Lavender relieves stress and calms your mind. Forget counting sheep before bedtime — just take a whiff of this.

Mamta Popat / Arizona Daily Star

DIY with essential oils takes going green to a whole new level — essentially, you go clean.

Essential oils, extracted from plants, can be a potent alternative to products stuffed with chemicals.

“If you’re serious about creating a clean, natural environment for yourself...there’s only one way to go, and that’s with essential oils,” says Sonia Rodriguez, the owner of Alchemista Aromatherapy Sanctuary & Spa, 6955 N. Oracle Road.

Here are a handful of old reliables and some of their most popular uses.

Lavender relieves stress and calms the mind. Skip counting sheep before bedtime and take a whiff of this.

Peppermint can jolt the brain and take the kick out of a headache. Use some in shampoo or soap in the morning for a natural wake-up call.

Tea Tree is the antibacterial, anti-fungal juggernaut of essential oils and can handle anything from skin issues to dirty floors.

What you put the essential oil in matters almost as much as the purity of the oil itself, Rodriguez says.

For personal products for skin or hair, look at using a lotion or carrier oil such as jojoba or aloe vera. To set the mood of a room, use a diffuser. If you’re cleaning, grab a bucket of water and vinegar and add a few drops of citrus oils.

Whatever the project, try not to wing it. Cross-reference sources to get a general understanding of the essential oil. As a general rule, never put an undiluted essential oil on your skin.

“Any kind of self-medication requires self-education,” says Mindy Green, a Colorado-based herbalist and aromatherapist who guest lectures for doctors at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona. “Essential oils have a good application for common, first aid ailments you would treat at home.”

Modern medicine still has its place, but hundreds of essential oil success stories crowd the Internet.

“I would sooner go to an essential oil to see if I can feel better,” Rodriguez says, “whether it’s emotionally, psychologically, physically or aesthetically, than look to a new medication.”

Contact reporter Johanna Willett at or 573-4357.

Writing about Tucson's heart and soul — its people, its kindness, its faith — for #ThisIsTucson.