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  • Writer's pictureSimone Grove

10 essential oils to support your immune system

Immunity is a real concern for many of my patients, who are often dealing with existing health challenges. And what I tend to find is that through worrying about getting sick or becoming stressed about having weakened defences to disease (and other things), they are unknowingly doing more harm than good. Our immune systems are complex and are influenced by many different aspects of health and lifestyle – and since they are connected to our digestive function, nervous system and hormonal production, they are even more susceptible to influence via the mind-body connection.

 

This is where holistic interventions really come into their own, offering gentle yet effective support for both body and mind to help us heal and feel our best. Here I’m sharing my top ten essential oils for immunity, all of which help to support the body’s healing response in different ways. Essential oils are a wonderful healing tool because they’re safe and non-invasive with no side effects when used properly - and each one also offers a host of additional benefits.

 

1/ Citrus oils

 

Zesty citrus oils contain powerful antioxidants, helping to reduce the impact of toxins and free-radicals on our immune system and overall health. Lemon essential oil has been shown to encourage the production of white blood cells, whilst orange can support with colds and flu and also stimulates the all-important lymphatic system, which supports the body in flushing out toxins. Sweet orange in particular can also help to boost your mood and energy levels – simply pop a few drops in a diffuser or blend with a carrier oil and dab onto pulse points for instant relief.

 

2/ Clary sage

 

I’ve covered clary sage before because it has so many incredible properties to benefit body and mind, especially for women. It has a fragrant, refreshing scent which helps to bring mental clarity and can ease the effects of menopause. Clary sage is also beneficial for our immune system, with research showing that it can combat more than one strain of Staphylococcus bacterial infection. It is also wonderful when used to help treat wounds and scars, supporting cleaner and quicker healing.

 

3/ Frankincense

 

Frankincense has a warm, earthy scent – and studies have shown that it also has immune-enhancing abilities and anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. One study found that Frankincense essential oil demonstrated strong immunostimulant activity, suggesting that it can actually improve the function of our immune system. Frankincense also has antiseptic properties and can be used to help prevent infections and bacteria around the mouth and on the skin.

 

4/ Lavender

 

Lavender is well-known for its stress-relieving, sleep-boosting benefits – and it’s also good for our immune system health. Stress impacts our immune system through increasing inflammation and affecting making us more susceptible to illness, so using Lavender to deal with stress may help to reduce this impact. Lavender essential oil can also help with inhibiting bacterial growth and can have a cooling effect if you are struggling with a fever.

 

5/ Lemongrass

 

Lemongrass is a popular fragrance – it’s used in many different perfumes and has a lovely uplifting, fresh scent. Lemongrass has antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral properties, helping to support immunity whilst also cleansing and killing infection. It can also be used to calm and soothe a fever and boost energy levels during or after illness – I also like to use this as a non-toxic disinfectant around the house.

 

6/ Myrrh

 

Most people are familiar with myrrh as a favourite Christmas scent (and gift of one of the three wise men). It has an earthy, woody, almost spicy scent and has been used for thousands of years as a remedy for a variety of ailments from anxiety to migraines. Myrrh has been shown to help reduce inflammation, accelerate wound healing and support proper immune system function, as well as being a natural pain reliever. 

 

7/ Peppermint

 

Peppermint is one of the best-known essential oils – but although it’s renowned for its digestive benefits, it has a wide array of immune-boosting qualities too including antimicrobial properties. Some essential oils are edible, so peppermint may be enjoyed as part of a refreshing tonic or soothing hot drink.

 

8/ Spearmint

 

Like peppermint, spearmint has that refreshing almost cooling effect, but it has a milder, softer and almost sweet scent which makes it more suitable to anyone sensitive to overpowering fragrances. Spearmint’s benefits are less well-publicised compared with peppermint, but it offers gentle yet effective support for a variety of illnesses. Alongside digestive support it is fantastic for nausea, vomiting, headaches and soothing symptoms of cold and flu.

 

9/ Clove

 

Clove is well-known and loved especially at Christmas time for its sweet, fragrant scent – and it offers benefits for our immune systems all year round. Clove has natural purifying and astringent properties – it’s long been used as a remedy for toothache and dental abscesses. Its warming effect is wonderful for boosting circulation and easing aches and pains, and it can also be used in a diffuser to help soothe congestion.

 

10/ Thyme

 

Thyme is a familiar kitchen herb for most of us – but few people realise how powerful it is when it comes to tackling illness and supporting the immune system. It contains naturally-occurring chemical compounds which boast a range of immune-boosting properties including anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory. In studies it has been shown to stimulate the production of white blood cells, and it was identified as one of the most effective essential oils against Staphylococcus (the viral strain that causes MRSA). Thyme is also an expectorant and anti-spasmodic, which makes it particularly useful when treating colds and flu as it can help to reduce coughing and loosen mucous. 

 

As well as the physical health benefits it can offer, thyme’s pungent scent has been shown to be stimulating and uplifting when you’re lacking focus or feeling fatigued. When you’re feeling under the weather you can add it to a diffuser to help improve your sleep and support mental wellbeing.

 

How to use essential oils to boost immunity

 

Although essential oils are generally safe with no side effects, it’s important to use them with caution. Essential oils need to be diluted with a carrier oil before they’re applied to the skin, and some can cause irritation or allergies. It’s also important to source high quality pure essential oils which are organic wherever possible as there are many on the market containing harmful chemicals and pesticides, patch test before use and to seek specialist support if you are on medication to ensure there are no drug interactions.




 

 

 

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