Essential Oil Therapy is a dynamic healing modality that works at a cellular, molecular level as well as on an emotional, psychological level. Physically, it can be used as an immune stimulant to prevent infection and to mitigate symptoms of infectious disease.
The immune system is also an amazing, complex group of cells that are there to protect us from invading pathogens. The immune system has the ability to distinguish self from other. This is linked to a set of more than 50 genes, known as the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). The immune system will generally attack any cell with a foreign MHC. (1) Steve Van Toller.We will examine some lines of defense in our bodies and how to use essential oils to strengthen these barricades:
The first lines of defense are barriers like the skin, which makes it physically difficult for bacteria, virus, or fungus to penetrate into the body. Sweat, sebum, and mucous membranes all have a pH balance and some white blood cells to discourage and cleanse bacteria from entering internal passageways.
A second line of defense is called phagocytosis. This involves larger, white blood cells called phagocytes or macrophages that are borne in lymph nodes. They are “heroes” that arrive first at any scene of damage or pending infection to the body. They engulf and kill invading microbes and then die rapidly in the line of duty (thus the term, hero).
The third line of defense is the lymphocytes called B cells and T cells. The T cells come in several forms and are born in the thymus and bone marrow. In the thymus, they undergo training to become killer T cells or helper T cells amongst several kinds. The latter travel throughout the body, soldiers on guard, looking for invaders and always ready to alert all of the white cells for a battle.
The B cells live in the lymph nodes, killing any cancer, virus, or bacterial agents traveling in the lymph system. They produce antibodies to attack an invader and let some of these antibodies survive once the threat is gone, in case this microbial enemy should enter the body again. Simply stated, this is how we develop immunity.
An aromatic process to bolster the lymphocytes would be to use and inhale Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis) and Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) in the shower every morning or in an evening bath. By rubbing them on the chest, neck, and lymph nodes during and after bathing, these oils would act as preventatives by stimulating the lymphocytes. For sensitive skin, it would be best to mix 10 drops of each essential oil in 1 oz. of jojoba or olive oil. (2) Kurt Schnaubelt, Medical Aromatherapy.
A fourth line of defense is the adrenal glands. These glands produce two chemical messengers called adrenaline and cortisol. They reveal the mind/body link since negative, emotional stress increases their release. This can lead to a suppression of phagocyte and lymphocyte response. (3) Shirley Price, Aromatherapy for Health Professionals.
Essential oils can actually attack invading viruses or it can address the circumstances that lead to a depressed immune system. Essential oils minimize symptoms i.e. a cold, Prevent secondary infections, and in general, support the body’s terrain to prevent infectious disease. Unlike the use of antibiotics, applying essential oils before, during, or after an infection, leaves the body in an improved state of health with increased ability to fight off future afflictions. Begin using a few drops every day to support this wonderful, vigilant, army of cells we call the immune system!