Essential Oils have made their way into our everyday lives. They are being used to help support our overall emotional and physical balance. Packed with diverse compounds, they are also replacing common household cleaners and beauty products. Oils are a powerful part of any plant and contain a multitude of medicinal properties that can have dramatic effects on a person’s world.

How can essential oils be used to treat ailments?

  • Emotional and Psychological Effects – The simple act of smelling an essential oil either directly from the bottle of via a diffuser in your room can help shift mood almost instantaneously. The olfactory system which is our smelling sensory system is the only sense that goes directly to the limbic brain. This is the system that affects memories, emotions and arousal. There is more and more fascinating research being done in this area. If you are interested in learning more about this here is a good article to get you going.
  • If applied topically or ingested they go into our blood stream. Our network of blood vessels ensures delivery of nutrients and hormones throughout the whole body. Components of the oils act on target tissues like a lock and key. The medicinal molecule (key) travels through the blood until it finds the appropriate tissue (lock) and when key and lock meet a physiological transformation occurs, giving us our desired effect.

How do essential oils affect us from a Chinese Medical perspective?

According to Chinese Medicine principals, all medicine has a certain resonance according to its temperature and flavour. This will dictate how it acts in the body.


  • Cold and cool contract and move down
  • Hot and warm – expand and move up


  • Pungent or acrid – moves out
  • Bitter – Descends
  • Sour – moves inward
  • Sweet – Moderates or stays and targets the middle of the body
  • Salty – Descends and moves to the Kidneys

Within this, each temperature and flavour dynamic will resonate with one of the 5 Elements (Water, Fire, Wood, Metal and Earth) which resonates with certain organ systems and parts of the body as well as particular physiological functions. When treating we look at the complexity that is arising within the person and meet that person with the best suited medicine according to the above theories.

Here’s a look at 5 of the most common essential oils and their Chinese Medicine resonance. If you are interested in learning more about Chinese Medicine and Essential Oils you can check out my online course found here.

Essential Oils

  • Lavender – I used to reject this oil because of its popularity, that was my ego wanting to be special and different. This beautiful floral scented oil deserves every bit of attention it has gotten over the past few decades. For some of the science behind Lavender Essential Oil click here.
    1. Its temperature is mildly cooling so you can use this long-term and it won’t have any major effects on the overall temperature dynamics of your system.
    2. Its flavour is floral and sweet so, it has an overall harmonizing effect on the body. It affects the middle and top parts of the body and therefore has a calming effect on the Liver and Heart.
  • Tea Tree – This little ditty is as important as lavender, in my opinion, to have on hand. It is by far one of the most widely used oils. Here is a link to some of the top uses and benefits of Tea Tree Essential Oil.
    1. Its slightly cooling temperature means that it will descend slightly. It’s not cold so it won’t penetrate deeply into the organs. This is consistent with its smell dynamic.
    2. Tea Tree has a camphorous smell which is like acrid or pungent, so it moves out. It is a top to middle note so it affects the upper and more superficial regions of the body.
    3. When we put this all together, Tea Tree is excellent at helping colds /flu’s or wounds as these are both considered to be disorders of the superficial layers of the body. The cooling helps with infection, so oozing or red swollen wounds and cold or flu of a hotter nature indicated by signs of infection – sore throat, yellow phlegm etc.
  • Peppermint – This cool and refreshing scent has the ability to wake up the senses instantaneously. It pairs nicely with Lemon to help refresh and revitalize.
    1. Peppermint oil is cooling and, of course, has a strong minty smell. This smell is almost spicy and has the ability to move Qi and wake things up!
    2. Peppermint Essential Oil is a top to middle note so it will affect the superficial layers of the body but also the middle. It is also wonderful for moving digestion that may be stuck and slow. As well, it can help with a cold that is of a hot and infectious nature.
  • Lemon – This versatile oil can be used topically, internally, for diffusing and for cleaning (for some easy DIY household cleaners using Lemon Essential Oil click here.) Its citrusy smell wakes up the senses and helps with digestion.
    1. Its cooling nature helps move heat in the system. It’s a top note and is, as you most likely know, yellow. This is the colour of the Earth element in Chinese Medicine which corresponds to our digestive system. Therefore, it works well on the Gall Bladder and the Stomach, both of which tend to accumulate heat easily.
    2. The citrus smells are all considered acrid or spicy, so they move Qi and therefore Lemon Essential Oil helps cool and move the Qi of the digestive system.
  • Frankincense – I consider Frankincense a King oil. I say king because it has a masculinity to it, like a grandfather (myrrh on the other hand I would consider more Yin or feminine). King or Queen oils are powerful and affect many areas of our lives in deep and profound ways.
    1. It is cooling and is a base note. This means it affects the lower areas of the body: The Kidneys and reproductive areas including hormones.
    2. Frankincense has a balsamic smell and a bitter and spicy taste to it. It helps us ground and moves the deeper regions of our life both emotionally and physiologically. Frankincense easily has an effect on our blood and hormones as well as our relationship to our culture and families.

There is so much more, I could go on and on. Next week I’ll continue exploring other oils and their Chinese Medicine Resonances. See you then!

With Love from Kelowna BC,