Mixing and matching essential oils

Each has a distinct use

The essential oil most commonly used is lavender, says Julia Meadows, LMT, an aromatherapist in Ojai, CA, who is public relations director for the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy in Seattle. "Lavender is a broad-spectrum oil with almost universal benefits in treatment. Its clean fresh aroma is well-liked by both male and female patients, and it is a soothing oil with excellent effects on the nervous system," she says.

Other common essential oils are rosemary and eucalyptus, which are used for their stimulating effects and to treat respiratory disorders. Grapefruit and sweet orange are good oils to diffuse in institutional settings because they are well-liked by patients and residents for their sweet, familiar, uplifting aromas and their psycho-aromatherapeutic properties, says Meadows. Rose oil and geranium are classic oils for treating women who have menstrual cramps.

"If a patient is taking a particular medication, they may wish their doctor to be aware of their therapy to ensure that there are no contraindications involved in the use of a particular essential oil," says Meadows.

Following is a short list of essential oils, with a description of each oil’s aroma and some of its uses:

• Anise.

Has a rich, sweet scent of licorice. Often used for bronchitis, colds, coughs, and muscle aches.

• Bay.

Has a fruity, spicy herbaceous aroma. Often used for hair care, oily skin, poor circulation, and sprains.

• Jasmine.

Has a floral, exotic aroma. Often used for depression, dry skin, labor pains, and sensitive skin.

• Lavender.

Has a fresh, sweet floral scent. Often used for anxiety, burns, cuts, headache, scars, sores, stress, and stretch marks.

• Nutmeg.

Has a spicy, sweet, woody aroma. Often used for constipation, fatigue, nausea, poor circulation, and slow digestion.

• Parsley.

Has a herbaceous, woody aroma. Often used for griping pains, indigestion, and rheumatism.

• Pine, scotch.

Has a fresh, woody, earthy aroma. Often used for colds, coughing, rheumatism, and sinusitis.

• Spearmint.

Has a minty, slightly fruity aroma. Often used for exhaustion, fever, headache, nausea, and vertigo.