Chapter 12: Essential Oils to Boost Immunity & Fight Infections
- The Making of Essential Oils
- How to Get Started with Essential Oils
- 23 Essential Oils that Boost Immunity & Fight Infection
- Getting the Best from Essential Oils
- Essential Oil Blends to Promote Health
- Tips for Using Essential Oils
- Final Thoughts
Essential oils are not a new invention.
They have been used for centuries as a healing device and a way to bring peace to both the body and the mind.
Each essential oil has its own special uses, with some of them being anti-fungal, and others offering an antibacterial, antiviral, expectorant or antiseptic property.
They can help prevent illness, fight viruses once they are upon us, and improve the overall strength of our immune system.
In short, we have a lot to thank essential oils for. However, you can’t enjoy these benefits unless you turn to essential oils to help fight infection and boost your immunity. So, let’s take a deep dive into how essential oils can help support your overall health and wellness.
The Making of Essential Oils
Before we can tackle the subject of how essential oils fight infections and boost immunity, let’s first take a brief look at how essential oils are made.
WebMD says that essential oils are extracted from plants through either a steam distillation method or by being expressed mechanically. Not all essential oils are created equally, though. It’s vital that you only purchase true essential oils.
Read the label and if it states that it’s a scent, then it isn’t a real essential oil. The price point will also be a dead giveaway, real essential oils are affordable, but not cheap. Always check the ingredients list to make sure you are buying an authentic product. If it’s merely a replicated scent it won’t have the same medicinal properties as the real deal.
A real essential oil can be diffused, inhaled or massaged. Generally, you would combine the essential oil with a carrier oil before it can be used directly on the skin. Essential oils can also be used as a perfume (or in perfumes), as food flavorings, and for aromatherapy.
So, you have a variety of options for getting the best from your essential oil of choice. Of course, some of the oils lend themselves better to particular uses, but we’ll get into that later.
A diffuser is an excellent choice for most essential oils because it releases them into the atmosphere quickly. They can purify the air, improving the quality of the air you breathe, which reduces fungus, bacteria, and viruses that are lingering in your air. Diffusers come in a wide range of price points, too, so even if your budget is low, you will find one that works for you.
How to Get Started with Essential Oils
If you want to use essential oils to boost your immunity, then you need to get started. Unless you have been doing it for some time, you will still be susceptible to illness. The good news is that you can use
essential oils to fight those infections, too. It’s not too late to boost your immunity.
It’s important to note, just because you use essential oils to boost your immunity does not mean you won’t get sick. However, you may notice that your illnesses have a shorter run time than your friends. You may also notice that your illness is not as severe as others have experienced. This is all to do with having a strong immune system that is ready to do battle at the drop of a germ.
This isn’t something you need to do for hours a day. Just add your favorite blend to your diffuser each day and let it do the rest. By keeping your air quality high, and choosing a blend that supports immune health, you are helping keep bacteria at bay. When you do experience symptoms of an illness or ailment, you can opt for the direct inhalation route to support your health.
Essential oils alone are not enough to save you from illness. It’s vital that your essential oil use is accompanied by a good night’s sleep, a healthy diet, and regular exercise.
It’s a complementary therapy that must be supported by good overall health. A poor sleeping pattern leaves you open for stress, which is one of the biggest enemies to your immune system.
23 Essential Oils that Boost Immunity & Fight Infection
Tea Tree Oil – this is probably one of the most famous essential oils because it is so versatile. It’s great at fighting viral infections, the cold and flu, as well as sinusitis. It’s often used to chase away mosquitoes and fight acne. However, one of its greatest (and most overlooked) powers is its ability to trigger white blood cell production.
Geranium – this essential oil can prevent hemorrhaging, relieve bloating, boost your mood, increase circulation, help to balance your energy, and assist in white blood cell activity.
