Antiseptic and Antiviral Essential Oils | Helpful Antibiotic Oils

When most people think of essential oils they think of aromatherapy, but when you think of how many plants there are and what properties they have, it makes a lot of sense that some essential oils do more than just smell good. Some essential oils can help our bodies to keep away or fight off infections and this article lists some of the antiseptic and antiviral essential oils.

Antiseptic and Antiviral Essential Oils

Antiseptics are agents that kill bacteria. Antibiotics, which are similar but not identical to other forms of antiseptics, have been widely used in recent history to fight off harmful bacteria. However, antibiotics can also be harmful to good bacteria. Also, harmful bacteria eventually become adapted to antibiotic treatments and become resistant. As a result, bacterial infections remain a major cause of human death.

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Essential oils have great potential in the field of biomedicine as they effectively destroy several bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens.

Essential oils are employed in aromatherapy and for the treatment of several diseases including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, cancer.

Antiseptic and antiviral essential oils
Antiseptic and antiviral essential oils

The antimicrobial impacts of essential oils and their chemical components have been recognized by several researchers in the past. Studies have shown the synergistic effect of any two or more ingredients of essential oils against various human pathogens.

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The article lists a number of plant extracts that research has found promising, including
  • thyme
  • clove
  • lemongrass
  • lavender
  • basil
  • chili peppers
  • cinnamon

Clove, Rosemary, chili peppers, and lavender are also among essential oils found to have antimicrobial effects in a 2010 meta-analysis published in The Journal of Applied Bioscience, as were essential oils made from

  • juniper
  • olives
  • peppermint
  • fennel
  • lemon leaves
  • lime leaves

Scientists aren’t entirely sure yet how or why essential oils can kill bacteria, but some have proposed that chemicals in the essential oils can damage the cell walls of the bacteria. This also explains why essential oils included as ingredients in more conventional antiseptics tend to be more efficient than essential oils by themselves.

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Antiviral Essential Oils

Bacteria and viruses both make you sick, but they aren’t the same; they work in different ways and require different treatments and deterrents. For example, if the theory that essential oils kill bacteria by damaging their cell walls is correct, essential oils may not fight viruses the same way because viruses do not have cell walls. Fortunately, a number of potentially beneficial anti-viral essential oils have also been identified.

The same 2010 meta-analysis cited the above-included sandalwood oil, tea tree oil, thyme, and ginger as essential oils with anti-viral properties. A 2015 study published in the journal, Acute Medicine, reported that eucalyptus has promising anti-viral traits as well, particularly in mouthwash for combating herpes simplex.

Antimicrobial and antiviral essential oils
Antimicrobial and antiviral essential oils

Cinnamon, bergamot, thyme, and eucalyptus were also found to have promising anti-viral properties in both the liquid and the vapor state in a 2014 article published in The American Journal of Essential Oils and Natural Products. This article particularly looked at combatting the influenza virus which leads to the common “flu” but which can also turn deadly.

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Other Areas of Research

Recent research has explored essential oils as being beneficial antifungal, and even anticancer agents.

By far, the most interest in essential oils has been involving their potential benefit in combatting depression and anxiety disorders.

Other Ways to Get the Benefits of Antiseptic and Antiviral Essential Oils

Many of these studies included other essential oils that are not widely available commercially, and so they have not been included in this article.

Essential Oils with Antioxidant Properties

Many of the essential oils discussed in this article, in addition to being readily available commercially, come from edible plants. While essential oils can often not be ingested, eating the plants that they are derived from can provide some significant effects as well.

Essential oils are concentrated and potent substances, so eating the foods that produce them may not have as strong or as immediate an effect as using essential oils. However, eating the foods rather than just the oils involves taking in nutrients that are not always included in essential oils. For example, many of the essential oils listed above come from plants that also include antioxidants and other important nutrients.


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