Building your Home Apothecary – the Essentials and Beyond
There are hundreds of essential oils, and much of the fun of aromatherapy is exploring the variety of oils available from around the world. To quickly get you started with a home practice, let’s look at 9 essential essential oils that by having in your aromatherapy cabinet, you can make blends to suit any energetic or healing need. You can even pair this down further by choosing only 1 oil in each category of Top, Middle and Base, for a total of just 3 oils to get started. Having more oils opens up possibilities for creativity and complexity, but we all have to start somewhere, so please don’t feel overwhelmed by a long shopping list to get started. Even just buying one oil and diving in is a great place to begin!
Among the list to follow, you can create blends that benefit skin, lungs, nervous system, energy and mood. This starter set fairly represents Top, Middle and Base notes, it covers the energetic properties of calming, clearing, grounding and energizing, as well as represents each part of the plant from which essential oils are extracted for best energetic blending.
To start with a set of 9, I’m recommending 3 Top, 3 Middle and 3 Base notes. You may also decide to just choose one of each, which is fine too. So grab your pen and paper if you plan to jot down this list and let’s get started.
Here are my 3 must-have Top Notes:
- Sweet Orange – this Monoterpene is made from the peel, for detox and energy
- Eucalyptus – Oxide, from the leaf, a stimulant and tonic
- Lemon Myrtle – Aldehyde, a leaf, energizing and cleansing
Now let’s look at 3 essential Middle Notes:
- Rosemary – this complex essential oil has Ketones, monoterpenes and oxides, a flowering plant, analgesic – helping with pain – anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, digestive tonic, stimulating…all around amazing oil!
- Tea Tree – this Monoterpenol from leaves is anti-bacterial, decongestant and offers immune support
- Lavender – considered a Top/Middle, Lavender is a flower with both Esters and Monoterpenols. It’s many people’s favorite oil, with properties of mood balancing, skin healing and anti-inflammatory effects.
Finally, let’s look at 3 key Base Notes to have in your home apothecary:
- Frankincense – a gum/resin with mostly monoterpenes, this oil is grounding yet expansive, it increases mental focus and mood and is deeply healing. It’s also an analgesic, helping with pain, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. A must-have oil!
- Sandalwood – from wood, this sacred oil has sesquiterpenols which bring skin healing and anti-inflammatory effects, as well as grounding and calming energies.
- Vetiver – this root oil has ketones, sesquiterpenes and sesquiterpenols and is known to support the root chakra with grounding energy, and is also an anti-depressive that supports our circulatory and immune systems.
Now that we have our top 9 essentials, let’s look at taking our oil inventory to the next level. We’ll explore 21 more oils to add creativity, complexity and options to your blending life.
Here are the next Top Notes I recommend – there are 6 of them, mostly citrus notes that add energy and beauty to all blends:
- Bergamot, from the bergamot citrus fruit peel – a monoterpene citrus from the peel
- Peppermint – a monoterpenol leaf with fresh, respiratory benefits
- Lime – a monoterpene citrus, adding complexity and depth
- Pink Grapefruit – a monoterpene citrus that blends beautifully with everything!
- Spike Lavender – a ketone flower – a sharp, fresh note
- Yuzu – monoterpenol citrus with a heavenly sweet smell
Middle Notes – there are 10 here, with plenty of chemical healing properties and rich, beautiful scents to add complexity to your blends:
- Black Pepper – a sesquiterpene dried fruit – much more delicate than the table pepper we eat, it actually adds a wonderful softening to many blends
- Cardamom– middle/base Ether, this oil is a carminative – meaning it’s helpful with digestion and 3rd chakra imbalances – made from dried fruit, it adds a bit of sweet spice to blends.
- Clary Sage – a leaf/flower bud, Ester – smells divine, with skin-healing properties
- Geranium Rose – ester and monoterpenol, leaf – must-have in facial products, smells amazing
- Helichrysum italicum – there are several Helichrysums with different chemical profiles, this flower has Esters and is a must-have for its skin healing blends
- Ho Wood – one of my very favorite woods, this sweet and ethereal scent is a must-have in my cabinet. It’s both uplifting and relaxing. Monoterpenol from leaves/twigs and branches
- Marjoram, Sweet – this flowering plant/herb has monoterpenes and monoterpenols, and blends wonderfully with other leaves like Rosemary, Peppermint and Tea Tree.
- Petitgrain – this Ester is beautiful in skin treatments, with calming, uplifting, expansive and anti-inflammatory properties. Smells sharp and fresh, a wonderful addition to wake up any blend. It’s made from the leaves of the bitter Orange tree!
- Roman Chamomile – this Ester flower is known to relieve pain and bring a sense of overall wellbeing.
- Rose damenscena (ie, Rose Otto) – this sublime flower is a monoterpenol, and considered the quintessential flower essence by many. This beautiful scent is as beloved as it is healing.
- Just a side note here: true Rose essential oil takes 2,000 petals to extract 1 single drop, so very few of us will purchase the true Rose essential oil without dilution. If you see “rose oil” sold online it is likely a chemical fragrance oil, not true essential oil, which will run in the hundreds of dollars for small quantities. So what I use – and this works quite well – is true rose essential oil diluted in Jojoba. The scent and chemicals diffuse into the jojoba and you then use this as your essential oil. It’s much more affordable and allows you to use true Rose essential oil in your remedies, not a synthetic version that may smell great but offers no therapeutic benefit.