Five Essentials for Survival

  A bottle of peppermint essential oil.

A bottle of peppermint essential oil.

by Vanessa Santiago 

After standing on the platform in New York City for 20 minutes waiting for the train, it finally pulled in, and I found myself amid 23 people throbbing with anticipation as the door opened. Simultaneously, I saw about 34 passengers fighting to get to the exit. Like soldiers, they funneled into a single line and crawled along to their destination. I could feel the pressure around me building with fearful urgency as the doors begin to close and I struggled to squeeze my hips, arms, and bags into the train, all the while trying not to drop my cell phone or spill my morning coffee!  My temples began to pound. At this moment I remembered that I’d come prepared! Slowly, my arm uncoiled from behind a woman's back, squeezed by a child’s cheek, and slid right underneath a man’s armpit to cup my nose with my hand and deeply inhale. My olfactory nerves filled with soothing lavender as my limbic system, which stores my emotions, instantly responds and transports me to the wide open rolling hills of lavender in Southern France. My nerves settled down, eyes closed, and my jawline muscles began to release, as I took deeper breaths and found a smile of delight creeping onto my face.

I’ve grown dependent on my essential oils to survive the struggle of living in a bustling city. Balancing our emotions can be challenging, but I have learned the importance of using essential oils to support my body in the natural healing process.  These oils are found in plants, peels, barks, flowers, and the roots of God’s incredibly functional creations and they provide all living things with protection against the environment while building healthy immune systems and producing very concentrated fragrances.

Countless companies are mass producing essential oils, so it is vital that you read the labels carefully. The ingredient list on each bottle should only say 100 percent pure essential oil and contain the latin name of the oil. However, with so few regulations the best way to ensure that a company is not using synthetics or additives in their oils is to familiarize yourself with their practices. I have fallen in love with DoTerra certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils. Each bottle is stamped with a code that you can plug into a third-party website that provides the history and test results of that particular batch. It also lists the various compounds of each oil if you are interested in the proven science that backs the validity of using essential oils regularly.

There are three key ways to use essential oils:

    Apply it topically:  

You can apply it directly onto the skin surface, undiluted or in a carrier oil where it is then absorbed into the bloodstream through our pores. Key areas are the back of your neck, in and around the navel, soles of your feet, pulse points, or over your heart. You can also soak them in your bath and create homemade lotions.  

    Use it as an aromatic:

Rubbing the oil between the palms of your hands, cupping your nose and inhaling, or using with a diffuser are great ways to put our powerful olfactory nerves to work. These nerves are a direct link to the part of our brain that handles our emotions and moods. 

    Ingest it:

Only certified pure therapeutic grade (CPTG) oils, such as DoTerra essential oils, are safe to ingest.  These oils have met rigorous testing standards to prove their purity and safety. When ingesting you can place one - two drops under your tongue or in a glass of water, juice or smoothies. Never use oils in plastic or Styrofoam containers because essential oils are highly detoxifying and within minutes, will break down these materials.

Whether it is through DIY projects, cooking, diffusing, or using them as a tool of survival, there are so many oils for you to explore and research. Here are five of my favorite everyday essential oils:


 For many New Yorkers, our sleeping schedules are not exactly a priority. It can often result in wrecked sleeping patterns and countless nights spent tossing and turning, hoping for relief. When my sister shared her lavender oil with me, I skeptically rubbed it on my temples, neck, and pillow before bedtime. But just a few deep breaths later I was sound asleep. Consistent use of this precious oil has given me the deep and restful sleep I've always desired. I use it undiluted on the bottom of my feet, back of my neck, temples, and face. Lavender oil is also a more natural approach to acne, bug bites, and scalp treatments. It calms and soothes irritated skin, reducing inflammation. Not to mention the warm, lingering fragrance that lasts all day.


Lemon oil is rich in antioxidants and can be used as an antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal. That makes it an excellent natural sanitizer and if you're using CPTG oils, you can also take a drop under the tongue to kill bacteria.  Adding lemon oil to your water also cleanses your body and acts as a potent detoxifying agent.  If you suffer from acid reflux disease, you can soothe your esophagus with an alkalizing mix of lemon oil and water (one to two drops of lemon essential oil in a glass of water). When used aromatically, it can enhance focus and lift your spirit. As a teacher, I love combining it with peppermint oil and diffusing it throughout the day.


Yes, peppermint oil is excellent for waking up from a deep sleep and clearing up deep respiratory inflammation and sinus congestion. You can mix a few drops of coconut oil and rub it on your chest, nose, front and back of the neck, and take deep slow breaths. You can also apply it to your temples, be careful not to get it in your eyes, to relieve the pressure of headaches.  It can also be used for soothing and refreshing joint and muscle aches and stimulating the mind and scalp. Because of its antimicrobial properties, you can add a few drops to your hair treatments for extra cleansing, especially during the hot summer months.


I would like to introduce you to one of the greatest oils of all time. Have you ever wondered why the three wise men brought frankincense oil as their gift to the baby Jesus? Not only was it more valuable monetarily, than gold, but it truly was, and remains, an oil fit for kings. It is a potent anti-inflammatory, which is vital to our various systems including joints and muscles as inflammation is the cause of many kinds of illnesses in our bodies. It works on the cellular level to help heal the body and its proven cancer-fighting properties have been studied and published in thousands of medical journals. You can diffuse it during your prayer time to increase your spiritual sensitivity and combine it with lavender oil to create the perfect anti-anxiety and magical sleep elixir.  Most oils have a few key uses they are known for but frankincense covers them all, from decreasing anxiety to boosting the immune system, fighting infections, and containing anti-aging properties for skin, frankincense can quickly become your body's best friend.


Also known as tea tree oil, Melaleuca is best known for its powerful purification properties. It is an acne eraser, an effective antifungal for the skin and nails (including candida, athlete’s foot, ringworm, etc.), and an effective agent against mold. You can add a few drops to your usual home cleaners, or even make your own. Melaleuca's cooling properties can ease eye infections when carefully applied (never directly in the eye) to the eyelid under the brow and above the cheekbone. It can also kill lice and condition hair. You can try adding a few drops to your natural conditioner for added cleansing properties. You can even diffuse it in the morning with lemon and peppermint oils to freshen the air and awaken your senses. 

As God created man from the dust of the earth, from the same soil he provided us with the support that our bodies and internal systems need to be whole.  The bible references many different oils for anointing, medicine, seduction, and even currency.  I find that essential oils are God’s provision from his brilliant mind to our fragile bodies.