Top 10 Best Essential Oils to Boost the Immune System

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Maintaining a healthy immune system that will continue to protect and defend us from viruses, infections and bacteria is something we can all do. Yet there may be times when our good intentions fall short.

But that doesn’t mean we should surrender. Armed with the right information and pointed to specific essential oils, we have the power to help the body return to optimum protective levels.

Top 10 Best Essential Oils to Boost the Immune System

How Does the Immune System Work?

The organs, cells and proteins in the body create an interactive network known to us as the immune system. They work together to protect us from viruses, bacteria and other harmful substances. When our immune system is at optimum levels pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi are neutralised and removed.

Our body’s runs on a memory bank which trains cells helping them to recognise foreign bodies and neutralise harmful substances before real damage occurs. The next image is of a cell that is a foreign body in an otherwise healthy system.

The lymphatic system is made up of a specialised system of vessels which all blood cells circulate through. The cells of the immune system begin in the bone marrow, then travel to guard the peripheral tissues. This is when it meets the blood stream, and reaches the lymphatic system.

The beauty of the immune system is that when it works as it should, we don’t have to think about it. It’s like everything else that doesn’t give us trouble, we take it for granted. It’s only when something occurs that isn’t as expected that we realise our immune system has been compromised, and we face illness.

For the body’s natural defence mechanisms to run smoothly, the immune system must recognise and tell the difference between ‘home’ cells (that belong to us) and ‘away’ cells that are foreign substances and alien organisms. ‘Away’ cells are known as antigens, and these include the proteins on the surface of bacteria, viruses and fungi.

Now, usually, when such ‘away’ cells are detected the immune system looks to stored memory, much like we would refer back to a photo or file for reference. By doing this it can quickly defend itself against known pathogens and antigens.

Reasons for a Poor Immune System

There are several common causes that can be considered hazardous to our immune system:

  • Fungi infections
  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Foreign substances from surrounding environments

We want to keep our immune system operating at an optimum level. Different seasons, locations and food we eat can all attribute to lowering the protective functionality of our immune system. Being aware of the risks we face on a day-to-day basis with for example food hygiene, the spread of bacteria and viruses, we should always be proactive in defending and actively protecting ourselves from extrinsic sources.

Offence is the Best Defence

It’s true. If we become aware of the way our body’s work, we can help it to maintain order and strength. Our body’s shouldn’t have to go it alone, being aware of what we expose ourselves to can have a positive impact on our health. We need to work in unison if we are to live strong, healthy and vibrant.

How to Boost the Immune System 

Essential oils are a great way of boosting the body as they are derived from crops all over the world and have been presenting remedies in natural medicine for centuries, providing us with natural remedies that can arm our body’s with sufficient nutrients and minerals all year round, and essential oils that boost the immune system help the body to stay fighting fit.

Top 10 Essential Oils Remedies

Whilst all essential oils contain compounds that can be used in natural medicine to aid and support the body’s natural functions and defences, there are a handful that present strengths when it comes to boosting the immune system.

  1. Oregano
  2. Juniper Berry
  3. Rosemary
  4. Lemon
  5. Grapefruit
  6. Eucalyptus
  7. Frankincense
  8. Clove
  9. Cinnamon Bark
  10. Ginger

1. Oregano Essential Oil

Oregano is a flowering plant in the mint family and is indigenous to the Mediterranean region. Oregano Essential Oil is considered to have proven healing capability. Its healing compound is carvacrol – an antimicrobial property which destroys pathogens – fighting infections and naturally healing the body.

Benefits:

  • Antifungal – Protects and fights against fungi; bacteria which is found primarily on the skin hair and nails.
  • Antibacterial – If you’re looking for a natural cold remedy or want to prevent the flu virus, this acts against bacteria in the system very quickly.
  • Anti-parasite – This anti-parasitic essential oil kills off parasites that your immune system may have become exposed to.
  • Antioxidant – Oregano essential oil produces antioxidant molecules, known for scavenging, which hunt free radicals in your system.

How to use Oregano Essential Oil:

  • Aromatically: Diffuse 1 – 2 drops
  • Topically: Dilute 1-2 drops with a carrier oil (jojoba or coconut) and massage into the skin
  • Internally: Whilst it’s suggested that this oil aids the digestive system, and 1 drop daily is said to be beneficial, you must always seek advice of a natural medicine professional

2. Juniper Berry Essential Oil

Juniper Berry Essential Oil is known for its detoxifying properties and immune boosting power. Originating from Bulgaria, this plant has a long history in naturally helping prevent both short and long-term illnesses. Juniper is seen as the protector of health.

