Those who know me are well acquainted with my preference for natural healing options whenever possible — so much so, that my (now grown) kids sometimes affectionately joke that I am a Witch Doctor! I have been interested in and using essential oils for aromatherapy and for treating minor health issues for a few years now, so when I began researching natural treatments and what aggravates Autoimmune Disorders, I looked into Essential Oils as well. There is a wealth of information out there, but I will try to summarize the best nuggets of information I found.
First, what exactly are we trying to treat and what are we trying to avoid triggering?
According to Wikipedia: Autoimmune diseases arise from an abnormal immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body (autoimmunity).
So, the many types of Autoimmune disorders involve some level of the body’s normal immune system attacking the body or some element of the body that it shouldn’t.
So What About Those Immune System Boosting Essential Oils?
Welllll, hate to break it to you, but if your immune system is in a “flare up” of attacking you, you shouldn’t give it something to make it stronger. So oils that would stimulate an immune system response need to be used extremely cautiously or not at all!
The main essential oils you ought to avoid if you have an autoimmune disorder are:
- Immune Aid
- Immune Boom
- Essential oils with immunostimulant properties
So how do you fight off things like the common cold and other sicknesses? Oils with anti viral/bacterial/fungal properties can definitely still be used as they fight the “invader” directly, rather than helping your immune system to do so.
Which Essential Oils Can be Used by People with Autoimmune Disorders?
Obviously, different things will work better or worse for different people and you certainly want to avoid using any oils that you may have a sensitivity to. In general, avoiding oils that stimulate or boost the immune system is going to be a good bet and here are the ones I found listed as usually safe for use by those with autoimmune disorders by all sources:
- Cajeput essential oil has long been used for sore throats and its antiviral action makes it a great option for cold sores. Cajeput is also used to help with pain such as muscle stiffness, muscle cramping and menstruation. Diffuse Cajeput essential oil to help relieve the symptoms caused by the flu or cold. It can also be added to a bath or massage oil to help with aches and pains. For relief from an insect bite or skin ailment, add a small amount to your favorite carrier oil and apply twice a day.
- Cinnamon Leaf essential oil has been used as an anti-inflammatory and local anesthetic for many years. It is very therapeutic and if used in the right dilution, can be an effective essential oil for acne, chronic pain and inflammation. Combine Cinnamon Leaf and Clove Bud at 0.6% dilution in your favorite carrier oil to help with chronic pain. Cinnamon Leaf is also considered a great oil to ease the symptoms of cold and flu. Diffuse in the air to help combat a sickness.
- Citronella essential oil to help combat cold and flu, diffuse into the air equal parts of Citronella and Cinnamon Leaf. Add to your favorite carrier oil to help with perspiration. Add 1 drop of Citronella and 2 drops of Tea Tree to 1 Tablespoon of Coconut oil to use on fungal skin infections.
- Clary Sage essential oil is the perfect hormone balancing oil to help ease symptoms caused by women’s issues. It can be used to treat PMS, hot flashes, depression, anxiety and insomnia. For menstrual pain, combine Clary Sage with Geranium, Marjoram and Carrot Seed. Research suggests that for some people, Clary Sage essential oil is more effective anti-stress oil than Lavender. Add to your favorite carrier oil and use as a daily moisturizer or diffuse into the air for its mood-enhancing properties
- Clove Bud essential oil is one of the primary antibacterial and antifungal essential oils. It is also widely known for easing pain, especially dental pain. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and local anesthetic. It is also an immune booster and is great for combating cold and flu when diffused (its immune-boosting properties mean you should use it sparingly in the diffuser). Use a low dilution and massage with your favorite carrier oil on the outer jaw to help with a toothache or massage over painful joints. Similarly, massage over the abdominal area for indigestion, nausea or to warm the body.
- Cypress essential oil can be used to ease breathing and may be helpful for people with asthma. It can be used to relieve tight muscles, rheumatism and the swelling and pain of varicose veins. It is also useful as a deodorant. For this, add equal parts of Cypress, Sandalwood and Lavender to your favorite carrier. Diffuse Cypress into the air to help ease breathing.
