The Immune System

Immune systemEvery second of every day, your body’s immune system is working tirelessly to protect you from invading bacteria, viruses and other disease causing organisms. The immune system is the body’s first line of defence against invaders and works together with other body systems such as the lymphatic and nervous systems. Whenever an outsider threatens the body, a whole battery of defences spring into action to seek out, recognise and destroy the invader.

The key to consistently good health therefore lays in having an optimised immune system which is working at full strength, at all times. However, the immune system may become weakened by outside forces which can have an impact on both the physical and emotional systems, thus bringing about a condition known as immuno-deficiency.

When this happens, the body becomes far more susceptible to these invading germs since it is now working at a greatly reduced level of efficiency. If this situation is not addressed quickly, it is possible that serious medical conditions may develop.

What causes Immuno-deficiency?

On the physical level poor diet, too much alcohol, pollution, insecticides, food additives and certain drugs such as antibiotics and the contraceptive pill can all depress the immune system. It is quite common for the immune system to become noticeably compromised after the repeated use of antibiotic drugs, as some of you may have already learned to your cost.

Negative emotional and psychological pressures undoubtedly contribute to the weakening of the immune system if they are allowed to continue. Psychological stress causes the release of hormones, such as adrenalin and cortisol, which over a period of time will begin to suppress the immune defences, making us more susceptible to disease. For example, cortisol reduces the level of T-helper cells, and inhibits the production of natural killer cells.

Negative cycle

Prolonged physical illness itself will often lead to a negative emotional state, and this in turn can cause immunodeficiency. The weakened immune system will now be more vulnerable to further infection, and another new infection can lead to even further emotional depression. This negative cycle of illness can be very difficult to break unless a course of treatment is adopted that takes both the mind and body into consideration.

General medicine has a range of treatments to boost a depressed or flagging immune system, yet some illnesses still seem well beyond their help. Vitamin injections and supplements also have their part to play in conjunction with sound dietary advice, but again this can be only helpful in certain cases.

The Holistic approach

Aromatherapy is a highly effective treatment for a depleted or suppressed immune system because we can employ essential oils that have been proven to boost the immune system. As aromatherapists already know, using essential oils to treat a depleted immune system can be a very positive treatment – especially when used regularly.

Research has shown that essential oils work as natural immune boosters in three different modes of action;-

1) They work directly against the invading bacteria and viruses due to their powerful antibacterial and antiviral actions.

2) Certain essential oils can influence the stimulation and production of phagocytes, T- cells and B- cells which are so vital to your body’s defences.

3) Other essential oils can give an uplifting boost to the emotional system, which helps to break the downward spiral caused by immunodeficiency. This effect is quite unique to aromatherapy.

In fact it is this third mode of action where aromatherapy really comes into its own by helping to break the circle of illness that is caused by depression. Regular use of the correct essential oils – particularly in aromatherapy massage – will have a powerful effect on the limbic system, which in turn has an uplifting effect on the mind in a way that allopathic medicine has yet to appreciate.

Aromatic Armoury

The comprehensive list of essential oils in the side panel illustrate how aromatherapy can help to boost the immune system by using those oils that have been shown to possess immunostimulant properties.

To produce a powerful synergy with these essential oils, you should make a blend containing one essential oil from each of the three categories so that they can get to work on all the three levels mentioned above. This will produce holistic and synergistic blend that represents everything that is the very best about aromatherapy.

The individual essential oils and synergistic blends of them can then be used in all the usual ways; add 6 drops (total) to a warm bath, use them is aromatherapy massage, add them to your skincare, or use them in vaporisers around the home and at work to give you all round protection.

Copyright © Quinessence Aromatherapy Ltd 2013. Written by

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The science bit

When a germ enters your body for the very first time, it can take several days for the white blood cells to produce the antibodies needed to fight off the infection.

During this period called the primary response, the signs and symptoms of the infection begin to develop and you start to feel ill. After the invasion has been destroyed, a blueprint of the antibodies produced is stored in the immune system's memory bank.

The next time the same germ invades the body, the immune response is much faster in producing the same antibodies to fight off the invasion. This is known as the secondary response.

Lymphocyte Boosters

These are the essential oils that boost production of lymphocytes:-

• Bergamot
• Clove Bud
• Chamomile Gmn
• Niaouli
• Peppermint
• Patchouli
• Tea Tree
• Thyme White

Uplifting essential oils

This selection of essential oils help bring about a feeling of well-being;-

• Bergamot
• Geranium
• Grapefruit
• Lemon
• Mandarin
• Orange Sweet
• Orange Bitter

Anti-bacterial oils

Anti-bacterial essential oils

All of the following anti-bacterial essential oils are highly effective when used in a bath, gargle, vaporizer, steam inhaler, or even inhaled directly from a tissue;-

• Cajuput
• Cinnamon Leaf
• Clove Bud
• Euc Radiata
• Lavender
• Lemon
• Manuka
• Niaouli
• Origanum
• Peppermint
• Ravensara
• Rosemary *
• Tea Tree
• Thyme White

* If you are pregnant, suffer from epilepsy or have high blood pressure, seek advice before using Rosemary.