How Essential Oils Boost your Immune System

by Jodi Cohen

boost your immune system

I want to help you stay healthy.

I want to empower you to help your friends, family and loved ones stay healthy.

Today I want to share the secret to keeping you healthy.  It’s all about managing your stress and supporting your gut.  Seem too simple?  Let me explain…

Why Stress Weakens your Immune System

Stress is known to suppress immune function and increase susceptibility to infections.

When you are stressed, your body turns on your “fight or flight” sympathetic response and downregulates your immune system function to prioritize immediate survival.  This reduces your ability to fight off pathogens, making you more susceptible to infections.

What’s more, the production and circulation of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine signal opportunistic bacteria in your gut to quickly multiply and release toxins that can lead to disease.

What are Opportunistic Pathogens?

Opportunistic pathogens are bacteria that are normally present at low levels in your gut where they cause no harm.  When your body is healthy and resilient, these opportunistic pathogens lay low so your immune system doesn’t detect them.

But the moment they detect that your resistance is low and you are more vulnerable, they sense “opportunity”.  More specifically, the presence of stress hormones like cortisol, epinephrine and norepinephrine signal these opportunistic pathogens that your immune system is compromised which then triggers the growth of more virulent bacteria in your microbiome.  They multiply quickly and release toxins which can make you sick and cause disease.

In other words, high levels of stress and  toxicity can suppress your immune system and  deplete the balance of beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome, which keep opportunistic pathogens in check.    Some examples of opportunistic pathogens include the Epstein Barr virus, which can lie dormant for years and even decades until it senses an opportunity to take advantage of your susceptibility through the presence of stress hormones.

Your ability to control your stress response and maintain a healthy balance of gut flora helps prevent them from becoming pathogenic

Your Immune System Lives in your Gut

80% of your immune system lives in gut. In a recent interview for my upcoming Parasympathetic Summit (which will air November 9 – 15, 2020), Microbiologist Kiran Krishnan shared the best explanation I have ever heard on the role of the gut in your immune response:  As I could not say it better, I have included a brief summary of Kiran’s brilliance below:

“Your gut is largest sampling site for what exists in your environment.  It is through your gut that your body and your immune system figures out what you’re being exposed to on a regular basis.  Your body has designed itself to sense the world around it through the digestive track.

Everything that enters your body – through your mouth, nose, eyes and even ears – all drain into your digestive track.  And microbes that live in the digestive track are the orchestrators and controllers of how your body responds.  The microbes in your gut have direct access to vagus nerve where they can send signals to trigger an immune response in your brain, heart, lungs and skeletal muscles.”

The secret to health is keeping gut microbiome (or gut flora) in balance.  When beneficial bacteria are depleted, opportunistic pathogens can proliferate and overgrow.  The health and balance of gut flora can also support the healthy release of balancing chemicals to support your mood and energy. Disruptions of the gut microbiome are implicated in autism, ADHD, neurodegenerative diseases, anxiety, and depression.

The Benefit of Microbiome Diversity 

When beneficial bacteria are depleted, opportunistic pathogens can proliferate and overgrow.  Eating a diversity of plants can contribute to healthy gut flora.

“Humans are meant to eat a diverse diet,” according to Wahl’s Diet creator Terry Wahls (also during her interview for the Parasympathetic Summit).  “As your body digests plants, it creates a chemical reaction and by products that supports your digestion and your health.  This chemistry works much better with diversity. The reality is every food you eat is a combination of things that are incredibly good for you and a few things that are terrible for you. So the more diversity that you have, the less likely those terrible things are going to become a problem.”

During the digestive process, friendly gut bacteria ferment plant fiber in your colon, metabolizing short chain fatty acids (SCFA) that serve as the main source of energy for the cells lining your colon and promote the development of a robust immune system.

SCFA also play an important role supporting your metabolism, restoring intestinal homeostasis and balancing parasympathetic and sympathetic activity.

In addition to serving as important energy resources, SCFAs help modulate various biological responses that include inflammation, oxidative stress, both of which are critical to maintaining immune health.  For example, SCFAs help you to fight against intestinal diseases such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and colorectal cancer.

These SCFA  — including butyrate, propionate and acetate  — are known as post-biotics because anytime the microbes in your gut digest food and create a new active ingredient, that new active ingredient is called a post-biotic.  Increased plant diversity increases the product of post-biotics.  As diversity shrinks, post-biotics do not get produced at high enough levels to help heal your gut and boost your immune system.

Essential Oils Contribute to Plant Diversity

Fortunately, different essential oils and herbal remedies help increase your  levels of plant diversity.  Terry Wahls encourages clients to consume 200 different plant species every year.  She includes essential oils along with all the different vegetables, spices, and teas as sources of plant diversity.

