Ah, we are definitely feeling the cold season creeping in! It is this time of the year when mom used to always tell you to “put that jacket on” whenever you are out and about, and gently tucked you into bed to make sure that your back and chest were covered at night.
Experts agree that the reason why this period is labeled as cold and flu season is not because people feel cold, per se, but because most of us tend to spend more time indoors – making us within a spitting distance to each other and more susceptible to germs that spread bacteria and viruses! Yikes!
With this in mind, we should get used to the idea that toughening our immune defenses is not only a seasonal thing to consider, but really a year-long and day-to-day priority. It seems like a tough job to do at first but really, we just need to understand how to incorporate little things to our daily habits and we will be well on our way towards a more resilient immune system.
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But what most of us do not know is this:
A Healthy Lifestyle Plays a Part in a Healthy Immune System
And vice versa! To live a wholesome lifestyle, you are in need of a strong immune system.
Experts in the health industry have long studied the ways for our body to produce the best immune responses possible. Since our immune system is a “system” – a complex group of organs working together – it requires balance to function to its full potential. There is no such thing as a be-all and end-all way to keep it all in check, but a healthy lifestyle is undoubtedly still your best chance to be in a full state of physical well-being. Here are some ways for you to lead a healthy lifestyle:
- Avoid getting infections. Having good hygiene is still the way to go to keep infections at bay. Regularly washing your hands, covering your mouth with napkins whenever you sneeze or cough, not picking the scabs on your wounds, showering every day, and changing your sheets often are some of the best ways to avoid catching unwanted microbes. No-brainer, really, but these sure are some things being neglected by most.
- Stick to a healthy diet. Although there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to dieting, it is important to observe one that is high in fruits and vegetables because they are rich in vitamins and minerals that can do wonders to the body. If you love your meat, make sure that they are handled well and thoroughly cooked to avoid contamination.
- Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight. Sure, you often see this tip from any other website, but how do you really start exercising? People get often motivated with the bigger picture of leading a healthier lifestyle but pro-tips for those who do not: make a commitment with a friend that you will do specific things and if you fail, you will have to pay them AND give yourself a real treat whenever you achieve your mini-goals. This way, you will always feel more motivated to reach your goal because who wants to lose a bet, anyway?
- Manage your stress levels. Stress is rather difficult to measure – a stressful situation to someone may not be the same case for another – yet managing it is important because studies show that stress suppresses the immune system. Likewise, illnesses ranging from bowel to heart disease are believed to be associated with the effects of emotional stress. Getting enough sleep reduces your tendency to regard situations as stressful, and focusing on your breath whenever you feel anxious is a good technique to alleviate stress.
The Best Essential Oils that Boost Your Immune System
It goes without saying that products from nature are excellent supplements to optimize the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. Essential oils, in particular, have been recognized for their immune system strengthening properties.
Some of the widely known oils with immune boosting effects are:
Citrus x limon. Lemon naturally has anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, and detoxifying properties. It blends well with other essential oils, making it popular among oil enthusiasts. It is also a natural disinfectant and can be used as a natural cleaning product such as a counter top spray or air freshener spray.
Use lemon liberally and quickly as its shelf life is only about 1 to 1.5 years.
2. Cinnamon Bark
Cinnamomum verum. The most important properties you’re looking for in an essential oil for immune support are antibacterial and antiseptic. Cinnamon has both of those properties and can therefore assist beautifully in boosting your natural defenses against the season’s germs. Be careful though, Cinnamon is considered a “hot” oil, which means you’ll need to always dilute it to use it safely.
NOTE: There are 3 types of Cinnamon available for purchase: Cinnamon Bark, Cinnamon Leaf, and Cinnamon Cassia. If you’re wondering which is the best variety of Cinnamon essential oil for immune support, choose Cinnamon Bark with the latin plant name of Cinnamomum verum. Cinnamon Leaf (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) is also ok, but Cinnamon Cassia (Cinnamomum cassia) should really only be named “Cassia” as it’s a different plant that’s basically the cheaper cousin variety of Cinnamon. It’s still related, and if you have nothing else available, use Cassia. But if you’re starting from scratch and shopping for a set of immune boosting essential oils, make sure you include Cinnamon Bark.
3. Tea Tree
Melaleuca alternifolia. Tea tree oil is among the most versatile oils out there that has antimicrobial properties. It is an effective decongestant and expectorant, and popular in many home remedies. Whether it’s for your immune system, or for treating acne, cold sores, or cough and chest congestion, tea tree is part of the aromatherapist’s vocabulary.
If your essential oils starter kit didn’t include Tea Tree oil, you can add it to your library now and rest assured that you’ll find plenty useful uses for it now & in the future.
Eucalyptus radiata. Eucalyptus supports a healthy respiratory system similar to tea tree oil as it also has decongestant and expectorant properties. I personally find it has a more pleasant smell than Tea Tree. It’s fresh and spirited, yet not as “tree”-y like Tea Tree.
