Essential Oils For Infection
Many essential oils are described as having antibacterial, antiviral, or antifungal properties. Thus, they can be used to treat infections. While antibiotics can also treat infections, a growing number of bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. Consequently, many people are looking for alternatives, and essential oils can serve as such alternatives.
Essential oils are strong, however, and need to be used carefully. As a general rule of thumb, a drop or two of an essential oil should be diluted with a teaspoon of a carrier oil like olive oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil.
If you have never used the oil before, you should test for allergic reactions or intolerances by dabbing a small amount of oil on your skin and waiting for at least a few hours. If you don’t develop any signs of irritation like a rash, you should be able to use the oil safely.
Essential Oils Used to Treat Infections
1. Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea tree oil, also known as melaleuca, has been used in Australia for various medicinal purposes for over a century. In 2006, the science journal “Clinical Microbiology Reviews” published a review of different scientific studies that found that tea tree oil has antibacterial, antifungal, antiprotozoal, and antiviral properties.(1)
Tea tree oil has a number of uses that include the following:
Mouthwash made with tea tree oil can prevent oral infections. Use the following recipe:
- 2 drops of tea tree oil
- 1 cup of water
Be careful not to swallow the mouthwash, for it is toxic if ingested.
Tea tree oil can reduce swelling and kill bacteria.
- Place a couple of drops on a fresh wound dressing
Tea tree oil can kill the bacteria that cause acne. Use the following remedy:
- 4 drops of tea tree oil
- ½ cup of water
Use a cotton pad to apply the treatment to the face once every day.
Ringworm is caused by the same fungus that causes athlete’s foot and jock itch. Aborigines have used tea tree oil to treat these fungal infections for generations. Use it as follows:
- Clean the treatment site with soap and water and then dry it
- Use a swab or cotton ball to apply the tea tree oil to the affected area.
- If you have sensitive skin, dilute the tea tree oil with coconut oil, which also has antifungal qualities
Vaginal Yeast Infection Treatment
A vaginal yeast infection is caused by a fungus called Candida albicans. While it’s normal and healthy to have some yeast, an overgrowth of yeast leads to an infection characterized by itching, inflammation, and a painful discharge.
Here is one formula for a yeast infection treatment:
- 1 or 2 drops of tea tree oil
- 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil like coconut oil or jojoba oil
You can also use this formula
- 1 drop of tea tree oil
- 3 drops of lavender oil
- 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
You can use an over-the-counter yeast infection treatment applicator to insert the oil into your vagina. You may also use a mold to make a vaginal suppository. Pour the oils into the mold and then freeze the mixture. When it’s ready, place the suppository in your vagina.
You should use one suppository or one dose every day. If your symptoms don’t improve after a week, see your doctor.
Lemongrass oil has been found to have antibacterial properties. In 2010, the “Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine” reported a study in which researchers tested the effects of lemongrass oil on six different bacteria including Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, and Staphylococcus aureus. They found that lemongrass oil affected all but one species of bacteria and that it was particularly effective against gram-positive bacteria.
Urinary Tract Infection Treatments
There are two ways to use lemongrass oil to treat a urinary tract infection, which is usually caused by bacteria, especially E. coli. The first method is to put the lemongrass oil in a diffuser and inhale.
The second is to use the oil as a topical remedy, which needs to be done carefully. Follow the given formula:
- 1 to 5 drops of lemongrass oil
- 1 ounce of a carrier oil like coconut oil, olive oil, or sunflower oil
Apply the oil to the mons pubis, inner thighs or outside the labia. Never apply the oil to the mucous membranes of the urethra or vagina, for it will irritate them.
You can also add a few drops of the mixture to a hot compress and place it on your lower abdomen.
Use the following formula:
- 1 to 5 drops of lemongrass oil
- 1 ounce of a carrier oil
Use it on the affected skin twice every day.
Chamomile and lavender can be used separately or together to treat earaches caused by infections. There are a couple of different methods that use the following formula:
- 1 drop of lavender oil
- 1 drop of chamomile oil
- 1 teaspoon of warm olive oil
Dab a cotton ball in the mixture and place it in your outer ear. Don’t shove it down the ear canal, though.
