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A Comprehensive Guide to Herbal Oils

By Caitlin Potere  •   3 minute read

A Comprehensive Guide to Herbal Oils


What is an herbal oil?

An herbal oil is a special preparation where dried medicinal herbs are steeped in oil and strained after a number of weeks.  The resulting oil has been imbued with the healing properties of the herb and can be used topically (rubbed into the skin) for a variety of ailments.  The herbs used vary – most people choose to infuse one herb at a time, but some others like to mix several herbs together for a “compound” oil.  The oil used varies as well.  The most common oil used is extra virgin olive oil because it has a long shelf life and has many therapeutic benefits on its own.  Other common oils include coconut, almond, grapeseed, sunflower, castor, jojoba, shea, cocoa butter, or rosehip seed.

What can an herbal oil be used for?

The use depends a lot on what herb is used.  In general, they are used to relieve pain, prevent infection, reduce swelling, and speed healing of wounds and injuries.  Other uses include aromatherapy, anointing, massage, as well as general moisturizing and skin care.

How is an herbal oil used?

Herbal oils are for topical use only, which means they should applied only to the skin and never ingested.  One big consideration when using oils is that the potential for them to stain your clothing and bedsheets.  Use with care and wipe off any excess oil before putting clothes on.

 There are several ways to use herbal oils in your daily life:

  • Massage into an area using clean hands
  • Use a clean cotton ball to dab onto open wounds
  • Compress: Apply oil to a clean cotton swab or cotton cloth, lay it over the affected area, and cover it with plastic wrap to prevent clothes from getting oily. Works great for closed wounds and joint pain.  Change every 4-6 hours.
  • Massage into face or skin as a general moisturizer, especially right out of the bath or shower
  • Apply an aromatic oil to pulse points for aromatherapy benefits (typically made with spicy or fragrant herbs like Chamomile, Lavender, Peppermint, Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, etc.)

Which one should I get?

Trauma Oil (Product Page Link)
If you’re on the fence and would like to start with one, I would recommend Trauma Oil by Herb Pharm.  It’s a combination of three common infused oils: Calendula, Arnica, and St. John’s Wort.  It’s a really powerful combination and makes a great addition to any medicine chest.

Arnica Oil (Product Page Link)
Traditionally used for blunt trauma, closed injuries to soft tissue, general pain, soreness and bruises.  Do not use on open wounds.  An excellent massage oil for sore muscles after over doing it – whether from gardening, a work out or a home improvement project.

Calendula Oil (Product Page Link)
Traditionally used on scrapes, cuts, burns, cat scratches, rashes, bug bites, and dry skin.  Works especially well on inflamed, minor wounds.  Think cat-scratch-like wounds where the skin has been abraded or ripped.

Comfrey Oil (Product Page Link)
Traditionally used for joint pain, wound healing, and deep bruising, especially bruises to the bone.  Do not use on puncture wounds.  Do not use on wounds before disinfecting them.  Best combined with Tea Tree Oil and Calendula Oil for open wounds.

Mullein Garlic Oil (Product Page Link)
Traditionally used to reduce pain and speed recovery from minor ear infection.  Warm oil gently and apply drop-wise into ear canal or massage into the base of the ear.

St. John’s Wort Oil (Product Page Link)
Traditionally used for nerve pain, injuries to nerve rich areas, burns, and wound healing.  As for nerve rich areas – think crushed fingers and toes, blows to the hands and feet, bruised tailbone, etc.  It can also be used on the area surrounding an incision to help reduce pain.

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