Viruses of all kinds that affect the respiratory system are often accompanying the autumn-winter season and the cold spring. The complications they can cause are in the wide spectrum from banal inflammation of the mucous membranes of the oral cavity to double bronchopneumonia and sinusitis. Many of the means of therapy are used incorrectly in the early phases of the disease as a form of prevention. This is the case with antibiotics, which act only on bacteria, but not on viruses, and in this sense only have an additional damaging effect on the body. On the other hand, however, when does a respiratory virus become a breeding ground for bacterial overgrowth? The answer is: it depends. It depends on so many factors that the surest way is either a bacterial culture or a blood test to verify the presence of a high white blood cell count and inflammatory factor to move on to the heavy artillery. But since not everyone is inclined to do blood tests, and the culture takes days, in which the picture of the disease can drastically change, many people are looking for alternative options for treatment and prevention of complications precisely so that they do not end up with strong synthetic drugs .
There has been a recent boom in the sale and use of essential oils, but does the consumer know how they are used and are they safe? The idea that something is organic in nature and that makes it safe is deeply flawed. Concentrated forms of active substances, such as essential oil distillates, are products, usually with a broad spectrum of action, which, taken without a prescription from a specialist in the field, can cause more harm than good. Why is this so?
Challenges in using essential oils
When using the therapeutic properties of essential oils, it does not matter what additional medications are taken, because respiratory viruses also affect all people with chronic diseases who, along with symptomatic drugs, continue their standard therapies for the main diseases. The form in which the oils are taken should also be taken into account.
Aroma diffusion involves inhaling the vapor of a heated essential oil. Depending on the therapeutic properties of each individual substance, logic suggests that in this way we can safely take advantage of them, due to their low concentration and dilution with air. However, this is not exactly the case.
– Not all oils diffuse. Some of them can show neurotoxicity, further irritate the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, which makes them extremely unsuitable and even dangerous for people with neurological and pulmonary problems, pregnant women, nursing mothers, young children, the elderly and the seriously ill.
– In diffusion, it is very difficult to determine the dose that can lead to a beneficial effect. There is a potential danger of overdose or of insufficient saturation with the molecules of the active substance.
– Aromatic diffusion can be a choice to relieve minor ailments such as fatigue, muscle tension, mild headache, improve mood, relax before sleep. It is almost impossible to influence inflammatory processes in acute infections, especially if they have the potential to develop bacterial pathogens.
Our skin is permeable and whatever is applied to it penetrates the bloodstream and is carried to every organ whose cell can admit the biologically active ingredient. In this sense, essential oils used as an ointment have a stronger effect than vapors. The specific here is that they must be diluted with base oils to avoid skin irritation. Their direct undiluted application carries the risk of increasing the effect, and some of the oils, suitable for very specific diseases and under the control of a specialist, cannot be used for prevention.
Any substance that enters our body through the mouth is metabolized mainly through the liver. There are substances that slow down this process, and others – that speed it up. Essential oils make no difference. When we talk about oral intake, we have to distinguish several main purposes. Essential oils are widely used in cooking, but can also be taken as preventive or therapeutic agents. An important rule is that this intake be supervised by a specialist and be consistent with the concomitant medical treatment of the patient for the main disease or a chronic one, in order to avoid toxic load on the liver, as well as drug incompatibility.
The toxicity of each drug, incl. and of the essential oils used for therapy depend on several things: dose and concentration, method of administration, form of administration (by rubbing, under the tongue, in a capsule, by inhaler device), how much of the substance reaches the blood (bioavailability) and the degree of toxicity according to sex, age, weight.
There are several types of oral intake of essential oils: added drops to liquids, pastilles under the tongue, syrups and capsules. Among all of them, the reception in the form of capsules is the only one that provides a gradual release of the active substances and that in the lower parts of the digestive tract, thus they enter the blood in a dosed manner and prevent the possibility of an acute reaction and the accumulation of a high concentration. It should be borne in mind that through the salivary glands and enzymes in the mouth, the process of processing substances begins in the oral cavity, and the capsule form skips this first step.
Therapeutic solutions with essential oils for flu-like symptoms and complications of a viral and bacterial nature
There are several essential distillates that can have a beneficial effect on the course of a viral infection. They have proven antiseptic, antibacterial and antiviral properties, act on the factors of inflammation and in combination cover the entire spectrum of possible complications in the sinuses and nasal secretions, as well as in the lower respiratory tract.
Eucalyptus essential oil
Eucalyptus, existing in several subspecies, is a natural antibiotic without, however, possessing the negative effects of its synthetic counterpart and without suppressing the immune system. What’s more – it increases immunity and is extremely suitable for prophylaxis after viral infections in its milder forms of applications such as aromatic diffusion. In addition to reducing and destroying disease-causing bacteria (as in cases of sinusitis and bacterial complications in the lower respiratory tract), eucalyptus oil has anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic effects. It facilitates breathing by reducing the swelling of the mucous membranes, relieves the accumulated secretion in the nasopharynx and relieves coughing.
Sweet orange essential oil
In the course of viral infections, it is extremely important to use in combination with eucalyptus oil and something that will improve the activity of the immune system and relax the nervous system. Everyone knows from experience that with sinus pain or a blocked nose, sleep is disturbed, as a result of which the stress level rises in the morning.
As one of the strongest antioxidants, sweet orange oil has the qualities to improve the mentioned conditions and increase the body’s defenses, but not only. The active substance in the sweet orange has an effect on some staphylococcal bacteria and fungi, cleans the bronchi and helps expectoration in persistent coughs and has a detoxifying effect.
It is important to note that drops of the essential oil should not be taken directly by mouth because the substance is phototoxic and oxidizes quickly. This carries certain risks. Therefore, there are certified combinations of eucalyptus and sweet orange oil, which are in a protected capsule, and the dosage and method of administration must have passed legal regulations.
Myrtle oil is one of the most commonly used essential oils in Mediterranean countries. In addition to strengthening the walls of blood vessels and having a beneficial effect on blood circulation, in infections caused by respiratory viruses, it, like the other two, exhibits antiviral and antibacterial properties. Such are the beneficial properties of lemon oil.
There is a whole science behind essential oil therapy. Whether you will consult a specialist and which is the best method of application for you and your complaints, you will decide with his help. It is important to know that there are ready-made combinations that are available, certified and registered for therapeutic purposes. Their convenience is that you cannot make a mistake in the doses and in the way of application.
Illustrative Photo: Jasmine de Grasse, Pegomas/Cannes, France.