Another natural way of supporting a healthy immune system is by using essential oils. These oils, which are extracted from plants have been used for hundreds of years as a form of alternative medicine to support health and wellbeing.
What are essential oils?
Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants and other materials. Typical essential oils include Lavender, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, Grapefruit and Rosemary. These are usually characterized by the distinct odour or scent of the plant from which they are taken. Essential oils are usually obtained from different extraction methods such as distillation, maceration or cold press. Once the essence of the plant is captured it is combined with different carrier oils depending on the desired effect. How essential oils are made is important. Essential oils obtained via chemical processes are not true essential oils. The oils are diluted and mixed with a carrier oil depending on how they will be used. Essential oils can be applied in a number of different ways: Topically on the skin, through ointments, spray or baths; or inhaled using a diffuser or humidifier.
How essential oils can help boost your immune system
Essential oils are greatly beneficial for a number of health problems. They can provide us with natural ways to strengthen our immunity and fight off disease. Many essential oils possess amazing natural antimicrobial properties meaning they prevent the spread of bacteria, fungi and even some viruses. Studies have shown a blend of essential oils was effective against the H1N1 (swine flu) and HSV1(cold sores) and could be used to treat forms of pneumonia and influenza.
The following essential oils have been shown to have antiviral properties:
- Cinnamon (bark and leaf): Cinnamon leaf and cinnamon bark have been shown to kill multiple virus strains. Cinnamon also works well against the flu when combined with rosemary and eucalyptus.
- Thyme (thymol and linalool): Studies have shown that thyme is effective in reducing coughs and reducing the duration of respiratory tract infections, such as a cold. It has also shown antiviral properties and works particularly well when combined with rosemary and eucalyptus.
- Eucalyptus (polybractea and globulus): Traditionally used to clear the respiratory passage by thinning the mucus and to ease muscle pain. It can also be used as a cold press to reduce fever. Frequently used for a wide range of respiratory problems such as coughs, asthma, bronchitis. Also been proven to reduce airborne influenza droplets when used in a Nebulizer.
- Lemon Balm: Along with its antiviral activity, lemon balm is used to fight fevers, clear respiratory canals and it’s a great natural immune booster.
- Tea Tree: One of the strongest antiviral essential oils, is also antiseptic and antifungal. It contains a number of compounds shown to fight bacteria, viruses and fungi. Terpinen-4-ol increases white blood cells which helps fight germs and foreign invaders.
- Peppermint: This oil has been shown to have potent antiviral properties. It is also used in massage and chest rubs to reduce cold and flu symptoms and can be used in a diffuser to kill germs in your home.
- Bergamot: A study showed that bergamot oil, when used as a vapour, is effective against flu viruses after just 10 minutes of exposure.
- Oregano: Another powerful essential oil, with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds as well as antimicrobial and antiviral properties.
The following essential oils have proven effective against viruses when used in a diffuser:
|Essential oil||When to use||How to use|
|Cinnamon leaf||Best used to kill airborne influenza viruses||Use in a diffuser for 30 minutes|
|Bluegum (eucalyptus glubulus)|
|Tea tree||Best used to kill influenza viruses on surfaces||Used in a diffuser for 30 minutes. Can also be used to clean surfaces.|
|Blue mallee (eucalyptus polybractea)|