A woman jumping up in the air happy with yellow-leaved trees in the background

5 Ways To Boost Your Immune System With Aromatherapy

During these challenging times, it may seem like we don’t have a lot of control.  And while we can’t know for sure if we’re going to get the virus ourselves, we do have control over how prepared we are if the virus does attack.

The best thing you can do for yourself is to try to stay as healthy as possible and maintain a body that is prepared to defend itself at the ready. And, importantly, that includes keeping your immune system as robust as possible. 

The role of the immune system is to protect your body from any foreign matter that might enter and cause damage or some kind of bodily imbalance. There are many individual body systems that work together as part of the immune system and their sole mission is to defend against outside invaders. 

 

SYSTEMS WORKING TOGETHER

Each body system contributes to our health by either blocking invaders through a physical barrier, a chemical barrier or a cellular barrier.

The physical barriers include your skin, your epithelial tissue (lines your digestive, respiratory, urinary and reproductive tracts), mucus (lines your gut and respiratory system), and cilia (line your respiratory system). 

The chemical barriers include enzymes in your liver, in the innermost layer of your skin (the basal layer), in your saliva, in your stomach acids and in your sweat glands. 

The cellular barriers are your white blood cells, which provide a variety of different lines of defense, depending on the intruder they’re trying to keep out. This is the deepest level of defense because it’s at the cellular level. 

 

BOOSTING YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

The key thing to remember is that your immune system is a system, not a single entity. So, in order for it to function well, it requires overall balance and harmony. Generally speaking, the best thing you can do to boost your immune system is to try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. That includes:

  • Get enough sleep (7-9 hours) - rest and repair is critical for the body systems to restore themselves.

  • Exercise regularly - moving the body improves circulation and blood flow

  • Eat healthily - include foods rich in vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron and zinc 

  • Minimize stress - according to the Cleveland Clinic, stress decreases the body's lymphocytes (white blood cells that help fight off infection). The lower your lymphocyte level, the more at risk you are for viruses, including the common cold and cold sores.

  • Stay hydrated - water helps get rid of toxic foreign invaders from the body through the kidneys

 

HOW AROMATHERAPY CAN HELP

Just like your immune system, aromatherapy is a holistic approach that works to support various systems of the body, the mind and the spirit, all in an integrated way. Aromatherapy aims to create harmony between our emotional, mental, and physical states to help us function at our best.

 

HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM WITH AROMATHERAPY

1.) Diffuse a blend of essential oils that cheer you up. Emotional wellbeing has shown to be an effective way to maintain a healthy immune system. A study conducted by Pennsylvania State University in State College found that negative moods may change the way in which the immune response functions and they’re associated with an increased risk of aggravated bodily inflammation. So keeping your spirits up is a good way to avoid adding stress on the body. And smelling scents that make you happy is an instant boost to the soul. It offsets the sluggish, the negative and the heavy feelings we may have these days. 

Try this: diffuse a blend of essential oils based on a scent memory from a happy time in the past. Or make a blend based on oils shown to energize and uplift like the citruses grapefruit (Citrus paradisi), lemon (Citrus limon), lime (Citrus aurantifolia) and sweet orange (Citrus sinensis).

 

2.) Go for a walk among the trees. Whether you have a forest nearby, or just a local park, take a stroll among the majestic evergreen trees. Trees release aromatic compounds called phytoncides which are terpenes found in many coniferous essential oils. According to several studies, breathing in these aromas has shown to decrease stress hormones, anxiety, anger and fatigue.

Try this: take a midday break and spend 20 minutes slowly walking among the trees. Breathe in and out, stopping along the way to inhale deeply. Be present in the moment and focus on what’s around you. Take in nature’s beauty.  

 

3.) Give yourself an aromatic massage. Not only does the act of massaging help increase circulation and relax your muscles, but it also, according to researchers from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, increases the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells) in the body, which help your immune system fight off pathogens. And when you include essential oils in a massage, you’re adding aromas that help relax the mind and, in some cases, leveraging chemical components in certain essential oils that act on the body to help release tension in muscles.

Try this: make an essential oil blend of lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), clary sage (Salvia sclarea) and sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana) and add it to a carrier oil such as jojoba oil to create a calming and pain-relieving massage oil application.

 

4.) Do a 5 minute meditation with scent. Take a moment to still the mind and relax the body. Meditating is a wonderful way to not only improve your mental state, but also to take a temporary load off the body. According to Deepak Chopra, your immune system is not just a physical mechanism used to fight disease. It actually transmits your thoughts and moods to your cells. And meditating with scent allows you to focus on something other than what’s going on in your life. 

Try this: find a quiet corner to sit comfortably. Put one drop of essential oil on a scent strip or cotton pad (do not smell directly out of the bottle!) and place near you. Close your eyes and focus in on the aroma. Pay attention to how it speaks to you. Ask yourself what the aroma is telling you, what it reminds you of, how you are responding to it. Notice how the aroma evolves over time.

 

5.) Create a sleep sanctuary. If you’re having a difficult time falling asleep, diffusing essential oils 15 minutes before bedtime is a great way to create a calming and inviting atmosphere to help you fall asleep. Diffusing essential oils all night is not going to help you fall asleep. Check out another article I wrote 5 Ways To Use Essential Oils For Better Sleep to understand why. 

Try this: make a blend of lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), frankincense (Boswellia carterii) and ylang ylang (Cananga odorata) and diffuse in the bedroom 15 minutes before bedtime. Close the door behind you (read or watch TV in another room) while creating this sleep sanctuary, and when you come in to go to sleep, turn off the diffuser, put away your phone, and gently drift off to sleep. 

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