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Support Immune Barrier Health

By Jodi Cohen

A sign on a wooden gate.

Your physical barriers, including your lungs, your gut, your sinuses and your blood brain barrier, are your first line of defense against pathogens, like bacteria, viruses and parasites that can cause infection and environmental toxins like mold.

Keeping these protective barriers, or immune barriers, intact helps physically slow or block these pathogens from entering your immune system.  You might think of these barriers like the castle walls and the moat, that physically protect the kingdom from attack. It is much easier to keep the bugs out of your system then it is to fight them once they enter your system.  Sadly, different kinds of chemicals can disrupt your barrier system.  If we can fortify these barriers, they are better able to protect your body.

Essential oils with their anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-viral properties can be powerful tools for supporting physical and emotional boundaries and modulating your immune system.  By helping to fortify your physical barriers, it helps you improve your immune tolerance and bolster your resilience to environmental toxins

Essential Oils to Support Immune Barriers

Blood Brain Barrier

Your blood-brain barrier protects your brain and nervous system from any viruses, bacteria proteins or toxins that may contribute to inflammation and damage.

Stress, toxins (like metals and chemicals) and physical injuries (like concussions or TBIs) can increase permeability of the blood-brain barrier, contributing to increased neuro-inflammation (brain inflammation). Once the barrier is breached, toxins trigger immune cells in your brain, known as microglia cells, to turn on inflammation.  This triggers symptoms like brain fog, depression and brain fatigue.

Unlike your body’s immune response, microglia cells in your brain do not have an off switch to turn off inflammation.  Once triggered by a toxin, virus, bacteria or parasite, microglial cells turn on inflammation contributing to ongoing brain tissue degeneration.

Essential oils have had success calming inflammation inside the brain by suppressing the release of inflammatory cytokines, improving brain circulation and healing inflammation from inside the brain.

Research on “Neuroprotective and Anti-Aging Potentials of Essential Oils from Aromatic and Medicinal Plants” found essential oils “possess neuroprotective, anti-aging potentials and are effective in dementia, epilepsy, anxiety and other neurological disorders.”

To help heal and repair you blood brain barrier, it helps to calm and support all brain related activity that can contribute to brain inflammation, including improving sleep, brain circulation and vagus nerve health as well as calming stress.

Topically applied essential oils can play a huge role in helping to stabilize and block the excitation of the microglia to help dampen neuro-inflammation so your blood brain barrier can repair and heal.  This is one of the reasons that Vibrant Blue Oils Brain Balance blends are so popular with practitioners.  As you may know, essential oils are fat soluble and the brain is comprised primarily of fat so essential oils can easily cross the blood brain barrier and support the brain.  Anti Inflammatory™, in particular, supports the anti-inflammation mechanisms of the brain and body.

Anti Inflammatory™ is designed to reduce inflammation and encourage regeneration of damaged or stressed connective tissues that have been chronically inflamed or acutely inflamed.  Apply 2-3 drops along the back of the head – from the back of the neck up midway on the scalp to help anti inflame the brain.  Read more about Essential Oils for Brain Inflammation HERE.

Lung Barrier

Helping to fortify your lung barrier can enhance immune function. In your airways, your upper respiratory tract filters small particles.  Coughing and sneezing remove larger irritants from the airways and nasal passages and are essential defensive reactions.

Chemical exposure to airborne toxins like cigarette smoke, car exhaust, sprayed pesticides, air pollution and other airborne chemicals or toxins, like pollen or mold spores, can compromise the integrity of the tight junctions in your lung barrier.  Exposure to mold and mold myotixns create a constant assault on your lung barrier, a condition Dr. Datis Kharrazian calls “leaky lungs” where mold enters your body through your lungs, then spreads through your lymphatic system.

Comprised function can present as symptoms like asthma, frequent cough or respiratory issues, like difficulty breathing or frequent clearing of the throat.  If lung function is compromised, you might notice you feel worse on days when air quality is compromised. Any easy self-assessment is to take two deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling deeply.  If these deep breaths trigger a cough reflex, you might consider supporting your lung epithelium

Your lungs inhale and exhale an average of 16,000 times a day.  Essential oils possess expectorant properties that help expel mucus out of your body and support your respiratory detoxification.  For example, Breathe™ blend contains three different types of Eucalyptus oil, a potent antiseptic, expectorant and decongestant that can help clean and strengthen the lungs. Breathe™ also contains Peppermint™ essential oil whose expectorant qualities may help support upper respiratory congestion caused by asthma, bronchitis, allergies, cold or flu. To use, apply 1- 2 drops  topically on throat and upper chest (Breathe™ contains a lot of hot oils and can turn the skin red. Therefore, we recommend diluting with castor oil, coconut oil or olive oil before topical application). Breathe™ can also be inhaled using steam inhalation (Place 2 to 3 cups boiling water + 5 drops of Breathe™ in a bowl, cover your head with a towel, close eyes and bring face close to the bowl and gently inhale the steam) or used with a hot wet towel compress to the lungs and throat areas.

Essential oils can also be used in combination with nebulizers, a pressurized air stream that breaks essential oils down into very tiny particles, allowing for quick absorption in your lungs.  Nebulizing does not involve heat and does not alter the chemical composition of the oils. Datis Kharrazian recommends nebulizing essential oils of clove, thyme and oregano.

Sinus Barrier

Your sinuses and the nasopharynx pathway that connects your nose to your mouth, are lined with mucous membranes to preventing pathogens from crossing from your external environment into your body.  Within our nasal cavity we have tiny, hair-like structures called cilia that line the inside of the sinuses. These cilia move back and forth to push mucus around. This is how mucous gets from these cavities into either the back of the throat or to the nose where it can be blown out.  Applying 2 – 3 drops of Sinus Support™ and/or Histamine Balance™ to a Q-tip and swabbing the inside of the nasal passages 2 – 6 times daily.  For optimal effectiveness, you can leave the Q-tip in the nasal passage for up to 20 minutes. Try to relax and focus on breathing through the nose.  This increases the speed and coordination of the cilia so they can more effectively remove the allergens and other sinus irritants.  This technique can significantly reduce the risk of sinus infections or dramatically improve symptoms and improve the time to recovery.

Intestinal Barrier

Your intestinal lining serves as a physical barrier and the first line of defense between our body and any toxins, undigested food molecules, parasites, yeast, dysbiosis and other pathogens you might swallow, preventing them from passing into your bloodstream.

80% of your immune system resides in your gut, specifically in an area of the ileum known as Peyer’s patches. Peyer’s patches monitor, analyze and respond to the intestinal bacteria in the small intestine to prevent the growth of harmful pathogens. If a dangerous pathogen presents, the Peyer’s patches trigger an immune response – producing antibodies and alerting the immune system to launch a full body immune response to the pathogen before it can spread beyond the intestines.

When the lining of your small intestine breaks down, it turns the immune system on and triggers systemic (system-wide) inflammation, increasing your risk for food sensitivities, inflammation, pain, brain degeneration, and autoimmune disease.

Healthy gut flora is needed to 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 compete 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.  Read more about supporting gut immunity, click here.

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.

In order for the gut to heal, you need to remove the source of damage. This could include inflammatory foods, medications, alcohol and intestinal infections. Consider a strict elimination diets that remove all grains, sugar, dairy, corn, soy (and in some cases nuts, eggs and nightshades). You can also help to reduce inflammation through topical application of Vibrant Blue Anti-Inflammatory™ oil rubbed clockwise around the belly button 2 – 3 x daily.


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About The Author

Jodi Cohen

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.