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Aromatherapy & Immunity - harness the healing powers of plants

Written by Sarah Loker

With the cold and darker days of January, the sniffle season is upon us. It’s the time of the year when our immune systems face more challenges than usual, but there are ways to naturally boost your immune system health at this time of the year… and one way to do this is through the power of plants and essential oils.

Aromatic essential oils have been used for thousands of years as traditional remedies to enhance health and wellbeing. Essential oils are natural healers, containing the essence of nature - they are highly concentrated plant essences extracted from plants. The oil’s harness the plant’s therapeutic properties to restore balance to the mind, body and soul. 

Our immune systems consist of a complex network of cells and molecules that help defend the body against invading, harmful organisms. Suppression of the immune system plays a role in a wide variety of infectious illnesses, while an overactive immune system is involved in a range of atopic illnesses, such as asthma and eczema, and auto-immune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune thyroid disease and Type 1 diabetes. 

Certain essential oils possess immunomodulatory properties, exerting effects on various parts of the immune system on both cellular and molecular levels. Some essential oils enhance and strengthen our immune response, stimulating the production of disease-fighting white blood cells, such as phagocytes, T-cells and B-cells, which are vital to our body’s defences. Certain essential oils also contain antimicrobial, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, helping the body to fight off infection and supporting a compromised immune system. 

But how can we use essential oils during the winter month to keep us feeling our best? Keep reading for a few ideas on how you can incorporate the healing powers of essential oils into your winter wellness regime…

  • Diffuse into your living space

Adding immune-boosting essential oils to an essential oil aromatherapy diffuser is a wonderful way to not just make your house smell amazing, but also protect you against infection and illness. (Please note that some essential oils are not suitable for pets, be sure to research the essential oils that are safe for your furry friends before diffusing into the home). 

  • Make an essential oil facial steam

When coughs and colds take hold, we can suffer from congestion. Using essential oils in a facial steam is a wonderful way to relieve congestion in the sinuses and reduce inflammation. Just add a few drops of essential oil to a bowl of hot steamy water, and place your face over the bowl with a towel over your head to trap the steam inside. (Be careful that the steam is not too hot and does not scald your face).

  • Make an immune-boosting massage blend

Massages are a wonderful way to support the immune system by supporting the lymphatic system to remove toxins and waste from the body. This helps speed up the healing response and recovery time after falling ill. Create your own aromatherapy massage blend by combining a few drops of your chosen essential oils to a base/carrier oil - remember that essential oils are potent, concentrated plant extracts and must be diluted when applied directly to the skin to avoid irritation). 

If you’d like to find out more about essential oils and how they can support our immune systems, be sure to come along to our next Wellness Workshop - Yoga & Aromatherapy for Immunity, taking place on Sunday 28th January 2024, 10am-12pm at The Studio, Bartlow. In this workshop you will be introduced to a selection of essential oils that support the immune system, and guided through a gentle yoga flow sequence to relax, unwind and feel your best. You'll leave the workshop armed with new knowledge and practical tips to enhance your winter wellbeing in everyday life. For more information and to book on to the workshop, go here -


Essential Oils by Susan Curtis for Neal’s Yard Remedies

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