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5 Best Essential Oils To Boost Your Immune System (During Winter)

5 Best Essential Oils To Boost Your Immune System (During Winter)

Introduction

During the winter months, our bodies can benefit from a little bit of extra attention. The immune system is one of the main engines safeguarding us, so we are happy and healthy.

But why are we more vulnerable in winter? Research from Yale showed that the reason why our immune system is at a disadvantage during the winter is that the cold weakens the nose’s first line of immune defence. The ability of immune cells to perform apoptosis (self-destruction to prevent the spread of a virus to other cells) is compromised, leaving the immune cells in a disadvantage from invading germs [1].

Moreover, the lack of vitamin D, due to less exposure to the sun, also plays an important factor. Vitamin D has numerous health benefits but is essential when it comes to a well-functioning immune system. Our killer cells, or T-cells (cells actively searching for harmful pathogens to destroy in the bloodstream), need vitamin D to activate. If there’s a shortage of Vitamin D, the effectiveness of the adaptive immune system is suppressed [2].

Essential oils’ therapeutic properties can help strengthen the immune system. This month, we’ll dive deeper into what essential oils can offer in supporting our bodies to conquer cold drafts and grey, snowy days!

Factors that influence the strength of the immune system

Various factors determine how well our defence mechanism is performing. No matter how healthily you live, it’s only natural that the immune system is weakened at some point. Factors such as stress, sleep, diet, and exercise influence the vitality of your immune system. Following a nutritious diet with 7 to 8 hours of sleep and enough exercise should get you at least on the right track [3][4][5].

How the immune system works

The immune system is our first defence protecting us from viruses, diseases, and pathogens entering our body. If any harmful organisms have found its way into our bloodstream, the antibodies attack the intruders and clear the invaders from our system.

The immune system activates when it comes across something that it doesn’t recognize as his own. The first line of defence is the non-specific immune system, or innate, and acts as general protection to fight off microbes entering through the skin mucous membranes. The second defence system is the specific, or adaptive, immune system where it detects, attacks, and neutralises harmful pathogens.

Pathogens (or germs) are, in principle, any organism that can produce disease. They carry an antigen, a type of protein found on the surface of the pathogen, that binds to a specific B-cell antigen receptor or antigen-specific antibody. The immune system is programmed to target antigens. After a lymphocyte (a type of white blood cell) recognises the antigen, it produces antibodies specific to that antigen. The antibodies then attack the pathogen by locking into the unique shape of the antigen. After the pathogen is destroyed, it’s absorbed by macrophages (a process called phagocytosis) [6]

How essential oils fortify your immune system

Essential oils contain compounds that have pharmacological properties. These compounds, including carbohydrates, ethers, alcohols, aldehydes, and ketones, are the reason essential oils have a specific fragrance and biological properties for medicinal purposes [7].

They can either fortify the immune system or eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses. While all essential oils contain antibacterial, antiviral, and antiseptic properties to some extent, some essential oils have more of one than the other. Depending on their characteristics, essential oils can fight viruses, purify the air, alleviate flu-like symptoms, and bring comfort during illness [8].

Besides the biological factors, essential oils also provide a psychological benefit. Essential oils derived from herbs such as lavender and rosemary promote relaxation by reducing stress levels (cortisol). The hormone cortisol lowers the immune system’s defence mechanisms, by reducing the levels of lymphocytes and compromising the growth of T-cells. Aromatherapy can help in relieving tension and stress. Research shows that inhaling lavender and rosemary essential oils reduces cortisol levels, thus boosting the immune system [9].

5 best essential oils for the immune system

Although essential oils can have beneficial effects all year round, we selected these five for their particular immune system qualities. Essential oils can be used in different ways, but here, we focus on inhalation.

Eucalyptus Globulus

Eucalyptus Globulus is well-known for its refreshing fragrance, cleansing properties, and support in respiratory illness relief. It contains a high percentage in 1,8-cineole, generally between 60-90% [10]. After inhalation, research shows that it supports the health and functioning of monocytes and the production of T-cells [11][12].

Eucalyptus oil also has antibacterial effects on infectious bacteria in the upper respiratory tract, including those causing influenza and strep [13]. Its aromas also open the respiratory tract and decongest sinuses, and soothes painful coughs. With its strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties [14], it strengthens the immune system and invigorates the body [15][16].

Lemon

Lemon essential oil a serious mood uplifter. Research consistently shows that it alleviates symptoms of anxiety and depression [17].

Additionally, lemon essential oil offers strong antibacterial and antioxidant qualities that do wonders for the immune system and your energy levels. So is lemon essential oil also associated with enhanced production of lymphocytes, the body’s main type of immune cells [18][19].

