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Essential Oils

Owyhee Essential Oil – An Herb of Many Names

Owyhee essential oil is a little-known oil from the Western United States. The name of this plant comes from the Owyhee region, a remote area that spans parts of Oregon, Nevada, and Idaho.

Although this plant has traditionally been used for healing by Native Americans, its healing benefits have not yet been widely-acknowledged by the aromatherapy community.

Even so, this lesser-known essential oil can help remedy skin problems, relieve stress, and reduce muscle discomfort.

Owyhee The History of Owyhee

The Owyhee region where the plant comes from received its name from an old, alternative spelling of the word "Hawaii." When Captain James Cook discovered what he called the "Sandwich Islands" (now known as the Hawaiian islands), he found that they were inhabited by people known as Owyhees.

Some of these Owyhees went on to join Donald MacKenzie’s snake expedition in the Snake River region, yet when they set out to explore the unknown, they were never heard from again. Due to their disappearance, British fur trappers called the region where they disappeared from the Owyhee region.

When the new alphabet was adopted, the word "Owyhee" became "Hawaii," and the Owyhee region is the only place where the old spelling has stuck. 1

The botanical name of the Owyhee plant is Artemisia ludoviciana . This plant is also commonly referred to as "peach artemisia," due to its fruity, peachy undertones.

The plant is known by a wide variety of other names, including silver wormwood, western mugwort, white sagebrush, prairie sage, and gray sagewort. 2

Artemisia ludoviciana typically grows in a bushy clump two to three feet tall. It thrives in poor, dry, well-drained soil in full sun, so it is no surprise that it thrives in the desert landscape of the Owyhee region.

The name "Artemisia" is thought to be derived from the Greek goddess Artemis, goddess of the hunt. "Ludoviciana" refers to the state of Louisiana, one of the first places the plant is thought to have been discovered.

Native Americans have traditionally used the plants in this family to treat a variety of ailments, such as coughs, colds, and fever. While in Mexico the herb was commonly used to remedy digestive issues. 3

Chemical Properties

Owyhee essential oil is steam distilled from the leaves and blossoms of Artemisia ludoviciana . The resulting oil is clear in color and has a fruity, sweet scent reminiscent of Roman chamomile. 4

Owyhee essential oil is known to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, relaxant properties. 5 This is all due to its composition, which primarily consists of esters. Its high ester content makes it an ideal alternative to Roman chamomile.

Uses for Owyhee Essential Oil

Supports Healthy Skin

The high ester content in Owyhee essential oil makes it ideal for a variety of skin complaints, from sunburn to rashes to general swelling and redness. The antimicrobial properties also help with germs and blemishes.

To remedy minor skin issues or to cleanse and purify mix a few drops of Owyhee essential oil with a carrier oil and gently massage onto the affected areas.

For treating blemishes and reducing the chance of future breakouts, mix a drop of Owyhee essential oil into your daily cleanser or moisturizer, or add a drop to a cup of water and use as a toning rinse after cleansing the skin.

Alleviates Stress

Owyhee essential oil is chemically similar to Roman chamomile essential oil, and it is equally useful when it comes to relieving stress or tension.

To calm the mind and promote peace and relaxation, diffuse Owyhee essential oil throughout the home. Alternatively, add a few drops to a carrier oil and use as a relaxing massage oil, or add a few drops to a relaxing bath.

Relieves Muscle Discomfort

The anti-inflammatory properties in Owyhee essential oil help to address the discomfort felt from menstrual cramps or overworked muscles and joints.

To relieve sore muscles or cramps, mix a few drops of Owyhee essential oil with a carrier oil and massage onto sore areas.

Safety and Precautions

Owyhee essential oil is safe for aromatic and topical use when used with caution.

Although it is non-toxic and non-irritating, it is recommended that you dilute it with a carrier oil before use and always conduct a patch test before applying to larger areas of the body.

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, consult with a doctor before using this essential oil.

Do not attempt to use essential oils in place of a prescription medication or to treat a chronic condition before first consulting with a medical professional.

When stored correctly in a cool, dark place, Owyhee essential oil lasts for four to five years. 7


Though not yet well known, Owyhee essential oil is no less important than other beneficial essential oils out there. It can be diffused throughout the home, as well as added to homemade cleansers, moisturizers, lotions, soaps, candles, perfumes, and other skincare products.

Whether you’re looking for a natural way to treat skin problems or an economical alternative to Roman chamomile essential oil, Owyhee essential oil will not disappoint.

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