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The Best Essential Oils to Spruce Up Your Life

The best essential oils are made from large quantities of herbal ingredients. Each product type has specific uses for the mind and body.

A drop of oil trickling down the tip of a dropper into a brown glass bottle.

Did you know that a large quantity of herbal ingredients is required to produce some of the best essential oils? For example, only a pound of oil can be yielded from 250 pounds of lavender and 5,000 pounds of lemon balm, respectively. It comes as no surprise then, that some of the best essential oils cost an arm and a leg to buy. 

In retrospect, the product has been around for a long time, but only favoured by people who subscribe to a belief in alternative medicine. However, over the last few years, the purported health benefits of essential oils have been made known to the general public. As a result, demand for specific types and the quantity available in the mainstream market have increased significantly.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) likens the aromatic and therapeutic properties of essential oils to those of fragrant herbal ingredients. These include the ability to: 

  • Circulate qi (vital life force) 
  • Open up the sensory orifices 

Read on to discover the different product types, their benefits, and the natural substitutes that can be used to achieve the same health outcomes.

Chamomile Oil

Chamomile oil
Try applying chamomile oil directly to the skin, as it’s more effective than drinking it in the form of tea.

Roman chamomile oil provides more health benefits than drinking its tea. Some of these include:  

Lavender Oil

Lavender oil can be used in aromatherapy by adding it to a bath or diffuser. You can add it to water to make an air freshener or a body spritzer. Regular use of the oil can: 

  • Provide antioxidative effects 
  • Help you better manage diabetes symptoms 
  • Help reduce stress and improve your overall mood 
  • Relieve pain and headaches 
  • Enhance brain function 
  • Enhance skin and hair health 
  • Help treat burns or cuts (when used as an antiseptic) 
  • Help treat fungal infections 
  • Be used as a complementary therapy for cancer 

TCM cites that lavender oil benefits the hair and skin. It promotes cell regeneration, thus helping with scar removal and hair nourishment.

In addition, it regulates skin oil production and helps to relieve pain and eczema symptoms. It also lowers blood pressure and induces a calming effect on the mind.

Lemon Oil

Two whole lemons, a lemon half with a peel spiral, and a brown glass bottle containing a liquid on a wooden table.
Lemon oil is one of the best essential oils for enhancing your skin’s beauty.

Lemon peel can be extracted and turned into an oil that can be diffused or applied topically to the skin. The oil may help: 

  • Treat fungal infections 

A study has found that aromatherapy with lemon oil benefits the cognitive abilities of people with Alzheimer’s disease. However, there are reports that the oil increases skin sensitivity to sunlight, putting you at risk of sunburn, so use it with caution.

In the purview of TCM, it has whitening effects, can treat seborrhoea, and helps remove dead skin and callouses. Like lavender oil, it may help improve blood circulation and digestion, as well as prevent flu and infections, control blood pressure, and soothe headaches.

Patchouli Oil

Extracted from the dried leaves and stems of the patchouli (guang huo xiang, 广藿香) plant, the essential oil can help with the following: 

  • Calm inflammation 
  • Combat depression 
  • Control appetite 
  • Alleviate a fever 
  • Stop fungal growth 
  • Address skin conditions 
  • Fortify the immune system 
  • Be used as a natural deodorant 
  • Be used as a natural insect repellent 
  • Strengthen hair and clear dandruff 
  • Stimulate the production of oestrogen, testosterone, dopamine, and serotonin hormones 

TCM states that patchouli oil can correct symptoms associated with Spleen and stomach disorders.

“When Dampness accumulates in the organ systems, you may be prone to abdominal pain, diarrhoea, and a summer-heat (中暑)-related headache. Patchouli oil is naturally fragrant and can dissolve Dampness and regulate stomach imbalances. It can be used to ease Dampness-related symptoms,” explains Eu Yan Sang Physician Kwek Le Yin.

Peppermint Oil

Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil is great for relieving stress and headaches.

A hybrid of the water mint and spearmint, peppermint (bo he, 薄荷) was first documented by a Swedish botanist named Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The oil extracted from the plant is commonly used for fatigue, and headaches and to uplift mood.  

It possesses antifungal, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties and can relieve stomach spasms – a sign of irritable bowel syndrome. Be mindful to dilute the oil before applying it to your skin.

Licensed TCM practitioners also advocate using peppermint oil for stress relief and headaches. Similarly, it may be used to relieve digestive system issues like bloating, nausea, and diarrhoea.

Peppermint oil has the ability to clear Heat, Wind, and sensory orifices. Because of this, it may help soothe throat pain, moderate the Liver organ system, and support qi circulation.

Traditional Herbs and Remedies That Provide Similar Benefits to Essential Oils

Man and woman in bath robes sitting down while soaking their feet in wooden foot baths.
A foot bath allows herbal remedies to enter the circulatory system through skin pores.

Foot bath therapy that incorporates the use of herbal ingredients is a suitable alternative to aromatherapy. Scientific studies show that specific reflex zones on the feet correspond directly to different organs in the body.

Soaking the feet in warm water activates zones that promote blood circulation and endocrine system regulation. Heat stimulation opens the skin pores, enabling herbal concoctions to enter the circulatory system.

Separately, you may want to use a supplement containing red yeast rice and deodorised natto powder to attain increased blood circulation and maintain general wellness.  

Foot bath therapy will bring balance to your body constitution. It may also boost the physiological functions of various organs, which helps with disease cure and prevention.


Also known as the “King of Oils”, frankincense (ru xiang, 乳香) is a resin derived from the trunk of the Boswellia tree. Frankincense can be used to accelerate injury recovery and ease menstrual cramps by improving blood circulation. 



Myrrh (mo yao, 没药) is a gum resin extracted from a tree scientifically known as Commiphora myrrha. Soaking your feet in a bath that contains myrrh dissolves blood clots, assists in wound healing, and lessens swelling and pain.

It can also soothe skin irritation and help with reducing the appearance of ageing and fine lines if used daily.


Adding cardamom (bai dou kou, 白豆蔻) to a foot bath resolves Dampness and supports qi circulation. It can improve appetite and relieve nausea, bloating, and abdominal pain.

Rose flower buds

A staple of TCM, rose flower buds (mei gui hua, 玫瑰花) can soothe the Liver, and tonify and circulate qi. It exerts a relaxing effect on the mind, helping with stress management, and overcoming anger and sadness.

It’s important to understand how essential oils are used before choosing the best ones for you. Speaking to a clinical physician and TCM practitioner will also help you identify the oils to avoid, especially if you’re pregnant or have low blood pressure.


  1. Cleveland Clinic. 2021. 11 Essential Oils: Their Benefits and How To Use Them. [online] [Accessed 21 November 2022]
  2. Dr. Axe. 2016. Roman Chamomile Essential Oil Benefits & Uses. [online] [Accessed 21 November 2022]
  3. Dr. Axe. 2021. 10 Lavender Oil Benefits for Major Diseases and Minor Ailments. [online] [Accessed 21 November 2022]
  4. Dr. Axe. 2018. Reduce Depression & Inflammation with Patchouli Oil. [online] [Accessed 21 November 2022]




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