Rosemary

Rosemary essential oil has potent antibacterial properties that help protect your body. Similar to eucalyptus oil, rosemary essential oil has a positive effect on protecting you from airway illnesses. Because of its high percentage of 1,8-cineole, has an anti-inflammatory effect on airway illnesses [20][21].
On top of that, the oil has fortifying qualities boosting the immune system because of its psychological benefits. Research shows the feel-good properties of rosemary; reducing cortisol-levels and so increasing the strength of your immune system [22].

Tea tree

Tea tree essential oil fights infections and inhibits harmful bacteria. With potent antibacterial and antifungal qualities due to high levels of alpha-sabine and anti-sceptic qualities because of terpinenen-4-ol, tea tree essential oil is a notable immune booster [23][24]. For example, research shows that its significantly suppressed proteins associated with an inflammatory response [25].

Clove

Clove essential oil is one of the most robust antibacterial essential oils. Its high percentage of eugenol, generally between 70-76%, supports strong antimicrobial and antifungal properties that cleanse harmful molecules from the air [26]. It’s suggested that clove essential oil promotes the regeneration of specific cells and protein associated with the immune system and inflammation [27][28].

How to use these oils

Create your immune boost blend of these 5 oils:Recipe for 10ml = 200 drops

  • Lemon 100 drops
  • Eucalyptus globulus 60 drops
  • Tea tree 25 drops
  • Rosemary 10 drops
  • Clove 5 drops

In our Aromen ultrasonic diffuser:

Step 1: Fill the water reservoir with water.
Step 2: Depending on the size of the room and your personal preference of fragrance intensity, you can add 5 to 10 drops of essential oil.

Did you know you can find the strength of the oil in our app?

Our 1-6 codes give you an indication of the intensity of a smell.
The higher the score the more intense the smell the lower you will need to dose it.
For example, only 1 drop of clove can fill the entire room. But with a citrusy smell like lemon, you can easily go to 5-10 drops.

Step 3: Choose the duration of the mist and possibly the colour of the LED light.
Step 4: Enjoy all the benefits that nature has to offer.

Use one of our GreenSpace nano-diffusers to create a clean and healthy environment throughout the day.

Click here and find out more about GreenSpace
GreenSpace
Add one drop in a large bowl of hot water for a 5 min intense steam inhalation.

Caution

Using aromatherapy to help your immune system, there are a few things that you should take into account:

Its high concentration means that you should always dilute the oils if you bring them on the skin and don’t take them orally without professional guidance.

Go for natural and pure oils to benefit from aromatherapy

Do your research. Some essential oils are more potent than others and work differently.

Conclusion

Though taking care of your health is certainly a year-round task, your immune system is extra vulnerable during the winter months. Our essential oils and diffusers are there to lend you a helping hand!

