As a naturopathic doctor, I recognize that your health care needs haven’t gone away with the “Stay Healthy Stay Home” orders! My goal has been to support you through this crisis by providing resources and inspiration to “tune-in” to your own strength and innate healing ability. I hope you are finding them helpful. I am also continuing to offer telehealth using naturopathic and functional medicine. These two modalities provide natural, supportive care for infections and help one deal with the emotional symptoms that are heightened during this time of crisis. (Click here to learn more about naturopathic doctor telehealth consults.)
Doing things that support our mental and physical health are proactive ways to keep ourselves resilient, and are especially important right now. Making time for nourishing practices is especially imperative when one is feeling overwhelmed.
Today, I want to share with you a wellness tip at the tip of your nose. I’m going to discuss how essential oils can support our respiratory health, starting within our nasal passageways and all the way down to our lungs.
I also will explain how air filtration is another way to lessen the strain on our immune system and support optimal health.
Finally, at the end of the blog, I have an updated resource list for you regarding the current news.
Essential Oils: Defenders of Microbes Right at Tip of Our Noses!
Our nose is one of the very means by which we can “catch a bug!” By mitigating inflammation at the entry point, we can help ignite our body’s natural defense mechanisms. For example, it has been suggested that those with more allergic conditions, including rhinitis, may have a lowered ability to fight off viruses.
This is why I was so psyched to find a research article that evaluated the impact of an essential oils mixture for improving adaptive immune protection in human nasal passages. In this small study of 12 subjects, researchers used a single arm, non-randomized design to evaluate how an oil-based test agent would mitigate ozone-induced upper respiratory inflammation. The blend consisted of aloe, coconut, orange, peppermint and vitamin E. The authors also simultaneously sought to discover mechanisms of action for the oils’ protection on human lung tissue using an in vitro model.
The results indicated that the oil-based treatment alleviated inflammation in human noses through their antioxidant protection, and the effect lasted up to 18 hours! Furthermore, the in vitro design demonstrated that the oils’ mixture effect was at the level of gene expression, specifically in pathways related to oxidative stress and inflammation. Orange oil was specifically highlighted for its stand-out and robust antioxidant promotion.
Here’s an excerpt for the science geeks:
Cellular antioxidant defenses can counter inflammation by limiting the levels of ROS generated. Expression of genes involved in glutathione biosynthesis (i.e. GCLc, and GCLm) was significantly up-regulated in response to oil pretreatment. Further, pretreatment of BEAS-2B cells with the mixed oil preparation or orange oil alone was observed to greatly suppressed TNFa activation in response to LPS treatment. Lower levels of glutathione have been reported to augment activation of the proinflammatory transcription factor, NF-KB , consistent with our previous report of a protective role of glutathione peroxidase in LPS-induced septic inflammation . In addition, induction of HO-1 may exert anti-inflammatory functions through the generation of carbon monoxide and has been shown to inhibit the LPS-induced expression of proinflammatory cytokines .
The results of the present study indicate that the mixture of natural oils was capable of reversing the nasal inflammatory response to ozone exposure in healthy human subjects in a manner that persisted for up to 18 hours. (source)
For my research friends, there was a potential confounder in the trial. The researchers may have enhanced the effect with the use of .75% peppermint oil to “prime” the baseline exposure. Yet, even so, the results are still impressive and intriguing.
Breathing Easier with Essential Oils
Beyond protecting our nasal passageways, essential oils have other means to support our respiration. For example, researchers have also found that vaporization of various essential oils have reduced influenza virus counts via several mechanisms. (source, source) Several other studies have found that essential oils also have reductive effects when directly applied to cells in labs. (source, source, source) Furthermore, a combination of in vivo and vitro experiments have demonstrated that essential oils can decrease influenza virulence at several stages of viral growth. (source) This review article listed several oily options from various studies that indicated efficacy against infectious agents, including tea tree, bergamot, eucalyptus globulus, and cinnamon using diffusion. (source)
For more information on using essential oils for respiratory support, see this article.
Breathing Easier While Also Remaining More Calm with Essential Oils
As essential oils’ secondary metabolites modulate our biochemical response and enhance our physical resiliency, they also support our ability to balance stress, emotions, and mental health. This means, besides cleansing the air, they can also “sanitize” your mind. Below are some examples of this dual benefit from the oil combinations mentioned in the first study:
- Orange oil is well known to help balance immune response as it uplifts the mood.
- Peppermint oil enhances focus and clarity and also makes for a more enjoyable exercise experience.