Eucalyptus essential oil is produced via steam distillation of the tree’s leaves and twigs. There are multiple varieties of Eucalyptus trees (over 500!), but most popularly, only three different varieties of Eucalyptus essential oils are sold: Eucalyptus globulus, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus citriodora. They have their own spin on Eucalyptus benefits: globulus for respiratory / antibacterial effects, radiata for immune system support and deep muscle tissue issues such as strains and sprains, and citriodora for mosquito repellents or fungal infections.
Mentha piperita. Peppermint is among the most common essential oils. It can be used to help relieve headaches and indigestion. It has detoxifying properties and believed to help reduce sugar cravings.
While it features a pretty strong aroma, it’s pleasant on the airways and soothing on the respiratory system. Peppermint has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, which help to combat viral and fungal infections, including cold sores. It is suitable for direct inhalation, steam bowls, diffusion, and diluted topical application.
Origanum vulgare. Oregano is rich in antioxidants and an effective pathogen fighter, which means it fights bacteria, viruses, and other microorganism that can cause disease.
Oregano oil is beneficial in treating various health concerns and the usage of this oil depends on what body conditions you are presently enduring. If you are experiencing various ailments, always ask for your doctor’s advice. Since oregano is strongly concentrated, moderation is also required to avoid unfavorable results.
Syzygium aromaticum. Clove is one of the most potent antioxidant essential oils available. Its scent is slightly strong and may need some getting used to. It’s also a “hot” oil so please remember to dilute it highly if you plan to use it topically to ensure you stay away from skin irritations.
How To Use Essential Oils to Boost Your Immune System
The immune system is among the most complex and diverse systems in the body. It is one of the most critical purveyors of our physical wellness. A healthy immune system will be able to help you fight off more serious kinds of illnesses, so it is of your best interest to keep your immune system as strong as you can any time of the year.
Essential oils can beautifully support your immune system by diffusing or spraying them in a room, cleaning the house with them, or apply them directly to the skin. If this is your first time learning about how to use essential oils, here are some interesting ideas to try and get acquainted with these powerful gifts from nature:
If you are feeling under the weather, try applying the following blends on the soles of your feet and cover them with socks. The feet are among the fastest absorbing areas of the body so putting essential oils there will help them get to your blood stream faster!
Other fast absorbing areas include the neck and the area behind the ears. It is also recommended to put essential oils on your chest and throat if you have cough, chest congestion or a clogged nose.
- Mix one (1) teaspoon of your carrier oil of choice (e.g. almond, castor, coconut, jojoba, or olive oil) and add three (3) to five (5) drops of oregano oil
- Mix one (1) teaspoon of your carrier oil of choice with two (2) to three (3) drops of eucalyptus
- Mix one (1) teaspoon of your carrier oil of choice with one (2) drops each of lemon and peppermint oil
- Mix one (1) teaspoon of your carrier oil of choice with (1) drop each of lemon, lavender and peppermint oil
One way to kill airborne viruses and bacteria is to diffuse essential oils. You would need a diffuser for this. This will not only make your home smell like a luxurious hotel room, but also put humidity in the air, relieving dry sinuses and coughs. There are many essential oil diffuser blend recipes out there depending on your desired effect. Here are some diffuser blend recipes to try that promote immunity boosting and healing effects:
Diffuser Blends for Boosting Your Immune System
- Mix two (2) drops each of lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus with one (1) drop each of rosemary, lime, and clove
- Mix three (3) drops each of lemon, lavender, and peppermint
- Mix four (4) drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint
- Mix two (2) drops each of eucalyptus, rosemary, clove, cinnamon, and wild orange
- Mix two (2) drops each of lemon, peppermint, and eucalyptus with one (1) drop each of lime, rosemary, and clove
- Mix two (2) drops each of peppermint, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, and lavender
- Mix five (5) drops of rosemary, four (4) drops each of eucalyptus and peppermint, three (3) drops of cypress, and two (2) drops of lemon
In order to achieve a strong immune system, we must commit to an overall lifestyle of health. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to wellness, yet pieces of information like these are essential to serve as a collective reminder that you have what it takes to live a full, healthy life. The above-explained tips are simple things to do to enhance the system.
The essential oil recipes that you find here are my suggestions to get you started with diffusing oils around your home that not only smell nice, but also serve the purpose of boosting your immune system. You are of course free to create your own blends; I recommend you incorporate at least one (if not more) of the top 7 oils for your immune system that I’ve outlined. Just remember that it is easy to get lost in your favorite essential oil scents, so please don’t be shy to add in a new one or experiment a little to get desired results.
Last but not least – please don’t expect that all oils are created equal. Shop my top 10 most recommended essential oil brands if you need a place to start. It is advisable that you stick to high quality, 100% natural, pure, and therapeutic grade essential oils.
The uses of essential oils are virtually unlimited. Enjoy!