Peppermint – it might not be considered as versatile as tea tree oil is, but it does have a reputation for being able to tackle a variety of problems. Peppermint oil soothes bowel problems such as bloating, constipation, gas, and indigestion. It’s also great for fighting nausea, soothing migraines, headaches, dry coughs, asthma, sinus congestion, and bronchitis.
Lemon – because lemon oil is a detoxifying agent it’s an excellent choice to provide your immune system with a boost. It can also relieve sinusitis, asthma, flu, and bronchitis. In addition, it can relieve the pain associated with sore throats or full-on throat infections. It can also increase white blood cell production.
Helichrysum – an anti-inflammatory essential oil, helichrysum, also known as immortelle, is great for relieving congestion, fighting sinus infections, and soothing bronchitis.
Bergamot – you may be more familiar with this being used in perfumes and aftershaves, but this essential oil also happens to be an expectorant, which is something often used to treat coughs. It’s also helpful in relieving depression and stress. It’s great for healing and boosting the spirits.
Grapefruit – cleansing, detoxifying, and packed with vitamin C, grapefruit oil can help boost your mood, relieve stress, and improve immunity.
Lavender – we usually think of stress relief when we discuss lavender. That’s true, however, lavender also serves your immune system. It’s antiseptic and it’s anti-inflammatory. Lavender supports white blood cell activity, thus bolstering the immune system. OF course, it’s also known for supporting sleep, which improves your body’s ability to heal.
Eucalyptus – when you have a cold you likely reach for eucalyptus lozenges. Well, it makes sense. Eucalyptus oil is an effective decongestant and expectorant. It will not only relieve congestion and provide your respiratory tract with soothing relief, it is great at fighting the cold and flu.
Frankincense – made famous by a trio of wise men, this oil has been used for healing for thousands of years. It is antimicrobial, thus boosting the immune system, and can help relieve anxiety. It’s also known for its ability to sharpen clarity and focus.
Myrrh – another of the ancient famous oils, myrrh is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-parasitic. Which could explain why research is looking into its ability to assist in the treatment of cancer. A study from Al-Azhar University, has suggested it can protect the liver from damage, too (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15125513).
Rosemary – if you want to improve your breathing, fight the cold, sinusitis, bronchitis, and rhinitis, then rosemary is the way to do it.
Sandalwood – what can sandalwood do for you? Well, not only does it increase white blood cell activity, it’s also great for reducing bad cholesterol, treating urinary tract infections, providing the immune system with a boost, and promoting overall healing.
Scots Pine – if you want to open your lungs and invite anti-microbial, anti-viral, decongestant and expectorant properties… Scots Pine is your friend!
Cinnamon Bark – this anti-viral, anti-bacterial essential oil is one of the most powerful options available to you. It’s great for using in your home cleaners and in a diffuser. While you can combine it with other essential oils, it’s just fine on its own. It’s great at keeping germs at bay. So, if you are always dealing with colds and allergies in your home, adding twenty drops of cinnamon bark to water in a spray bottle makes it the ideal way to tackle just about everything. Just let it rest for around five minutes before you wipe it down.
Clove – clove is an antioxidant, which means it has a variety of benefits. One of the biggest ones is that it’s ideal for gargling. It can help you fight the cold and flu due to its anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. It’s also a bit of a painkiller, so if you have a sore throat it can help numb the pain. For gargling, start with a small cup of warm water and a teaspoon of sea salt and two drops of essential clove oil. Now, gargle. It’s also a great expectorant.
Oregano – oregano oil is high in both thymol and carvacrol, which makes it antibiotic. It’s great for fighting stomach flu and other stomach ailments. One of the most popular methods of use is diluting your essential oregano oil in coconut oil and then rubbing this on the bottoms of your feet (then put some socks on). This is something we often do with vapor rubs, so the next time you’re fighting a cold try it with oregano oil instead. For a stomach problem, you can add a few drops of food grade oregano oil with coconut oil in a vegetable capsule. You can take it up to three times a day. The only problem with this is that essential oregano oil also kills good bacteria, so you need to also take a probiotic to protect this.
