Essential oils for viral infection
Essential oils can be helpful on three levels in the presence of viruses and bacteria:
1. Many oils are anti-viral and anti bactericidal, among them Manuka, Tea tree, Bergamot, Ravensara, Thyme, Garlic and Lemon are the first ones that pop into my head. Eucalyptus and Bergamot in particular kill airborne bacteria.
2. Essential oils are often immuno-stimulant so they can help the body fight off an infection and viruses have no place to make their home if the immune system is strong. There are many immune stimulant essential oils but some of the most powerful are, Melissa officinalis, Angelica root, Lemon, Niaouli and Ravensara
3. Essential oils work on the brain to relieve stress and tension which again leads to a stronger immune system. Eucalyptus, Ravensara and Manuka also help reduce fever and clear respiratory congestion while Bergamot lifts the spirits helping to combat the depression that can accompany illness (a word of caution, Bergamot oil is photo-toxic so take care not to expose skin to the sun after application).
Ease of use
The easiest way to use essential oils in the presence of viral infection is in a diffuser or as a spray. To make up a spray dissolve 10 drops of eucalyptus globulus, 10 drops of Manuka and 5 drops of Bergamot in a tablespoon of alcohol (in Britain where medicinal alchohol is not available use pure vodka) then add to 100 mls of water in a spray bottle and shake well. Spray this liberally around the living quarters (barn, kennel) a few times a day.
The oils can also be offered to inhale. Hold the bottle of oil firmly in your hand at least 6 inches from your animal’s nose. If your animal inhales it deeply or shows signs of wanting to eat the bottle offer him the oil to smell twice a day until he shows no more interest. If the animal turns away from the bottle or shows no interest he does not need that oil and you should not apply it. Whenever you are using essential oils it is important to use only the best quality unadulterated oils for safety and effectiveness, know the oils you are using and any possible contraindications, and never use undiluted oils.
While essential oils can help once a virus arrives, an holistic outlook that takes the overall well-being of your animal into account is the best preventative measure. It is clear to me that modern husbandry is a contributing factor to the rapid spread of disease. Intensive farming exposes animals to disease through overcrowding, long journeys, chemically saturated feedstuffs and the unnaturalness of the environment, which causes stress. Stress makes us all more susceptible to viral infections as it suppresses the immune system, therefore animals who are happy and sympathetically managed are much less likely to fall ill. Ask yourself if the way you manage our animals is putting a strain on their immune system, if so how can you change things?