This article is by Cristin Smith of Saffron & Sage. Photos by Kyle Miyamoto.

Essential oils are incredible healing tools. I was first introduced to the use of essential oils for medicinal purposes by my Naturopath and since then I’ve utilized essential oils in many different ways. Some oils I take internally, while others are used topically or aromatically.

Essential oils are liquids distilled from various parts of different plants (seeds, bark, leaves, stems, roots, flowers, fruit, etc.). What makes them “essential” are two things: they are volatile (they evaporate), and they are soluble with other oils and fats.

These oils are so beneficial because of their natural high concentration. While all essential oils have different chemical make-ups, a few are known to cross the blood-brain barrier, which can have a powerful effect on the treatments of brain diseases and disorders. Sandalwood and Frankincense are just two oils that have this incredible ability. Other oils have the ability to affect memory and emotions, and some can treat chronic pain and depression. Still others can cleanse different body systems, or simply soothe and clear the mind.

Essential oils can be used in three different ways (topically, aromatically, or internally), and certain oils are most effective with certain methods. Some may need to be diluted with coconut oil before being applied. Using a diffuser is a good way to combat airborne chemicals, as well as supporting the lungs and sinuses - not to mention mood. Oils can be ingested sublingually (a drop or two under the tongue), in capsules, in water, and even as an additive to cooking or juicing. Now, let’s take a closer look at a few essentials that have been a part of my regimen and may be beneficial to you this Autumn season.

Clary Sage

Clary Sage is a plant in the mint family. This oil has been used historically for various hormonal imbalances, including hot flashes, cramps, PMS, depression, infertility, and even lactation issues. Clary Sage can also help treat skin disorders, inflammation, sore throat, circulation issues, ulcers, and cough. When I experience menstrual discomfort I apply 2-3 drops to my lower abdomen and lower back. Clary Sage can also be added to cooking, and ingested as a supportive oil for the kidneys and intestines.


Cypress oil is extracted from the branches of the cypress tree, a member of the conifer family. Cypress has traditionally been used as a boost to the urinary system, and as a treatment for excessive fluid loss, such as sweat, diarrhea, or menstruation. Used aromatically, it greatly benefits the respiratory system, and can be used to treat bronchitis, congestion, and throat issues. For general wellness, Cypress strengthens the Spirit and helps ease feelings of loss. It can provide a sense of security and is very grounding, making it a great oil to diffuse during Autumn leading us into the Holiday season.

Wild Orange

Wild Orange is uplifting for the mind and body, and has powerful calming effects. Inhaling Wild Orange can help with anxiety, depression, fear, insomnia, and nervousness. This oil also supports the digestive system, boosts the immune system, and helps to treat cold, flu, fever, soreness, and colic in infants. You can apply this oil topically to reflex points or areas of concern, or take 1-2 drops sublingually. I always carry Wild Orange in my purse, and throughout the day I’ll pour 1-2 drops into the palm of my hands, cup them over my nose, and take 3-4 deep breaths. This helps to release any stress or anxiety, enhance focus, and prevent a cold or flu.


Frankincense is a powerful oil that is considered holy in the Middle East and by many of the world’s major religions. It has amazing cancer-fighting properties, and is one of the few oils that can penetrate the blood-brain barrier. This oil defends the body from infection, and can be used as a treatment for a wide variety of ailments from allergies to headaches, high blood pressure to pneumonia, sciatica to syphilis. In the spiritual sense, using Frankincense aromatically helps focus your energy and improve concentration. It can enhance your spiritual awareness and is a useful aid in prayer and meditation. Historically, it was used during ceremonies to enhance communication with the Creator and used in worship ceremonies. During the beginning of my health journey I would take 2 drops of Frankincense sublingually in an effort to detox heavy metals from my system, combat the growth of the tumors in my neck, and support my mood.