The 6 best antiviral essential oils
(NaturalHealth365) As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to decimate the economy and claim lives, researchers are racing to discover methods of treating, containing and controlling this highly contagious virus. This much is already known – in addition to physical distancing, hand washing and a healthy diet – the proper cleaning of surface areas is a wise choice. So, today, we’ll focus on recent research that reveals the antiviral benefits of 6 essential oils.
While essential oils have long been used in aromatherapy to lift mood, combat fatigue, relieve headaches and support health, many people remain unaware of their potential for deactivating and inhibiting pathogens.
Discover a pair of potent antiviral essential oils from Australia
Essential oils contain a wealth of beneficial compounds, flavonoids and phenols – including monoterpenes, sesquiterpenes, carvacrol and thymol. Research has shown that these potent polyphenols have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial and anticancer properties.
Two essential oils from Australian plants are particularly high in these disease-fighting constituents.
Tea tree essential oil, which is derived from the leaves of the Australian tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia), has been shown in cell studies to be effective against a wide range of pathogens -including E. coli, the H2N1 influenza virus and the bacteria that causes pneumonia.
Tea tree oil is also believed to have an antiviral effect when incorporated into air filtering systems – a definite “plus” in these COVID-19-challenged times. By the way, tea tree oil can be mixed with rubbing alcohol to make a natural hand sanitizer.
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In addition, tea tree oil contains a compound known as terpinen-4-ol that may promote the activity of disease-fighting white blood cells. Keep in mind, tea tree oil is toxic when taken orally. In fact, many essential oils are not intended to be taken internally, but may be inhaled or applied to the skin after being diluted with a “carrier” oil such as olive or coconut oil.
A natural way to improve your breathing capabilities
Eucalyptus essential oil, derived from the leaves of the eucalyptus tree, contains a compound known as cineole, a natural expectorant that also helps to dilate blood vessels and promote the flow of oxygen into the lungs. It’s no surprise that natural healers recommend eucalyptus oil to fight respiratory infections, relieve coughs and ease congestion.
Like tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil can’t be taken internally. Rather, it is diluted and applied topically or dispensed into the air by a diffuser. In addition to its other virtues, eucalyptus oil is strongly antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral.
A 2017 review published in Microbiologyopen showed that a mix of essential oils-including oil of eucalyptus – worked against methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Eucalyptus oil is found in 30 different natural cleaning products approved by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), a non-profit research association.
To create a natural cleaner and disinfectant, combine 10 to 15 drops of tea tree essential oil, 20 drops each of eucalyptus and thyme oil, 2 cups of hot water and one cup of white vinegar.
Thyme and oregano both contain powerful therapeutic constituents
Thyme and oregano, both members of the mint family, share many of the same constituents and effects. In addition to terpenes, cineole and thymol – a natural antispasmodic that can ease coughing associated with respiratory infections – the essential oils of thyme and oregano contain carvacrol, a potent antiviral.
In a cell study published in 2014 in Journal of Applied Microbiology, scientists evaluated the effects of carvacrol against norovirus, a contagious pathogen that causes diarrhea and vomiting. And, the effect was dramatic!
The team found that carvacrol caused a statistically significant loss of infectiousness in the cells within 15 minutes of exposure. Carvacrol acted directly upon the protein shell of the virus, causing it to “balloon” in size (from 35 nanometers in diameter to 800 nm) and then disintegrate entirely.
These “explosive” results led the researchers to conclude that carvacrol has potential as a natural sanitizer to control the norovirus. In a separate study, researchers found that carvacrol from thyme essential oil inhibits the H1N1 influenza and herpes simplex viruses.
Promising study: Lemon balm oil may help fight antibiotic resistance
Antibiotic resistance – in which bacterial and viral strains begin to develop resistance to pharmaceutical medications – has been deemed an emerging global public health crisis by the World Health Organization.
In an article published in 2016 in VirusDisease, the authors highlighted the need for new, effective compounds against viruses. In fact, natural compounds are of great interest to researchers, as viruses appear incapable of developing resistance to them.
The scientists evaluated the ability of lemon balm essential oil to work with an antiviral, oseltamivir, to combat the H9N2 virus. The lemon balm oil (botanically known as Melissa officinalis) inhibited reproduction of the virus through different replication cycle steps, with the highest antiviral activity seen when the virus incubated with the lemon balm before cell infection.
Although more research must be done, these promising results show that lemon balm oil may offer an alternative treatment for viral infections. In a separate study, researchers found that lemon balm extracts were equivalent to the prescription drug acyclovir in antiviral effects.
Finally, a cell study published in Chemotherapy showed that lemon balm extracts could inhibit the attachment of the herpes simplex virus.
Studies support the ability of star anise oil to inhibit the SARS coronavirus
Essential oil of star anise, while not as widely known as the other oils, is impressing researchers with its antiviral capabilities. In an extensive review published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, researchers reported that star anise oil directly inactivated the herpes simplex virus -and theorized that it could be applied topically for herpes simplex infection.
The researchers added that the sesquiterpenes in star anise oil were found to inhibit the virus that causes the common cold, along with the SARS coronavirus – a close cousin to COVID-19.
The takeaway: These potent essential oils show remarkable promise in inhibiting viruses in cell studies – and on countertops as well. There has probably never been a better time than now to investigate their potential!
Of course, check first with your integrative doctor before using any essential oils. And, for maximum benefit, opt for therapeutic-grade oils, free of additives and synthetic ingredients, that have been distilled or cold-pressed. Plus, the botanical name of the plant from which the oil is derived should appear on the label.
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