As the news of influenza is seen everywhere we turn, more and more people are seeking every available means to support their immune system and potentially prevent the infection by any number of serious viral contagions — most notably these days is “Swine Flu”, though there may be more in our future. Historically, essential oils have been used during major plagues as a means to prevent infection. Pictures can be found in natural medicine textbooks of medical practitioners wearing facemasks stuffed with cinnamon, cloves, sage and other botanicals to ward of illness. Today’s leading professional aromatherapists also suggest the most important use of essential oils for humanity will be in the treatment and prevention of such infectious illnesses. Are essential oils a viable option as an alternative therapy for home use? Here’s a look at the scientific research, as well as formulas and practices to make use of aromatic medicines.
The Supporting Data: Antiviral Actions of Essential Oils
Over the last decade, laboratory researchers around the world have found many essential oils are capable of directly eradicating viruses. Further, they may even prevent viruses from moving between cells within the body and limiting the spread of infection. This is not an over-optimistic interpretation of the data by an essential oil proponent, but the actual conclusions of controlled research studies. Abstracts of all the research mentioned here can be found through pubmed.gov, the database maintained by the buy cbd oil National Institute of Health and the US National Library of Medicine. If you wish, you can browse these results by entering search terms such as “essential oil virus”, “antiviral essential oil”, and more specifically “laurus nobilis SARS” (Laurus nobilis being Bay Laurel essential oil, and SARS a highly-infectious viral respiratory ailment). While there is not yet data where essential oils have been tested against Swine Flu and Avian Flu specifically, as we’ll see there is every reason to believe the oils will be effective against these virus strains as well.
What Does the Data Mean?
With more than one hundred published research papers on the subject, a summary is in order. What scientists are finding is that many of the essential oils commonly in use today have antiviral properties. Whether an oil is effective against a particular virus depends upon the natural chemical makeup of the oil and the structure of the virus being studied. The data, without a doubt, is very encouraging. One study performed in Germany this year concluded with the note that Tea Tree was able to “reduce viral infectivity by greater than 96 percent”. The same study went on to clarify that the whole, natural oil, rather than any single chemical synthetically extracted, was up to TEN TIMES more effective as an antiviral agent. The precise reason for this is not known — it is clear that some of the most chemically complex oils exhibit the greatest antiviral effects, and perhaps this mixture of nature’s chemicals attacks the virus AND supports immune function is several ways at once.
One Pandemic Virus and The Oil of Laurel Leaf
Many of the studies utilize the Herpes Simplex Virus as a “test subject”, because of the widespread prevalence of infection, along with the relative ease of testing. However, if one digs into the data, many papers present information relevant in in influenza pandemic. SARS ‘Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome’ is caused by the highly infectious SARS-CoV virus that made world-wide news in 2003. A study in the March 2008 Journal of Chemical Biodiversity noted Bay Laurel essential oil to have significant antiviral action against this virus. They’d also noted the natural constituents of this oil, which are also found in a great many other essential oils. This is why you’ll see MANY essential oils noted as antivirals — because many oils share similar natural chemical constituents. So while this next oil is not readily available, the data is very interesting. In 2005, Chinese researchers evaluated the anti-influenza potential of the essential oil from a root used in Chinese medicine, concluding: “In vivo…it prevented influenza virus-induced deaths in a dose-dependent manner”. And the list of oil/virus combinations goes on and on. But this begs the question: how do we derive a formula for Swine Flu prevention?