Vetiver – vetiver is probably most famous for its effectiveness as a sedative. However, it’s also an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory. It can speed up the healing process, improve the immune system, and help soothe inflammation.
Hyssop – the health properties of hyssop appear to be never-ending. Not only is this stimulant an antiseptic, diuretic, digestive, it’s also an anti-spasmodic tonic. Hyssop essential oil is great for relieving bloating and relieving the tightening of muscles. It also promotes digestion and helps decrease coughs. In addition to all of these benefits, it’s also been found to reduce fevers. It can do pretty much everything.
Thyme – thyme is another essential oil that has a wide variety of properties. One of the biggest ones, though, is its ability to kill bacteria. It’s often used to treat colds, coughs, and help battle chest infections. It also happens to be great at relieving gas and healing wounds.
Ginger – we generally think of ginger for its ability to settle the stomach. Ginger can relieve nausea, pain, and it may also curb the growth of bacteria. Either way, it’s a great tool to settle the stomach or to encourage your body to sweat toxins out.
Thieves – this is a ready-made blend for anyone who isn’t feeling confident about tackling recipes just yet. It includes rosemary, cloves, eucalyptus, cinnamon, and lemon. It’s a great way to fight germs and bacteria. It’s antibacterial and ideal for diffusing, using as a room spray or even keeping a small spray bottle in your bag to wipe down dirty surfaces on the go. If you can’t find it for sale, you can always try to create it yourself!
Valor – this blend is really great at improving sleep, which is great all of the time. However, if you are fighting an illness, you need sleep even more, so you may find valor comes in handy for those times. It smells fantastic, too. In fact, it smells so great you could use it as a perfume if you wanted. Valor combines spruce, sweet almond, frankincense, rosewood, balsam fir, and tansy essential oils.
Getting the Best from Essential Oils
There are a variety of different ways to harness the power of essential oils, it’s important to remember, though, that each essential oil has its own effective method of use. You should always check with your doctor about using essential oils. Some are suitable for internal use, while others are not.
Gargling – some essential oils can be diluted in water and then gargled or used as a mouthwash. This can help heal mouth wounds and cold sores. Not all essential oils are suitable for this, check before you do this.
Diffusion – if you want to boost your immune system, improve air quality, and fight bacteria in your home, then diffusing essential oils is the way forward. You can simply place a few drops in water and let your oil go. You can even create your very own air purifying recipe, oils like rosemary, lemon, eucalyptus, and cinnamon are the perfect choices to clear the air.
Inhalation – two or three drops is all you need, along with a basin and a towel. Add your essential oil to hot water, toss the towel over your head and inhale through your mouth and nose. This can help break up mucus and relieve congestion.
Direct Inhalation – this is another method of inhalation. You can use cotton balls or tissues for this use. Simply place a drop or two of your essential oil onto the tissue and inhale (through your nose) two or three times. You can do this twice a day.
Massaging – using essential oils in massage therapy can be just as helpful as the other methods. This method will allow your body to slowly absorb the oil in a sort of time-released manner. Remember, your skin is your body’s largest organ. So, allowing for essential oils to penetrate your skin and enter your bloodstream is a great way to do this. You will also be inhaling the smell during the course of the massage, so it’s a kind of two for one. Remember, the essential oil needs to be added to a lotion or a carrier oil before it is applied to the skin. The oil is up to you, you can choose coconut oil or try jojoba oil instead. If you mix your essential oils with an unscented lotion, this is something you can wear every day. So, include lavender to keep stress at bay and then include some immune boosting options, too.
Essential Oil Blends to Promote Health
To make your life a tad easier, we have put together some recipes and uses for you to get started.
The Common Cold – you can combine two fantastic essential oils in a single bottle and use them for direct inhalation. While some people may sniff the bottle directly, it’s always wiser to put the drops on a tissue before you inhale it. The ideal common cold combo is six drops of rosemary oil combined with four drops of helichrysum. It’s one of the most effective combinations for relieving congestion. Just make sure that you give your bottle a shake before using it.
