Essential oils are becoming an accepted alternative health product to have in your home and first aid kit. They offer a wide range of benefits, from preventing and treating infections to deterring flies and helping you sleep.

You can add a dash of holistic health to your life by incorporating some of these oils in your day-to-day routines.

  1. Manuka oil

The cousin of the Australian tea tree plant (Leptospermum laevigatum), manuka (Leptospermum scoparium) is the NZ native essential oil. Incredibly versatile, it is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial, plus it helps with healing and scar reduction. You can use it to treat anything from cuts and insect bites, through to acne and body odour.

As well as being potent, manuka oil is gentle on your skin. Easily applied as an ointment, such as ManukaRX, it may alleviate rashes and dermatitis, and it also prevents infection of any rash or wound. Manuka oil anti-inflammatory, so apply some on itchy eczema and provide relief as well as speeding up healing.

  1. Lavender oil

This is another oil that can help with a multitude of issues. A few drops in a bath or onto a pillowslip can help ease tension, aid sleep and alleviate headaches. To keep insects away and your clothes smelling fresh, you can add a few drops to sachets in drawers or wardrobes.

Lavender oil is also is anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. It’s best used with a carrier oil for minor injuries and skin irritations.

  1. Eucalyptus

One of the strongest smelling oils, Eucalyptus is fantastic for clearing blocked noses and chest congestion. It may help asthma sufferers, although it could be wise to try this out in small doses first in case it irritates the lungs. Eucalyptus is also a great disinfectant, plus it helps to deter insects. Use in your benchtop cleaning routine and say goodbye to flies.

  1. Chamomile

A calming cup of chamomile tea soothes and calms; it’s the perfect beverage after a long, stressful day. The oil has similar properties and can be used as a sleep aide or to help people suffering from anxiety to relax. Using chamomile oil in a diffuser may help calm hyperactive children. It also is very gentle and can be used directly on the skin to treat a number of skin complaints, including rashes, stings, bites and bruises.

  1. Clove

Best known for its use with dental issues, diluted clove oil on cotton wool can be used to relieve pain from toothache, gum disease and cold sores.

It also can be used to remove or deter fleas. If you have pets, add a few drops to baking soda and sprinkle over your carpet before vacuuming.

  1. Citrus

Both grapefruit and lemon essential oils are great antibacterial agents, but will make your skin photosensitive. If you apply the oils to your skin, ensure you stay out of the sun for 12 to 24 hours after application.

Cats don’t like citrus, so a little oil diluted in water and sprayed onto upholstered furniture will dissuade them from using it as a scratch post. Be limited in your use though, as you don’t want your cat to be repelled enough to leave home!

Citrus oils are also excellent anti-bacterial cleaners, making them ideal for use in the kitchen. In particular, lemon can bleach timber and the acidity will erode some protective surfaces, so consider this before application.