Essential Oils and The Immune System

Immune system and essential oils. Can they support the immune system? Is it all placebo? Help me understand!

Firstly, let’s talk a little bit about how the immune system works. I’m not doctor, and not giving medical advice, but the science behind all this is truly fascinating.

The immune system is really a network of many organs and cells. We have two main immune system pieces.

  1. The innate immune system, located mainly in skin and mucosal lining. These white blood cells attack anything foreign that tries to enter the body, generally without discrimination. This system also includes natural killer cells that regularly destroy infected or abnormal cells.
  2. The adaptive immune system can be thought of as the “backup plan”. These white blood cells take a bit longer to “attack” based on past cellular experience, recognition or lack of recognition of foreign antigens, and antibody creation.

So, how and why can essential oils support a healthy immune response?

First let’s look at the innate immune system. This is really where oils shine. Oils can support by addressing a lot of the bacteria, fungus and other foreign invaders before they enter the body. Studies show that diffusion of some oils in the air can help cleanse that air before we are exposed to it. Other studies show that exposure of oils to these “invaders” can drastically decrease their numbers. Oils used in hand sanitizers, soaps, or hand lotions can be particularly helpful in this process.

As far as the adaptive system goes… well oils can support healthy bodily function in many ways.

Some oils have been shown to help with proper apoptosis, that is “cell death”. That means eliminating the cells that are damaged or abnormal to help keep them from proliferating unhindered.

Other oils support proper lymph circulation, helping the body to produce the needed cells to protect the body.

Some oils stimulate proper metabolic function, helping organs to function at their best.

While there are many elements to a properly functioning immune system, essential oils can be one safe and effective addition to your wellness regimen during this “yucky” time of the year.