How to Protect Your Immune System Naturally?
All you have to to to protect yourself naturally from picking up bugs is to practice a few simple ‘common sense’ measures.
The #1 MOST important and best way to protect your immune system’s health is to Promote a healthy microbiome.
Your first line of defense against any bugs is your gut. Natural health practiioners have known this for years, but science is finally catching up. Science has finally made the game changing discovery that up to 70% of your immune system is located in your gut.
This means your food can act as a medicine (or poison) depending upon your dietary choices. Do you eat to satisfy your needs for delicious foods that nourish your body and mind. Or, do eat purely for the entertainment value and experience of eating. Or, do you eat comfort foods that suppress uncomfortable emotions (as in emotional eating).
Simply choosing to eat whole foods (not processed) that are organically grown is fundamental to good health and supports a strong immune system. Essential oils, herbs and health supplements that support your individual needs can also play a vital role in protecting your immune system.
The VERY worst thing you can do to undermine your immune response is to eat sugar, or food that turns immediately into sugar, i.e. breads, pasta and other carbohydrate dense foods. Listen to your body and how it feels after consuming food for clues about what nourishes or possibly damages your gut.
For a complete list of what puts your immune system in the danger zone check out my article, “9 Things that Put Your Immune System in the Danger - Quick Immunity Checklist!”
Best Antimicrobial Oils by Chemistry - What the Research Shows
Alcohols (The Lovers)
Some of the most well-known and beloved oils in aromatherapy are in the alcohol chemical class. Alcohols are friendly oils that blend well with most other essential oils.
The monoterpene alcohols are found in a large number of essential oils. Terpenes give most essential oils antimicrobial effects.
Adding an additional oxidation pathway, such as with monoterpenols (a terpene alcohol), can lead to more synergistic effects.
Synergistic effects are observed when the combination of substances has a greater effect than the sum of its individual effects. The synergistic quality of alcohols is what makes them stand out and worthy of being considered for immune protection.
Essential oils containing terpene alcohols have the highest antibacterial action, after phenols and aldehydes.
Alcohols are generally nontoxic, non-irritating, nonallergenic and nonmutagenic (do not cause cell mutations or genetic alterations).
Phenols (The Warriors)
Notably phenols require careful handling due to their tendency to cause chemical burns. They have a viscous (thick, sticky) consistency. Their high viscosity makes them less volatile and subject to rapid evaporation. Phenol’s characteristic scent is intensely sweet.
Thymol, eugenol and carvacrol are characteristic components of this class of essential oils. Phenol containing oils have strongly antiseptic, anti-bacterial, disinfectant and stimulating properties.
Thymol - Results of a study on the chemical Thymol (a constituent of the essential oil Thymus vulgarius) suggest the potential role of thymol as a natural immuno-stimulatory drug which can be used in the treatment of various immunological disorders.
Eugenol - The influence of clove essential oil in antimicrobial activity was studied. The results of the study suggest that the characteristics of organic substances, i.e. eugenol, play an important role in destroying bacteria. Up to 89% of clove oil is eugenol.
Carvacrol - The biological effects of carvacrol was studied (oregano essential oil contains up to 80% carvacrol). It’s antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, immunomodulatory, anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties were shown to prevent free radicals and hazardous compounds from interacting with cellular DNA.
Carvacrol has the ability to change the gut microflora, improving digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Aldehydes (The Cleaners)
Highly unstable, aldehydes easily oxidize and become rancid in the presence of heat, light and air.
Citral, neral, geranial and citronellas are characteristic components of aldehyde containing essential oils. Essential oils containing primarily aldehydes have the highest antibacterial activity, along with phenols.
Citral is an aroma compound used frequently in the perfume industry for its citrus effect. It’s also used as a food flavor and to fortify the effects of lemon oil.
Citral has strong antimicrobial qualities, Lemongrass oil contains 70–80 percent citral. Citral has been studied and shown to be effective for its bactericidal and fungicidal activity.