Benefits:

  • Antioxidant – High in flavonoid and polyphenol which have strong free-radical scavenging abilities.
  • Antibacterial – This immune system boosting essential oil is used for natural sore throat remedies, respiratory infections as well as fatigue and muscle aches.
  • Antifungal – Can be used to treat fungi infections that commonly occur in skin, hair and nails.

How to use Juniper Berry Essential Oil:

  • Aromatically: Diffuse 1-2 drops
  • Topically: Dilute 1-2 drops with a carrier oil (jojoba or coconut) and massage into the skin, Mix a 1:1 ratio
  • Internally: Recognised for safe consumption. Place one drop in a capsule and swallow. You must always seek advice of a natural medicine professional

3. Rosemary

Rosemary Essential Oil is native to the Mediterranean region. With an antioxidant ORAC value of 11,070, this oil has massive free-radical fighting potential, which is brilliant news if you’re fighting off a virus or want a helping hand to fight off other foreign bodies.

Benefits:

  • Antioxidant – With so much free-radical fighting capability, the scavenging antioxidant properties will help your immune system return to optimal levels.
  • Anti-inflammatory – The compounds in this oil produce agents that will help increase blood flow, reduce swelling and enable the immune system to flush out toxins faster.

How to use Rosemary Essential Oil:

  • Aromatically: There is always the option to diffuse 1-2 drops and fill your room or house with this healing aroma.
  • Topically: Dilute 1-2 drops with a carrier oil (jojoba or coconut) and massage into the skin
  • Internally: Not recommended to ingest by mouth. If unsure and you come across a variety that you deem safe, always check with a natural health care professional first.

4. Lemon Essential Oil

Lemon Essential Oil is best known for its ability to cleanse toxins from any part of the body and has been used in many cold and flu over-the-counter medications. So, it goes without saying that this powerful fruit has the ability to boost the immune system by stimulating lymph drainage and rejuvenating energy.

According to the International Journal of Food Microbiology, lemon oil may be the most powerful anti-microbial agent of all essential oils.

Benefits:

  • Antioxidant – Lemon essential oil supports lymphatic drainage, so along with the free-radical fighting abilities, this can help you overcome a cold, fast.
  • Antimicrobial – This agent kills microorganisms or stops their growth. This is used in medicines to treat fungi and bacteria, and is a natural remedy.

How to use Lemon Essential Oil:

  • Aromatically: Diffuse 1 – 2 drops
  • Topically: Dilute 1-2 drops with a carrier oil (coconut) and massage into the neck area
  • Internally: Seek advice of a natural medicine professional to point you to a product that is best used for internal consumption.

5. Grapefruit

Grapefruit Essential Oil is naturally high in antioxidants and phytochemicals that reduce oxidative stress and disease causing inflammation. Its main constituent is called limonene which protects the cells from damage.

Benefits:

  • Antioxidant – Free radical fighting properties which can help cleanse the immune system.
  • Antimicrobial – Reduces or eliminates harmful strains of bacteria that can enter the body through contaminated water, food or parasites.

How to use Grapefruit Essential Oil:

  • Aromatically: Diffuse 1-2 drops or pour a cup of hot water into a bowl and add a 6-8 drops. Place a towel over the head and inhale for a few minutes. Repeat several times a day.
  • Topically: Dilute 1-2 drops with a carrier oil (jojoba or coconut) and massage into the skin. 1:1 Ratio
  • Internally: Seek advice of a natural medicine professional to establish whether the oil you choose is acceptable for oral use.

6. Eucalyptus Essential Oil 

Eucalyptus Essential Oil works as an expectorant and helps cleanse your body of toxins and harmful microorganisms that can make you feel sick. This oil is used in many medicinal products for its ability to help fight Cold and flu viruses. It has the highest cineole levels of any plant (up to 80-95%) which is why it works so well.

Benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory – Improves respiratory stimulation.
  • Antioxidant – Provides protection from pathogens caused by viral infections and bacteria.
  • Antiseptic – Kills harmful bacteria found on the skin, hair and nails.

