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Essential oils and viral infections affecting the respiratory tract


A reminder that our first action is to reinforce our organism: we strengthen it and give it what it needs to fight. After all, it is the body that will be healing not an external force under the guise of a medication.

However, some viruses (like herpes) are very sensitive to aromatic molecules and some serious viral pathologies are markedly improved by them. In addition, healthy cells of patients who use Essential Oils, acquire a particular resistance regarding viral penetration.

Action mechanism of Essential Oils on viruses

This article IS NOT directed on the coronavirus. No test has been carried out to our knowledge, so we have no idea if it can be effective on the COVID19. Viruses do not always react in the same manner to aromatic molecules.

  • Viricidal activity: carries out a total destruction of the virus.
  • Activity anti-adsorption: stops the contact between the virus and the host cells.
  • Activity anti-replication: slows down or stops the formation of new paricles by the infected host cell.

But also

  • The destruction of the protective envelope: the virus is therefore bare and becomes detectable by the immune system and in consequence is immediately destroyed;
  • An action on the healthy cells: they acquire a resistance as to the penetration of the virus (showed clearly during clinical experiments and research in patients submitted to an aromatherapy treatment).

Note: the fat solubility of EOs allows them to penetrate the fatty envelope of the virus. As a consequence, they are particularly more active on enveloped viruses than on naked ones (more resistant).

Documentation :

In addition, they seem to be more effective if using a cutaneous application or by atmospheric diffusion.

Essential Oils and their antiviral properties

The principal active molecules belong to the following biochemical families:

▪ monoterpenols (ex: α-terpineol) more effective than oxydes ;

Palmarosa, Tea tree, Thyme thujanol or linalol, Geranium

EOs rich in monoterpenols are used for their antiviral properties in synergy with other oils. Being very well tolerated, it will also be possible to use them with children (adapting the therapeutic dosage accordingly, after medical advice). For usage over a long period, oils containing monoterpenol are preferable to those containing phenol. The latter ones are considered more « aggressive ».

For example, Melaleuca alternifolia EO (tea tree, which contains among others, paracymene, of the gamma terpinene and 1,8 cineole) is very much recommended against viruses.


▪ oxides (ex: 1,8 cineole)

Ravintsara, Niaouli, Saro, Eucalyptus radiata, Eucalyptus globulus, cineol Myrtle (green), Rosemary 1.8 cineole, noble Laurel.

Oxides have a particular role in the fight against viruses, thanks to their virucidal properties, anti-absorption and anti-replication of the virus.

Note: Laurel can be the equivalent of Tea Tree from an antiviral point of view. It is generally rich in oxides, therefore also immuno-stimulant and expectorant. Finally, the lactones that it contains, strongly allergenic, are mucolytic.


▪ Phenols (ex: carvacrol, thymol, eugenol) ;

To be used more in case of symptoms than as prevention: Savory, Oregano, Cloves.

Chose in preference the oral route under medical advice, because they are dermo-caustic and hepato-toxic when taken in large doses or if taken over a long period of time.

Let’s also mention a very interesting group, aldehydes who have an undeniable effect on bacteria. Theses EOs have anti-inflammatory properties and will complete an effective anti-infectious synergy.

Eucalyptus citriodora (citronellal), litsea cubeba (citral)

These do not present any toxicity and their perfume is pleasant. You can use them principally as an aerial antiseptic (diffusion) or as a surface disinfectant. The most studied molecule, cinnamaldehyde (cinnamon) has major anti-infectious properties allowing us to place them among the most active ones. Its activity spreads also to viruses and parasites.


Essential Oils and immuno-stimulant properties

Saro, Ravintsara, Niaouli, Tea tree, Thyme vulgaris, wild Savory

Essential Oils and symptoms regarding the respiratory tract

respiratory tract


Expectorant (oxide based EOs, they have a drying effect – not to be used in excess for prevention): Saro, Ravintsara, Niaouli, Eucalyptus radiata, green cineol Myrtle, noble Laurel.


Mucolytic, fluidifying of secretions (EOs containing ketones and lactones): verbenon Rosemary, Italian Helichrysum, Peppermint also contain anti-infectious ketones and monoterpernols


Respiratory decongestant (EOs with pinenes) Pines, firs, spruce: ideal in diffusion as antiseptic but they are not antiviral.



In practice

1- Showing symptoms: what to do?

Just the same as usual: when you have a  runny nose, feeling very tired and a sore throat… no need to know who is responsible, just act!

With EOs, for a choc action, 3 things to remember:

  • Dilution at 50%
  • Application 5 times a day in massage (thorax/ back for the respiratory tract)
  • Add to it the atmospheric route for greater effectiveness. The aim: a battle against the replication cycle of the virus which is extremely fast.

2- and pneumonia?

Pneumonia is an infection of the respiratory tree, more precisely deep into the alveoli. It is more serious than bronchitis or bronchiolitis because it is harder to dislodge. The illness manifests itself generally by a cough, breathlessness and fever.

For treating the cough and help expectoration, and fluidification of the mucous, you can resort to EOs with oxides (expectorant). These are also more antiviral and immune-stimulant, and the mucolytic EOs.

