From enhancing mood and improving cognitive abilities to helping relieve symptoms of infection and heartburn, essential oils have a host of benefits. As a pharmacist and holistic pharmacologist, I combine essential oils to address specific health concerns, such as insomnia, inflammation, digestive issues and dental health, as well as create custom blends for my clients.

These are the top eight essential oils I recommend to improve your health. For all of these oils (except oregano oil), I recommend diffusing the oil into the air with an aromatic diffuser. You can also place a few drops of the oil into a pot of steaming water, position your face over the pot, close your eyes, cover your head with a towel and inhale the steam.

dried herbs and essential oils

1. Lemon

Lemon is the first essential oil I was exposed to as a teenager. This oil is extremely high in limonene, which helps reduce symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD, aka heartburn) as well as help dissolve gallstones. Also, case studies have demonstrated anti-tumor effects using D-limonene in patients with advanced cancer.

lemon essential oil and lemon fruit on the wooden board

2. Rosemary

Rosemary caught my interest as a child, since we had a rosemary bush in our front yard. Aromatic terpene molecules found in rosemary essential oil, including 1,8-cineole, have been studied in clinical trials and show enhancement of cognitive abilities, such as memory, focus and concentration. Rosemary also works as a digestive aid, to reduce headaches and to stimulate the healing of the lungs when you have a cold.

A bottle of rosemary essential oil

3. Peppermint

Peppermint is a landmark essential oil that's relatively inexpensive and has a wide range of therapeutic applications. Peppermint is an uplifting essence commonly used to reduce brain fog and relieve headaches. This essential oil also helps to settle an upset stomach, reduce bloating and gas and is great for massage if diluted in carrier oil, such as almond oil.

fresh peppermint leaves and Peppermint essential oil in the amber glass bottle

4. Clove Bud

Clove bud has potent anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Clove has been used in dental offices for decades as an anesthetic for teeth and gums. This oil can be irritating for the skin, so I recommend diluting the oil to less than 0.5 percent and patch testing (use on a small area and wait one hour for negative reactions) before considering using it topically.

Essential clove oil

5. Turmeric

Touted for its immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory and pain-modulating properties, this powerful anti-oxidant is a timeless spice revered in Indian culture. I like to blend turmeric oil with body lotions to reduce joint pain. However, given its bright-orange color, you need to be careful not to stain your clothes.

Turmeric essential oil

6. Coffee Bean

If you love the smell of a fresh coffee in the morning, you'll love this one. With this essence, you can experience that energizing sensation all day (without the afternoon caffeine crash). The CO2 extract contains caffeine, stimulating the nervous system, energizing the body and lifting your mood. This also makes a great skin toner and may be dropped into a bath or added to lotion.

essential oil of coffee beans on a wooden background
Andrii Pohranychnyi/iStock/GettyImages

7. Black Cumin

Commonly known as black seed oil, black cumin is a powerful essence with more than 100 pharmacologically active components and anti-microbial properties. Black cumin seed extract is commonly used topically to reduce symptoms of skin conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema, especially by physicians in India. This extract can also be inhaled to reduce inflammation of the lungs for asthma.

Nigella flower with seeds and essential oil

8. Oregano

Oil of oregano helps fight colds and flu, offers potent anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties and has anti-inflammatory properties to provide relief from an upset stomach. But be advised that regular use ingestion may negatively affect the gut flora over time and should only be considered after discussing with a physician or clinical aromatherapist.

To use, first, dilute this oil to less than 2.5 percent. Then, if taken internally, take a capsule to decrease irritation of the throat and stomach. And if you’re using this oil topically, do a skin patch test first. To create a tonic, place a couple drops of oil into a steaming 16-ounce cup of water. Wait 10 to 15 minutes to allow the oil to evaporate. Mix with almond milk, lemon, cayenne and honey to taste.

A bottle of oregano essential oil

What Do YOU Think?

Do you use essential oils? What are some of your favorites? Did any make the list? Are there others you would add? Share your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!

Aroma oil diffuser, candles and flowers on table