How to use Eucalyptus Essential Oil:

  • Aromatically: Diffuse 2-3 drops or for more acute situations make a steam bath by pouring a cup of boiling water into a bowl and mixing 10 drops of the oil. Place a towel over your head and in-hale deeply for 5-10 minutes.
  • Topically: Dilute 1-2 drops with a carrier oil (jojoba or coconut) and massage into the skin. Can be placed behind the ears, beneath the nose and on the chest for effective relief.
  • Internally: Not recommended. Seek advice of a botanical medicine professional.

7. Frankincense Essential Oil

Frankincense Essential Oil is sometimes referred to as Olibanum. It has been known to reduce pain with its anti-inflammatory properties, and boost the immune system. It has immune enhancing abilities that helps kill bacteria and viruses in your body, as well as around the home.

Benefits:

  • Antioxidants – Destroys bacteria and viral infections quickly.
  • Anti-inflammatory – Reduces pain caused through inflammation.
  • Antiseptic – Uses to help prevent mouth sores, ulcers and toothaches.

How to use Frankincense Essential Oil:

  • Aromatically: Diffuse 1 – 2 drops
  • Topically: Dilute 1-2 drops with a ‘carrier oil’ (coconut) and massage into the affected area on your skin. Or can be used in larger areas on the body.
  • Internally: Not to be ingested in large quantities as can be toxic. Seek advice of a natural medicine professional

8. Clove Essential Oil

Clove Essential Oil is rich in antioxidants with an ORAC value of 290,283. Per gram clove contains 30x more antioxidants than blueberries which have a value of 9,621. This essential oil is packed with power agents that protect the body against bad bacteria and viruses.

It also contains magnesium, potassium, calcium and manganese. Originating in Southeast Asia, three types of clove oil is produced from the same evergreen: Clove leaf, Clove Bud and Clove stem. Clove bud is the most popular in aromatherapy.

Benefits:

  • Antioxidant – Rich in pathogen fighting agents known to kill bacteria and viruses.
  • Anti-inflammatory – Helps reduce inflammation on overworked systems and helps increase blood flow which flushes out antigens (harmful cells) from your system.
  • Anti-fungal – Kills fungi infections commonly found on skin, hair and nails.

How to use Clove Essential Oil:

  • Aromatically: Diffuse 2 – 3 drops throughout the room
  • Topically: Dilute 1-2 drops with a carrier oil (jojoba or coconut) and massage to the skin area over solar plexus or heart
  • Internally: Take in veggie capsules to boost immunity in winter time. One drop can be added to toothpaste to maintain oral health, or can be gargled with. Always seek guidance from a natural medical professional

9. Cinnamon Essential Oil

Originating in Sri Lanka and the Far East, Cinnamon Essential Oil is especially strong in anti-parasitic, anti-inflammatory, antiplatelet and antiviral properties, which makes it one of the top essential oils for boosting the immune system.

Benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory – decreases inflammation which increases blood flow and circulation.
  • Antioxidant – Fights free radicals caused by viruses and bad bacteria.
  • Anti-parasitic – Destroys foreign bodies and parasites which could be ingested through contaminated water and food.

How to use Cinnamon Essential Oil:

  • Aromatically: Diffuse 1 – 2 drops
  • Topically: Dilute 1-2 drops with a carrier oil (jojoba or coconut) and massage into achy joints
  • Internally: Place one drop of oil in hot water or tea and sip slowly to soothe your throat. You must always seek advice of a natural medicine professional  

10. Ginger

Ginger Essential Oil heals infections caused by microorganisms and bacteria with its antiseptic agents, including: intestinal infections, bacterial dysentery and food poisoning. And, you can thank its component zingibain for its anti-inflammatory properties.

Benefits:

  • Anti-inflammatory – Increases blood flow and circulation which helps reduce pain and flush out toxins.
  • Antioxidants – Heavy in free-radical fighting capabilities, ginger essential oil will kill known pathogens and help return your immune system to optimal levels.

How to use Ginger Essential Oil:

  • Aromatically: Diffuse 1-2 drops in your home and inhale
  • Topically: Dilute 1-2 drops with a carrier oil (jojoba or coconut) and massage into the skin. Rub directly to the stomach area if this is the most affected.
  • Internally: You can add 1-2 drops in water for an upset stomach. You must always seek advice of a natural medicine professional

Which Product is Right for You?

It can be overwhelming when looking for the right essential oil to aid immune system recovery. When we’re hit with illness we want to be fighting fit as soon as possible, and choosing the right essential oils will help aid this process and boost immunity back to optimal levels. Which after all, is all we ever want, right?