Research shows that herbal medicines such as essential oils promote probiotics and inhibit pathogens. “The ability of herbal medicines to directly inhibit gut microbiota species can be easily understood as many herbal compounds such as essential oils possess microorganism killing activities. Herbal medicines can also directly promote the growth of some gut microbiota species by acting as prebiotics.”

Herbal medicines contain carbohydrates – such as pectin, resin and fiber that ubiquitously exist in herbs – that can be utilized for production of SCFAs.  In fact, SCFAs are important metabolites of herbal medicines which are one of the reasons they work so well.

Research keeps validating that “herbal medicines and herbal formulas (like essential oil blends) are capable of reversing the abnormal gut microbiota composition in diseased humans.”  The therapeutic effects of herbal remedies modulate your gut microbiome, enhancing beneficial metabolites like SCFAs and inhibiting opportunistic pathogens.

5 Essential Oils to Boost Your Immunity

Vibrant Blue Oil blends include over 85 different single oils (you can see them all here).

To help boost gut health and immunity consider the following blends:

1. Histamine Balance™ 

Histamine is a chemical compound released by the cells in response to injury, allergic or inflammatory reactions, causing contraction of smooth muscle and dilation of capillaries.  Histamine plays a role in immune responses, regulates physiological function in the gut, and acts as a neurotransmitter in the brain.  While the release of histamine is a normal defense mechanism, an exaggerated histamine response can bind to cell receptor sites, causing irritation and chronic inflammation. This alters the cells immune regulation, and causes them to attack the body even when there is not a foreign substance present.  For example, you might experience being allergic to and reacting to everything including taste, touch, smell and even things that are not inherently dangerous such as food or pollen.  Histamine also performs critical functions in body, contributing to HCL production and neurotransmitter signals.  That said, the goal is to balance, not block, the histamine responses.

To modulate excess histamine excretion, balance histamine levels and help to reset the immune response and reduce allergic reactions, apply 1 -2 drops of Histamine Balance™ on the bottom of the feet.  For allergic or sinus reactions, smell or apply 1 – 2 drops behind your ears, on the back of your neck, or on your sternum to open airways.   For the gut and food intolerance support, apply in a clockwise direction around belly button.  For brain congestion, apply 1-2 drops at base of skull on the back of the head.

Histamine Balance™ blend contains a proprietary formulation of nine organic and/or wild crafted essential oils, including Blue Tansy, Roman Chamomile, Lavender, Manuka, Rosemary, Peppermint, Spruce, Ravensara, and Vetiver.

2. Intestinal Mucosa 

Your intestinal lining  helps support the balance of healthy gut flora that helps maintain the healthy balance of bacteria in the intestines. The epithelial cells and the mucosal lining of the gut serve as a physical barrier to pathogens entering the body. Healthy gut flora helps to support the immune functions in the epithelial cells, like maintaining physical and chemical barriers and making the gut more acidic and hostile to invading bacteria. Healthy flora also competes with potential pathogens for space and food. If your healthy gut bacteria are already using all the resources available, there’s nothing left to feed the bad guys. They also help to modulate the inflammatory immune response and neutralize toxic substances.

Your intestines are lined with a mucosal barrier that can be damaged by anti-biotics, food intolerances and other digestive stress. The mucosal lining plays a key role in optimal immune function. It contains several immune antibodies known as immunoglobulins (sIgA, IgA, IgG and IgM) and is critical for healthy gut function, plays host to healthy gut flora and proper digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients. To help balance and heal the intestinal mucosal lining, apply Intestinal Mucosa™ blend in a clockwise around the belly button 2 – 3 x daily. This helps restore the integrity of the mucosal lining to restore optimal balance of healthy intestinal flora.

Intestinal Mucosa™ blend contains a proprietary formulation of four organic and/or wild crafted essential oils of Cypress, Nargarmotha, Birch, and Cardamom in a base of fractionated coconut oil.

3. Parasympathetic™

Digestion begins in your brain.  Signals from your brain, sent via your vagus nerve, turn on your digestive function and route blood flow to your organs of digestion, which turns on your digestive process, directing blood flood to your gut to allowing healthy absorption of key nutrients, many of which are needed to support the immune system.  Over time, this lack of nutrient absorption and build-up of food matter will weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to the viruses. Constipation also affects the balance of good bacteria within your digestive system, which is crucial for the strength of your immune system producing substances that drive off or kill invading bugs and viruses.

A poorly functioning brain does not stimulate your vagus nerve, and healthy digestion is not turned on, which undermines a healthy immune system.

Parasympathetic™ can also help calm your stress response, which diminishes the infectious power of viruses. As discussed above, viruses can obtain a stronghold in the body when the physical and emotional terrain is out of balance.   To help calm your stress response and ensure optimal immune function, you can apply the Parasympathetic™ blend, which contains clove oil found to support immune modulation and lime oil, to the vagus nerve (behind the earlobe on the mastoid bone) before meals. When you apply it, take a few deep breaths, with the exhalation longer than the inhalation to fully relax and turn on digestion prior to meals.

