When most people think of essential oils, they think of spas, massages, and luxury. However, research has demonstrated that certain essential oils have excellent antibacterial properties, making them one of the best natural antibiotics available. Here’s everything you need to know about these oils.
How Well Do They Work?
Antiviral essential oils have varying levels of effectiveness. Not every oil works against every type of bacteria and virus, so you’ll need to do a little research on your symptoms and see which oils will be the most effective for you.
That said, several oils are extremely effective against most kinds of bacteria. Cinnamon essential oil is particularly potent, followed by lemongrass, peppermint, and tea tree oils.
How Are Essential Oils Used?
Essential oils are used in several different ways.
However, most essential oils need to be properly diluted before use. Failure to do so could stop them from working properly – or worse, actively harm you. Never attempt to use an essential oil for any purpose without reading its directions.
Tea tree essential oil (sometimes known as melaleuca oil) is a rare exception to this since it can be applied directly to the skin without diluting it first.
Once you have an oil at the proper level of dilution, there are several methods of use:
- Direct Application: These essential oils are applied directly to a problem area, typically on your skin or inside your mouth. They may help conditions like warts, acne, or fungus. Oils may be dropped onto an area, rubbed on, or put onto something like a cotton ball and held over an area.
- Diffused: Diffused oils are turned into a fragrance that fills a room, allowing the oils to be breathed in. This is particularly helpful if the oil is meant to help treat something in the lungs, sinuses, or respiratory area.
- Steamed: This is similar to diffused oils. However, steamed oils are usually used in small quantities (several drops at a time) and directly inhaled.
- Toothpaste: Some essential oils can be added to toothpaste. This is one of the most popular cinnamon oil uses, and you can either buy a pre-made toothpaste or look for a recipe and create your own.
- Soak: Essential oils like oregano may be added to a tub of water before soaking in it for a time. In most cases, you’ll only need to soak the affected area (such as your feet), but some people like to have a full bath.
- Tip: If you plan to use essential oils in a bath, try showering first and getting rid of as much dirt as possible. Too much dirt in your bathwater might interfere with the oil and stop it from working as intended.
- Hand Sanitizer: Options like doTERRA hand sanitizer – which you can make at home from essential oils – can make it easy to use essential oils for virus protection. The doTERRA oils list includes things like cloves, orange, cinnamon, and eucalyptus.
These are not the only potential methods of use. Remember, different oils need to be used in different ways, so make sure you double-check the instructions before buying.
How Much Do Essential Oils Cost?
Prices vary. However, many common essential oils are available for less than $8 per-bottle from major retailers. Most of these bottles aren’t particularly large, but a single fluid ounce has almost 600 drops – that’s enough to last most people for quite some time.
The exception to this is diffusers, which may need anywhere from 2-50 drops depending on the type of diffuser you have and the size of the room. Most diffusers are not meant for constant use – instead, they usually provide their benefits for 3-4 hours, after which more oil (often added to water first) will need to be added.
On average, one fluid ounce of essential oil will supply a diffuser for several days to several weeks.
Regardless of whether they’re being used through a diffuser or not, most essential oils are considerably cheaper – and less likely to cause side-effects – than medication.
How Safe Are Essential Oils?
Most essential oils are extremely safe as long as they are used properly. GRAS essential oils are those that appear on the FDA’s Generally Recognized as Safe list, which means they are recognized as food-safe.
That said, some essential oils have uses other than being a food additive, and the GRAS list does not cover these circumstances. In addition, a small number of people are allergic to one or more essential oils, and others may develop negative reactions if the oils aren’t used in the right way.
For this reason, you may want to have a comprehensive allergy test done before you start using essential oils. This can tell if you if you’re allergic to any of them, and a full test will also let you know if there are any other common allergens you should be wary of.
These tests aren’t necessary if you’ve already had the oils in question (previously having cinnamon, oregano, etc.) since you would likely have developed a reaction at that point if you were allergic.
Antibacterial essential oils aren’t a myth or a fad – they have lab-demonstrated results, and that makes them worth considering if you need to handle a bacteria or virus. It bears repeating that not every oil is effective against every type of virus – so, again, make sure you do your research (and talk to your doctor) before you start using essential oils.