabens
- Easy-to-use, compact, and portable
- Provides good value for money
- Not as affordable as other similar blends
Plant Guru is another brand that is ideal for those looking for organic essential oils that do not cost an arm and a leg. Their products contain 100-percent natural ingredients and work well in room diffusers. One of their most popular is the Essential Oil Variety set pack, which contains 6 important oils. These are lavender, lemongrass, tea tree, peppermint, eucalyptus, and sweet orange. In addition to essential oils and blends, they also have waxes, butter, and raw ingredients.
- Free of synthetics, chemicals, bases, or additives
- Provides multiple uses and benefits
- Reasonably priced
- Some customers have complained of some of the scents in the kit
While a newcomer, Pure Body Naturals is carving out a name for itself as a reputable source of essential oils. At present, they have a good range of oils to choose from, as well as about 8 carrier oils. They also offer a sampler set for beginners who want to ease into using essential oils gently. To start, you can give their 6-bottle collection a try. This kit contains eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, lemongrass, peppermint, and orange, which can be used for aromatherapy, beauty care, and homemade remedies and cleaners.
- Perfect for a wide variety of uses
- Free of contaminants, synthetics, and adulterations
- Not as well-tried as other products
Who Needs Essential Oils?
Essential oils can be used by anyone aged at least 10 years old and above who intend to get relief from a host of medical issues without needing to rely on conventional medicine. In addition, they are recommended to those who like going DIY on things that concern their health, beauty, or safety. If you’d like to whip up your own beauty concoctions, for example, essential oils are beneficial. And if you want to forego traditional household cleaning and maintenance materials and make your own, essential oils are also best.
What Are the Benefits of Essential Oils
There are countless benefits associated with essential oils, and in this section, we will go over the most significant ones. They are:
Hormonal Balance. Essential oils are known to help balance levels of hormones in the body, which promotes specific benefits. For instance, clary sage, thyme, and geranium are known to balance estrogen and progesterone levels in the body; in fact, a 2017 report published by the Neuroendocrinology Letters indicated that geranium and rose can be particularly significant in properly managing the salivary concentration of estrogen in women. This can aid in the treatment or relief of conditions such as PCOS, PMS, infertility, and menopause symptoms.
Other essential oils have been associated with lowering cortisol levels, which can be beneficial towards enhancing mood and fighting symptoms of depression. Additionally, some essential oils can boost testosterone levels, which is ideal for those struggling with the issue.
Immune System Support. Many essential oils contain necessary substances that help fight pathogens, such as esters, ether, terpenes, ketones, and phenolics. Similarly, essential oils feature antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal properties, which can offer better alternatives over traditional medicine for cases like antibiotic resistance. Studies have also asserted that these products’ immune-boosting functions are real; several studies have shown that essential oils can destroy many types of fungal, bacterial, and viral pathogens, including Helicobacter pylori and the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
Some of the most ideal essential oils for this specific purpose are myrrh, lemon, frankincense, cinnamon, peppermint, and eucalyptus. Oregano, in many lab studies, has also been found to contain the compounds carvacrol and thymol, which offer antimicrobial properties and help prevent the synthesis of many types of bacteria.
Digestion Support. Another major benefit to look forward to from using essential oils is their ability to aid and improve digestion, as well as treat and relieve a wide host of stomach-related issues such as indigestion, diarrhea, spasms, and even issues of the gastrointestinal system. Ginger is among the most important of these essential oils, as a study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that it can stimulate gastric emptying in people with indigestion. Additionally, it is known to ease constipation, ulcers, gas, nausea, and abdominal pain.
Another useful essential oil for digestion support is peppermint, which has been shown to help relieve symptoms of IBS in a 4-week randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 72 patients. Other essential oils you can use include lemongrass, black pepper, fennel, marjoram, and juniper berry.
Brain Function Improvement. A review published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience found that since essential oils contain antioxidants, they help inhibit free radical scavenging, which directly reduces inflammation while improving brain function. They have also been known to help people dealing with neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia, as they have calming and sedative effects.
Essential oils are also associated with an improved cognitive function, improved learning, improved memory, and improved ability to focus. Stimulating and sedative essential oils such as peppermint can boost focus over a long period of time, while lavender is useful for tough exercises and situations.
Other Benefits. In addition, essential oils are known to:
- Boost energy levels
- Detoxify your home and body
- Ease aches and pains
- Improve skin and hair health
- Mitigate emotional stress and anxiety; and
- Promote good sleep
What Are Essential Oils?
