Essential oils against viruses, bacteria and microbes
With winter and the cold, viruses, bacteria and microbes return, bringing with them their share of infectious diseases. Essential oils are highly effective against the beginnings of colds and other winter illnesses... They have many properties (antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, immunostimulant...) and should not be neglected against bacteria and viruses. Before rushing to the chemist's, you can try treating minor winter ailments with a few essential oils.
Make your own hydroalcoholic gel
Whether on the move, at work... we're constantly confronted with germs in the places where we live, and sometimes it's impossible to wash our hands. Even though good hand hygiene involves washing with soap and water, there are alternative solutions !
Hydro-alcoholic solutions are now widely used to combat the transmission of bacteria, viruses and fungi through contaminated hands, and to help eliminate them. In hospitals, these antiseptic soaps are used to prevent nosocomial diseases that can be transmitted during a stay in hospital or during treatment. For the general public, hydroalcoholic gels have become widespread to combat the transmission of viruses such as influenza, covid-19 (coronavirus) and gastro-enteritis.
Antibacterial hydroalcoholic gel is an effective alternative where there is no water point, such as on public transport. It's very easy to make your own. So you can avoid running into shortages during complicated national episodes (remember H1N1 or Covid-19!). We've selected 2 essential oils, renowned for their powerful antiseptic and antiviral properties.
Tea tree : Tea tree essential oil is the benchmark antiseptic! This essential oil is equally effective against bacteria, viruses and yeast. So it's an ideal ingredient for a hydroalcoholic gel. Its main properties are broad-spectrum antibacterial and antifungal, antiviral and immunostimulant.
Ravintsara: This is a powerful antiviral. Thanks to its composition rich in 1,8-cineole and alpha terpineol, it is unquestionably effective as an anti-infective. In addition, this essential oil supports the action of Tea Tree as it is also an immunostimulant: a high-performance immune system is an ally against microbes !
These 2 essential oils should be mixed with 70° alcohol and aloe vera gel.
70° alcohol is an antiseptic and disinfectant ethanol solution. It works locally and quickly, effectively getting rid of any germs you may come across on the road !
As for aloe vera, thanks to its ability to retain water and its nutrient-rich composition, it moisturises, softens and smoothes the skin. So it's ideal for countering the drying effects of alcohol and essential oils and moisturising hands effectively.
To make your own 200 ml hydroalcoholic gel, nothing could be simpler. In a small bowl, first mix 70 ml of 70° alcohol with 50 drops of Tea tree essential oil and then 50 drops of Ravintsara essential oil. Then add 130 ml of organic Aloe vera gel. Mix well and pour into a pump bottle to make daily use easier. Simply place a dab of your gel on your hands and rub until it penetrates. For information, 30 drops of essential oil are equivalent to about 1 ml.
Other essential oils can also replace Tea tree or Ravinstara. These include Eucalyptus radiata, Laurel, cinnamon, lemon and clove. Don't hesitate to make your choice of antibacterial and antiviral essential oils.
Essential oils are antiseptic
These are the properties best proven by modern scientific research. The vast majority of essential oils have antimicrobial or even antiviral properties, but some have more than others. Essential oils reach the cellular level and help to destroy pathogenic agents (microbes, fungi (mycosis), viruses, infectious toxins) and eliminate metabolic waste, while respecting the integrity of the beneficial flora (saprophyte). Immune defences are strengthened.
Essential oils are anti-bacterial
The aromatic molecules with the highest antibacterial coefficient are the phenols (over 92% of pathogenic bacteria are sensitive to them): carvacrol, thymol, eugenol, australol and guaicol also belong to this group, but essential oils containing them are less active. A molecule that does not belong to this group, but is similar in the presence of a benzene ring, is cinnamic aldehyde (cinnamon).
Used properly, these four molecules can control most common infections. Just behind the phenols are the monoterpenols (10-carbon alcohols): geraniol, linalool, thujanol, myrcenol, terpineol and menthol. Less powerful but also useful as an antibacterial agent is the group of aldehydes: neral, geranial, citronellal and cuminal.
Ketones are useful for treating infectious conditions: verbenone, thujone, cryptone, menthone, D. carvone, borneone, fenchone, but their neurotoxic and abortifacient properties make them difficult to use. To a lesser extent, ethers (estragole and anethole), oxides, phthalides and terpenes are also used as antibacterial agents. Terpenes are mainly used for diffusion as an atmospheric antiseptic.
