In the 17th century, when all of Europe was in the thrust of the Black Plague, a small band of marauding thieves seemed immune to the disease. They would enter the homes of plague victims and have no fear of touching the bodies as they searched for jewelry and money. When the band of thieves was caught, the King demanded to know their secret.

The thieves’ secret had to do with the oils they rubbed on their bodies – their family was from a long lineage of apothecaries, they had knowledge about how to use oils medicinally and prophylactically against disease. The King got the exact formulation they were using against the black plague which according to legend, saved his entire family from the disease.  Today we think of essential oils as mere pleasant additions to a relaxing massage. But in olden days, some cultures valued oils even more than gold because their powerful healing properties were known.

The body’s immune system is what’s responsible for fighting disease and infection by the production of white blood cells and antibodies. But it can be difficult to maintain healthy immune function in today’s toxic and stressed environment. With constant exposure to harmful germs and bacteria, poor diet, and lack of sleep, body system stress can negatively affect physical and emotional health.  Along with the belief that prevention is better than cure, aromatherapy recognizes the fact that when the body’s vital force is strong, it can overcome disease organisms.

When you have a strong immune system, you are less likely to get ill or if you do get caught off guard your body will be able to easily defend itself. Having certain chronic ailments makes you more susceptible to illness.

The imbalances of immunity can actually be treated with essential oils that build immune system efficiency and integrity. Imbalances can be treated with circulatory essential oils like diuretics, diaphoretics, circulatory regulators or venous tonics, while disinfecting and blood purifying oils can get rid of toxins and pathogens.

Many essential oils have a remarkable ability to both support the immune system and increase one’s rate of healing.  One way these oils fight infection is to stimulate the production of white corpuscles, which are part of the body’s immune defense. Still other essential oils encourage new cell growth to promote faster healing. All can be used in conjunction with herbal remedies designed to improve immunity. Relaxation achieved through a massage or bath lowers stress, improves sleep, and thus stimulates the immune system.

There are several essential oils that build immune system integrity by strengthening, stimulating and acting as antibacterial and antiviral agents.

To help restore and strengthen the immune system, use:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Pine
  • Thyme
  • Tea tree
  • Peppermint
  • Juniper
  • Bergamot
  • Ginger
  • Lavender
  • Lemongrass
  • Myrrh

To help relieve stress and balance psycho-neuro-endocrine function:

  • Lavender
  • Basil
  • Marjoram
  • Bergamot
  • Geranium

To help stimulate the elimination of excess mucus:

  • Tea tree
  • Niaouli
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage
  • Cajeput

To help the efficiency of detoxifying organs:

  • Lemon
  • Juniper
  • Rosemary
  • Eucalyptus

While each of the essential oils above can be used alone, you may find that you enjoy blending them as well. You can experiment to find a blend that works best to support your health. Here’s one possible recipe for using aromatherapy for an immune system health booster.

One of the most beneficial ways for you to get the most from your essential oils is by diffusing them – hence, the term Aromatherapy. Diffusing immune supportive essential oils on a daily basis is a great first line of defense. Using essential oils in a massage blend or rub is also very helpful. The essential oils will be absorbed slowly and over a several hours period of time.  With a few exceptions, essential oils should always be diluted into a carrier oil or lotion before being applied to the skin. Some oils can cause a sensitive skin reaction, which should pass quickly once removed. Some oils contain very strong chemicals constituents and if used undiluted can actually cause skin damage.

In using aromatherapy for immune system health (or for any purpose), please use common sense about when to treat yourself and when to call your doctor. Essential oils are not meant to replace the advice and care of your regular medical provider.