Essential oils are highly concentrated versions of the natural oils found in plants, which contain the fragrance and properties of the plants that they come from, as well as their true essence. This means that, if the plant has healing properties, its essential oil will also have the same. They are derived most commonly through distillation by steam or water, and different parts of the plants like leaves, roots, flowers, stems, and barks are used.
Many essential oils are used in plant therapy, the most common application of which is aromatherapy. Many believe that the fragrances of certain essential oils are beneficial to the health of humans; others are equally as healing when applied to the skin.
There are also 100% pure oils, which are single essential oils. Some oils, you see, exist in a blend or synergy mix. These oils also do not contain carrier oils and other fillers, as well as additives, fillers, and chemical aromas. But when choosing, make sure that you are buying from a good brand to be sure of the quality of the product that you will get.
To use essential oils, you can use a diffuser, or add a few drops to a bowl of steaming water or a water-based solution. Some essential oils can also be applied topically to the skin, for things such as wound care. You may also use them in a compress, gargle them, add them as drops to your bath, or used for massage. Just make sure to always dilute the essential oil with a carrier oil.
What Safety Issues Should You Be Aware of for Essential Oils?
While there are so many advantages associated with the use of essential oils, they also come with their fair share of risks. According to a study presented at the Endocrine Society’s 100th annual meeting in Chicago just this 2018, researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that lavender and tea tree oil may trigger hormone-disrupting activity. Other essential oils have endocrine disrupting chemicals, which may have an effect on safety.
Essential oils may also cause skin discoloration, burning, and sores. Steer clear of photosensitizing oils such as bergamot, lemon, lime, and cumin if you intend to go to the beach, get tanned in a booth, or otherwise spend a lot of time out in the sun.
Topical applications should be done with careful consideration, too, as some undiluted essential oils may lead to skin irritation and itching when applied; some oils that have been diluted with moisturizing carrier oils may even still cause issues. Do a spot test before you apply essential oils to your skin, especially if you intend to use lemongrass, cinnamon leaf, citronella, and bay essential oils.
Some essential oils can be deadly when swallowed, such as pennyroyal and wintergreen. Some become highly irritating when they have been kept on the shelf for too long before they were ingested, while others can induce a miscarriage when taken orally.
Their effect on anxiety has also not been properly studied to warrant an endorsement. And their potential consequences on children and pregnant or breastfeeding women need more research, as does their other potential interaction with medications and other treatments. Finally, essential oils are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration.
A Brief History of Using Essential Oils
Human history is riddled with multiple milestones that trace the use of essential oils over the years, starting in Lascaux, in the Dordogne region of France. Cave paintings carbon dated as far back as 18,000 BCE indicated the use of medicinal plants. Then, in 4500 BCE in Egypt, aromatic oils were used; the most famous of these herbal concoctions was the “kyphi”, which was a blend of 16 ingredients used as incense, medicine, or perfume. Only priests were allowed to use these oils, and there was a special fragrance for each deity and their statues. Pharaohs also had their own special blends for various purposes such as love, meditation, and war.
In China, the first use of aromatic oils was recorded between 2697-2597 B.C.E, under the rule of Huang Ti, the Yellow Emperor. His book, “The Yellow Emperor’s Book of Internal Medicine” is still being used by eastern medicine practitioners and details the different purposes of aromatics. In India, traditional medicine Ayurveda features three millennia of using essential oils in their healing potions; in fact, it uses more than 700 substances such as myrrh, cinnamon, sandalwood, and ginger.
Around the 400-500 BCE, the Greeks adopted the use of essential oils from the Egyptians, and Ointment of Myrrh was carried by their soldiers into battles as a treatment for infections. The Greek physician Hippocrates also documented the healing benefits of some 300 plants such as saffron, marjoram, thyme, peppermint, and cumin. He also said that “a perfumed bath and a scented massage every day is the way to good health.” Another Greek physician that made use of plant medicine was Galen, who spent time as a surgeon at a school for gladiators. It was said that under his tenure, no gladiator died of his wounds.
In addition, the Romans lavishly used perfumed oils on their bedding, bodies, and clothes. They also used these oils in massages and baths. Similarly, in Persia, a child prodigy named Ali-Ibn Sana who became a physician at the age of 12 wrote books that extolled the effects of 800 plants on the human body; he was also credited with the distinction of being the first to record the methodologies for distilling essential oils and to this day, they are still in use.
