Essential Oils As Natural Antiseptics

Author: Ginger Robbins

The anti-bacterial action of essential oils may be their most studied effect, in-part because these are simple experiments to perform. Place a piece of filter paper saturated with an essential oil in the center of a petri dish and watch the growth, or lack of, bacteria around the paper. The larger the area where bacteria do not grow, the stronger the action of that particular essential oil inhibiting that particular strain of microbe. This test, known as an Aromatogram, was popularized by French scientist Paul Belaiche. Through extensive research, large tables of data now allow aromatherapists to quickly find the most efficacious oils once the infecting species of bacteria is known. But you don\'t have to be a scientist to make use of this information - there are many simple, effective means for using essential remedies for yourself and your family and children as part of a holistic natural health program for your household.

Essential oils derive their antimicrobial effect from their unique chemical makeup. Each single, pure essential oil consists of several, sometimes hundreds of distinct natural chemicals. Many of these have antimicrobial activity, and show synergistic effects; blends of the chemicals - as found naturally in the oils - can be more potent than any individual chemical alone. Many studies have shown that Carvacrol, the primary molecule found in oil of Oregano, has exceptionally strong antimicrobial activity. Further studies have noted the combination of Carvacrol and Thymol (a minor constituent of the same oil) to be more potent than either of them alone. So the next time you might reach for Neosporin or rubbin alcohol, you might consider that the remedies nature has made will likely work better.

There\'s evidence for an incredible spectrum of antimicrobial action from essential oils, yet it is important to select the right oils in the right amounts. Topical application of Oregano and Thyme may be the best solution for a case of stubborn nail fungus, yet these oils are far too intense for use on soft tissue of any kind except in the most dilute blends. Often a combination of a potent antiseptic with a known soothing oil can improve the overall effectiveness. Here we will briefly profile these highly-regarded oils, and look at some formulas and methods of application: Tea Tree, Lavender, Oregano, Geranium, and Lemon.

Tea Tree may be the hands-down most popular antiseptic essential oil. Tea Tree is a must for every natural first aid kit for the home. One of the safest and most effective ways of controlling minor infections is the immediate intervention action of Tea Tree. Tea tree\'s tolerability allows it to be used for longer periods of time without the slightest irritation. A drop on a Band-Aid can keep the reddening indication of infection from children\'s cuts and scrapes, and when combined with Lavender, makes a soothing rendition of popular over-the-counter antibacterials. Tea tree can also be used directly on minor wounds for those with less sensitive skin, and is highly useful as an acne treatment - some individuals can use it \'neat\', while others should dilute it in Hazelnut oil (a \'non-oily\' base oil that will not exacerbate an over-oily skin condition).

Lavender essential oil is an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory (AND stress reducer, especially for kids), and is helpful in the healing of small burns, cuts and insect bites. Lavender is a brilliant soothing agent for nearly every situation; its aroma will bring calm - a useful effect in many situations where an antiseptic is required. For healing unbroken skin such as burns, apply Lavender \'neat\' to the wound several times a day; insect bites also get a \'neat\' treatment. For cuts and scrapes, keep a one-to-one blend of Lavender and Tea Tree essential oils available for the best all-purpose antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and pain relieving solution. for the young ones. This soothing, antiseptic formula can be applied directly to the skin in small amounts, or applied to dressings before application.

When more serious antibacterial action is necessary, natural medicine professionals turn to Oregano essential oil. Oregano\'s use in day-to-day applications are relatively limited due to its extreme potency - it should not be used topically except under the advice of a qualified practitioner, and then only in low dilutions for a limited period of time. Oregano is being studied extensively, however, for its potential use as a natural, effective antibiotic - particularly as many dangerous bacteria become resistant to pharmaceutical preparations. Oregano capsules are available at many health-food stores, and may be of use for systemic infections such as of the candida fungus or other bacteria; if you feel you or a family member could benefit from such immune system support, consult a qualified medical professional for advice.

With a softer aroma and gentle effect on skin, Geranium is versatile choice for frequent use. Harmonizing and balancing, Geranium essential oil has the quality of equalizing hormonal and emotional extremes. These properties extends to the skin, where it creates balance between oily and dry states; Geranium helps to cleanse the skin while restoring balance, tone, and suppleness (experiment with your skin care formulas at concentrations between one and three percent of your base mixture). A non-drying, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, and general tonic, Geranium is traditionally indicated as a remedy for acne, dermatitis, eczema, and weeping wounds. The \'asperum\' species is generally considered the most potent Geranium for its antimicrobial action, with a wonderful sweet and herbaceous aroma.

The \'old stand-by\' of Lemon should not be overlooked when searching for ways to convert your home to a healthy \'green\' lifestyle. Lemon oil, pressed from lemon peels, has historically been a component of many household cleaners - and because of its efficacy, low-cost and great aroma, it should continue to be. Lemon oil can be used alone at about 8 drops of oil per cup of warm water for an all-purpose mild antibacterial solution. You can add a little potency for kitchen and bathroom uses by adding oils like Eucalyptus, Pine, and Rosemary. Keep the total number of drops per oil the same, adding other oils in place of the Lemon. Eucalyptus may create the best antimicrobial synergy, and additional oils will build on this effect. You may increase or decrease the essential oil concentration as you see fit - if increasing, simply test your new recipe in small increments to insure tolerance for yourself and your family.

There are many, many choices for antibacterial and antiseptic essential oils - these are a few of the most commonly used oils with a broad range of applications. Many oils, particularly when properly blended, can have greater specificity for your individual needs. There are many excellent books available by reputable authors - \'Advanced Aromatherapy\' and \'Medical Aromatherapy\' by Dr. Kurt Schnaubelt, and any of the books by Valerie Worwood are worth investigating to further your knowledge in the practical application of essential oils. These books cover the safe use of essential oils in general, and specific conditions you\'ll want to be aware of when delving deeper into aromatherapy. In selecting essential oils over synthetic preparations, you\'ll find great satisfaction making the natural choice for yourself and your family.

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