By Kaysi Contreras

Inspired by summer’s impending arrival, we offer this quick guide to Summer’s Best Essential Oils. Hopefully this quick read will help you incorporate a few key essential oils (EO’s) into your natural medicine tool belt as you pack up for road trips, hop on airplanes, head out to festivals and parties, and stay up later to soak in the evening summer light!

Remember that essential oils are a very powerful, potent medicine where less is always more; in fact in France one must be a MD to administer EO’s! In this country, much education is still warranted as perhaps it was Pogostemon cablin(PATCHOULI) in the 1960’s, or Big Phama’s pernicious influence, but in the United States, aromatherapy is too often considered a fringe therapy and essential oils are not given the proper credence they are due. Fragrance and aroma are only one part of it (albeit a fantastic part) but there is a calculated chemistry at play in EO’s that makes for therapeutic results. A few examples? Reducing inflammation, calming muscles in a spasm, or relieving pain by swelling capillaries and enabling increased blood flow to travel to an injured part of the body.

The aroma aspect of how essential oils function has to do with the limbic part of our brain, which registers molecular information from the olfactory bulb located where the back of the nasal cavity meets the frontal cortex. It is important to realize that the limbic brain is the headquarters of the endocrine system (hormones) as well as memory and emotions. Hormones, Memory, and Emotions, Wow! More on this aspect of how EO’s effect the limbic brain in a future post, but I want to impress upon you that inhaling the complex chemical constituents found in one drop of any given essential oil can have distinct and palpable results. It can turn a grumpy car ride into a harmonious, pleasant one! It can transform car sickness into memory.

And let’s face it, the summertime “go-go-go” pace can sometimes be exhausting, so remember to slow down, keep the schedule simple, and enjoy the long days by lazing about outside by the river or by the sea, soaking up some Vitamin D, and simply doing nothing…except perhaps smelling your favorite essential oil! What follows is my best version of an Essential Oil Emergency Kit for Summer Vacations for you to bookmark, print, share, post, and enjoy!

Anything Skin Related: Lavendula angustifolia (LAVENDER) and Melaleuca alternifolia(TEATREE) are musts! If skin is broken, apply Teatree, 1-2 drops neat, and then apply Lavender 1-2 drops also neat on the tissue around the broken skin. This is your Neosporin! For burns, Lavender is invaluable. This is coming from first hand experience after hot dripping roasted marshmallow singed my daughter’s friends’ face at a birthday party. With immediate applications of Lavender, pain was diminished, and blistering prevented. With repeated applications along with fresh aloe, no scarring whatsoever. The herb Aloe Vera (ALOE) has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties and is cooling to burned skin and insect bites too. Lavender is also great for sunburn, apply 3-5 drops to soothing body lotion.

Sleep: Try a drop of Lavender, a sedative for the CNS (central nervous system) on your sleeping bag, on your scarf sitting on the plane, or apply topically 1-2 drops on the outer edge of the ears.

Swimmers’ Ear: Try 1 drop of Teatree on a cotton ball, and place in the ear. This anti-infectious immune boosting EO is one of the best for fungus-related issues as well like ringworm, or athletes foot. Try too on a tick, and the tick will release its latch and back out of the skin.

Flea and Tick Prevention: Try 3-5 drops of Teatree in your pet’s shampoo.

Bug Spray and Insect Repellent: Santalum spicatum (SANDALWOOD) is a pricey but effective ‘stop the itch’ EO. Teatree is also beneficial providing effective relief from itching caused by poison oak type rashes. Matricaria recutita (BLUE CHAMOMILE) or Chamaemelum nobile (ROMAN CHAMOMILE) both along with a couple drops of Lavender will ease irritated and inflamed itching bug-bit skin. For severe itching, try Mentha spicata (SPEARMINT). Make a spray with Mentha piperita (PEPPERMINT), Eucalyptus globulus (EUCALYPTUS) and especially Syzygium aromaticum (CLOVE BUD) for a good mosquito repellent. Topical applications of the herb Hamamelis virginiana (WITCH HAZEL) is also excellent for soothing insect bites, burns, and poison ivy and oak.

Motion Sickness and Digestive Ease: There is a reason Hildegarde Von Bingen, 12th century master herbalist, declared Foeniculum vulgare (FENNEL) as God’s greatest gift to humankind. Fennel is an amazing tonic for easing digestive upset, PMS, and is a beneficial detoxifier, especially after too much alcohol and food. Zingiber officinale (GINGER) calms hostile digestion and eases nausea and motion sickness; apply topically 2-3 drops directly to abdomen and rub in a clockwise motion looking down at your belly button, mirroring the path the intestines travel. Ginger will also ease bruises and sores, and is considered the best EO for diarrhea. Peppermint is a great EO for digestive upset also, but will have a tingling sensation applied neat to the skin, and can be too intense for children and the elderly, so always apply with a carrier oil: any massage oil, vitamin E oil, jojoba, or even olive oil! Avoid touching your eyes after using Peppermint.

Finding Balancing and Emotional Support: In the summer time when so much energy is externally directed, remember to take time to dig your hands into the earth, take a yoga class, or smell some Vetiveria zizanioides (VETIVER) to help ground you, anchor you, and stabilize the busy frenetic energy. Vetiver has a balancing effect on the CNS and helps defuse strong, troublesome emotions. Smell a citrus EO like Citrus x paradisi (GRAPEFRUIT) or Citrus sinensis (ORANGE) to bring smiles to all faces and to freshen up stale air. Grapefruit helps with jet lag, and both of these aromatic top notes dispel the moody blues. Combine Lavender and Orange, 5 drops each, into a 2 ounce spray bottle, top off with water, ideally distilled, and have a go-to spray for these desired effects. Make each kid their own spray bottle and watch the joy ensue! Juniperus virginiana (CEDARWOOD) and Lavender in a bath will sooth tired muscles after a long day in the garden, in the water, or on your hiking, and/or sight-seeing feet.

Lastly, remember less is more, always have a carrier oil along, and consult an essential oil therapist if you are pregnant.

Happy Solstice and Enjoy your summer respite.

As Hippocrates said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food.” He was, after all, talking plant medicine and essential oils are pure, delightful, and powerfully therapeutic examples of just that!