Neral, is classified as a monoterpene aldehyde. Its aroma is similar to lemons. Neral has been studied and shown effective as an antibacterial agent. One study showed the antimicrobial prosperities of Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) to be effective against pathogenic bacteria.
Citronellal has a distinctive lemon scent. Research on its insect properties show its high effectiveness, especially against mosquitoes. Research has also demonstrated citronellal strong anti fungal properties.
Geranial has a light, sharp, fresh lemon scent. Studies conducted on the aldehydes geranial (alpha citral) and neral (beta citral) showed both to be effective as antibacterial agents.
Oxides (The Liberators)
The most common oxide in aromatherapy is 1,8-cineole. Also known as eucalyptol.
Oxide molecules are chemically very stable. Essential oils having a camphoraceous scent usually contain oxide formations, i.e. eucalyptus and rosemary cineole.
1,8-Cineole has been shown to have expectorant properties and to stimulate the respiratory and digestive systems.
Top 10 Essential Oils to Protect Your Immune System
Research shows these essential oils are effective as broad spectrum anti-microbial agents. You can use them to protect your immune system.
Oregano (Origanum vulgare) - Phenol
- Contains powerful anti-microbial properties
- Studies show oregano essential oil is a potent antiseptic, germ killer
- Promotes relief for a broad spectrum of infections
A 2014 study showed the antiviral efficacy and mechanisms of action of oregano essential oil were due to its primary component carvacrol.
Safety Cautions: Strong irritant to the skin and the mucous membranes. Maximum dermal use level is 1.1% dilution for safe skin application. Possible drug interactions, may inhibit blood clotting, possible embryo-toxicity. Avoid in pregnancy and breastfeeding and with children under two years of age. Avoid with hypersensitive, diseased or damaged skin.
Clary Sage (Salvia sclerea) - Monoterpenol
- One of the best immunity oils in aromatherapy
- Powerful adaptogenic - helps balance extremes
- Broad spectrum of therapeutic usage
- Analgesic - pain killer
- Promotes deep release of tension
- Fever reducer
- May be useful as a sleep aid
A 2018 study evaluated 63 essential oils for anti-influenza activity. The study demonstrated that 11 of the essential oils possessed anti-influenza activity, reducing visible cytopathic effects of influenza. Clary sage, marjoram, and anise oils exhibited the greatest anti-influenza virus activity at over 52.8%. The key chemical component detected in all three oils was linalool, a monoterpene alcohol.
Safety Cautions: Skin sensitization (moderate risk). As Clary Sage can make some people feel exceedingly woozy and faint please avoid using it when driving or needing to focus. Maximum dermal use level .25%.
Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus & E. radiata) - Oxide, Monoterpene
- Natural respiratory decongestant
- Powerful respiratory support
- Can help fortify the immune system
- Promotes circulation and removal of mucous
- Often recommended as a good blood cleanser
A study on the Eucalyptus oil immune-modifying and antimicrobial effects and its major component, 1,8-cineole, showed, "antimicrobial effects against many bacteria, including Mycobacterium tuberculosis and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), viruses, and fungi (including Candida). The study also showed Eucalyptus oil was also immune-stimulatory, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, analgesic, and spasmolytic effects." Eucalyptus oil also effected the white blood cells and increased phagocytic activity. Phagocytes are white blood cells that break down bacteria and other microorganisms, foreign particles, and cellular debris.
Safety Cautions: Do not apply at or near mouth of infants or children under 10 years of age. Up to 20% dilution is safe for skin applications.
Clove Bud (Eugenia caryophyllata) - Phenol
- Studies show potent antimicrobial properties
- Often recommended for various respiratory conditions
In 2016 study on the antiviral activities of essential oils of major Medicinal Aromatic Plants (MAPs) and their chemical constituents was undertaken. Of the MAPs studied oregano and clove essential oils exhibited the strongest antiviral activity against several viruses.
The study also noted that anti-viral activity was previously reported for thyme, Australian eucalyptus and tea tree. The major chemical constituent α-caryophyllene (a terpene found in many essential oil plant extracts) was considered to be the best antiviral agent.
