Immunity Support With Essential Oils
I had a health crisis in 1999 that lead me to move away from conventional medicine and seek solutions from ”alternative” therapies. Fortunately as a trained Medical Scientist and Medical researcher, I had the skills and belief that I could figure out how to “flick the switch” and get back to how I felt when I was younger. I just had to find answers as to the cause of my illness and learn how to rebuild my body, mind and spirit. No mean feat, right! Little did I know at the time that I was suffering from inflammation in the brain and gut. My immune system was basically on fire.
So today I want to focus on the immune system and explain some of the human body’s amazing defence barriers against viruses and other threats. I’ve been using Essential Oils to support and boost my own, and my family’s immune systems for years and with the current environment we find ourselves in, I know it’s the right time to share info on this topic. Knowledge is power.
So the first line of defence is our skin and mucous membranes. Basically we are a donut with our inner lining made of moist mucous membranes teaming with immune capabilities at the ready. This is because our eyes, nose and mouth are the main avenues for threats to enter our bodies. This level of defence rarely interrupts our daily lives and our bodies manage to kill and remove anything untoward without us barely noticing. Some parts of the mucous membranes in our organ systems have cilia, tiny finger-like projections that help us to move and flush things to the outer exits of the body. Food and drink is a major carrier of potential threats and why our stomach produces acids to kill and digest. Our gut not only absorbs nutrients it is teaming with trillions of microbes to help us fight invaders and convert food into bio-available nutrients. Our GALT, gut associated lymphoid tissue is an important part of the immune system in our gut.
The second line of defence is our white blood cells. They're amazing! They go around and scoop things up, drag them into vacuoles and kill threats. We've got all kinds of white blood cells such as neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinophils, monocytes, basophils. These guys do a fabulous job of letting us know there’s something not quite right, but the response method is broad and not specific. Think of it like the local police arriving and restoring calm to the neighbourhood.
Then we have our third line of defence which triggers a far more serious response. When a threat has breached our first two lines of safety and the local police aren’t quite up for the job, the SWAT team is called in and our targeted antibody production is initiated.
We call the organ system that looks after our immunity, the Lymphatic System. It is threaded throughout our entire body similar to our blood circulatory system. The lymphatics are ducts and contain lymph nodes, which act like little mother-ships dispatching, receiving and supporting white blood cells. White blood cells engulf the threat, and retreat back to the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are concentrated in different areas of the body such as under the arms, in the groin, and in the neck and when swollen and sore indicate that something’s wrong.
I like to use an Oregano Touch roller and OnGuard® Touch roller on either side of the neck to directly support the lymph nodes in this area when feeling a little under the weather, or one of my children is coughing and spluttering in the house. Also a great time to pop on a diffuser to take out anything hanging around.
Scientific research has discovered the herbaceous Oregano family has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so it’s a great idea to use diluted topically in a roller bottle if you’ve got a sore throat. This is also a great way to support the mucus membranes in your mouth and throat. Oregano is a hot essential oil and should never be used neat on the skin unless for specific purposes. We have used it on warts for my boys, however it’s important to protect the non-affected skin, with correctX ointment for instance. Persistence is key, repeat several applications a day until you see desired results. In Australia and New Zealand we are fortunate to have Manuka touch which is a great alternative for those with sensitive skin, children and the elderly.
These internal barriers play an integral part in defending ourselves from illness and disease, however they’re not the only weapons we have. The entire system works collectively and incorporates our physical barriers, our normal flora, our gut health, our saliva, our mucous formation and our membranes. All are critical in helping the body to work effectively. Please be careful about what you are choosing to use topically and in your home to kill germs. We need our good bugs as they support us in important ways. Essential oils have been shown to be selective in their effects on our microbe friends versus our foes, so using them to clean provides a safer, non-toxic alternative.
To keep our mucous membranes moist, try warm water with a few slices of lemon and a drop or two of an essential oil. Sipping this throughout the day, can stimulate the salivary glands in your mouth. Just ‘thinking’ about lemon in your mouth can stimulate saliva production. Try it! When our skin, mouth and nasal cavity is dry in winter we are more at risk of invaders.
It's extremely important to have an acid pH level in your stomach to help kill things that shouldn't be there. This is such an important first line of defence. pH is dependent on temperature, so don’t consume large amounts of iced drinks with a meal. It stops digestion, especially of fats and causes food to sit for much longer. We want food to be digested to supply valuable nutrients and building blocks for our body, especially when it needs to ramp up production of immune cells when threatened.
There are endless ways we're able to help you use essential oil in your environment, such as diffusing and using them topically on the body, to minimise a threat getting hold in the body in the first place.
Essential oils are an extremely powerful resource when it comes to boosting our immune system, naturally.
For example, a comparative study into the Oregano family by scientists in America found that all species and sub-species contain Carvacrol and Thymol, but overall 37 constituents were found amongst them all. The chemistry varies and changes. So one of the impressive aspects of essential oils is that their chemistry and the variety of constituents they possess due to seasonal, species, and environmental fluctuations, enables them to thwart invaders and threats. As living entities, plants are constantly adapting - and so are the essential oils they produce.
Viruses and other threats find it hard to get ahead of something that's changing just as much as they are, and therefore essential oils are an excellent way to support our immune system. Obviously really good foods are also important. You should eat as many fresh fruit and veggies as you can get your hands on, not forgoing a variety of proteins which are vital in carrying out all the building of our cells and all the enzymes needed to make things happen in the body.
After years of research and interest in the immune system, I've incorporated essential oils into so many aspects of my family's daily life. Check out the Daily Routine Using recipes and proven therapeutic techniques, oils have contributed to our blessing of good health and a happy home.
If you’re keen to know more, and in more detail, please enjoy my recent webinar:
Image source: Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash. Researchers at the Texas Center for Cancer. This scanning electron microscope image shows dendritic cells, pseudo-colored in green, interacting with T cells, pseudo-colored in pink. The dendritic cells internalize the particles, process the antigens, and present peptides to T cells to direct immune responses.