Alternatively, you can apply the mixture to your ear and cheek with a warm compress.
Thyme oil is made from the herb of the same name, and it contains a compound called thymol that is an antiseptic and is one of the ingredients in Listerine. It is also a germicide and can be used to treat fungal and bacterial infections of the ears. Thyme oil applied to the skin can reduce inflammation.
Thyme oil can be used to treat slow-healing or infected wounds. Use the following formula:
- 1 to 5 drops of thyme oil
- 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil
Mixing the two will produce a dilution of 1 to 5 percent. Apply the dilution to sterile gauze and place it on the wound. Cover it with a dressing, and change the bandage twice every day.
Lavender oil has a number of properties that help it heal wounds. The science journal “BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine” described a 2016 study in which researchers studied the mechanism of lavender’s healing properties. The scientists use rats as their subjects and found that lavender caused wounds to heal more quickly and also promoted the production of collagen.
One treatment for small wounds calls for the following formula:
- 3 or 4 drops of lavender oil
- Several drops of tamanu or coconut oil
Use a cotton ball to apply the mixture to the wound. Lavender oil can also be used to minimize scars.
Eucalyptus oil is made from the leaves of an evergreen tree native to Australia. It has been used in medicine for thousands of years. Eucalyptus oil contains tannins that can help fight inflammation and antioxidants called flavonoids. While there are several hundred species of eucalyptus trees, the essential oil is usually made from the blue gum tree (Eucalyptus globulus).
The “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” described a 2016 study in which researchers found that eucalyptus oil had anti-microbial effects, making it useful for treating infections.
Skin Infection Treatment
The following formula can be used for skin infections:
- 1 to 5 drops of eucalyptus oil
- 1 ounce of carrier oil
Apply the mixture to the wound.
Do not use eucalyptus oil near the eyes, for it can cause a burning sensation or an irritation.
Dental Infection Treatment
Eucalyptus can also kill the bacteria that cause dental infections. Use the following formula:
- 1 drop of eucalyptus oil
- 1 ounce of coconut or olive oil
You can either use the mixture as a mouthwash or apply it to your toothbrush.
Clove oil can be used to treat fungal infections like toenail fungus. The science journal “Mycobiology” described a 2007 study in which researchers tested the effects of clove oil on fungi like Candida albicans that can cause skin infections. They found that clove oil could inhibit both fungal growth and spore germination, and that it worked when applied to the skin or used in aromatherapy. (3)
Treatment for toenail fungus will admittedly take months, for it will take that long for a new, healthy nail to grow in and replace the diseased nail. The formula is as follows:
- 1 to 5 drops of clove oil
- 1 teaspoon of carrier oil
Before applying the oil, wash your foot thoroughly with soap and water, and then dry it. Apply 1 or 2 drops to the infected nail and let it sit for 10 minutes. Use a soft toothbrush to scrub the nail. Continue treating the nail until it has been replaced by a healthy new nail.
Mexican oregano oil, which is also known by the scientific name Lippia graveolens, has been used in traditional medicine in Mexico and Central American for centuries. The “Brazilian Journal of Microbiology” published a study in 2011 in which researchers tested Mexican oregano oil on eight different viruses and found that it affected five of them.
The researchers noted that Mexican oregano oil contained a compound called carvacrol that gave it antiviral properties.
For skin treatments, Mexican oregano oil should have a maximum dilution of 1.1 percent. A higher concentration risks irritating your skin. Thus, you should use the following formula:
- 1 drop of Mexican oregano oil
- 1 teaspoon of a carrier oil
Apply the mixture to your skin.
While essential oils can help treat skin infections, they do need to be handled carefully. For example, they can sometimes interact with certain medications. If you’re taking any kind of medication, talk to your doctor about possible risks. If your infection shows no signs of improvement after a couple of weeks, see your doctor.
Women who are pregnant or nursing should not use essential oils. Nor should you use them on small children.
Some essential oils, like those derived from citrus plants, can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun and cause the skin to become discolored. Avoid going outside while using such essential oils.
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