Use in Aromatherapy


Essential oils are often used in massaging and aromatherapy.  This is a form of alternative medicine that employs plant extracts to support health and well-being. They are not meant to be eaten or swallowed.


Essential oils


These oils are compounds extracted from plants. The oils capture the plant’s scent and flavor, or “essence.”  the aromatic compounds of each species give each extraction oil its characteristic essence.


Most common essential oils




Oils are obtained through distillation (steam) or mechanical methods, such as cold pressing. Once the aromatic chemicals have been extracted, they are combined with a carrier oil (usually sweet almond oil) to create a product that’s ready for use.

Diagram of a basic steam distillation


The way the oils are made is important, as essential oils obtained through chemical processes are not considered true essential oils.


Antique copper distillers for making essential oils





The chemicals in essential oils can interact with your body in several ways. When applied to the skin, some will be directly absorbed – with very specific responses.  Think mint, wintergreen, menthol, or camphor.

Inhaling the aromas will also stimulate your limbic system.  This the part of your brain that plays a role in emotions, behaviors, sense of smell, and long-term memory. It also controls several physiological functions, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.  Some people claim that essential oils can exert a beneficial physical effect on your body.


Primary Essential oils found in plant cells


Agar oil or oodh,  made from (Aquilaria malaccensis). Highly prized for its fragrance.

Ajwain oil, distilled from the leaves of (Carum copticum). Oil contains 35-65% thymol.

Angelica root oil, distilled from the Angelica archangelica.

Anise oil, from the Pimpinella anisum, rich odor of licorice, used medicinally.

Asafoetida, used medicinally and to flavor food.

Balsam of Peru, used in food, drink for flavoring, in perfumes and toiletries for fragrance.

Basil oil is used in making perfumes, as well as in aromatherapy

Bay oil is used in perfumery; also for sprains, colds, flu, insomnia, rheumatism.

Bergamot oil, used in aromatherapy and in perfumes.

Black Pepper essential oil is distilled from the berries of Piper nigrum.

Buchu oil, made from the buchu shrub. Considered toxic and no longer widely used.

Birch is aromatheapeutic for gout, Rheumatism, Eczema, Ulcers.

Camphor is used for cold, cough, fever, rheumatism, and arthritis

Cannabis flower, used as a flavoring in foods, candy and beverages. Also used as a scent.

Caraway oil, used as a flavoring in foods, in mouthwashes, and toothpastes.

Cardamom seed oil, used in aromatherapy and other medicinal applications.

Carrot seed oil (essential oil), used in aromatherapy.

Cedarwood oil, primarily used in perfumes and fragrances.

Chamomile oil, only two are used in aromatherapy- Roman and German.

Calamus Root, used medicinally

Cinnamon oil, used for flavoring and medicinally.


Citronella oil, used as an insect repellent, as well as medicinally.

Clary Sage

Clove leaf oil, used as a topical anesthetic to relieve dental pain.

Coffee, used to flavor food.


Costmary oil (bible leaf oil), from the Tanacetum balsamita.

Costus Root, used medicinally

Cranberry seed oil, high in omega-3 omega-6 fatty acids, used in the cosmetic industry.

Cubeb, used medicinally and to flavor foods.

Cumin oil/Black seed oil, used as a flavor, particularly in meat products.



Curry leaf, used medicinally and to flavor food.

Davana oil, from the Artemisia pallens, used as a perfume ingredient and as a germicide.

Dill oil, chemically almost identical to caraway seed oil. High carvone content.

Elecampane, used medicinally.

Eucalyptus oil, historically used as a germicide. Commonly used in cough medicine.

Fennel seed oil, used medicinally, particularly for treating colic in infants.

Fenugreek oil, used medicinally and for cosmetics from ancient times.


Frankincense oil, used for aromatherapy and in perfumes.

Galangal, used medicinally and to flavor food.



Geranium oil, used medicinally, in aromatherapy, used for hormonal imbalance.

Ginger oil, used medicinally in many cultures.


Grapefruit oil, from the peel of the fruit. Used in aromatherapy. Contains 90% limonene.

Henna oil, used medicinally.


