by Merle Gould

Feeling down during these dark days of winter?
Essential oils are powerful tools for lifting your spirits and healing your body. Did you know that essential oils were used in Europe as antibiotics before World War II? Antibiotics did not come into widespread use until the 1950’s. Before prescription pharmaceuticals, we had plants.

Aromatherapy offers us a return to an original and highly effective means of self care that treats the whole person. Essential oils stimulate the immune response and aid the body in fighting off disease.

What exactly are essential oils?

They are highly complex, organic chemical compounds extracted from plants.
Essential oils are like whole foods: the whole is more than the sum of their parts.
Each oil has up to 500 constituents working in synergy.
Essential oils are what give plants their odour and flavour.
They have anti-viral and anti-fungal properties for the plant and are thought to be the plant’s immune system. They help the plant to heal from wounds. They function in the same way for us: they purify the body, enhance the immune system and generate endorphins.

Many scientifically controlled trials have proven that essential oils protect us against microorganisms:

chamomile and eucalyptus kill staph; frankincense and myrrh heal deep wounds; lemon and thyme increase T-lymphocytes; juniper and rosemary detoxify the body.


Essential oils are affected by heat, light and air. Buy them in dark glass bottles from reputable sources and store them in the fridge. Buy small sizes because they interact with oxygen and lose their potency. Check production or expiry dates: most remain stable for 2 3 years; citrus, pine and rosemary oils go off in a year; certain resinous oils improve with age, such as frankincense, myrrh and sandalwood.


1. On the skin:

Make a 1% dilution massage oil by adding 1 drop of essential oil to each 5 ml. of carrier oil (sunflower, coconut, jojoba or almondif no nut sensitivities). Use in massage to relieve physical tension and mental stress.

Use ½% dilution for the very young, very old and very sick: 1 drop of essential oil to 10 ml. of carrier oil.

Lavender and/or chamomile and/or bergamot for eczema
Rosemary and/or eucalyptus and/or marjoram for sore muscles.

2. Baths:

For relaxation, insomnia, sore muscles, put 8 10 drops of essential oil into the water as it is running. Agitate well before soaking. Relax in tub for 15 minutes; rest afterwards for 30 minutes.
Suggestions: choose one of marjoram, lavender, juniper or chamomile.

3. Inhalation:

This is the pathway for fighting infections.
Make a steam inhalation for bronchitis, sinusitis, colds: pour very hot water into a large bowl. Add 2 3 drops of one of lavender, eucalyptus or tea tree oil. Use a small towel over the bowl to control the amount of steam. Cover your head and the bowel with a thick towel and inhale for 5 minutes. Keep eyes closed. Rest for twice as long as you were inhaling.

4. Environmental Fragrancing:

This method will mainly affect the brain and enhance mood. Smell is the most acute of all our senses and arouses memory, emotions and sexuality.

Put 25 drops of any of the following essential oils into a 125 ml. spray bottle filled with pure water. Shake and spray. Also effective for purifying sick rooms of airborne bacteria.
Use an electric pump diffuser to create a mood.
Simply put a couple of drops onto a tissue and inhale for colds or mood change.

My favourites:
Lavender for balancing mood and relieving headache
Marjoram for loneliness
Bergamot/neroli/grapefruit for anxiety and depression
Frankincense/myrrh/sandalwood for meditation and tension
Rose/ylang ylang for anger
Rose/frankincense for grief or loss.


Do not overuse any oil and rotate them to allow the body to clear them.
Citrus oils are photosensitzers; do not use on sun-exposed skin.
Do not use essential oils on broken or irritated skin.
Pregnant women, young children and those with serious medical conditions should consult with a health care professional about the safe use of essential oils.
Remember that “less is more.” Essential oils are highly concentrated medicines. They can cause skin irritation, liver toxicity and central nervous system damage. They are safe when used in low dilutions.
The rare exceptions are the undiluted use of lavender on burns and insect bites, and tea tree oil on cuts, herpes and fungus.
NEVER take them internally, unless supervised by a health care professional.

Note: Aromatherapy plays only a supportive role in the management of serious disease.


Buy only the highest grade organic or wild crafted pure essential oils from reliable dealers. Non-organic oils are contaminated by pesticides and herbicides.

Many essential oils on the market are adulterated or synthetic.

The Aromatherapist ensure that their oils are extracted from healthy plants thriving in their natural habitat, using low heat and slow distillation so that the therapeutic constituents and delicate subtle properties of the oils remain intact. They must be harvested at the correct time of the season and the correct time of day. The oils must then be carefully stored, protected from heat and light.

Make sure the company has lab tests ensuring potency! Most companies do not, so beware!

Buying pure organic oils guarantees their therapeutic qualities and supports sustainable agriculture.
One final note: always test the oil to make sure it’s odour is pleasing to you. Part of the benefit of using essential oils comes from enjoying it. The Aromatherapist Oils are now available through Forever Healthy by phone or e-mail inquiry

Recommended reading

“Aromatherapy: An A – Z” by Patricia Davis
  Buy it on
“The Aromatherapy Workbook” by Shirley Price
Buy it on
“The Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy” by Chrissie Wildwood

This article by Merle Gould was exclusively written for Forever Healthy, February 2002. Merle Gould is a certified aromatherapist, reflexologist and reiki master. She is available for consulting through Forever Healthy at 416-962-4400 or