There have been many studies done into essential oils and their benefits …and many are now discovering this for themselves.

As far as records go back, essential oils have always been used in ancient cultures. Siem Reap is no different, steeped in rich history and magnificent temples, where information is still preserved on their walls. They tell us that oils were incorporated as part of the sacred Khmer ceremonies and used within their daily life.

Essential oils are still used today and called aromatherapy, which has great benefits that enhance health and well-being.


Basil contains antioxidant-rich volatile essential oils, which are considered hydrophobic. This means it doesn’t dissolve in water, light, small enough to travel through the air and into the pores of our skin.

A fresh, sweet and spicy essential oil that has a strengthening and reviving effect on the nervous system. This makes it beneficial for mental fatigue and can be used to relieve anxiety, headaches, and insomnia.

Basil oil improves the tone and appearance of the skin, acts as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, reduces local pain, fever, helps prevent diabetes, protect the liver and is an immune-booster.


Native to tropical Asia and also cultivated in Italy and the Ivory Coast, Bergamot essential oil is made from pressed rind of a nearly ripe fruit of the bergamot tree. The bergamot tree is the result of the cross-breeding both the lemon and the orange tree together, it creates an uplifting oil that boosts your mood, it is also believed to sooth anger and frustration.

Useful for grief because it has an antidepressant property, Bergamot is also an immune stimulant, good for PMS, antitoxic, reduces scare tissue if used topically and has a positive effect on the flu.

Black pepper:

Black pepper is one of the oldest spices known to man, alongside clove and cinnamon. Extensively cultivated in South East Asia, Black Pepper Oil has a warm sensation when it is applied to the skin.

It is good for anxiety, a great anti-oxidant, circulation and muscle pain Black Pepper Oil stimulates the digestive and circulatory system. Stimulating the natural detoxifying process of the body, it makes a good treatment for cellulite.


The word chamomile refers to a range of different daisy-like plants, which are a member of the Asteraceae family. Chamomile is an age-old medicinal herb known to be used ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Its popularity grew throughout the middle ages when people turned to Camomile blends as a remedy for numerous medical complaints.

This essential oil is extremely helpful for allergic or sensitive skin due to its anti-inflammatory and soothing action. It is calming oil, particularly helpful with stress and anxiety.

Cedar Wood:

Cedar is the trees mentioned most in the Bible, symbolizing a source of protection, wisdom and abundance. Cedar oils are extracted from wood pieces of the cedar wood through the process of steam distillation.

Cedarwood improves focus and wisdom, promotes hair growth, has anti-inflammatory agents, reduces skin irritations, cures fungal infections, helps acne, stimulates metabolism, regulates menstruation, tightens muscles and cleans out toxins.

Avoid during pregnancy.


Native Australia aboriginal who are very much in touch with the land call it “kino” and have long used eucalyptus oil to dress wounds.

This oil has a deep grounding quality which can help overheated emotions or mental exhaustion. It also relieves sinus congestion, joint muscle pain, immune stimulant, helps relieve the symptoms of asthma and respiratory problems.


Frankincense is an ancient remedy and obtained from the milky white sap that is extracted from the tree bark. It is allowed to harden into a gum resin for several days and then scraped off in tear-shaped droplets to extract the oil.

It is great for all skin types plus has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory benefits, making it great for acne problems. Frankincense is also a natural toner, decreasing the appearance of pores and evens out skin tone. It encourages new cell growth, helping to tighten the skin, reduces wrinkles and the appearance of scars.


Oil from geraniums was used as far back in history as ancient Egyptian, then brought to Europe in the late 17th century and became popular during the Victorian era. Fresh leaves of geranium were placed at formal dining tables and used in finger bowls.

Geranium essential oil is extracted through steam distillation of the plant’s stems and leaves. When made from young, green leaves geranium oil it has a hint of lemon scent. However, if extracted from older leaves the oil color will change and the oil has a strong rose fragrance.

It has a balancing effect on the skin making it suitable for dry, oily or problem conditions helping regulate oil production and reduces acne breakouts. It helps improve elasticity and tightens, reducing the appearance of wrinkles.

Geranium oil also calms the nervous system, making it useful for treating anxiety, tension and restlessness.


The grapefruit is first documented in 1750 by Rev. Griffith Hughes in the book the Natural History of Barbados, where the name of the grapefruit was literally translated as the ‘forbidden fruit.’

Like other citrus oils, grapefruit essence is obtained through compression and acts as an antitoxic, reduces cellulite, muscle fatigue and improves digestion.

A native of tropical Asia and the West Indies, it is a euphoric oil that will help rid negative emotions, leaving an energized and uplifted feeling.


Jasmine is part of the olive family that contains around 200 species native to the tropical and temperate regions of Asia.

It is widely cultivated for its characteristic fragrance, which is an uplifting essential oil that acts as an anti-depressant, relaxing both physical and emotional tensions.

It also works as an aphrodisiac that gives you the feel of romance or being in love.

Juniper (Berry):

Juniper essential oil is traditionally steam-distilled from the needles, twigs, wood, and berries. However, Juniper Berry Oil is extracted solely from the berries and is superior in quality.

Juniper berries, together with its leaves and branches have been used since ancient times when the plant was believed to possess the power to ward off evil spirits, negative forces and illnesses.

It was also used for cleansing that purified the mind, body and spirit. Juniper branches were burned in Sumeria and Babylon as a sacrifice to the gods and considered sacred to the Sumerian goddess Inanna.

