Anti-viral Essential Oils?
First up, if you see a report of an essential oil that can treat coronavirus, don’t believe it! As COVID-19 is a new virus, there cannot possibly be any conclusive evidence of this.
There are many studies showing the antibacterial power of essential oils. Research into their anti-viral activity is not as abundant although according to Robert Tisserand the “evidence for their use to kill viruses is mounting”. Also, there are case studies and reports by practitioners have shown aromatic treatments to be beneficial in dealing with common viral respiratory infections.
There are 3 main ways essential oils can be used during cold and flu season and although we have not experienced anything like this widespread infection before, aromatherapy may be of some support
- Air antiseptics
Some essential oils have been shown to be air antiseptics. This means when they are diffused into the air, they destroy airborne moulds and bacteria and therefore help reduce the spread of infection. There is some anecdotal evidence that suggests they may also destroy some viruses.
For this reason, I like to diffuse essential oils during times of illness and have been doing so lately. Essential oils that show the best air antiseptic qualities include citrus essential oils, Scotch pine, Spruce, Cypress, Tea tree, Rosalina, Clove Bud and Red Thyme.
We can help to strengthen and support the “terrain” of the body (and mind) by balancing the central nervous system and immune system etc. Essential oils, along with diet, lifestyle, meditation, herbal medicine etc can help bring the mind and body back to equilibrium. How often do you hear of people getting sick after a particular stressful time? We can use essential oils to help reduce stress, improve mood, improve sleep, tonify and revitalise the body and mind. In this case it’s best to choose essential oils on an individualised basis.
If you do get sick essential oils can be of great value in helping to reduce symptoms and prevent secondary infection. The essential oils used and application methods would depend on symptoms, plus the person’s age, medical history etc. Essential oils that have been reported to be beneficial for common viral respiratory infections include eucalyptus radiata, eucalyptus globulus, niaouli, ravensara, peppermint, spike lavender, ginger and black pepper. Major anti-infectious essential oils include clove bud, oregano, red thyme and cinnamon leaf or bark; however great care needs to be taken if using these oils as they are also strong skin irritants and are contra-indicated in certain instances.
There are many more essential oils that can be beneficial, depending on symptoms, e.g. antispasmodic essential oils for cough; expectorant essential oils for congestion; muscle relaxants for aches and pains etc. You can look at my previous winter wellness blog for more information on use; or feel free to contact me for clarification.
Please note, I am not making any therapeutic claims here: this would not only be unsafe, but also illegal. I am simply sharing information I have at hand that may be useful at this time. My source of information includes reports and research papers shared by trusted aromatherapy professionals and my own experience over many years. The Tisserand Institute is one go-to place for up-to-date information on essential oil research. They are releasing some information soon regarding essential oils and COVID-19.
And please remember you only need a few drops of essential oils at a time so there is no need to stockpile!! Essential oils are valuable natural resources and need to be treated with respect.