In Europe, the Knights and their armies passed on their knowledge of herbal medicines and distillation derived from the Middle East to Western Europe and carried perfumes with them. During the Bubonic plague, frankincense and pine were burned in the streets to keep away “evil spirits”, with the direct effect that fewer people died of the plague in these areas. Then in 1653, Nicholas Culpeper wrote “The Complete Herbal”, which outlines various conditions and their herbal remedies. Finally, in 1928, French chemist Rene-Maurice Gattefosse published “Aromatherapie”, which covered the healing capacities of essential oils. He did this after accidentally discovering the healing properties of lavender essential oil, and from there, he and his colleague introduced the essential oil to several hospitals in France; during the Spanish influenza outbreak, there were no reported deaths of hospital personnel and it was all credited to lavender.
Types of Essential Oils
There are so many types of essential oils you can find on the market, but some of the most significant are:
Tea tree. Made from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia plant, tea tree essential oil is referred to as a ‘medicine cabinet in a bottle’ by many health experts. That is because it has antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, antibacterial, expectorant, stimulant, and insecticide properties. As thus, it can treat virtually any type of infection or disease, from warts to vaginal infections. However, it should never be taken internally and it must always be diluted with a carrier oil.
Rosemary. Rosemary essential oil offers antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer properties for the relief of respiratory issues, digestive problems, and other conditions. It can also be used in cosmetics and house cleaning, as it has a strong, beautiful smell. If you’re looking for a disinfectant, rosemary oil is also ideal. You may also add it to your aromatherapy session to improve mood swings and boost your memory. And when you combine a few drops of this oil with a carrier oil like tea tree oil, you can concoct a very powerful treatment.
Peppermint. Peppermint is said to be anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antispasmodic. It can treat digestive issues and other conditions, as well as ease mental issues like depression and anxiety. Additionally, it is useful for deterring rodents, cockroaches, and ants. And if you want DIY body care products and air fresheners, peppermint essential oil will be your friend.
Lavender. Used for a wide host of conditions, the lavender essential oil contains anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiseptic properties for the treatment of various issues including respiratory issues, insect bites, acne, and minor burns and wounds. Its delightful and calming smell is also associated with many physiological and psychological benefits, such as easing insomnia, anxiety, and low-grade depression. It is also effective in repelling mosquitoes when added to a carrier oil.
Chamomile. Chamomile has a long list of properties, such as an antibiotic, antiseptic, antibacterial, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, anti-infectious, analgesic, antidepressant, carminative, hepatic, and emmenagogue. When diffused, it can help ease stress, irritability, anxiety, and insomnia. It can also be used to treat premenstrual syndrome or PMS. And adding a few drops to a cream can alleviate burns, rashes, and sunburns.
Important Factors to Keep in Mind When Using Essential Oils
Who Shouldn’t Use Essential Oils?
Essential oils should also not be used in specific situations and by specific people. For starters, they should never be used on small pets; the only time they can be used is if your pet is very large, like a horse.
Additionally, they should not be used if you have pre-existing conditions such as asthma or heart problems. Only consider these oils if you are working with a trained aromatherapist.
Finally, essential oils may carry significant risks and complications for babies, pregnant women, and breastfeeding women. If they must be used at all, they should be heavily diluted. And some oils should never be used. These include:
- clary sage
- black pepper
- juniper; and
How To Manage the Use of Essential Oils
To make the most out of essential oils, there are a few tips that we should all do to remember. The first of these is to always use high-quality, 100% pure therapeutic-grade oils from reputable sources. You don’t want potentially harmful fillers in your oils, and it is always better to stay on top of potential unpleasant surprises.
If you notice adverse reactions during your use, it is also important to discontinue use. For instance, if you spot skin irritation or any type of discomfort, do not use your oil until you have talked to a medical professional or a trained aromatherapist. Also remember that using water if you’re in a tough situation with essential oils will not be able to help, as water will only drive the oil further in; use fractionated coconut oil or olive oil, instead.
In addition, always dilute your oil, especially if you are unsure whether you should. This is especially important if you intend to apply the oil topically to children’s skin or sensitive skin.
Finally, do not drink an essential oil if it has not been labeled safe for internal use.
When it comes down to it, essential oils promise a slew of magical benefits that can improve the quality of our lives. The fact that these oils have been in use for a very, very long time also attests to the credibility of their efficacy and should do a lot to assure those who doubt the power of essential oils that, yes, these products do deserve a chance.
However, that does not mean that one should go into the whole thing unprepared. There are plenty of reputable brands that offer essential oils but getting the best value out of your purchase requires knowing what you should. A good working knowledge of what you should look for, what you should expect, and what you should avoid will do a lot to give the most bang out of your buck.
In addition, if you are confused or unsure about anything, do not hesitate to ask a certified aromatherapist for guidance. And if you want complete peace of mind while you use essential oils, ask your doctor for supervision.