Juniper has a calming and grounding effect, is also a natural skin toner that helps reduce the appearance of skin blemishes to promote a clear and healthy complexion.


Lavender was in the Roman army’s medical kit to aid the cleansing of wounds from troops who was always on the move.

Pressed from the lavender flower, it was very popular as a fragrance in the early 19th century that helps reduce anxiety and emotional stress. Lavender also aids in the healing of burns or wounds, improves sleep and alleviates headaches.

A wonderful oil for all skin types, it restores complexion, reduces acne, helps regenerate skin cells, so is great for mature skin, sun spots and scarring.


Lemon grass has approximately 55 species, most of which are native to Asia and Australia. To get the lemongrass essence, stalks are crushed using a mortar and pestle then left to infuse with oil.

It has a number of curative properties which includes boosting energy levels, relieves headaches, reduces stomach aches and lowers fever.


Myrrh is a natural gum resin and throughout history has been used as a perfume, incense and medicine.

Myrrh is the sap-like substance that comes from a tree called Commiphora myrrha, common in Africa or the Middle East.

The resin is allowed to dry and begins to look like drops all along the tree trunk. The resin is then collected and the essential oil is made from the sap via steam distillation.

Myrrh essential oil protects wounds from infections plus is good for coughs and colds. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties that help improve skin tone, firmness, skin elasticity, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Myrrh can also help heal sun damage, chapped skin, rashes and skin irritations like eczema.


Patchouli has been used for thousands of years and in Egypt, it was said that Pharaoh Tutankhamun — also known as King Tut — arranged to have 10 gallons of patchouli oil buried with him in his tomb.

Patchouli oil is derived from a large evergreen perennial and a close relative of mint, lavender and sage. The name “patchouli” is said to be derived from an ancient Tamil word meaning “green leaf.”

Patchouli oil is good for sexual problems in both men and women because it stimulates the hormones estrogen and testosterone, which helps boost sex drive; making it good for impotence, loss of libido, erectile dysfunction and sexual anxiety.


Peppermint leaves are crushed using a mortar and pestle to bring out the juice and then infused in oil. The plant grows wild throughout Europe and North America in moist areas and is thought to be of Mediterranean origins.

Peppermint is referenced in ancient texts and there are hundreds of the peppermint species which also includes spearmint. It has a cooling sensation when applied to the skin, boosts energy, soothes digestive issues, reduces stomach aches, relieves headaches and improves mental focus.


The earliest roses are known to have flourished 35 million-years ago and rose hips have been found in both Europe and among petrified wreaths, which have been unearthed from ancient Egyptian tombs.

It is said that Nero, the hedonistic emperor that reigned during the 1st century AD, dumped tons of rose petals on his dinner guests, while Cleopatra had her living quarters filled with the petals of roses.

Rose boosts self-esteem, confidence and improves mental strength. It speeds up clotting of blood, calms a high fever, plus fades scars, boils and acne marks on the skin quickly.

Rose oil is also considered an aphrodisiac and is associated with Cupid himself.


Rosemary leaves were considered sacred by the Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. It was also used in the middle ages to ward off evil spirits and protect against the plague.

Rosemary oil promotes clarity of mind sweeping away fatigue, mental fogginess, helps with learning, memory and maintains mental sharpness. It also elevates the symptoms of a cold by helping with headaches and coughing.


Native to India but Sandalwood trees have been logged to the point of near extinction. The oil is extracted primarily by steam distillation, a process in which superheated steam is passed through the powdered wood

Tea Tree:

Tea Tree oil is produced from the leaves of the Melaleuca alternifolia, which is native to Southeast Queensland and the Northeast coast of New South Wales – Australia.

The leaves of the Tea Tree was used for many years by the indigenous peoples of Australia. They used freshly crushed leaves that were applied directly to an injury and then held in place with a mud pack.

Tea Tree oil is well known for its antibiotic properties, which stops infection with open cuts and scrapes. It is often used to treat fungal infections, helps with athlete’s foot, verrucas, warts and other skin infections. It is also excellent for cold and flu relief.


The Ylang-Ylang is found in the rainforests of Asian and South Pacific islands, Indonesia, Philippines, Java, Sumatra, Comoro and Polynesia. Ylang ylang oil is an essential ingredient in high-end perfumery and used in Chanel No. 5.

Ylang ylang oil is derived from the fresh flowers of the ylang ylang tree and great for the nervous system. It is not only considered an aphrodisiac but reduces blood pressure, good for digestion but also is great for skin and hair.

Essential Oils And Their Combinations: 

Stress: Bergamot, Cedarwood, Lavender, Ylang Ylang.

Headache: Lavender, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass, Rosemary.

Coughs: Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Sandalwood.

Fever: Chamomile, Eucalyptus, Lemongrass.

Muscular Aches and Pain: Eucalyptus, Grapefruit, Lavender, Rosemary.

Jetlag: Lavender, Rosemary.

Pregnancy: Lavender, Sandalwood.

High Blood Pressure: Lemon, Ylang Ylang, Rosemary.

Digestion: Lemongrass, Lemon, Grapefruit.

Colds: Cedarwood, Eucalyptus, Lemon, Lavender.

Hang Over: Lavender, Lemon, Rosemary.

Siem Reap is a place where natural therapies are still widely used with many soothing spas, classes and retreats available to try.