To summarise what oil works best for what ailment, see this comparison table. 

Antioxidant
(Cold, flu viruses, bacterial infections)
Oregano, Juniper Berry, Rosemary, Grapefruit, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Clove, Cinnamon, Ginger
Anti-inflammatory (Reduce swelling, improve circulation, increase blood flow, flush system of toxins)Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Clove, Cinnamon, Ginger
Antibacterial (This prevents the development of bacteria)Oregano, Juniper Berry
Antiseptic (Cuts, gingivitis, mouth ulcers, toothache)Frankincense, Eucalyptus
Anti-parasite (Food-poisoning and other causes of harmful parasites)Oregano, Cinnamon
Anti-fungal (Hair, skin and nail infections)Juniper Berry, Oregano, Clove
Antimicrobial (This prevents the spread of bacteria i.e. acts as a sanitiser)Lemon, Grapefruit

Which Brand?

Once armed with the correct information in what you need, your next step is to decide which brand to buy. And, a busy market full of Essential Oil brands this can be confusing. 

Here’s 5 Well-Established Essential Oil brands:

  1. Young Living
  2. DoTerra
  3. Eden Gardens
  4. Mountain Rose Herbs
  5. Auracacia

1. Young Living was founded in 1993 with their mission to ‘bring young essential oils into the home of every home in the world.’ Young Living farms are located around the world. They set a standard of how essential oils are distilled to achieve the best levels of potency. Young Living work on a ‘Seed to Seal’ promise committed to do providing pure and potent essential oils to all.

  • Pros: Ethically sourced. Available online for immediate distribution. Wonderful high potency.
  • Cons: High price per unit

2. DoTerra was founded in 2008 by a team of people who used to work for Young Living. So it’s not surprising that high values, goals and commitment followed them. In reaching for high standards to compete with the market leaders, Doterra created its own testing programme, so that when the oils are distilled from their farming partners around the world, they can be certain of the grade and quality to which they are filling people’s homes with. This is called CPTG Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade®.

  • Pros: They govern their own testing in an industry which is yet to see firm testing regulations, available online for immediate distribution. High Potency Product.
  • Cons: High price per unit. $35 membership fee.

3. Eden Gardens has blossomed into a well-established respected brand and is among the biggest brand names that sell essential oils. They have over 150 essential oils and offer 100% therapeutic grade to each product.

  • Pros: Affordable products. Available online for immediate distribution. 100% grade oils.
  • No Cons.

4. Mountain Rose Herbs was founded in 1987 and are today a big brand in the essential oil market. They make sure all product is placed through their lab-safe research processes to ensure the best quality essential oils.

  • Pros: Reasonably priced. A wide range of products.
  • Cons: They re-bottle so you don’t get to see the origin of the product. They don’t offer blends of essential oils.

5. AuraCacia firmly established itself as an aromatherapy company in 1993 after the co-purchasing of Frontier Natural Products Co-op. Today they are ‘certified organic’ by the Authority of Food Productions Act. Their organic certifier is Quality Assurance International who look into quality, harvesting and distillation.

  • Pros: Competitively priced. Do not re-bottle. Accessible in major food stores. They have 89 single brands and 21 blends.
  • No Cons.  

Final Thoughts

You’re on the right path to feeling great!

Whilst it’s easy to get blinded by brands with their own farms and social economic efforts to source oils ethically, it’s also just as valuable to test which products work best for you.

DoTerra may be at the top of your budget, but it’s worth bearing in mind that this product has a long shelf life, and the initial cost will stretch itself over time. DoTerra essential oil is potent. There is rarely need for adding more than one drop. If you’re looking for an essential oil brand that has it all, that offers ethical farming, producing plants in the richest of indigenous regions and one that carries out its own high-end testing, then DoTerra is for you.

On the other hand, Eden Gardens offer essential oils much lower down the pricing spectrum, offering affordability whilst still producing 100% essential oils. It may be necessary to use up to 6-8 drops to get the same potency as a DoTerra product, but as long as you don’t mind purchasing more frequently, this could be a great option for those will less disposable cash.

For more on uses of essential oils, and different things they can be used for, please check out our complete list of essential oils and what they can be used for in this next article.

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No Medical Advice

IMPORTANT: We wrote this article to be helpful with educational and informational purposes only. The information in this article is not meant to convey medical advice and does not constitute the practice of medicine. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace, qualified medical advice from a professional. See our full medical disclosure for more.