- Thieves oil has a slew of wellness benefits and is emotionally grounding and comforting.
For more on emotional support and enhancing your resiliency with essential oils during this time, please see my previous post and also consider incorporating this blend of grounding oils to help instill more courage.
Why EnviroKlenz Your Air with a Filtration System? Now May Be the Most Important Time….
As illustrated with the first study, air pollution is a probable contributing factor to susceptibility to infections and respiratory stress. This is likely due to its negative impact on the structure and function of the lungs and the lungs’ microbiome. (source, source)
Right now, I’m diffusing peppermint and orange in my atomizer diffuser to help purify my air. I alternate this combo with Thieves oil and other immune supporting oils while running my air filter in the other room. This is for several reasons:
- Filtered air helps to relieve environmental stress.
- It remediates potential inflammatory triggers that effect hormones, immunity and stress response.
- It can also help to lower histamine responses and support the lung microbiome.
- The filtration system I recommend to my clients actually kills mold, not just sequesters it. There is also a study that demonstrates how the UVC filters out the influenza virus.
This link has my referral link for a discount to get free filters with it and discusses the product.
There are many things we can do to support our minds and body during this time that are cost-effective and available to everyone.
Right now, respiratory health is on everyone’s mind.
For those who can’t afford air filtration, or, a diffuser, consider purchasing a bottle of one of the essential oils discussed above and place few drops on cotton balls over a picture or on a high shelf in every room. Remember, with essential oils quality counts, so check with your supplier.
Everyone can also treat their microbiome well and nourish it with everyday self-care practices!
Which oils are you diffusing?
Please share your thoughts below!
New Resources and Sources on Health Resiliency and the Current Crisis
Last week, I listed some additional resources for information on the pandemic, along with the main resources of the CDC and WHO website. Here are some additional helpful resources and links to sources with some breaking news, continued controversy, caveats to treatments, and medicine in times of uncertainty:
Podcasts, Testing, and Integrative Perspectives:
- Antibody Testing, Healthcare Disparities, and More (Spend a short and sweet 14-minutes learning more.)
- A consumer and practitioner resource on how testing works for the current crisis. This is an interview with a brilliant clinician and chief advisor to an esteemed clinical lab and nutritional supplement company. (Click this link to access.)
- What is your immune system, what’s up with testing for resistance? Great interview with leading expert and very highly esteemed immunologist and researcher. (Check out the interview)
- Fantastic clinician and patient resources on lifestyle practices to enhance resiliency and host defense from IFM. (Access them here)
- Nutrients and Immunometabolism: Role of Macrophage NLRP3
- NCCIH Director Helene Langevin on the NIH Integrative Center’s Response
Other News- Latest Updates
- Will antibody tests mean leaving quarantine? Questioning accuracy and hope for a pill?
- Federal Register giving liability protection granted to manufactures on interventions, The PREP Act
- Trump suspends funding to World Health Organization
- Public-Private funding for distributing ventilators where needed
- Higher mortality rate in ventilated COVID-19 patients in large sample– Time for a new protocol?
- Background: Ventilator Controversy:
- The problems that may occur with protocol driven ventilator use (viral video link) (Medscape Link)
- A nurse discusses the use of 2 phenotypes for ventilator-driven protocols based on these findings.
- Emergency Use Coding for mortality, WHO guidelines and CDC
- “Probable” deaths linked to increase in numbers of fatalities in NYC
- Army field hospital for Covid-19 surge leaves Seattle after 9 days. It never saw a patient!?
- ‘Tsunami of grief’ with losses– Social Distancing Compounding Loss
Dr. Sarah’s Message: I’m Still Here for You
I am continuing to provide phone consults and support for clients during the virus. Learn more here.
My Disclaimer About Immune and Wellness Balancing Measures
The above suggestions are for overall health only.
According to experts and the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no approved standard of care treatment, cure, or preventative for COVID-19. Supportive measures and containment are in full force as a result. Please see the CDC website and your state’s website for more information and updates. They also state when to contact your physician related to symptoms and travel history, exposures. Please read my more detailed article on this subject here.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
For additional safety and medical information, visit my essential oils database. It includes a full category on how to use essential oils safely and potential drug interactions that can occur.
Please be extra cautious and be sure to check with your doctor if you have a seizure disorder. The Epilepsy Society of the UK lists certain essential oils implicated for their antiseizure effect as well as those that have stimulating properties.
If you and/or your physician are interested in consulting with me to assist with supporting the integration of essential oils safely into a therapeutic protocol, essential oils consultations are available.