A Purifying Room Spray – if you want to purify your air, then a misting spray is perfect. Of course, you can also use this recipe in a diffuser. The choice is yours! You’ll need to start with four ounces of water, now add 10 drops of each of these essential oils: cinnamon, eucalyptus, rosemary, and lemon. If you use this recipe as a spray, be sure to shake first.
Immune Diffuser – remember, your diffuser will likely require water, so adjust the amounts of your essential oils as necessary. You’ll need equal parts lemon, peppermint, and lavender. Not only will this support your immune system, it will keep your sinuses clear, too. This is a great option for the spring months, but if you need heavier support in the winter months, consider this: equal parts rosemary, eucalyptus, and lemon oil and double peppermint. For ultimate immunity support, try equal parts wild orange, rosemary, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus, and clove.
Stress & Sleep – getting a good night’s sleep and managing your stress levels are key to supporting your immune system. So, we have two recipes to help you on these fronts. For stress, equal parts bergamot and frankincense. For a sweet sleep, equal parts vetiver, chamomile, and lavender.
Respiratory Blend – this one is simple, you just need 10 drops of balsam fir, five of sweet orange, and then 30 drops of ravensara/ravinstara oil. You can pop it into a diffuser or you can combine it with jojoba oil and use it as a rub for your back, feet, and chest.
Preventing the Cold and Flu – eight drops of Norway pine and five drops of sandalwood and honey myrtle is all you need here. Add this blend to an ounce or so of lotion (unscented) and use it as a vapor rub for your chest.
Cold & Flu Blend – this recipe is designed specifically for use in a diffuser and it’s simple. All you need is 15 total drops of three essential oils, that’s just five drops of each – cypress, lavender, and juniper berry.
Nasal Inhalation Eucalyptus – you just need five drops each of eucalyptus and tea tree for this. If you can purchase blank inhalers, then this is ideal. It’s just a homemade nasal stick. Each blank inhaler features a cotton wick or pad at the bottom, just add your oils to this and inhale away.
Immune Boosting – this is a perfect choice if there are ailments going around and you want to keep them away from your home! Start with an ounce of jojoba oil as your carrier and add five drops each of lemon, juniper berry, tea tree, and ravensara/ravinstara, and finish with three drops of peppermint oil. You can rub this on your feet, throat, and chest up to five times a day.
Fighting the Cold – if you have a cold and you want to fight in, then this can help you. You just need unscented lotion to start (around two ounces), add ten drops each of Douglas fir and cypress oil. You will also need three drops of tea tree and five of lemon. You can rub it on your feet, neck, chest, and back.
Vitality Boost – again, two ounces of unscented lotion and add your essential oils to it. Four drops of each – vetiver, black spruce, black pepper, helichrysum, laurel, and juniper berry. This can then be applied to your chest, throat, and neck three times each day.
Support – if your immune system is in need of support, then this recipe is yours for the taking. You will want to create this as a bottled blend. It can then be added to a bath, lotion, oil, diffuser, soap or even shampoo. It’s incredibly versatile and a great way to give your immune system a helpful boost. Rosewood is your base oil here, with 10 drops to start, and then five of sandalwood, and two drops each of ravensara/ravinstara and lavender.
Immune Inhaler – if you want a handy blank inhaler recipe for immune support, then this one is more appropriate for you. You can use this as the seasons change or if you feel particularly low on energy. You just need four drops each of rosewood, cedarwood, and vetiver, and two drops each of lavender and sweet orange.
Immune Strong – for this one, you can add the essential oils to an ounce of unscented lotion. It can be applied twice a day for months at a time to help support your overall immune health. You will need five drops each of lavender, Douglas fir, and orange blood, as well as four drops of thyme.
