Your immune system consists of multiple, complex parts of your body.
The information on this page is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor before changing, starting, or stopping your diet.
It is largely made up of cells and tissues that circulate throughout your body. While your immune system may not be easily identifiable, it performs an important role in your body.
It can keep you healthy, acting as a natural defense system against germs while making sure your natural chemicals safely move throughout the rest of your body. As you get older, your immune system naturally starts to weaken. There are also several medical conditions which can compromise your immune system.
Because it is such a critical part of staying healthy, it is important to do everything you can to boost your immune system. One way to take care of your immune system is to give your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to be healthy.
A great way to do this can be by incorporating immune boosting oils and extracts.
What are Essential Oils and Extracts?
Extracts refers to any substance made by taking the ingredients from a raw material.
Most immune-boosting extracts are available in pill form, with vitamins being a common example. Essential oils also contain extracts, typically from plants. They are commonly used in aromatherapy but can also be applied directly to your skin.
Eucalyptus oil is extracted from the leaves of eucalyptus trees. The trees are most famously associated with Australia, their point of origin. However, the trees are also grown in smaller numbers in other parts of the world.
Eucalyptus has historically been known to have healing properties, commonly used to treat coughs and respiratory infections. In recent years, scientists have uncovered other uses for eucalyptus oil.
Most notably, it has been shown to enhance a cellular process known as phagocytosis. This process occurs when your immune cells defend your body against germs, reducing the chances of getting sick.
Recent studies also show it reduces inflammation when used as an oil.
While cloves have a rich history in treating wounds and easing pain, it was only recently shown to also boost the immune system.
In 2011, a medical study showed cloves boosted the antibodies produced from your immune system. It also helps your body get rid of harmful bacteria.
As of writing, additional studies are being conducted with clove essential oil to find out what other health benefits it provides.
Elderberry is one of the oldest extracts for immune support. The antioxidants that give the elderberry its dark color, anthocyanin, boost your immune system to fight against colds, flus and allergies.
A study from the Journal of International Medical Research shows that taking elderberry extract after experiencing flu-like symptoms may reduce the severity of the illness within 48 hours.
Elderberry is credited as being one of the first immune boosters. There are recorded uses of using it as a medical treatment dating back thousands of years.
Ginseng is another extract that has a rich history in strengthening the immune system. Ginseng is often recommended if you are feeling ill. While it helps alleviate common illnesses, it can also be good to take when you feel healthy.
Ginseng possesses antimicrobial compounds, which function as a natural defense against bacterial and viral infections. Ginseng is used in a variety of medical products and is available as an extract or an oil.
Lavender has many medicinal properties, including lowering anxiety, clearing up skin issues and promoting sleep.
A 2016 study explored other health benefits of lavender. During the trial, researchers found it was also effective at reducing bacterial growth and treating inflammation.
Another trial conducted the following year showed participants had higher IgA levels, which is an indicator of a strong immune system. However, this study was conducted with a small sample size.
As of writing, additional trials are underway to determine what other positive benefits lavender has on the immune system.
Tea tree is a popular extract for anti-inflammation, but it also has antimicrobial properties, which can help your immune system fight harmful bacteria.
Tea tree oil is used in a wide range of health products, such as sanitizers, repellents and antiseptics. Some companies even use it as an ingredient in deodorant.
Skincare products also feature tea tree oil to prevent acne. If you already take products to boost your health, there is a good chance one or more of them contain tea tree oil.
Goldenseal is another extract which was originally used to treat other medical conditions before it was discovered to have immune boosting properties.
In the 19th century, it was commonly used to treat stomach aches and improve digestion. It was also used in early mouthwashes to treat sore gums.
When applied to the skin as an essential oil, it can treat rashes. When taken as an extract, it can alleviate fevers and flu conditions, speeding up recovery and preventing future infections.
Oregano is commonly associated with cooking ingredients, but it also has medicinal uses when used as an oil.
Oregano is rich in antioxidants and produces harmless free radicals within the body. These free radicals are used to fight many chronic conditions, including some forms of cancer and heart disease.
As of writing, there are medical studies assessing the effects of oregano against bacteria because it shares many properties with another immune boosting oil, thyme.
When it comes to immune boosting extracts, vitamin C is one of the most recognizable boosters.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, commonly used to treat high blood pressure and heart disease. It also makes it easier for your body to absorb iron, which it needs to grow new red blood cells and transport oxygen throughout your body.
Many vegans or vegetarians take a Vitamin C supplement, as most individuals get their recommended iron intake from eating meat products. Vitamin C also builds white blood cells, which your immune system distributes to fight infections.
Studies show it also helps with recovery time and strengthens your skin. There are also ongoing medical studies to determine whether vitamin C can prevent other medical conditions, including dementia, eye disease and some types of cancer.