See the Aromen App for more in-depth information on plant in aromatherapy

Download for IOS Android

[1] https://www.delimmune.com/2016/12/does-cold-weather-weaken-immune-system/
[2] Cantorna, M. T., Snyder, L., Lin, Y. D., & Yang, L. (2015). Vitamin D and 1, 25 (OH) 2D regulation of T cells. Nutrients, 7(4), 3011-3021.
[3] https://www.zyto.com/10-essential-oils-for-immunity
[4] https://www.matrixaromatherapy.com/post/essential-oils-for-immunity
[5]Peterfalvi, A., Miko, E., Nagy, T., Reger, B., Simon, D., Miseta, A., … & Szereday, L. (2019). Much More Than a Pleasant Scent: A Review on Essential Oils Supporting the Immune System. Molecules, 24(24), 4530.
[6] https://microbiologysociety.org/why-microbiology-matters/what-is-microbiology/microbes-and-the-human-body/immune-system.html
[7] Kalemba, D. A. A. K., & Kunicka, A. (2003). Antibacterial and antifungal properties of essential oils. Current medicinal chemistry, 10(10), 813-829.
[8] Peterfalvi, A., Miko, E., Nagy, T., Reger, B., Simon, D., Miseta, A., … & Szereday, L. (2019). Much More Than a Pleasant Scent: A Review on Essential Oils Supporting the Immune System. Molecules, 24(24), 4530.
[9] Rahimi, H., Nakhaei, M., Mehrpooya, N., Hatami, S. M., & Vagharseyyedin, S. A. (2019). The Effect of Inhaling the Aroma of Rosemary Essential Oil on the Pre-Hospital Emergency Personnel Stress and Anxiety: A Quasi-Experimental Study. Modern Care Journal, 16(3).
[10] Serafino, A., Vallebona, P. S., Andreola, F., Zonfrillo, M., Mercuri, L., Federici, M., … & Pierimarchi, P. (2008). Stimulatory effect of Eucalyptus essential oil on innate cell-mediated immune response. BMC immunology, 9(1), 17.
[11] Peterfalvi, A., Miko, E., Nagy, T., Reger, B., Simon, D., Miseta, A., … & Szereday, L. (2019). Much More Than a Pleasant Scent: A Review on Essential Oils Supporting the Immune System. Molecules, 24(24), 4530.
[12] Miguel, M. G., Gago, C., Antunes, M. D., Lagoas, S., Faleiro, M. L., Megías, C., … & Figueiredo, A. C. (2018). Antibacterial, antioxidant, and antiproliferative activities of Corymbia citriodora and the essential oils of eight Eucalyptus species. Medicines, 5(3), 61.
[13] Miguel, M. G., Gago, C., Antunes, M. D., Lagoas, S., Faleiro, M. L., Megías, C., … & Figueiredo, A. C. (2018). Antibacterial, antioxidant, and antiproliferative activities of Corymbia citriodora and the essential oils of eight Eucalyptus species. Medicines, 5(3), 61.
[15] https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/266580#eucalyptus_health_benefits
[16] Tadtong, S., Kamkaen, N., Watthanachaiyingcharoen, R., & Ruangrungsi, N. (2015). Chemical components of four essential oils in aromatherapy recipe. Natural Product Communications, 10(6), 1934578X1501000673.
[17] Komiya M, Takeuchi T, Harada E. Lemon oil vapor causes an anti-stress effect via modulating the 5-HT and DA activities in mice. Behav Brain Res. 2006 Sep 25;172(2):240-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2006.05.006. Epub 2006 Jun 15. PMID: 16780969.
[18] Peterfalvi, A., Miko, E., Nagy, T., Reger, B., Simon, D., Miseta, A., … & Szereday, L. (2019). Much More Than a Pleasant Scent: A Review on Essential Oils Supporting the Immune System. Molecules, 24(24), 4530.
[19] Ali, B., Al-Wabel, N. A., Shams, S., Ahamad, A., Khan, S. A., & Anwar, F. (2015). Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 5(8), 601-611.
[20] Nascimento, N. R. F., Refosco, R. M. D. C., Vasconcelos, E. C. F., Kerntopf, M. R., Santos, C. F., Batista, F. J. A., … & Fonteles, M. C. (2009). 1, 8‐Cineole induces relaxation in rat and guinea‐pig airway smooth muscle. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 61(3), 361-366.
[21] Ali, B., Al-Wabel, N. A., Shams, S., Ahamad, A., Khan, S. A., & Anwar, F. (2015). Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 5(8), 601-611.
[22] Rahimi, H., Nakhaei, M., Mehrpooya, N., Hatami, S. M., & Vagharseyyedin, S. A. (2019). The Effect of Inhaling the Aroma of Rosemary Essential Oil on the Pre-Hospital Emergency Personnel Stress and Anxiety: A Quasi-Experimental Study. Modern Care Journal, 16(3). Chicago
[23] Sandner, G., Heckmann, M., & Weghuber, J. (2020). Immunomodulatory activities of selected essential oils. Biomolecules, 10(8), 1139.
[24][24] Ali, B., Al-Wabel, N. A., Shams, S., Ahamad, A., Khan, S. A., & Anwar, F. (2015). Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, 5(8), 601-611.
[25] Nogueira, M. N. M., Aquino, S. G., Junior, C. R., & Spolidório, D. M. P. (2014). Terpinen-4-ol and alpha-terpineol (tea tree oil components) inhibit the production of IL-1β, IL-6 and IL-10 on human macrophages. Inflammation research, 63(9), 769-778.
[26] Sandner, G., Heckmann, M., & Weghuber, J. (2020). Immunomodulatory Activities of Selected Essential Oils. Biomolecules, 10(8), 1139. https://doi.org/10.3390/biom10081139
[27] Han, X., & Parker, T. L. (2017). Anti-inflammatory activity of clove (Eugenia caryophyllata) essential oil in human dermal fibroblasts. Pharmaceutical Biology, 55(1), 1619-1622.
[28] Goni, P., López, P., Sánchez, C., Gómez-Lus, R., Becerril, R., & Nerín, C. (2009). Antimicrobial activity in the vapour phase of a combination of cinnamon and clove essential oils. Food chemistry, 116(4), 982-989.

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