Respiration Relief – this recipe can be used in a blank inhaler, diffuser or you can combine it with an ounce of unscented lotion and use it as a rub. If you use it as a rub, it’s perfect for your back, throat, and chest. It’s especially helpful before bedtime as it can calm your symptoms. It requires five drops each of chamomile, red myrtle, and hemlock.
Cough & Spasms – this can help reduce spastic coughs and is combined with unscented lotion (an ounce) as a chest rub that can be applied multiple times a day. Just add 10 drops of hemlock oil, four of bergamot, and three of chamomile.
Long-Term Support – how long-term? Well, you can use this twice a day for six months. The ideal carrier for this is an ounce of jojoba oil. Now, just add your essential oils – six drops each of sandalwood and thyme, as well as four drops each of frankincense and sweet orange.
Tips for Using Essential Oils
Not all essential oils are suitable for children, the elderly or pregnant women. So, be sure to check before you use them. In addition, the essential oils that are suitable for these groups should be used in low concentrations.
Be sure that you always use your oils in an area that is well ventilated.
Always keep your essential oil bottles stored away from direct sunlight, in a cool, dry area and ensure the bottles are closed tightly. This will prevent oxidation and/or evaporation.
You should always test a new essential oil before use, just place it on a small patch of your skin to see how your body reacts.
In general, essential oils should not be ingested. However, there are certain essential oils that are available in food grade quality. If you can purchase a food grade essential oil, then you can ingest it. If it doesn’t meet this standard, then you should not attempt to ingest any essential oil.
Don’t use undiluted oils directly on your skin, you must add them to a carrier oil first.
Pregnant? Speak to your doctor about essential oil use before using it.
Keep your essential oils out of reach of pets and children.
Essential oils should not replace treatments that your doctor has prescribed or recommended. They should be seen as a complementary treatment that can benefit your health and work alongside traditional medicine.
When your immune system is strong your body is better at preventing illness. Not to mention that there are certain ailments which leave you far more susceptible to picking up illnesses.
While we have certain levels of friendly bacteria living within us and on our skin, the nasty bacteria can still wreak havoc on our systems. We can be exposed to this at any time, so it’s vital that we are proactive about boosting our immune systems.
Since so many of them are anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial, it makes sense that using essential oils to this end would be a wise move. It’s up to you to decide which oils are the most suitable for your needs and what method you would prefer.
You may be thinking about using essential oils during the winter months when you feel as though your health is at the greatest risk. Yes, illnesses are rampant during the winter months. However, one of the biggest reasons we are at risk of illness at this specific time of year is because we are run off our feet busy.
We fail to look after our diets properly, we are busier at work, we run around shopping, get to bed late, and aren’t looking after our general health. So, when your immune system is low, the germs take advantage of you.
Yes, it’s important to look after your immune system come winter, but it’s important all year. You need the extra support in winter, absolutely, but don’t ignore your immune system the rest of the time.
- Travel, for example, leaves you exposed to airborne toxins and pathogens. Think about how often you catch a cold after flying. You’re sharing recycled air with hundreds of people for hours on end. This is a prime example of when you need your immune system to be better.
- If you have small children, then you will know just how often they get sick. Kids are basically a walking, giant germ. They catch everything, which means if you have small kids, you can catch it, too. Sure, it’s worse around the holidays, but you need to protect yourself all of the time. It can strike at any time.
- Stress is another major risk to our immune system. Sadly, many of us live with chronic stress without even realizing how harmful it is and how much it’s already damaged us. Chronic stress can result in chronic inflammation and it leaves your immune system seriously low.
This is just a small taste of normal activity that can affect your immune system. It’s impossible to avoid germs and stay away from all of the illnesses that are getting passed around. So, it’s vital that you instead look after your immune system.
The essential oils that you choose are up to you, but there are so many antibacterial and anti-viral options that you are sure to find one that you enjoy the smell of.
It’s important that you invest in 100% pure essential oils, so, look out for therapeutic grade essential oils and don’t get caught up in purchasing a fake scented oil. These offer no therapeutic value for you.