- Eucalyptus Essential Oil has a number of properties that make it particularly useful for treating autoimmune diseases & disorders. Inflammation is a common denominator of most autoimmune diseases, and Eucalyptus Essential Oil is a fantastic at easing inflammation. Blend 40 drops of Eucalyptus into coconut oil (you can also use olive oil, or any other vegetable oil you want) and massage it into hands, feet, or inflamed joints before bed. Eucalyptus oil can also be diffused to help manage inflammation.
- Ginger is traditionally used for its warming action, to aid digestion, stimulate blood flow and help relieve nausea, muscular or menstrual pain. Add 2 drops Ginger essential oil with 2 drops Coriander to 1⁄2 cup Epsom salt and run into a warm bath to help relieve lethargy, nausea, colds and sickness. When added to a carrier oil or lotion, it can help with joint pain, muscle aches, poor circulation and to disperse bruises. Use in a 2% – 5% dilution for topical use.
- Geranium essential oil beneficial properties include being used as an astringent, haemostatic, diuretic, antiseptic, anti-depressant, tonic, antibiotic, anti-spasmodic and as an anti-infectious agent. This uplifting oil has a great all-over balancing effect and this extends to the skin, where it helps to create balance between oily and dry skin. Geranium Bourbon can also be used to relieve feelings of stress and anxiety, promoting a sense of inner peace.
- Juniper Berry diffused into the air can be used for the treatment of addictions, nervous tension, over-indulgence of food, and to stimulate the nervous system and bolster the spirit. Add a few drops to a warm bath to help with arthritis, cellulite, nervous tension, cystitis, pain in passing urine, gout, swollen joints, liver problems, muscle fatigue and overweight.
- Laurel Leaf essential oil has antiseptic, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties and can be used to treat scars, acne pimples, boils and scabies. It is reportedly a tonic to the hair, aiding with dandruff and can be used to stimulate hair growth. Laurel Leaf Oil is known for its strong effects on the nervous system, its anti-spasmodic and analgesic properties, which make it mildly narcotic.
- Patchouli can treat acne, dermatitis and eczema: add a few drops to a carrier oil or lotion and apply directly to affected area. Patchouli can be used as a deodorant or antiperspirant by adding 2-3 drops to a carrier oil and dabbing your underarms. Diffuse Patchouli essential oil into the air to help alleviate anxiety. For athletes foot or fungal infection, add a few drops to a carrier oil and apply to infected area.
- Roman or German Chamomile – Chamomile Roman essential oil is greatly known to help with insomnia. It also can be used to ease aches and pains in muscles and joints. It is a relaxing oil and is great to help with stress. Diffuse Chamomile Roman essential oil into the air to help with stress, migraines and depression. Add 1-3 drops each of Chamomile Roman and Chamomile German and 1 drop of Peppermint into a bath or favorite carrier oil to assist muscle aches or arthritis. Chamomile German (Blue) essential oil is widely known for its calming properties. In research involving teenagers with ADHD, German Chamomile oil had a therapeutic effect. All evidence shows that this essential oil reduces stress. Chamomile German is also an excellent anti-inflammatory and can assist with nasal allergies, cuts, wounds and muscles, tendon and ligament pain.
- Valerian Root essential oil can be diffused into the air or add 2-3 drops to a warm bath to help combat insomnia, nervousness, restlessness, tension, headaches, panic attacks and muscle spasms.
So, just like when planning meals and activities around an autoimmune disorder, you will need to pay a little attention to which essential oils you are using and understand what they will do. You don’t have to stop using oils — there are many with benefits you can take advantage of that won’t trigger any flare ups or problems for you!
What has your experience been with using essential oils when you have an autoimmune disorder? Did I miss any lifesavers or huge red flags? Tell me in the comments!
If you are interested in purchasing any essential oils, I have a membership with Young Living Essential Oils and can order oils for you at wholesale prices. Contact me if you’re interested.
The information and recipes for most of these oils were found at http://www.planttherapy.com.
All the information presented on this site is for educational and informational purposes only. No responsibility can be taken for any outcomes resulting from the use of this information. Whilst every attempt is being made to provide information that is both accurate and effective, the website owner does not assume any responsibility for the accuracy or use/misuse of this information. Always consult your doctor or health care professional if you suspect you have a serious illness and before embarking on major lifestyle changes or new therapies.