Hickory nut oil

Horseradish oil


Idaho Tansy

Jasmine oil, used for its flowery fragrance.

Juniper berry oil, used as a flavor. Also used medicinally, including traditional medicine.

Laurus nobilis

Lavender oil, used primarily as a fragrance. Also used medicinally.


Lemon oil, similar in fragrance to the fruit, usually cold pressed.

Lemongrass. A highly fragrant grass from India used to help treat fevers and infections.

Lime, anti septic, anti viral, astringent, aperitif, bactericidal, disinfectant, febrifuge.

Litsea cubeba oil, lemon-like scent, often used in perfumes and aromatherapy.




Melaleuca See Tea tree oil

Melissa oil (Lemon balm), sweet smelling oil used particularly in aromatherapy.

Mentha arvensis oil, Mint, used in flavoring, mouthwashes and pharmaceutical.

Mountain Savory

Mugwort oil, used in ancient times for medicinal purposes. Now considered a neurotoxin.

Mustard oil (essential oil)

Myrrh oil, warm, slightly musty smell. Used medicinally.


Neem oil or Neem Tree Oil

Neroli is produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree.


Orange oil, like lemon oil, cold pressed rather than distilled. Consists of 90% d-Limonene.

Oregano oil, contains thymol and carvacrol, making it a useful fungicide.

Orris oil is extracted from the roots of the Florentine iris and used as a flavoring agent.

Palo Santo

Parsley oil, used in soaps, detergents, colognes, cosmetics and especially men’s fragrances.

Patchouli oil, very common ingredient in perfumes.

Perilla essential oil, extracted from the leaves of the perilla plant.

Peppermint oil, used in a wide variety of medicinal applications.


Pine oil, used as a disinfectant, and in aromatherapy.


Red Cedar

Roman Chamomile

Rose oil, distilled from rose petals, Used primarily as a fragrance.

Rosehip oil, distilled from the seeds of the Rosa rubiginosa. Used medicinally.

Rosemary oil, from the flowers of Rosmarinus officinalis. Used topically to sooth muscles.

Rosewood oil, used primarily for skin care applications. Also used medicinally.

Sage oil, used medicinally.

Sandalwood oil, used primarily as a fragrance, for its pleasant, woody fragrance.

Sassafras oil, from sassafras root bark. Used in soap-making, perfumes, and Root beer.

Savory oil, from Satureja. Used in aromatherapy, cosmetic and soap-making applications.

Schisandra oil, from Schisandra chinensis, used medicinally.

Spearmint oil, often used in flavoring mouthwash and chewing gum.

Spikenard, used medicinally.

Spruce has calming properties. Used as a topical application for muscular aches and pains.

Star anise oil, highly fragrant oil using in cooking, perfumery, soaps, and toothpaste.


Tarragon oil, distilled from Artemisia dracunculus, used medicinally.

Tea tree oil, from Melaleuca; used medicinally, with limited show of effectiveness.

Thyme oil, used medicinally.

Tsuga, It is used as analgesic, antirheumatic, blood cleanser, and stimulant.

Turmeric, used medicinally and to flavor food

Valerian is used for insomnia, migraines, nervous dyspepsia, and dandruff.

Vetiver oil a thick, amber oil, from India. Used as a fixative in perfumery.

Western red cedar

Wintergreen, used as an analgesic, anodyne, anti rheumatic & anti arthritic.

Yarrow oil is used medicinally, to relieve joint pain

Ylang-ylang is used for calming, antiseptic, and aphrodisiac purposes.

Zedoary, used medicinally and to flavor food


My favorites


Growing up in the tropics – this was my all time favorite – Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata)

I never made any essential oil from it – but I did enjoyed the fragrance !


oh ! This one too !


Night blooming jasmine (Cestrum nocturnum)

Intoxicating is an understatement


If you want some of these plants in your garden

Call Plant Specialists TODAY !

We have experts that know which will grow in your garden

– and we can care for them as well !

Don’t delay – the sooner the better !





Article written by our Staff Horticulturist, Peter B Morris, BSc, MSc, MBA

All photographs used with permission @SHUTTERSTOCK