3- In all situations, chose the EOs you know and have been effective for you!


4- How to proceed?

The winning trio: Ravinstara, Palmarosa, Niaouli

We have said it before, the concept of synergy is fundamental in aromatherapy. By associating different EOs, the treatment aims at a potential multi-target effect.

The trio Cinnamomum camphora / Cymbopogon martinii / Melaleuca quinquinervia is a very effective synergy against most viral infections.

We combine:

-oxides (1,8-cineol),

-monoterpenols (geraniol and alpha-terpineol)

-varied monoterpenes (alpha-pinenes, among others),

> the viral infection is attacked on all fronts.


Application on the skin, dilution in a VO (very good tolerance).

Find the pack HERE

diffusionThe EOs to diffuse to cleanse the air:


EOs rich in monoterpenes (originating from conifers or citrus) or in oxides, having a virucidial action, will be able to fight against the proliferation of viruses in the ambient air. It will therefore be very effective to diffuse these EOs in the home when a member of the family has an infection. This way the other members of the household will not be contaminated!

The article on the different types of diffusers HERE

How to diffuse essential oils HERE

precautions Precautions of usage

Technically speaking, all EOs can be used in diffusion. However, some are too “strong” to be diffused or only if they are mixed with other EOs than are more “gentle”.

Ex. Cinnamon (leaves), Tea tree, Niaouli, Eucalyptus globulus, Basil, Laurel,

Certain EOs cause irritation to the respiratory tract.

Ex.  Thymol or Carvacrol Thyme EO or cloves, leave cinnamon or also Savory.

Others can be harmful to neurons (EO with ketones).

Ex. Camphor Rosemary, aspic Lavender or Peppermint

You can diffuse pure the following Essential Oils mix them: Lemon, Ravintsara, Rosewood, Eucalyptus radiata, Palmarosa.

Beware however when dealing with people suffering from allergies. Lemon EO for example contains limomene which is a known allergene.

> Synergy for diffusion in the fight against viruses:

In a bottle with a dropper 10 ml,

Pour 30 to 60 drops of this mixture into an electric diffuser or

Add 10 drops in the water of a vaporiser to diffuse in the living room in cycles of 10 to 15 minutes.

You can also use Nobel Laurel EO instead of Black Spruce.

It is also an excellent antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. Very good tolerance in atmospheric diffusion.


List of the most important essential oils for fighting viruses:
  • Compact Oregano EO (Origanum compactum) – Phenol: carvacrol: antiviral thanks to the phenols it contains which render the virus inactive and stimulate immunity.
  • Savory EO (Satureia montana) – Phenol: carvacrol. Antiviral and immunity stimulant.
  • Thymol Thyme vulgaris (Thymus vulgaris thymoliferum) – Phenol: thymol. Anti infectious (antibacterial and antiviral): it kills bad bacteria and keeps the good ones.
  • Clove EO (Eugenia caryophyllata) – Phenol: eugenol: Immuno-stimulant and antibacterial.
  • Cinnamon EO (Cinnamomum zeylanicum) – Phenol: eugenol. Anti-infectious at broad spectrum (against bacteria, viruses, fungi, internal and external parasites).
  • Palmarosa EO (cymbopogon martinii, plant) – monoterpenols  geraniol. Antiviral and antibacterial at broad spectrum. It is often used to complement other EOs against infections and it reinforces their antiviral activity, giving the mixture a pleasant aroma.
  • Eucalyptus Radiata EO (Eucalyptus Radiata) – oxide: 1,8cineole and Monoterpenol: terpineol. Immuno-stimulant, antibacterial and antiviral, more effective on the upper respiratory tract.
  • Ravintsara EO (Cinnamomum camphora) – oxide: 1,8cineole and Monoterpenol: terpineol. Immuno-stimulant, antibacterial and antiviral, it is the most polyvalent.
  • Niaouli EO (Melaleuca viridiflora, feuille) – oxide: 1,8cineole and Monoterpénol: terpineol, viridiflorol. The monoterpenes of Niaouli confer to it an optimal antiviral activity when the virus is still in circulation and has not yet entered a cell.
  • Tea tree EO (Melaleuca alternifolia) – Monoterpene: Terpine 1-4 Immuno-stimulant and antiviral. Active on many viruses, including HSVs (herpes) and Influenza (flu).
  • Noble Laurel EO (Laurus nobilis) – Monoterpnol: Linalol and oxide: 1,8cineole. Antiviral thanks to linalol, eugenol, alpha pinene and beta pinene .
  • Eucalyptus globulus EO (Eucalyptus Globulus) – oxide: 1,8cineole. Respiratory problems of the upper respiratory tract (throat, nose and sinuses) when the pathology is already advanced or when there are signs of an aggravation of symptoms are an added infection.
  • Lemon EO (Citrus limonum) – Monoterpene: limonene, pinene. Antibacterial and antiviral. Exceptional aerial antiseptic.
  • Peppermint EO (mentha piperita) Monoterpenol: Menthol. Powerful antiviral. Use it with caution.


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