Aromatherapy and the Immune System
There are many pharmaceutical treatments that can temporarily make you feel better. We take pain relievers to sooth headaches, antihistamines to relieve the symptoms of colds and we cough suppressants to relieve dry painful coughs. Store shelves are filled with symptom-relieving medications, but are they what we need to stay healthy?
Some of the symptoms from which we suffer when we have a cold, a virus or pain are a result of our immune system working. Lung congestion is a perfect example. That green mucus in your lungs when you have a cough is filled with bacteria that your immune system has efficiently gathered up so the body can expel it which is what happens when you cough. While coughing is most assuredly unpleasant, do we really want to suppress it? Does it make sense to suppress the body’s ability to get rid of something that is making us sick?
Aromatherapy works with the immune system to rid the body of attacking organisms. For example, eucalyptus can assist the immune system by breaking up the mucus in the lungs, assisting the lungs in expelling the mucus, expediting its efficient removal. By suppressing the symptoms, instead of helping to expedite the body’s natural process, the body, instead keeps the bacteria in the lungs longer, making us more vulnerable to further infection.
Lavender has antimicrobial properties. This means it actually works to kill bacteria and fungus that attack the body; it also encourages the effectiveness of immune-fighting T-cells which are well documented to attack and destroy cancer cells. It also effectively fights ailments caused by the overgrowth of fungus, such as athlete’s foot and nail fungus. It’s also been useful in treating acne. In some cases it was as effective as benzoyl peroxide without the negative side effects such as skin irritation, itchiness and dryness. Benzoyl peroxide might very well work faster, but lavender works with the immune system to gently and efficiently kill acne-causing bacteria, while soothing and regenerating the skin.
The immune system is like an amazing machine. The closer one looks, the more fascinating it becomes. Every second of everyday our bodies are bombarded with germs, bacteria, carcinogens, airborne viruses, pollutants, lung irritants, to name only a few. It is a little known fact that our body fights cancer causing carcinogens all the time. Aromatherapy, using essential oils, joins the immune system in its fight to rid the body of foreign organisms absorbed through inhalation, ingestion and contact with the skin.
Fever is another example of the immune system fighting a virus or bacteria. The immune system raises the temperature of the body, killing the harmful organisms which make us sick. Too often at the first sign of fever, we quickly take aspirin, ibuprofen or the like, because we inaccurately assume the fever is the cause of the illness. Contrary to this misconception, a fever is a sign of the immune system working efficiently. It’s true that in rare cases a fever can run dangerously high and attempts should be made to lower it. That said, essential oils, such as eucalyptus are effective in lowering a high fever, while working with the immune system to kill unwelcome organisms which are the cause of the immune system jumping to action.
Staying healthy is often times more about keeping the body balanced while helping facilitate its natural processes. By allowing the immune system to function uninhibited by symptom-suppressing chemicals we can act as a partner rather than a well-intentioned addition to the problem. That is what Aromatherapy is all about.