Safety Cautions: Skin sensitization (moderate risk), mucous membrane irritant (moderate risk). Maximum dermal use level .5%. Possible drug interaction, may inhibit blood clotting. Avoid use with hypersensitive, damaged, or diseased skin and children under 2 years of age.
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris ct thymol) - Phenol
- Powerful immune stimulant
- One of nature's most potent anti-microbial oils
- Its anti-microbial action is unequaled by other oils
Studies showed Thyme EO, “Displayed 100% inhibitory activity in against influenza virus.”
Its chemical constituents, thymol and carvacrol, were both shown to possess significant antiviral activity. Carvacrol and thymol are both in the Phenol chemical class.
Safety Cautions: A skin irritant (low risk), mucous membrane irritant (moderate risk), may inhibit blood clotting. Maximum dermal use level 1.3%.
Cinnamon leaf (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) - Phenolic Ether, Cinnamic Aldehyde
- Stimulating, warming and energizing
Safety Cautions: Drug interaction, may inhibit blood clotting, skin sensitization (moderate risk), mucous membrane irritant (low risk). May contain safrole. Maximum dermal use level 1.0% based on safrole content. Maximum dermal use level 0.6% based on 87% eugenol content. For oral use may interact with pethidine, MAOIs or SSRIs, anticoagulant medication, major surgery, peptic ulcer, hemophelia, other bleeding disorder.
Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis) - Monoterpene, Aldehyde
- Useful as a rejuvenating body and mind tonic
- Helps to ease tension and stress
Safety Cautions: Skin sensitization if oxidized, recommend refrigeration.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis ct. cineole) - Oxide
- Stimulating, warming and energizing
- Used since ancient times for cleansing and purification
- Powerful restorative and tonic properties
Safety Cautions: As the Cineole content variety is high in oxides it is best for short term use. May be neurotoxic. Do not apply to or near the face of infants or children. May be a skin irritant (low risk). Maximum dermal use level 16.5%.
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) - Monoterpenol, Aldehyde
- Contains cleansing and purifying properties
- Refreshes and renews your energy
- Promotes release of negative blockages
Safety Cautions: Avoid use with drugs metabolized by CYP2B6 gene (Diabetes medication). Skin sensitization. Maximum dermal use 0.7%. Avoid use with hypersensitive skin, diseased or damaged skin, children under 2 years of age.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) - Monoterpenol
- Reputation for universal all purpose application
- Calming, relaxing and anxiety reducing agent
- Helps relieve tension and stress
- Calming and soothing influence
Safety Cautions: None known
Hand Cleaner EO Recipe #1
- Clary Sage (monoterpenol) - 40 drops
- Lemongrass (monoterpenol, aldehyde) - 30 drops
- Thyme (phenol) - 10 drops
- Eucalyptus (oxide) - 10 drops
- Clove Bud (phenol) - 10 drops
Hand Cleaner EO Recipe #2
- Lavender (monoterpenol) - 30 drops
- Sweet Orange (monoterpene, aldehyde) - 40 drops
- Cinnamon leaf (phenol, aldehyde) - 10 drops
- Rosemary ct. cineole (oxide) - 10 drops
- Oregano (phenol) - 10 drops
To a 5ml (100 drops EO) colored glass euro-dropper bottle add your drops of essential oil. Close cap tightly and shake bottle vigorously to thoroughly blend essential oils. Allow oils to synergize for 8-12 hours or longer before using.
EO Hand Cleaner
What you will need:
2 ounce - natural plastic bottle with dispensing cap
2 ounces - liquid Castile soap (unscented), or other natural liquid soap - a lathering agent and dispersant
Instructions - 10% Dilution
- Half fill dispensing bottle with liquid soap
- Add 120 drops of your EO synergy blend
- Cap bottle and shake to mix EOs thoroughly
- Top-off bottle with liquid soap, cap bottle tightly and shake to mix
EOs thoroughly into your soap
- Use as needed
READ first article in this series, 4 Potent Essential Oil Surface Cleaners +Easy to Use Recipes