You’ve all seen the posts with essential oil “cures” for the flu. Posts that claim essential oils can ease your symptoms and/or prevent sickness in the first place.
Do you believe them or are you a skeptic?
Obviously you know that I love essential oils. I’m a certified aromatherapist for Pete’s sake!
However, I was also skeptic about whether or not these oils could really prevent flu symptoms. So I did what any skeptic would do…
I googled it, duh!
No, I went to PubMed! I wanted to see what the professionals had to say and if there were any studies done to support the use of essential oils with viruses such as influenza (the flu).
I was very surprised at what I found! Let me share my research with you.
- Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) can “prevent influenza virus from entering the host cells by disturbing the normal viral membrane fusion procedure.” (Li, et. al 2013)
- In layman’s terms, viral membrane fusion refers to the idea of the virus cell permeating another cell’s membrane and integrating itself within that cell. Which is yucky. And Tea Tree Oil prevents this. Phew.
- This handy diagram shows what viral membrane fusion looks like (Source: Wikipedia )
- Tea Tree Essential Oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) not only inhibits influenza virus replication, but significantly inhibits the virus if administered within 2 hours of exposure. (Garozzo, et. al 2010)
- doTerra’s “On Guard” blend was studied and researchers found: “Influenza virus infectivity was suppressed by essential oil treatment in a dose-dependent manner” (Wu, et. al 2010)
- Oregano essential oil was studied in regard to the Norovirus ( aka the stomach bug, a virus that causes severe vomiting). Researchers found that oregano oil and its main component (carvacrol) was effective at inactivating the Norovirus within 1 hour of exposure. (Gilling, et. al 2014)
- Different species of Eucalyptus essential oil were studied against Haemophilus influenzae, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus agalactiae, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Streptococcus pyogenes (aka influenza, pneumonia, staph, and strep). Researchers found that the oil was effective against the virus’ and bacteria, but some species worked better than others. This is just another reason that you should KNOW where your oils come from and pay attention to the latin names and MS/GC reports! (Elaissi, et. al 2012)
So what does all this research mean?
Clearly, we can see that essential oils do work to prevent and even treat some viruses. Do I think that you should forgo the ways of traditional medicine?
It is my opinion that essential oils work best to supplement traditional medicine. If you feel sick, go see your doctor and follow their advice.
However, it can’t hurt to use essential oils as a preventative measure.
Some ideas include:
- Diffuse one or two of the antiviral essential oils in your home during flu season.
- Make yourself an essential oil mister
- Put 1-3 drops of essential oils to each ounce of water in a spray bottle.
- Use on surfaces and in the air.
- My favorites to use are Tea Tree and Lemon essential oils. Smells nice and fresh!
- If you’re feeling under the weather, do an essential oil steam.
- 1 drop of antiviral essential oil ( I like to use Eucalyptus essential oil for this one)
- Boil some water (a small saucepan full will do)
- Once boiling, take your pot of water and set it on the table or counter (with towel under it, of course)
- Put 1 drop (ONLY one drop!) of essential oil into the water
- Close your eyes, lean over the steam, and inhale. Put a towel over your head to trap the steam if you’d like.
- NOTE: You’ll want to be careful as some essential oils can burn or irritate your mucous membranes. Closing your eyes will prevent them from burning or becoming bothered. Also, this is really only for adults as it may be too difficult for children.
As always, make sure you research your essential oils and follow the safety guidelines!
Stay healthy, folks!