The power of essential oils with Dr. Pauline Hili, author of research papers on essential oils' antimicrobial properties

Dr. Pauline Hili is the founder of Nourish London, but she's also Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and author of research papers on essential oils' antimicrobial properties.

During these times, essential oils can be great companions. They perform a number of really helpful functions that can be of great help to our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

I have a real fondness for essential oils, so much that I undertook a PhD part time while working full time to study them. For 5 years, they were my constant companions.

Best antibacterial essential oils

My work looked at over 50 different oils and how they helped to restrict the growth of bacteria and fungi. Some of the highlights of the work showed the following:

The spice oils, such as clove and cinnamon, were excellent at reducing the growth of the key bacteria and fungi. As these oils tend to cause sensitivities on the skin, they are best used in an aromatherapy diffuser and to clean surfaces or, as they have been for many years, preserving food.

Thyme oil and tea tree oil also performed really well but my experience with these is that they need to be used carefully and had less appeal as an aroma profile.

The front runners and my favourite combination for a happy mix between really effective and gorgeous "feel good" in use is Lemon, Black pepper and Ho. I love this blend as it delivers and smells delightful. This is what inspired our latest hand wash.

Top tips for essential oils use during difficult times

As my PhD progressed, I discovered more and more about how useful oils can be in our daily lives.

Here are my top tips for how essential oils can be used in the current climate:

  1. Add a few drops of your favorite blend to hand sanitiser to mask the alcohol smell.
  2. Choose some of the lavender based products to help promote a good night sleep.
  3. Use some of the citrus oils to help focus in such a noisy time.
  4. Create a favourite happy blend every day to lift mood.
  5. Use rose and neroli based products to help soothe anxiety.
  6. Kids, once shown what to do, love blending oils, so it can be a great at-home creative way to spend an afternoon.

Smell is one of the oldest of human senses and extremely powderful. In the absence of so much touch during the current climate, oils can help to bring about a real sense of warmth and connectedness.