Guard Your Immune System with Essential Oils


Anti-Germ Essential Oils for the Worried Well
By Cal Orey

 Enter the virus of 2019-2020. The outbreak of the respiratory illness caused by novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was first pinpointed in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. It has infected more than 67,000 people around the globe—mostly in mainland China. Since the outbreak, there have been reported more than 2,698 deaths—the majority in mainland China. The new statistics as of March 6 are sobering:

* The total number of global cases more than 100,000; spread to 90 nations; more than 3,400 fatalities.
  • * Regions of outbreaks at least 20 states in the U.S., which will undoubtedly be more.
  • * The World Health Organization officials are not declaring a pandemic--but preparation is taking place.
  • * Home quarantines include more than 8,000 in S.F., to closing schools in WA state.
  • * Panic buying is happening around the nation and world. Food to mask sales are soaring.
  • * America does not have enough testing equipment so those infected will go without a definitive diagnosis.
  • * The travel industry, large events, and lives of people with underlying health conditions and elderly with weakened immune systems are advised to stay home.
  • * Stocks plummet due to fear of the coronavirus and its effects on the world economies. 

A Global Crisis on the Verge of Pandemic
  • Currently, this virus (with symptoms of a cough, fever, and shortness of breath) may not be as deadly as the 1918 Spanish flu—but it is contagious and the world is on edge. The coronavirus has killed more people than SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome which first appeared in China, 2002). And it has complicated challenges, whereas people are quarantined in hospitals to stranded and isolated on cruise ships. People in dozens o countries are coping but fear the unknown.  The respiratory illness comes with an unpredictable and longish incubation period (two to four weeks). 
  • Worse, the infected may not know they are sick and can pass in to others.  Like in the film "Outbreak" coronavirus is spread from infected people to others through the air, by coughing and sneezing (refer to the movie theater scene when an infected person sneezed), and touch objects or surfaces with the virus on it. While most people with healthy immune systems are not immune—they do recover. But the elderly (especially those people with underlying health issues) are the most likely group to face physical challenges--even death.

The outbreak ignited in December 2019. Ground zero is Wuhan, China which is believed where the virus originated at a fish market—like the “Contagion” film--and quickly spread from person to person. There are theories of exactly how the virus started. Some say bats like a money in the film “Outbreak.” Speaking of sci-fi thrillers, there is also a theory, reported by newspapers that the
 lethal virus epidemic spreading worldwide may have been created in a Wuhan laboratory. It is believed by some reports to be linked to China’s secret biological weapons program, by the Chinese to use it as a bio germ warfare weapon. Whatever the virus’s origin (which may be covered up), it spread in China—and isolated cases have been discovered in Italy, the UK,  United States from California to Washington—and significant outbreaks continue.


Past Plague, Magical Medicine

Viruses are nothing new. During the Middle Ages, four robbers in the French town of Marseilles preyed upon the homes and belongings left behind by the people who fell victim to the bubonic plague, or "Black Death" of Europe. Eventually they were caught and brought before French judges, who wondered how these four thieves had protected themselves from the deadly plague while looting plague-ridden possessions. The legend is that the four thieves bargained and exchanged the famous Four Thieves vinegar and herbs formula for freedom. They explained that they washed themselves with the antiviral and antibacterial infection-fighting liquid every few hours.
No one seems to know who wrote the formula, which differs from recipe to recipe, but it is basically the same and it works in various ways. It can be used to disinfect sick rooms. If diluted with water, if can be used as a body wash. It can be used as a preventive measure to stave off viral infections, such as the flu.

5 Essential Oils to Guard Your Immune System

The antiviral and antibacterial compounds in essential oils can help guard your body against germs and contracting the virus. Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, founder of the Pacific Aromatherapy Institute points out that “the most effective essential oils for viral infections are those with sizable contents of cineole, mono terpene alcohol, and mono terpene hydrocarbons.” He adds, “These three types of components form an effective antiviral synergy.”
Here are five oils containing antiviral and antibacterial compounds, which may help you, like the four thieves, to guard against getting the virus.

     Eucalyptus: This oil is one of the best essential oils to help keep the flu at bay because it boosts your body’s immune system. It contains cineole which is effective for viral infections. Try It! It can be used in baths and showers, saunas and steams, and a vaporizer.
    Lavender: It is touted for its antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial properties, which can help treat respiratory infections. It can also soothe aches and pains in the joints and muscles. Try It! Inhaling this oil in a steaming vaporizer, baths, or even used as a culinary oil infused in tea blends and foods.
    Lemon:  This essential oil contains mighty flavonoids (super antioxidants) which may also help fight viruses. The citrus oil can also be used to relieve coughs, fevers, and a sore throat. Try It! It can be used in soaps and household cleaners.
    Peppermint: This essential oil can ease muscle pain due to its cooling effect, like eucalyptus oil. Its ingredient menthol can help to relieve congestion from a cold. Try It! It can be used in a foot soak, diffuser, or one small drop neat (undiluted) under your tongue or on your forehead or back of your neck.
    Tea Tree: Medical research shows tea tree oil contains antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties called terpinen—ol and a-terpinol. These two components may help disease linked to bacteria and infection. Try It! It can be used in a vaporizer or diffuser. But note, it is not a culinary oil.
      Other immune-enhancing oils include: basil, cedarwood, cinnamon, and sandalwood.
Essential oils are budget-friendly and available year-round at your health food store and online.

The bottom line: Your best line of defense is similar to the four robbers in the Middle Ages. Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds--often. Also, do wipe down objects and surfaces. Essential oils can be helpful to bolster your immune system and disinfect your world as the world is in a wait and see mode.
In mid-February, the novel coronavirus outbreak has not been called a pandemic (a global epidemic)—but because it’s unstable it’s possible if it spreads and if more deaths occur in other countries. And note, medical workers are not safe—more than 1,700 have been infected by coronavirus, and at least six have died.  Also, someone who is infected may not show symptoms. There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is monitoring the unpredictable virus. And the word is, health experts are preparing the U.S. for more cases. So, this contagion is not over. It may be just the beginning of a nightmarish scenario or foreshadow for something even more cataclysmic. Or we could develop a vaccine and be even better prepared for the next outbreak or pandemic.
 For more information, go to .  (Adapted from Cal Orey’s The Healing Powers of Essential Oils: A Complete Guide to Nature’s Most Magical Medicine, published by Citadel Press Kensington. You can find the Infection-Fighting Four Thieves Formula recipe and dozens of home cures and recipes for the body and household.)


Cal Orey, M.A. Is an author and journalist. Her books include the Healing Powers Series (Vinegar, Olive Oil, Chocolate, Honey, Coffee, Tea, Superfoods and Essential Oils) published by Kensington. (The collection has been featured by the Good Cook Book Club.) Her website is .
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