For most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, summer is still in full force and kids are enjoying their summer break. Out of sight and out of mind, our immune systems never get a vacation. Minute to minute, our deepest defense mechanisms are working behind the scenes to keep us in balance.
Pharmacies are advertising flu shots with predictable scare tactics before schools reopen and families get back into more familiar routines. Many health-conscious people gear up for the flu by getting an annual shot but gasp in awe when they come down with it anyway. Whether you blame it on the fact that the vaccine does not defend the body against all strains of influenza or the shot itself is the culprit, flu inoculations do not always work. They also do not prevent or lessen the severity of the common cold, halt stomach bugs, or deter other woes associated with the colder months.
Consistent hand-washing, cutting down on or eliminating sugar entirely from the diet, supplementing with good food, and getting enough sleep are all good ways to boost immunity, but they are not always enough. Clinical aromatherapy can boost the body’s defenses where good intentions leave off. Like any other avenue to wellness, it works best before the problem arises.
Some people complain that essential oils did not work for them during the flu season, not realizing that they used the same oils habitually, did not use them regularly, or used inappropriate ones. Using essential oils correctly is key. Here are a few tips that can make all the difference this coming winter and all year long.
Steps to Correctly Use Essential Oils
- Do not use the same oil or combination of oils for longer than 7-10 days. The body will build a tolerance to it, thereby weakening the effects of the oils. To avoid immunity to the essential oils, alternate single oils and combination formulas every other week.
- Do not think a few applications of essential oils will boost your immune system for months to come. Maintain a step ahead and use essential oils regularly, which means daily or 3-4x a week. The best way is to apply them undiluted to the soles of the feet at bedtime.
- Do not shower for at least seven hours after applying essential oils.
- Do not assume that all essential oils fight viruses. All oils are antibacterial, but only a few possess true anti-viral properties.
- Use half the recommended amount for children.
Essential Oils for Better Immunity
Since essential oil is a plant’s own defense against disease, it does the same for us when we apply it singularly or in combination. Using essential oils that work well with others of complementary nature is the heart of clinical aromatherapy, and this goal of synergy can yield profound results regarding the immune system. When applied undiluted to the soles of the feet (the soft, uncalloused part between the ball of the foot and the heel), the antiviral-like properties of certain essential oils reach the bloodstream within 20 minutes and the deepest cellular level within 7-24 hours. For the best and most reliable results, please use the highest quality essential oils (see Recommendations and Links at the end of this article).
Immune-boosting essential oils can be your best ally throughout the year, but if you want to gear up for the flu season this winter, it is best to armor your body now while summer is still here. Here is a list of essential oils you will want on hand and why.
- Clove Bud: One of the most powerful and reliable essential oils in clinical aromatherapy, clove combats contagious diseases and is an excellent oil to use for any bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. Also highly recommended for Lyme disease. How to use: 4 drops undiluted on each sole of the foot. Works even better when layered with organic lemon essential oil and used in combination 2-3x a week for 7 days. After a week, use another single oil or combination. Caution: Do not use undiluted or diluted on any other part of the body besides the soles of the feet. Avoid clove essential oil if you are on blood thinners.
- Eucalyptus citriodora: There are over 700 species of eucalyptus, and Eucalyptus citriodora (also known as Lemon Eucalyptus) is one of the most valuable. It has potent anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and is highly effective for bacterial and viral infections of the respiratory system*. How to use: 4 drops undiluted on each sole of the foot. Effective for flu pain when diluted and combined with balsam fir; apply this diluted combination to aching muscles and joints. Can also be mixed with Epsom salts or sea salt and dispersed into a hot bath or foot bath. Can be diffused into the air via nebulizer to clear the air of viruses. *Do not use Lemon Eucalyptus if you have asthma.
- Eucalyptus globulus: Menthol-rich eucalyptus eases the pain of muscles and joints associated with influenza and strengthens the immune system to fight viruses and bacteria. It also combats infectious fevers. Eucalyptus breaks up chest congestion when diluted and applied to the chest and throat in non-asthmatics. How to use: A few drops added to a pot or heat-proof bowl of hot water will make wonderful steam for inflamed sinuses associated with head colds and chronic sinusitis. *Do not use Eucalyptus globulus if you have asthma. In cases of asthma, substitute with pine needle or balsam fir or pine needle.
- Lavender: Seemingly a lightweight, this essential oil is the primary oil to have on hand at home and while traveling. How to use: 4 drops undiluted on each sole of the foot. Works even better when layered with organic lemon essential oil and used in combination 2-3x a week for 7 days. After a week, use another single oil or combination.
- Organic Lemon: Organic lemon essential oil is one of the most potent oils and the first to go to when one’s immunity is compromised. Organic lemon stimulates white blood cell production and boosts immunity against serious infections including pneumonia and staph. How to use: 4 drops undiluted on each sole of the foot. Organic lemon kills viruses and bacteria when diffused into the air via nebulizer.
- Pine Needle: Pine needle is good for viral fatigue and aching, winter muscles when a cold or flu is dragging you down. How to use: 4 drops undiluted on each sole of the foot. Best used when mixed with sea salt or Epsom salt and added to hot bath water. It can also be diluted in a little vegetable oil or unscented lotion and rubbed into the body. Pine needle is also a great oil to dilute and rub onto the chest for coughs and bronchitis.
- Tea Tree: Tea tree oil is a powerful and reliable oil for the immune system that is best when combined with organic lemon, white thyme, clove, or lavender essential oil to fight infections and the flu. How to use: 4 drops undiluted on each sole of the foot.
- Lemongrass: Lemongrass essential oil is used to relieve muscle pain, ward off insects, and reduce body aches. It also has powerful antimicrobial properties.
Even those seemingly alike offer unique benefits. With a little practice and even more knowledge, clinical aromatherapy can be employed to dramatically bolster immunity and guard against winter illnesses and even greater threats. It is also a lovely, fragrant way to better health.
- Donato, Marlaina. Multidimensional Aromatherapy. Blairstown, NJ: Ekstasis Multimedia, 2015
- Worwood, Valerie Ann. The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy. San Rafael, CA: New World Library 1991
- Young, Gary. Essential Oil Desk Reference. Essential Science Publishing, 2004