Essential oils are anti-viral
Viruses give rise to a wide variety of pathologies, some of which pose problems that remain unsolved today. As the conventional responses to these infections are very limited in the pharmaceutical arsenal, essential oils are a godsend for combating viral disorders, from the most commonplace to the most dreaded. Viruses are generally very sensitive to aromatic molecules, and certain serious viral pathologies can be significantly improved by using them. What's more, the healthy cells of patients using essential oils acquire a particular resistance to viral penetration.
Essential oils act indiscriminately on all viruses. This is why its systematic use is recommended for all viral diseases.
In the fight against viruses, as with antibacterial agents, the hydroxyl group (phenol and monoterpenol) comes first. Phenols are more powerful, but should be used with caution. For long-term use, monoterpenolic oils are preferable to the much more 'aggressive' phenolic oils.
Various tests on the virulicidal power of essential oils have been carried out by laboratories. The virology laboratory in Toulouse tested the essential oil of Melaleuca quinquenervia cineolifera (niaouli) on the Herpes virus. After a contact time of 15 minutes in vitro, the virulicidal activity fell by more than 40,000.
Another very interesting group are the aldehydes, which have undeniable activity on pathogenic bacteria. Non-toxic and often with a pleasant odour, they are mainly used as airborne antiseptics (diffusion) or as surface disinfectants. The best-studied molecule, cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon), has major anti-infectious properties, making it one of the most active. Its activity also extends to viruses, fungi and parasites.
Purify the air in your home with essential oils
Diffusing essential oils using a micro-diffusion diffuser is a good way to purify the air.
Technically, all essential oils can be diffused, but some are too "strong" to be diffused or mixed with other "milder" essential oils.
Lemon, Ravintsara, Rosewood, Eucalyptus radiata and Palmarosa essential oils can be diffused pure or blended together. On the other hand, cinnamon leaf, Tea tree, Niaouli, Eucalyptus globulus, Basil and Laurel should be blended with other essential oils before diffusion. However, beware of allergy sufferers: lemon, for example, contains limonene, a recognised allergen.
Our synergy to diffuse to fight viruses :
In a 10 ml dropper bottle, mix 2 ml of Tea Tree essential oil (about 60 drops) + 5 ml of Lemon essential oil (about 150 drops) and finally 3 ml of Black Spruce essential oil (about 90 drops). Pour 30 to 60 drops of the mixture into an electric diffuser or about ten drops into the water of a mister, and diffuse in living areas for cycles of 10 to 15 minutes. You can also use bay laurel essential oil instead of black spruce. It is also an excellent antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal agent, and is well tolerated when diffused in the air.
How long is a virus contagious ?
In winter, enclosed premises and public places are poorly ventilated, which makes it easier for viruses to spread. Coughing, sneezing, spitting and close contact with a sick person are all ways of transmitting viruses from one person to another. The virus can also be transmitted via contaminated objects (door handles, metro bars, pens, etc.). Unfortunately, the risk of contagion is highest during the incubation period, when symptoms are not yet, or barely, visible. This incubation phase depends on the virus in question and the individual, and lasts on average from 6 to 14 days. Always carry a small bottle of antiviral essential oil with you, such as Ravintsara or Eucalyptus radiata, so you can react as quickly as possible. Breathe deeply directly into the bottle to neutralise the virus and disinfect the respiratory tract.
What is the Coronavirus ?
Coronaviruses are crown-shaped virions around 120 nm in diameter (2) that are transmitted by air and cause respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases in humans, poultry and cattle. Until now, there have been 6 coronaviruses, 4 of which are not serious, causing mild flu-like symptoms, and 2 of which are highly pathogenic for humans. The latter two infect the upper and lower respiratory tracts and cause severe respiratory illness, accompanied by fever, cough and muscle aches: the SARS-CoV (severe acute respiratory syndrome) coronavirus and the MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome) coronavirus. These viruses were responsible for the epidemics in 2002 and 2003.
The Chinese virus, identified for the first time, belongs to the coronavirus family, making it the seventh virus capable of producing clinical manifestations in humans. Since the outbreak of the epidemic in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019, it has claimed many victims and continues to spread around the world.
