It works behind the scenes, tirelessly keeping you well, regularly defending against assaults intent on wreaking havoc. This defense system uses tactics, weapons, and an array of soldiers to defend strongholds against enemies. What defense system is this? It is the human immune system.
Comparing the human immune system to the armed forces of a sovereign nation is not far-fetched. The immune system’s soldiers are specialized cells (white blood cells or leukocytes) that defend against foreign invaders (antigens, abnormal cells, pathogens, chemicals) intent on conquering your territory. They use a barrage of weapons (chemical messengers) to identify, target, attack, and destroy these foreign invaders. Your greatest defenses—where the most soldiers (immune cells) are stationed—are in areas of the body (skin, digestive tract, respiratory system, and bloodstream) that experience the most assaults. Just like the military, immune cells (soldiers) have specific assignments and duties. It is obvious that we want to keep this complex and vital defense system working at its best.
Three Essential Oils That Support Immune Function
Clove essential oil is often top of mind when it comes to strengthening our immune defenses. This may be due to research that suggests that it stimulates immune system activity, specifically white blood cells. In addition, scientists have observed that clove restores humoral (B cells produce antibodies that bind to antigens, neutralizing them and targeting them for elimination) and cell-mediated (activated T-helper cells secrete cytokines that activate cytotoxic T lymphocytes to engulf and kill microbes) immune responses after the immune system have been suppressed. In essence, clove essential oil gives your front line defenses a boost to manage foreign invaders more rapidly and efficiently.
Like clove essential oil, tea tree activates white blood cells to help fight invaders. Activated white blood cells are important because they are able to engulf and destroy invading organisms. In addition, scientists discovered that tea tree essential oil helps to reduce the ability of invaders to make copies of themselves to increase their numbers. Just as numbers affect military outcomes, the number of foreign invaders to your soldiers can determine how quickly the invaders are defeated. Suppressing invasive reinforcements allows your immune soldiers to win the battle sooner.
Sometimes the immune system needs to be tempered because it has overreacted to a substance. When this occurs, immune cells can attack healthy cells and tissues and trigger erroneous corrective actions (a runny nose, watery eyes, cough, etc.) to rid the body of nonexistent foreign invaders. Frankincense essential oil may help temper improper immune responses by modifying gene expression of cytokines (chemical messengers secreted by cells of the immune system that direct the activities of other cells) involved in immune response. In other words, frankincense makes sure that communication between immune soldiers is clear so friendly fire and casualties are minimized.
The key to good health is to maintain a balanced and vigilant immune system. You want your immune system to be alert and on guard for foreign invaders but not overreact to substances that aren’t harmful. Essential oils can help keep your immune defenses in battle-ready shape so you are protected and thrive.