4. Immune Support 

Our Immune Support™ blend builds on the popular immune fighting essential oil formula known as “Thieves” blend which traces its origins to the bubonic plague when thieves were stealing the gold teeth out of the mouths of the dead. When they were apprehended, they were offered a lesser sentence in exchange for sharing how they avoided the illness.

Their secret was this blend of hot antiviral essential oils  –  including 13 organic and/or wild crafted essential oils of Frankincense, Clove Buds, Cinnamon Bark, Lemon, Eucalyptus citridora, Ajowan, Thyme, Orange, Oregano, Nutmeg, Rosemary, Mandarin, and Ginger Root – that strengthen the immune system against infections, viruses, bacteria, fungus, parasites, and microbes.    In fact, research found that essential oils high in eugenol, like Cinnamon and Clove, gave the most protection against viruses.

Heat, including heat from hot essential oils, make antiviral and antibacterial immune responses more efficient. Much of your body’s immune response is designed to respond to a heightened body temperature, including antiviral and antibacterial immune responses. A fever-range temperature also allows your body to better remember germs it’s exposed to, making it stronger at fighting them off in the future.

Essential oils can safely bring the body’s internal temperature to 102°F, mimicking some of the major immunity benefits of a fever. Heat helps to kill the viruses, which is one reason why warm remedies, like chicken soup or hot tea, are given when we are sick.  Heating up the body for short periods of time to induce health is called hyperthermia and it is one of the reasons that healing technologies like infrared saunas, biomats and Epsom salt bathes are such effective healing techniques.

To prevent illness or nip it in the bud once it starts, apply Immune Support™ 2- 3 times daily on the throat (diluted) or the bottom of the feet. To keep the family healthy, rub the oil on the bottom of the feet prior to bed (kids can even be asleep when you apply it).

5. Thymus™ 

Your thymus gland, located in front of your heart, also plays an important role in your immune system.  It helps mature infection-fighting white blood cells that are made in your bone marrow.   You can help increase the release of your white blood cells by stimulating your thymus.

Thymus stimulation also helps to slow down gland atrophy that occurs after puberty.  It is believed that this atrophy occurs because we have lost the instinct to stimulate your thymus gland more regularly.

Essential oils can be used to stimulate your thymus to boost your immune system, in combination with a technique called thymus thumping, gently tapping on the thymus gland.  The 12 organic and/or wild crafted essential oils contained in Thymus™ blend include Holy Basil, Clove Bud, Frankincense , Black Cumin, Ginger Root, Hyssop, Juniper Berry, Nutmeg, Oregano, Ravensara,   Rosemary and Blue Tansy.

Black Cumin, also known as Black Seed Oil or Nigella sativa, which aids the immune system and upper respiratory conditions, helping to kill and expel pathogens. Black cumin  has been touted as a “cure for anything but death!”  Its many therapeutic properties are attributed to the component thymoquinone which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, bronchodilator, hepatoprotective (liver protective) and immunomodulatory properties.

Ginger Root also helps stimulate your immune system, ease respiratory infections, reduce swollen glands and support drainage of a runny nose or excess mucus. Ginger is especially helpful for treatment of colds, flu, fever, congestion, cough, and sore throat.

Oregano is the most antiseptic of all essential oils. Called “Nature’s Antibody” for its remedial properties, it helps boost all the systems of the body, particularly the respiratory system making it effective in treatments for chronic bronchitis, colds, whooping cough, pulmonary tuberculosis, pneumonia, and asthma.

Finally, Frankincense™ strengthens the immune system by proliferating white blood cells and reducing inflammation. Frankincense also contains compounds called sesquiterpenes, which have the ability to cross the blood-brain barrier and deliver powerful anti-inflammatory compounds to your brain.

Research supports the benefit of Frankincense in inhibiting inflammation that can cause damage to the lungs.  This can lead to fluid leaking from small blood vessels in the lungs. The fluid collects in the lungs’ air sacs, or alveoli. This makes it difficult for the lungs to transfer oxygen from the air to the blood.

Frankincense has been shown to calm intense inflammatory storms, known as a “cytokine storms”. Your immune cells produce cytokines to fight infection, but if too many are released, it can cause problems in the body. These intense inflammatory responses in the body can trigger complex immune reactions and affect the function of multiple organ systems. This excessive immune response causes some of the damage during infections.

Apply 2-3 drops of Thymus™ over the thymus (on breastbone at third rib) in a clockwise motion for 30 seconds and then stimulate the thymus by gently tapping.

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About The Author

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.

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Subscribe to Vibrant Blue Oils and receive weekly information on oils and how to use them. As a bonus, we’ll send out Beginner’s Guide to Essential Oils to your inbox immediately!