Since then, vaccines and treatments have been developed, considerably reducing the number of victims. But the virus is constantly evolving. The Delta variant accounts for almost all the viruses circulating in France, representing over 99% of sequenced viruses. The L452R mutation (carried mainly by the Delta variant) was detected in 96% of positive samples in mid-October 2021. The most effective way of avoiding infection is still to apply strict preventive and general hygiene measures.
List of the main essential oils that can be used against viruses
(From the most "powerful" to the least "powerful")
- Oregano (origanum compactum, flowering plant) - phenol: carvacrol
- Savory (Satureia montana, flowering plant) - phenol: carvacrol
- Thyme (thymus vulgaris thymoliferum, flowery sommities) - phenol: thymol
- Clove (eugenia caryophyllata, flower buds) - phenol : eugenol
- Cinnamon (cinnamomum zeylanicum, branches) - phenol : eugenol
- Tropical basil (ocimum basilicum, flower) - phenol methyl ether : chavicol me
- Palmarosa (cymbopogon martinii, plant) - monoterpennols : geraniol
- Rosewood (aniba parviflora, wood) - monoterpénol: linalol
- Eucalyptus Radiata (eucalyptus radiata, sheet) - oxide: 1.8cineole and monoterpennol: terpineol
- Ravintsara (cinnamomum camphora, sheet) - oxide: 1.8cineole and monoterpennol: terpineol
- Niaouli (melaleuca viridiflora, sheet) - oxide: 1.8cineole and monoterpénol: terpineol, viridiflorol
- Tea tree (melaleuca alternifolia, sheet) - monoterpene: terpine 1-4
- Laurel (laurus nobili, leaves) - monoterphenol: linalol and oxide: 1.8cineole
- Eucalyptus globulus (eucalyptus globulus , sheet) - oxide: 1.8cineole
- Lemon (citrus limonum, zeste) - monoterpene: limonene
There are others, such as Origan d'Espagne, Bay, thym géraniol, Ciste, estragon, Monarde, etc., but they are less common or much more expensive.
(source: "L'aromathérapie exactement" by Pierre Franchomme, published by Roger Jollois)
A few articles on viruses
Many articles on viruses and essential oils have been published. We have selected a few that we thought might be of interest. Above all, "don't die of fear", advises Dr Jean-Pierre Willem, surgeon, phytotherapist and president of Médecins aux pieds nus. Especially as "we are not helpless. Faced with the uncertainty of an effective chemical therapy, aromatherapy will have its day," he says. Several essential oils have recognised antiviral action, and there are hundreds of references proving their effectiveness".
- "Essential oils : antiviral agents" was the theme of the 6th International Clinical Aromatherapy Conference held in San Francisco last April, where doctors and specialists from around the world, including Professor Jürgen Reichling from the University of Heidelberg, presented their latest work.
- Dr Christian Duraffourd, President of the French Society of Phytotherapy and Aromatherapy, points out that "the anti-infectious potential of essential oils (provided they are not rectified or modified) is clear-cut for all acute or chronic infections, whether microbial or viral".
- Should essential oils be used preventively ? While it may be a good idea to use them in cures to strengthen the immune system (inhalations, massages or even suppositories), Dr Willem believes that "in the event of a pandemic, it will be time to diffuse them in the atmosphere of homes and to take antiviral capsules offered by natural product laboratories". In the journal Pratiques de santé, he also recommends rubbing essential oils containing molecules known as monoterpenols (Madagascan ravensara, rose geranium, marjoram, etc.) or phenols (clove, thyme basil, savory, etc.), which are stronger and need to be diluted in fatty oil before use.
- Dr Lablanchy also recommends ravensara essential oil and vitamin C (anti-viral) for prevention. He also stresses the immunosuppressive effect of stress: "Researchers are finding more and more links between the nervous and immune systems. Could it not, in fact, be the same system?
- In addition to these precious natural therapies (of which there are many others), we must of course focus on the basic factors of health. This is true primary prevention. The sinews of war," writes Dr Jean-Paul Curtay, "are energy. The best way to catch a cold or have an outbreak of herpes is to be tired. Yet our energy levels and immunity depend above all on a sober and truly healthy diet, good breathing, good sleep, regular physical exercise, avoidance of pollutants (chemicals, tobacco, white sugar, refined flours and oils, etc.), as well as vitamins (A, C, E, D, etc.) and minerals (iron and, above all, zinc) that maintain good natural defences.